The accounting industry needs a transfer fee system to put the brakes on big companies poaching workers from financially weaker firms, according to Platinum Accounting CEO Coco Hou.
“Hard-working small to medium size accounting businesses are being attacked by larger companies raiding their workforce,” said Ms Hou.
“If larger firms want to swoop in and poach our staff, then they should have to pay a transfer fee or provide compensation.
“This kind of approach works in the sporting environment, maybe we need to consider this type of arrangement in the accounting sector.”
Platinum Accounting had recently lost seven staff to poaching by larger businesses, Ms Hou said.
She said a transfer fee as compensation would slow down the exodus of staff from smaller companies and reward them for developing and training those employees.
“This would stop some of the rampant poaching and also reward small to medium-size accounting firms for investing so much of their time and resources into the development of staff – only to have them poached from under their feet,” she said.
It could work in the same way companies used to pay recruitment agencies for finding an employee.
“In the past when you would hire someone through a recruitment agency usually they would charge between 15 to 20 per cent of annual salary as placement fee,” said Ms Hou.
She said the staff raiders displayed an ugly side of the industry.
“The way in which the poaching is being done is also disgraceful, staff are being stalked on sites such as LinkedIn and approached through cold calls and messaging,” said Ms Hou.
“The poaching is hurting the whole industry, not just small to medium size businesses.
“They are poaching each other’s staff by promising a few thousand dollars more or unrealistic career progress. It’s short-sighted and also heartbreaking.”
The labour shortage was affecting everyone but larger companies could entice employees away with greater financial incentives, hurting the ability of smaller firms to attract and retain staff.
“The biggest complaint across the industry is the way in which large firms are swooping in and luring staff away with the promise of massive pay rises and lucrative career progression,” said Ms Hou.
“The old adage that if you look after your staff, they will stay, is no longer relevant in this challenging and predatory market environment.
“The big guys are chewing up the little guys and spitting them out – and we now need associations and the government to come together to work out a plan to help the small to medium-size accounting businesses out.”
Ms Hou said fallout from accountancy staff poaching would impact other industries.
“The reality is that the SME accounting sector plays a vital role in supporting businesses, especially start-ups and small to medium size businesses across the country,” said Ms Hou.
“Without staff, good trained staff, small to medium-sized accounting businesses cannot do their work.
“If something is not done, the situation is going to impact on businesses’ ability to meet their tax obligations and revenue generation for the government.”