Accountants' drought in WA

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The capital of Western Australia is at the sharp end of the resources boom that's underpinning the huge growth in the state's economy.

As a result, each of the Big Four accounting firms - KPMG, PwC, Ernst & Young and Deloitte - is facing a major battle to retain talent in the face of competition from mining groups.

"They have a voracious appetite for people with good financial skills," says Keith Jones, managing partner of Deloitte's WA business. "Some staff are being lured with salary increases of 40-100% more than their current package," he adds.

Jones says Deloitte's business in Perth has doubled in recent years, but its ability to grow further is constrained by an inability to find enough experienced executives.

"We could probably take 10 people right now, managers and directors with six to 12 years' experience," he claims.

A spokeswoman for KPMG in Perth says the firm is also in the market for new executives and its ability to grow its business is being hampered by the difficulty of getting new staff, too.

She says executives with three to six years' experience - senior assistant managers aged 25 to 27 - are in most demand.

In the 12 months to June 2006, KPMG doubled its intake of 20 graduates to 40, and it will further increase that total to 50 this financial year.

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