5 minute read 10 Oct 2019
Exceptional talent - Conceptual illustration

How EY locates and nurtures exceptional talent

By

Karen Hochrein

EY Global Assurance Talent Leader

Audit partner with more than 30 years of experience across a number of sectors. Passionate about using skills to develop others. Enjoying the increasing pace of change and new ways of working.

5 minute read 10 Oct 2019

Providing high-quality audits means recruiting people with the right skills, then training them and supporting their career development.

The auditor’s role is changing. Companies now rely not only on the accounting and technical experience of their auditors, but also on an ability to apply the latest technology and to adapt to changing business models. Competition for talented people with these skills has never been higher, and finding the next cohort of high-quality auditors, and then retaining them, is a top priority. That’s why exceptional talent is one of the six pillars of the EY Sustainable Audit Quality program.

For audit to remain an appealing career path, a working environment is required that attracts the kind of specialists needed. As Global Assurance Talent Leader, I feel privileged to play a role in recruiting the thousands of skilled and hard-working professionals who join EY member firms every year.

All recruits are expected to live up to high standards of integrity, and to have strong business acumen and leadership potential.

To find people who fit with the organization’s culture, it is important to take into account not just technical excellence, but also other attributes – communication skills, ethics and the ability to collaborate in high-performing teams. Regardless of their academic background, all recruits are expected to live up to high standards of integrity, and to have strong business acumen and leadership potential.

Changing skills

With the EY Digital Audit now deployed globally, it is clear that skill needs have changed. Alongside the core accounting knowledge, what is needed are people with enquiring minds, good critical judgment, data science skills and the ability to work well with others as part of diverse teams. They also need to be able to quickly explain complex concepts to clients and colleagues.

Learning opportunities

90%

of people in the Assurance service line agreed that the experiences they had received in their role had been valuable for their growth and development. (Global People Survey 2019)

Because of this, significant investment has been made in expanding the Audit Academy, which offers a consistent training program for EY auditors across the world. Every year, the content and focus of the Audit Academy are adjusted to address new technologies and strategic priorities that promote audit quality. Moreover, it encourages and empowers individuals to think critically, to act with integrity and to deliver exceptional client service.

Engagement

No organization can hope to attract, retain and develop high-performing individuals without an employee-centric culture. Listening to EY people – to understand their ambitions, their concerns and the pressures they are under – makes it possible to provide a better environment in which they can flourish. Engagement can be seen as a combination of factors – pride, advocacy, commitment and satisfaction – and engagement levels are regularly monitored.

For example, the 2019 Global People Survey found that 90% of people in the Assurance service line agreed that the experiences they had received in their role had been valuable for their growth and development. Several programs have also been introduced to encourage building new skills; 84% of GPS respondents said they were provided with learning opportunities to build the skills required to be successful in the future, an increase of four percentage points.

Personal development

I am also excited by the personal development possibilities available to EY people.

For example, the EY Badges program allows professionals to gain future-focused skills in domains such as data visualization, AI and blockchain. Take-up of the program is increasing as more team members recognize the importance of managing their own skills portfolio.

There is also a stronger focus on experience management, which transforms the concept of assignment by scheduling auditors onto engagements where they not only maximize their unique skills and competencies, but also find opportunities to expand their knowledge as part of longer-term career progression.

Fostering a sense of pride and belonging is critical to ensuring that the EY organization can attract the most talented individuals, as well as keeping them motivated and engaged.

New entrants to the workforce may have different career hopes, so they are being provided with the necessary tools and processes to manage their own progression. This more individualized career structure is vital in attracting new talent and in helping to develop and retain the existing workforce.

To be their best, EY people need support, and 2018 saw the launch of the Vitality program to help deliver that support. In a fast-changing environment, it becomes increasingly important to look after yourself to fully realize your potential. The initiative is designed to help develop better working habits, maintain good health and produce sustainable careers, while living fulfilled lives outside work.

Diversity

The EY organization has long been an enthusiastic advocate of diversity. A concerted effort has been made to build strong, diverse and inclusive teams – something that is especially important in audit, where skepticism, challenge and critical thinking form the bedrock. Creating diverse teams fosters an inclusive work environment, develops more relevant insights and solidifies the organization’s position as a market leader in this space.

Creating diverse teams

49%

of EY auditors in FY19 were female, compared with 48.1% in FY18.

Employees need to feel they are working in an organization that not only values them as individuals, but also values a diverse spectrum of backgrounds and thought. Fostering this sense of pride and belonging is critical to ensuring that the EY organization can attract the most talented individuals, as well as keeping them motivated and engaged.

Summary

Karen Hochrein, EY Global Assurance Talent Leader highlights some of the initiatives that support EY auditors in performing quality work. Attracting and nurturing exceptional talent encompasses recruitment, retention and learning. It also involves building strong, diverse, inclusive teams, and consideration of the skills and capabilities needed, both now and in the future.

About this article

By

Karen Hochrein

EY Global Assurance Talent Leader

Audit partner with more than 30 years of experience across a number of sectors. Passionate about using skills to develop others. Enjoying the increasing pace of change and new ways of working.