Recruitment and talent management are among the most challenging aspects of the accountancy sector, where leading firms rely on a variety of strategies to attract and retain good people. While leading accountancy firms face a war for talent with other sectors, the new generation of budding accountants has a different approach to work from the previous generation. Recruitment professionals point out that paying attention to career expectations and what motivates young employees is often the key to successfully nurturing and retaining the next generation of accounting professionals. Margaret So, human resources director at KPMG China, says recruiting talent to meet business expansion and develop future management personnel is a top imperative for the company. Over the coming year, KPMG has plans to recruit 1,700 to 2,000 graduates to join the firm's expanding mainland operation. However, So is quick to point out that KPMG is looking for quality rather than quantity. KPMG is also looking for experienced accountants and professionals with specific industry knowledge to take up roles in the firm's expanding advisory services. As part of KPMG's talent management processes, fresh graduates receive technical, professional exam training and access to programmes designed to advance career and personal development skills. So says employees with exceptional capabilities and skill sets can look forward to fast-track their career development. 'We provide a very transparent career path so that employees know where they can be within the firm after two or three years and the steps they need to take before they can become a partner,' she says. 'When people join KPMG, they are entering a high-performance culture where we help them take the necessary steps to succeed. As a caring company, we don't want to put undo pressure on them where they might fail.' She says one of the benefits of working for a large organisation, such as KPMG, is the opportunity to move around within the firm, which can include working in different countries. Based on KPMG's and clients' needs, employees can also request to work in an area that specifically interests them. For example, its professionals may assist clients with their initial public offering (IPO) structuring or business advisory needs. 'Having the flexibility to allocate our human resources provides an opportunity for our people to engage with clients and learn new skills, which is part of enjoying job satisfaction,' So says. Recruitment and talent management practices are equally important at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which has implemented strategies to address young employees' career expectations by providing opportunities to be creative and involved in the business. Ernest Ip, PwC China and Hong Kong senior partner, says driving talent management practices deeper into the organisation has become a priority. PwC has taken into account that young professionals have grown up in a different environment from accountants who joined the profession 10 years ago. He says most are used to having technology at their fingertips, and use the internet and social networking channels where an immediate response has become expected. 'The people we see joining the profession are adept at multitasking and relish new challenges. To ensure we retain our smart young people, we look for ways to motivate them, allowing them to achieve their career expectations while still making sure they learn their craft thoroughly,' Ip says. He says it requires a change of management mindset to adapt to the younger generation's way of thinking or risk missing out on attracting and retaining top talent. 'I would rather change my own mindset to retain the young, smart people we have invested heavily in than lose them to another industry,' Ip says. Even though PwC seeks ways to retain staff, qualified accountants with three or four years' experience are often tempted by offers to join the banking and private equity industry. 'We have to accept the accountancy industry is a recruitment source for other sectors,' Ip says. He says a key focus of the talent engagement process ensures that employees know they make a valuable contribution to a multidisciplinary firm. In addition, the firm continually looks for ways that allow employees to widen their skill base and develop their careers.