4 min read

Gen Z: Who Are They, and What Do Accounting Firms Need to Know?

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Today, most accounting firms have a good understanding of who they do business with. While there are some exceptions, the decision-makers you interact with as a firm leader tend to act rationally, in ways you can understand. 

Decision makers largely look like you, talk like you, and think like you. They consume and process information in a predictable way. Because of that, your firm likely has a pretty good grasp on how to best foster and build relationships with them. This mutual understanding is the foundation of your success. 

But these decision-makers aren’t going to be around forever. The youngest members of the Baby Boomer generation are now 58 and are rapidly approaching retirement. The generations in line to replace them in leadership positions are far from identical––in fact, in many instances, they’re radically different.

The generation everyone is most curious about? Gen Z: the teenagers and young adults of today that are just now starting to enter the workforce. 

They might make decisions in ways that may seem completely alien to you. But if you want your firm to still be around in decades to come, you must invest in building relationships with younger generations. So, who is Gen Z, and what are some tips your firm should keep in mind as you begin to recruit and sell to them? 

Let’s meet the accountants, and clients, of the future. 

Gen Z: Who Are They?

Have you hired any staff straight out of college recently? Most likely, they’re members of Gen Z. 

Gen Z, also known as Zoomers, are the youngest generation in our workforce today. Born between 1997 and 2012, the oldest members of Gen Z are a few years into their careers while the youngest are just starting middle school. 

This is the most digitally native, technologically literate generation in history. Many have never known a world without constant connectivity. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, 48% of individuals aged 18 – 29 report they are online “almost constantly”. 

That means the way Gen Z’ers consume information is very different from what you might be accustomed to. They’re on different platforms, have a shorter attention span, and have a worldview that may be entirely inconsistent with your own. 

Gen Z, along with the preceding generation, Millennials, represent the future of our economy. They are the industry captains of tomorrow and are already starting to make major economic waves. 

Your firm’s ability to recruit and sell to these generations will be a major indicator of your success in years to come. How do you do that effectively? Here are a few key points to keep in mind. 

4 Points to Consider When Marketing to Gen Z

To make your firm attractive to Gen Z, there are some adjustments you’ll have to make to your existing strategies. These hold true both for recruiting Gen Z staff members (the future leaders of your firm) and for attracting Gen Z decision-makers as clients. 

Let’s explore a few concepts that you should bear in mind as you reshape your firm’s talent acquisition and marketing strategies.

1. The Changing Role of Technology

Gen Z has grown up in a time of constant connectivity. None of them experienced a world without the internet and the majority were still in elementary school when the iPhone was released. To them, using technology isn’t just an option––it’s the only rational way to approach work. 

This means they value firms that use the latest technology to provide a seamless client experience. Can your firm work on client engagements remotely? Can you set up real-time, cloud-based accounting systems for your clients? Do you have a flexible hybrid workplace culture?

Mastering the use of technology within your firm will be a major indicator of success in years to come. That means the time to innovate is now. Experiment with new tools and platforms, infuse technology throughout your client experience, and live on the cutting edge of new technologies.

2. Marketing to Short Attention Spans

Today, all of us are exposed to a much higher volume of marketing and advertising than at any time previously. The average American sees as many as 10,000 ads every day. For Gen Z’ers who are almost always online, this number is even higher. 

The result of all this is an attention span that’s significantly shorter than other generations. Studies have found that the average Gen Z consumer has an attention span of just eight seconds

With such a short attention span, your firm needs to be asking how you cut through the noise to command the attention of your prospective clients. That might mean creating shorter, punchier content, experimenting with new platforms, or finding new voices to communicate the value your firm offers. 

3. New Sources of Information

Coupled with the shortening of consumer’s attention spans is the rise of new sources of information. If you have a question you need to be answered quickly, you might punch it into Google and check out the first website that comes up. However, if you’re in Gen Z, there’s a good chance Google isn’t your first stop––TikTok is. 

TikTok, despite what you might have heard, is far more than a platform for silly videos. In the space of just a couple of years, it’s become the most visited website in the world and is increasingly viewed as a search engine, usurping Google Search as the premier source of information online for many young people. 

It isn’t just TikTok: other platforms are emerging too. Accounting firms are increasingly starting YouTube channels and podcasts, with many experiencing huge success. Recognizing the importance of new channels and investing in building out a digital footprint on them ensures your firm will be seen as a source of authority among the next generation. 

4. A Diverse, Values-Driven Generation

Gen Z is the most diverse generation ever, and that diversity is reflected in their value systems. This is a generation that wants to work with firms that embody their values and share their commitment to making the world a better place. 

If you want to attract Gen Z clients, the time to invest in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) programs is now. The presence of these programs is increasingly becoming an important factor in client decision-making processes. Demonstrating that your firm makes a positive impact on the wider community isn’t just good for business, it’s the right thing to do. 

For firms facing the accounting industry’s looming talent shortage, identifying, recruiting, and nurturing Gen Z talent represents the answer to many capacity issues. Take note that Gen Z has a distinct set of values: salary is still important, but many are looking for employers that can offer both career development opportunities and work-life balance. 

Redefine your Strategy with Winding River Consulting

Building an accounting firm that lasts generations is no easy task. It requires a long-term strategic vision, organizational agility, and a commitment to innovation. As the influence and importance of Generation Z continues to grow, it’s incumbent on managing partners and firm leaders to position their firm for the future. 

Winding River Consulting is the ideal partner to help you chart a course to success. Our team of experienced accounting industry leaders specializes in creating data-driven growth strategies that guide your firm to a more prosperous tomorrow. 

Interested in learning more? Contact us today

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