November 29, 2021

Bonus Watch ’21: Deloitte’s Audit Practice Is Trying to Nip This ‘Great Resignation’ Thing In the Bud By Offering Retention Bonuses

There’s a firm that finally gets it when it comes to giving employees of one of its core lines of service a reason not to join the mass exodus that is going on right now in the Big 4.

It’s not promoting some fictitiously great company culture. It’s not giving employees Omaha Steaks or 1-800-Flowers gift cards. It’s not throwing pizza parties during busy season. The only way the Big 4 can retain their prized employees during “The Great Resignation” is by giving them more money. Plain and simple.

You would think Deloitte, the most behemoth of the behemoth accounting firms, would have realized this during compensation season. But an analysis of employee raises this year showed Deloitte didn’t loosen the purse strings like PwC and EY did (we’ll be analyzing raises at KPMG soon).

However, last month Deloitte announced that the firm would be providing mid-year salary adjustments to employees in all service lines before the end of 2021. But in an email to Deloitters, CEO Joe Ucuzoglu wrote, “In some markets and for some professionals, our compensation remains highly competitive and no current adjustments are warranted,” so not everyone will receive bumps in pay.

Then last week during an all-hands call, Lara Abrash, chair and CEO of Deloitte & Touche, the firm’s audit and assurance practice, made a surprise announcement to her group (from a post on r/accounting; bolded part added for emphasis):

Deloitte Audit

  1. Hybrid – will make options for those who want to remain virtual beyond this year.

  2. Compensation adjustments – Announced previously. All markets will be eligible for adjustments, including enabling areas. Adjustments will be based on market data and level, not performance. Will communicate late October/early November. Adjustments will average in high single to low double digit. Over 80% will receive a 10% or higher raise. Highest percentages will be focused to seniors and managers.

  3. Longer term compensation strategy for bonuses – This will be a one-time award for certain US client service professionals. US A&A professionals second-years through SM1/2. Amounts will vary by level. Between $20k and $35k. Those who receive will stay until at least the end of May 2023. Paid out 1/7/2022.

But of course there’s a catch (from a different post on r/accounting):

Caveat being: you must stay until may 2023 or you’ll have to pay back in full

Here’s a thread with a decent discussion on r/Deloitte about the retention bonus:

Thoughts on A&A retention bonus? from deloitte

 

This seems like a win-win for Deloitte. You give employees who were thinking of leaving in the next year (like the OP above) a reason not to leave before May 31, 2023—the last day of Deloitte’s 2023 fiscal year—AND if they do leave, the firm gets its money back.

We haven’t heard about any of the other Big 4 firms or larger midtier firms offering retention bonuses to employees. If we missed one, let us know in the comments or via the contact info below. We also haven’t heard if Deloitte is offering this retention bonus in its consulting and tax practices? If the firm has, get in touch with us.

So who’s taking the retention bonus at D&T?

Related articles:

Compensation Watch ’21: Deloitte Staff Gets Some Encouraging News About Raises and Promotions
Compensation Watch ’21: Deloitte Puts Mid-Year Raises On the Table (Updated with Email From Deloitte CEO)

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5 Comments

  1. Wouldn’t it be something if a firm chose the other way to retain talent? “What other way?” you may ask: Fix what’s broken about the whole profession and business model!

    Plan ahead, staff, equip, and train your employees so 80 hours weeks crunching stale, boring numbers are the exception rather than the norm.

    For some reason the dinosaur firms can’t get this. Maybe after the partners have to eat into their profits enough, they’ll give that other avenue a try. For now, the most they can do is the old “throw more money at them” move. It’s not going to work so well when other, more attractive industries offer so much more for the employee’s time and effort.

    1. The 80 hour work weeks are done on purpose. I was not in Assurance so I am speaking from second-hand knowledge here; but I was under the impression that it’s only parts of the year that they are working crazy hours? If so, how does the firm balance out staffing so that if they hired up for busy season, how do they balance it out during the non-busy parts of the year where they don’t have staff sitting around doing nothing?

    2. The partners never have to think about aptly responding to changes because well performance is based on favoritism and not merit.

  2. I have been at the same small to mid-size firm for over 30 years. I have never be rewarded monetarily, or any other way, for my time or my loyalty. I perform audit, review, comp, writeup, corp, partnership, NP, individual tax projects, along with heading up client accounting software implementation and training. I am a well rounded, experienced senior accountant who works independently and without a lot of supervision. Because I am not a CPA I am not able to be placed in a management position within my firm. However I know more in the way of accounting than most, if not all, than the incoming hires that come in as college graduates that have passed their CPA exam and need to get their hours in for certification. I do my work, I do it well, and I do whatever I can to better the firm. Sounds like I’m patting myself on the back but this is not the point I’m trying to make.
    What bothers me now is a concern that these green individuals are hired with signing bonuses, and salaries that match close to mine, and they have ZERO experience. They bring them in as staff, and after 1 year, already they are dubbed Senior, and after 2 years, most make Supervisor. Now they make more than I do and still can’t do any analytical work on their own or prepare a simple tax return without a hand hold. They are put in a niche department and placed on a pedestal, and are not trained to be well rounded accountants. Why you ask? Because the firm doesn’t want to lose the young CPA who may leave you to flit from one firm to another. Ridiculous money and benefits thrown at them so they are retained. It has become the Big Game.
    I say to all firms out there, look at your longtime, loyal, experienced staff, and reward them accordingly, as once they don’t feel appreciated, they will be gone, and you won’t have anyone left that can pick up any type of accounting / tax project and run with it, without a lot of hand holding and overseeing.
    Or offer the BENEFIT and PROMISE to the new young talent, that you will train them to be well-rounded. Place them for a time, in every department within the firm, so they can do anything, and learn to actually love what they do in this industry. Keep it interesting and challenging, instead of offering up a droll niche of accounting procedures to perform day in and day out. No wonder they leave!

  3. Not explicitly called such, PwC’s “targeted skills bonus” announced during the firmwide webcast on 9/30 has essentially played out to be a retention bonus, paid across all levels at the discretion of office/practice leadership. Due to be paid 3/31/2022 for those who want to stick around through another busy season. Conversations started taking place a couple weeks ago for those who were “targeted”.

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