Our guide to attracting and retaining top Audit talent

6 mins

Effective, strong functions like audit need impactful staff. Increasingly, it’s becoming har...

Effective, strong functions like audit need impactful staff. Increasingly, it’s becoming harder and harder to retain people over the long-term, and even harder to attract the best audit talent.

There are many reasons why good staff leave. For IT auditors, it’s the lure of emerging technology such as cloud, AI and FinTech. For Business Auditors, it’s the desire to work with new regulations, meaning you might not be able to facilitate their growth internally. But sometimes it’s the recruitment process itself that pushes people away. Lengthy processes, or new internal structure changes that cause a dramatic increase in headcount, can leave new starters unsure of their role and feeling undervalued.

From our experience, there are some industry-wide challenges that impact retention and recruitment, but there are also some points of consideration that will help you to attract the top audit talent to your business and keep them there.

Keeping the best early career talent

Entry / Associate through to Manager level is a highly competitive place to be. There are always opportunities opening up that pay better, offer different experience or include development support. That makes keeping your more junior talent tricky. The higher someone progresses through their career, the fewer positions are available, creating a bigger pool of talent at a more junior level.

Without the opportunities available to them in-house, they’ll start looking elsewhere. The challenge is therefore around how to create opportunities when you might not have a promotion available. What else can be offered to sweeten the deal - can you broaden their experience, offer other compensation packages, support them in gaining qualifications? The options are there, it’s about finding the right support that can be rolled out across junior positions when needed.


Walking the walk with diversity & social mobility

Many organisations state that they’re committed to diversity and inclusion, but it can be hard to see how that’s put into practice. Encouraging diversity in applications when working with recruiters, creating a diverse mix on an interview panel and working with dedicated schemes to support diversity within the workplace are just a few ways to reaffirm a commitment to diversity.

Attracting the best people means opening every door and making sure they stay open. For that to happen, diversity has to be embedded in your business - and not just a token gesture. The same goes for gender equality throughout all levels of the business. Taking steps to support this includes actively promoting and sourcing for talent outside the Russel Group or Redbrick universities in the UK, for example. Accommodating those who need part-time or flexible hours and ensuring that their contributions and achievements are rewarded through promotion will stop a drain on talent & increase the pool available to you.


Supporting career progression and diversification

Careers are very rarely linear these days. Instead, it’s normal to move from position to position every 3-4 years. That makes career progression within an organisation difficult, particularly if your top performers want to specialise.

Taking the time to delve into an individual’s career aspirations and understanding how you can assist them in that, fosters a culture of support and appreciation, and commitment to their and the business’ long-term success. Sponsoring certifications, funding training courses and development programmes are all proven examples to retain talent.


Thinking about the overall package

Whether you agree or not, money talks, particularly at more junior levels. A couple of thousands can make or break your offer or lure someone away. It’s not always the deciding factor, but your overall remuneration package needs to be competitive and in line with market expectations.

This is an area which can often be overlooked in favour of training support or the culture of a workplace but, particularly at the moment, with living costs increasing, it’s likely to still be a main factor in an individual’s decision. Many candidates end up with 4 or 5 offers to choose from, so the need to be competitive has never been greater. Your recruiter is in the best position to advise you on the market and your positioning.


Embracing flexibility

The appetite for flexibility is real, and it’s not going away. Creating a workplace that allows staff to exercise a certain degree of flexibility - whether that’s over their hours or location, is a benefit that won’t be ignored.

It’s not about doing what everyone else is, but instead working out what the new normal is for the business in the wake of Covid-19. There are certain aspects of internal audit that need to be done on site, but there are also parts of the role, such as report writing, that can be done from anywhere. Communicating and demonstrating that ethos at all levels will stand you in good stead when talking to potential employees and existing staff members.


Qualifications, training & opportunities

Within audit, there are clear promotion opportunities. Both the timescale and criteria for promotion need to be clearly communicated and followed to help attract and retain talent. Often when people move jobs it’s to progress, offering this within your team negates the need for them to leave.

Equally important are the opportunities your team is given to experience new fields, learn different skills and upskill their knowledge in different areas and specialisms within audit. This will help them to niche in their career and start to forge their career path as a specialist. With new areas within audit, such as data analytics, taking proactive steps to train your staff in these areas or expose them to it in practice will be a useful selling point and will benefit the business.

Looking at the support, both financially and practically, when learning and gaining new qualifications is equally important to create a manageable workload and maintain a work/life balance.


Honing your processes

The lack of feedback and interview processes that drag on for weeks could be a reason you aren’t attracting the top talent. Looking at your internal processes and streamlining them is a crucial part of this issue.

By processes, we mean your recruitment procedures. How many rounds of interviews are there? How much notice is given? The speed of decisions and communication to the candidate. A recent survey conducted by Sterling found that 78% of applicants would drop out of a recruitment process if they felt it was too long or complex. Ensuring a swift but efficient process will keep any candidates highly engaged and lead to the organisation being able to choose the candidate they want rather than choosing from the ones left in the process.

Similarly, when you onboard a new starter, they need to instantly feel valued, appreciated and needed. Failure to do so may result in them starting to look elsewhere before they’ve even got their feet under the table.


There isn’t one quick answer to how to attract and keep top audit talent. Instead, there are a number of barriers with solutions that you can put in place to support that ambition. From your remuneration package to processes to diversity and inclusion, there are actionable steps which will strengthen your position as the best place to work, and it’s that reputation that will aid you to attract and retain the best auditors in the industry right now.

Audit is a competitive market with the demand for the best talent skyrocketing. Whether you’re looking for the right person to join your team or building a new team from the ground up, get in touch to see how we can help. We’re plugged into the industry and have the skills, knowledge and contacts to give you the help you need.

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