Staffing Issues Indicate a Looming Accounting Industry Employment Crisis

When asked about the problems facing the accounting industry, a variety of leading executives interviewed by Accounting Today had one problem on their minds.

“People, people, people,” said American Institute of CPA’s (AICPA) vice president Mark Koziel. Finding and retaining quality staff has become an issue within the accounting industry, and with an overwhelming number of baby boomers approaching retirement age, many firms see an employment crisis on the rise.

The economy has improved substantially in recent years, and as a result, more clients are in need of quality accounting help. Firms are fighting fiercely for the best talent, but also fighting other industries as businesses seek to hire accountants to fill a variety of positions within their own companies.

According to the AICPA senior vice president Arleen Thomas, this is in part due to failure from the accounting firms themselves. “Approximately 60 percent of accounting graduates have their first job in the accounting firms. But not all firms create the environment to ensure those new hires becomes CPAs,” says Thomas. By not shepherding accountants further into a career in accounting, firms are as much to blame for a shortage of employees as any other factor.

Alongside this, Marc Rosenberg, a business manager, noted that many universities are reporting that students are interested in accounting programs, but cite a lack of accounting professors as a barrier to accessing the necessary education. Without anyone to teach the profession, many students turn to other career paths.

What this means is that for a young accountant, there are plenty of opportunities out there for employment. More importantly, there is opportunity to grow and innovate as companies are all seeking ways to better retain and manage accounting professionals. Accountants who are willing to assist firms and companies in managing their employees as well as their finances by fostering advancement to CPA licensure might find themselves a few steps ahead of the competition.