- The talent crunch remains one of the biggest challenges facing the accounting industry today, with nearly 35% of accountants citing that finding the right talent was among their three biggest practice management issues over the past year, compared to just 14% who cited it last year, according to new data from Caseware International, an audit and accounting software company.
- More than 90% of the 4,100 accountants and 95% of 2,300 auditors surveyed — most of whom are at the senior level — found it either “challenging” or “extremely challenging” to hire skilled talent, the survey said.
- As the labor market remains tight, CFOs are looking for a wider breadth of skills in the accounting professionals that they hire. “Technology is really automating a lot of routine functions, so critical thinking, decision analysis thinking — those skills are becoming more important. There's a shortage of professionals with those skills,” said Dennis Whitney, SVP of certification at the Institute of Management Accountants in an interview.
Although some universities and accounting programs have adapted to the changing landscape of what the profession is today, said Whitney, there are still far few younger people who decide to study accounting.
Accounting firms are struggling to find potential employees that have the accounting skills deemed necessary to perform work at a level acceptable to clients and some are even having to turn business away due to a shortage of staff, the survey said.
With less young people choosing to pursue accounting, “your pool is getting smaller from a graduating perspective, which is then leading to the higher stress levels at CPA firms,” said Richard McClure, senior manager of operations at Wipfli LLC in the survey report.
As the accounting profession loses its allure, many firms are suffering from burnout with their staff as well.
Nearly three-quarters (71%) of accounting professionals globally want more from their employers when it comes to addressing their mental health due to burnout in recent months, CFO Dive previously reported. Meanwhile, high stress levels and a work-life imbalance is leading to higher mobility in the industry as well, with many accountants expecting to move on from their current roles in a few years.
“I think in the profession, we need to do a better job educating young people to see the possibilities of what the profession has to offer. People think that accountants are just number crunchers, and it's not really an interesting job, but the reality is it's more about technology today,” said Whitney.
In terms of how CFOs are strategizing to ease the talent crunch, many have looked to increase their flexibility in terms of a hybrid work environment among the finance function. “Our finance team now has to go into the office twice a week, and really, they could do the job from home now,” said Whitney.
Another strategy to ease the crunch has been increased education, as well as a purpose to their work, according to Whitney.
“Better communicating what the mission is of the company and their role in it is key. It’s not just a role to count the money and import the financial statements. They need to see the big picture, how they impact the strategy of the company, and how what they do is of value to the company,” he said.