Young professionals prioritize career progression and development opportunities

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Ambitious young professionals working in small and medium sized practices (SMPs) in Malaysia are seeking out professional development opportunities and greater career progression, according to a global study from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

 ACCA’s Generation Next – Managing Talent in Small and Medium Practices (SMPs) uncovered that in Malaysia:

  • 86% of young professionals are focussed on attaining a more senior position in their next move or later on
  • 60% expect they will have to move outside their current organisation to achieve this.
  • 55% believe there are insufficient formal training and learning opportunities in their current role – the largest barrier to their career progression.

The research takes a closer look at the aspirations of younger finance professionals working in SMPs and builds on ACCA’s Generation Next survey, which polled close to 19,000 professionals under the age of 36.

Across the profession, opportunities for growth and development are top attraction and retention factors; however these are perceived to be limited in the SMP sector, indicating a potential risk for talent deficit in the long-run.

Ben Baruch, Head of SME Policy, said: ‘These trends clearly have implications and place new pressures on SMPs to rethink how they attract, develop, and retain young talent. Employers must acknowledge that this goes beyond the pay cheque; it’s the whole package that matters.

“For Generation Next in Malaysia, the key to retention is development: 94% of younger professionals agree that the availability of opportunities to learn and develop skills is key to remaining with an employer. 55% believe there are insufficient formal training and learning opportunities in their current role. This barrier to progression is higher than the global average (31%).

“The aspirations of younger professionals working in SMPs are focused on gaining more seniority and leading a team within finance. 79% of Generation Next professionals working in Malaysian SMPs believe that a background in finance will be valuable for business leaders in future” he said.

“On-the-job training and mentoring are seen as the most effective learning activities. If employers are to retain the best and brightest, they must look to develop effective talent management strategies that are suited for a generation with ambition,” concluded Baruch

Looking longer-term, technology is reinventing the SMP service offering and is expected to be a game changer for the profession.

Unsurprisingly, half of respondents agree that technology will replace many entry level roles from the profession. 78% of younger professionals in Malaysia agree that technology will enable finance professionals to focus on much higher value-added activity.

Generation Next – Managing Talent in Small and Medium Practices (SMPs) is the second of a four-part series of reports that brings deeper talent insights into specific sectors across the profession, offering guidance to attract, engage and retain future finance talent around the world.

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