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Plante Moran Managing Partner: Accounting Profession Is Losing Too Much Talent

Gordon Krater, managing partner of Plante Moran, said something pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay interesting about the state of the accounting profession in this Detroit Free Press interview: 

"We can't afford to lose as much talent as the profession has been losing," Krater, 56, said during an interview in the firm's downtown Detroit offices. "There are really smart, really good people who either opt out or we haven't trained, developed and mentored enough."

In this particular interview, Krater was speaking in the context of women leaving the profession, but really, you could say it's relative to non-white dudes, too. Fortune's 2015 ranking reported Plante Moran to be 91% white.

But in the context of women leaving the profession, the statement is interesting mainly because it's rare to hear an accounting firm leader talk about what the profession has done wrong. In spite of what Cathy Engelbert said on CNBC today, women still make up less than 20% of public accounting equity partners.

And speaking of numbers it was also interesting to see the Plante Moran go on record with a specific goal in mind: 

The 2,200-employee firm now has 23 offices in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, and in China, Mexico and India. Its annual revenues are about $450 million. It services about 12,000 clients, and has 280 partners, of which 21% are women.
A look at accounting trends in 2011 by the American Institute of CPAs found the percentage of female partners in firms nationally with more than 200 partners was 18%.
Plante Moran is seeking to increase the percentage of female partners every year, aiming for a goal of 35%.

In other words, an increase of 67%. The report doesn't state what kind of time frame the firm is shooting for, but at that great of an increase, it won't be any time soon.

Which is probably the reason why we haven't seen any other accounting firms put a hard and fast number on their diversity goals. They shoot too high and they set themselves up for failure; shoot too low and they'll take grief for not trying hard enough. 

Rather than put some arbitrary number on it, PM and other firms should figure out how to attract and keep those "really smart, really good people." Maybe then the numbers will take care of themselves.

Accounting firm aims to promote more women [DFP]