Leadership | Learning / Education | Talent management

How to make your firm a talent magnet?

You can sum up the top issues facing CPA Firms and Corporate Finance and Accounting teams in two words - talent development.

Talent recruitment, retention, partner alignment and succession planning are topping the list of challenges facing Top 300 CPA firms according to their Managing Partners and CXOs. We expect this trend to continue as the talent war heats up. The war for talent is over. The talent won.

- Josh Bersin BLI has developed its 'magnetic firm framework' after research over the past year. Using the latest research from the talent development and human resource fields combined with our experience working with over one hundred CPA firms and corporate finance teams, we came up with the 'magnetic firm' as a way to describe the best ways to access and attract talent in today's competitive market. The magnetic firm model has sixteen key areas or attributes of firms that act as 'talent magnets' and have low turnover, high engagement, and are able to attract the best and the brightest in the market.

Over the past few months we have been able to expose this framework for feedback and have been able to get self-ranked scores from almost five hundred talent leaders across the US. The average firm scores are coming in around 67% on the Magnetic Firm score. That means they are going themselves a score of D+ for talent management.

Our advice is to use these top four areas to move the needle on your magnetic firm score:

  1. Purpose driven workplace
  2. Culture of growth (Career Development)
  3. Inspiring workplace – flexible and inclusive
  4. Great leadership – trust & transparent

The idea is to think about your talent management along the sixteen dimensions of the magnetic firm framework and identify the areas that might have the biggest impact to work on. We recommend working on only a couple at a time.


One of the top areas for an HR or Learning leader to support the firm is to implement a strategic and systematic approach to learning and development. Career and leadership development continues to be one of the most sought after benefits of nextgen leaders and an easy place to start.

Here are our six steps to create a talent management and development strategy:

  1. Develop talent & leadership strategy aligned to firm vision and strategy.
  2. Create a competency model
  3. Develop the career path (ladder) - See our Bounce framework.
  4. Map curriculum & content to the career path.
  5. Develop an ongoing compliance & governance approach.
  6. Create a process and graphic to communicate and inspire your talent with this plan.

How are you making your firm a talent magnet?

Take the BLI Culture and Strategy Survey and test your score against our industry average of 67%.

Here are the resources from the Allinial Global HR Conference:

More on Learning and Talent Development:

My report from the AICPA EDGE Conference - The Top Five Things NextGen Leaders Want Us to Know;  The Top Five Ways Learning is Transforming; and Anticipation: The Missing Competency.


Tom Hood