Almost all industries are united by the great challenge of finding well-trained and motivated employees. The shortage of skilled workers is particularly high in the tax consultancy sector. The Haufe Group has therefore commissioned a study with the aim of gaining insights that will pave the way out of the rather dusty, boring image of the tax advisory professions, in order to become more attractive for Generation Z. The study looked at the perception of the tax advisory professions as a profession. The perception of tax consultancy as a potential field of work, the comparison with other similar fields of work and what really counts for young potential employees were considered.
"Tax consultancy is cool, exciting and relevant - but unfortunately too few people know that. This has to change in order to continue to attract enough professionals to the sector in the future. For us, the study is a first step towards increasing the attractiveness of tax consultancy together with the industry. Only if you know what Generation Z expects and what is important to them will you find the right approach on the right channels," says Isabel Blank, Managing Director of Haufe-Lexware GmbH & Co. KG.
German Tax Consultants' Conference 2022
Isabel Blank, Prof. Dr. Robert Mayr, Chairman of the Board, DATEV eG and Torsten Lüth, President of the German Association of Tax Consultants (Deutscher Steuerberaterverband e.V.) gave an outlook on the future of tax firms at the 45th German Tax Consultants' Conference. During the panel discussion, the participants addressed current challenges, future developments and opportunities for tax firms. Topics such as digitalisation, sustainability, resilience and a shortage of skilled workers were the focus of the discussion. In this context, Isabel Blank presented the most important results from the study.
Findings from the study
The biggest challenge facing the tax sector: low attractiveness and poor image. Only 18 percent of the target group could imagine working in tax consultancy. With this result, the industry is only in the midfield. At the top are areas such as management and corporate governance or marketing. There is a tendency for more male respondents (23 percent) and students (21 percent) to imagine working in tax consultancy in the future.
What counts for Generation Z? The study distinguished between enthusiasm characteristics, comparison criteria and basic characteristics. From the respondents' point of view, the basic characteristics 'high earning potential' and 'good job prospects' must always be fulfilled. However, the tax industry cannot score points with the fulfilment of these characteristics alone. With the help of the comparative criteria, however, the tax advisory professions can positively distinguish themselves from other competing occupational fields. These are characterised by varied, flexible work, with opportunities for further training, a high level of job security and a good work-life balance. Enthusiasm characteristics included equality, dynamic work environment, hip profession and creative fields of work.
Only with the criterion 'high job security' is the tax consultancy industry perceived as positively as it is in reality, at 26 percent. In all other criteria, the tax advisory professions score comparatively less well.
About the study
The focus of the study was on Generation Z and on those representatives who, due to their training, studies or professional path, have the highest probability of being able or wanting to work in tax consultancy.
A total of 1280 online interviews were conducted in August 2022 with respondents who were born after 1997 and live in Germany. Three target groups were distinguished: High school graduates (from grammar schools and business schools), students (of economics, law, social sciences or linguistics) and potential career changers (working in the fields of economics, law, social sciences or linguistics).