Stuck, stalled or stifled
Several years ago, the most critical gen- erational issue facing CPA firms was attracting and keeping bright ne w
talent. Today, the generational scales have
tipped; it’s no longer the youngest employees who are causing concern — it’s the most
In this article we’ll explore:
Trends in Baby Boomer retirement: Will
they stay or will they go?
The Boomer ceiling: How to develop
up-and-comers when there’s less upward
How Baby Boomer
BY REBECCA RYAN
not just the money, honey.
In their September 2009 report, “
Recession Turns a Graying Office Grayer,” the Pew
Research Center discovered the most popular reasons adults over 65 say they work:
1. To feel useful/productive (68 percent).
2. To live independently (59 percent).
3. To give myself something to do (57 percent).
4. To be with other people (56 percent).
Turns out that the generation that marched
together, “made love, not war,” and replaced
the hierarchy with work teams just wants to
keep making a difference in the company
of friends. You know the old-timer who quit
practicing years ago, but still comes to the
office to read his paper, drink coffee, and talk
shop? Well, it may be time to get a bigger coffee pot.
STAYING OR GOING?
Search for “Baby Boomers Delaying Retirement” and Google spits back 215,000 results.
Dig a little deeper, and you’ll notice that these
articles didn’t just start appearing during the
McCain vs. Obama run-off. As early as 2000,
Boomers began to realize that they’d saved
too little — and would get too bored — if they
traded in their swipe cards for sweat suits.
According to the Health and Retirement
Survey released by the University of Michi-
gan Institute for Social Research (which has
been tracking these matters since 1992),
“Baby Boomers are expecting to work lon-
ger, perhaps presaging a reversal in the cen-
tury-long trend toward earlier retirement.
Compared with 1992, in 2004, a substantially
larger proportion of people in their early to
mid-50s expected to work after 65.”
Like Starbucks, Pottery Barn and using
Blackberries during meetings, delaying
retirement is a Baby Boomer invention. A
Boomer’s parents may have lunged at early
retirement and pointed their Cadillacs to-
ward Sun City, but Boomers are plowing a
Why are Boomers staying in the workforce
longer? Contrary to popular speculation, it’s
THE BOOMER CEILING
Since Boomers are going to hang out lon-
stifled. Here are a few best practices:
Like using Blackberries
during meetings, delaying
retirement is a Baby
Rebecca Ryan is the founder of Next Generation Consulting (
http://nextgeneration-consulting.com/), which studies the work
preferences of younger employees, as well
as a member of The Advisory Board.
ger in your firm, it’s best to prepare for what
some next gen’ers are calling “The Clog.”
A CIO in Ohio calls it “stagnation.” He says,
“Our younger employees are sort of stuck.
Their [Boomer] bosses aren’t retiring, so
there’s less upward mobility. And the job
market is slow, so the normal circulation of
new people and ideas has also stopped. It’s
creating a stagnant work environment, and
we’re trying to figure out how to keep our
younger employees challenged.”
Not that next-gen CPAs are complain-
ing. In the words of one, “I don’t resent that
our partners are delaying their retirement. I
mean, we’re all dealing with this economic
situation. But I don’t want to get stuck doing
the same thing I’ve been doing for the last
few years, just to preserve the status quo. I
want room to grow and develop.”
Many firms understand this, and are tak-
ing transformative steps to ensure that their
best and brightest aren’t stuck, stagnating or
the most expensive to replace and leave the
biggest shoes to fill. For that reason, it’s im-
portant to talk with high potentials about
their career trajectories, and work together
on individual plans to keep them engaged
with the firm over the long term.
It’s a new year. We’ve got a new logo.
We’ve got a new tagline.
The Accounting Tomorrow blog (www.
acccountingtomorrow.com) is zipping
right along. You know we always look
for those offbeat stories — for example,
did anyone else pick up on the fact that
Naurice White, an accounting major in
Georgia, won the lottery? White bought
a ticket at a Citgo Food Mart in Jonesboro where she lives and ended up winning $208,519.
We think that’s pretty cool!
Also check out the stories of two
interns from New Jersey’s WithumSmith+
Brown. If college is where students put
their feet in the water, an internship is a
jump into the shallow end of the pool.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Christina
Freeland and Jack Mans, two staff accountants, about their first tax season.
Still want more Tomorrow Try this:
Gilbert Lawand, a self-employed
CPA and former Ernst & Young manager,
was named the South’s Funniest Accoun-
tant in November. He was one of eight
contestants in a September competition
chosen to participate in a “comedy boot
camp” on October to hone their routines.
Lawand won an all-expenses-paid trip for
two to Las Vegas.
More than 40 teams comprised of
nearly 200 students from colleges and
universities nationwide answered KPMG’s
call to make their campuses greener
through its first annual Living Green Case
Competition, where students submitted
recommendations for addressing issues
raised on their school’s green “report
card.” A team from the University of
California-Berkeley won the grand prize
of $3,000 for its idea to institute a recycling program for
games held at the
to raise awareness
Keep us posted
on your firm developments, and
if you’ve got any
ideas for stories,
contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.