Accountant calls on large industry players to stop raiding SME staff

| July 6, 2022

Coco Hou, CPA and CEO of Platinum Accounting is calling on large firms to play fair and stop poaching staff from small to medium-size accounting businesses.

“The accounting sector is under siege across the country. Hard-working small to medium size accounting businesses are being attacked by larger companies raiding their workforce,” Ms Hou said.

He said the biggest complaint across industry is the way in which large firms are swooping in and luring staff away with the promise of massive pay rises and lucrative career progression.

“The poaching is hurting the whole industry, not just small to medium size businesses.

“The way in which the poaching is being done is also disgraceful.   Staff are being stalked on sites such as Linkedin and approached through cold calls and messaging.

“Small to medium-size accounting businesses invest significant resources into their staff to develop them. At Platinum Accounting, we have comprehensive training and development programs in place and we continually mentor our people.  It is absolutely heartbreaking when large firms poach our staff.”

According to many across the accounting industry, workers are taking advantage of the labor shortage and enjoying pay increases of 100 percent plus.

“The SME accounting sector needs more support from associations and government to combat difficult market conditions,” Hou said.

He said the reality is that the SME accounting sector plays a vital role in supporting businesses, especially startups and small to medium size businesses across the country. 

“Typically the SME accounting sector charges a lot less than the top tier firms which is also important as SMEs cannot afford the exorbitant rates of top tier firms.

“We also understand the operating environments of SMEs and the support available to them through government programs and the ATO.”

Ms Hou states that the labor shortage is not likely to ease in the short term which means that small to medium-size accounting firms need more help to retain and attract workers in the current economic environment.

“Perhaps we need to start looking at the professional sector like the sporting environment,” Ms Hou said.

“If large firms want to swoop in and poach our staff, then they should have to pay a transfer fee or provide compensation.

“This kind of approach works in the sporting environment.  Maybe we need to consider this type of arrangement in the accounting sector.

Mr You said this would stop some of the rampant poaching and also reward small to medium-size accounting firms for investing so much of their time and resources into the development of staff – only to have them poached from under their feet.

“The old adage that if you look after your staff, they will stay, is no longer relevant in this challenging and predatory market environment. The big guys are chewing up the little guys and spitting them out – and we now need associations and government to come together to work out a plan to help the small to medium-size accounting businesses out. 

“Without staff, good trained staff, small to medium-sized accounting businesses can not do their work.

“If something is not done, the situation is going to impact on businesses’ ability to meet their tax obligations and revenue generation for the government. The situation is very serious.”

Ms Hou also added that while large firms were responsible for the majority of poaching, she is also seeing some other unscrupulous behaviour starting to emerge across the industry. 

“We are also starting to see some small to medium-size accounting firms stoop to poor behaviour including competitors in the same industry. They are poaching each other’s staff by promising a few thousand dollars more or unrealistic career progress.  It’s short-sighted and also heartbreaking.”