The accounting profession has a reputation for providing stable work, good wages, and long-term job security for those who choose it. However, in recent years, there has been a mass exodus, of sorts, within the accounting and auditing industry.
A new Wall Street Journal report notes that over 300,000 U.S. accountants and auditors have walked away from their jobs since 2020. This is a massive 17% decline, and firms currently struggle to fill open roles with fewer college graduates choosing accounting-related majors.
In fact, even those students who have accounting degrees are turning away from the profession in droves.
WSJ spoke to Clemson University graduate, 22-year-old Jordan Pixley, who majored in accounting because he was drawn to work that requires attention to detail. During his internships, though, Pixley expressed that he “felt bogged down by the repetitive tasks of accounting — such as balancing cash sheets – and the work proved less interesting than the college class he enjoyed most – data analysis.”
Ultimately, Pixley decided not to apply to Big Four firm Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) after attending a recruitment event in Florida. He told WSJ reporters that he is currently considering opportunities with the United States military.
Pixley, and many of his peers, indicate that long workweeks – to the tune of 70 or 80 hours – and lack of variety in day-to-day tasks are significant reasons they are turning away from accounting.
KPMG, specifically, has indicated that they are looking into ways to reduce overtime hours and increase salaries. Per WSJ, entry-level employees at the firm in 2023 are expected to earn salaries that are 5% to 15% higher than those who accepted jobs in 2022.
Noncompliance and legal issues are other reasons accounting professionals who have already been in the field are choosing to turn away now.
Last summer, following repeated fines for employees' cheating on CPA exams in both the United States and the United Kingdom, the Big Four accounting firms -- Ernst & Young (EY), Deloitte, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) -- began facing further scrutiny from government authorities worldwide.
Concerns about becoming embroiled in ongoing global scandals have led some accounting professionals to look for work elsewhere.
Other accountants have simply realized they can make more money and have more flexibility outside of their current industry. This was the case for influencer Tanvi Shah, an Instagram and TikTok personality who quit her job at an unnamed Big Four firm to focus on social media full-time.
She told Business Insider, "It was terrifying and I'm still very scared,” but expressed that she and her parents are confident in her choice knowing that she has “a foundation to fall back on and the worst case scenario is I can get another job."
Shah does not know, however, if she would return to accounting and auditing or look for a job in another field if she ever returns to a traditional workplace.
How can accounting firms combat the staffing shortage?
As understaffed accounting firms across the country flounder, hiring managers are wondering what options are available to them. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to tackle the talent shortage.
One of the best things you can do is keep your current team happy. Satisfied employees are less likely to leave their roles. Find out what matters to your staff so you can make changes that will boost their morale.
If, for instance, you currently require everyone to be in an office full-time, consider a hybrid or remote schedule. You might also increase PTO so stressed-out employees can get away after tax season.
Another way some accounting firms are combating the shortage is by recruiting students who majored in subjects outside of accounting and finance. Students who have an interest in detail-oriented topics and a head for numbers can be trained on the job.
Outsourcing work is another excellent option for struggling accounting firms. The CountingWorks PRO + Consolidated Analytics partnership is designed to solve your staffing problems once and for all.
The trusted team at CountingWorks PRO has partnered with Consolidated Analytics to provide you with the perfect solution to understaffing.
When you sign up, you’ll gain immediate access to a highly vetted team of accounting professionals working in a secure, remote environment. Your clients’ data will be protected, your team will no longer be overworked, and you’ll keep more of your hard-earned money.
Choosing this plan will save you approximately the cost of two full-time salaries every year!
Our exciting new program offers fast delivery for full tax preparation, tax return review, and tax filing services for your clients. You’ll never have to stress again and your clients will be in good hands.
How has the accounting industry talent shortage impacted your firm?