Soaring High: Accounting and Finance Roles In High Demand Despite Changing Economic Landscape
The hurdle of an accounting and finance talent shortage continues to rise as we progress through 2023 — and firms and corporations, alike, are fighting to stay in the race. With the demand for skilled professionals outstripping the supply, it’s high time that companies turn their focus to both attracting new talent and keeping existing employees engaged.
Understanding the Talent Shortage
Accounting and finance professionals have long been in demand. But in recent years, the gap between the required skilled workforce and available candidates has widened significantly. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 300,000 accountants and auditors have left their profession in the past two years: the cause being a mixture of career changes and retirement. The problem of filling these open roles is being exacerbated by a shortage of new talent entering the field. We’re seeing a near 9% decrease in accounting majors since 2012, according to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. And despite the instability of today’s economy, the scarcity of skilled professionals has been simmering beneath the surface for some time now.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 300,000 accountants and auditors have left their profession in the past two years: the cause being a mixture of career changes and retirement.
Impact on Businesses and the Industry
The effects of the accounting and finance talent shortage can’t be underestimated. Companies constantly grapple with the pressure to stay compliant with ever-changing regulations, perform detailed financial analyses, complete risk assessments and maintain strong financial reporting.
An understaffed team may lead to lower productivity, increased workloads for employees, longer hours — and ultimately an increased risk of burnout. This can result in diminished employee morale and engagement, which may further intensify the talent gap by contributing to higher employee turnover.
Getting Creative to Attract New Talent
It’s time for employers to think outside the box and adopt innovative strategies to attract new finance professionals. Here are some methods that have proven successful:
- Broaden the talent pool by looking beyond the traditional finance and accounting candidates. Seek out applicants who possess strong soft skills — critical thinking, communication and a strong willingness to learn. Develop and pursue a more diverse hiring strategy that considers candidates from various educational backgrounds.
- Take on temporary professionals. Employers continue to turn to consultants’ specialized skill sets to complete key projects and temporary assignments. In our 2023 Salary Guide, we detail that demand for temporary workers in the U.S. increased in Q3 and Q4 of 2022 from the previous year, helping to highlight the need for labor across all sectors.
- Invest in flexible work arrangements. This can include remote work, job sharing or flextime to cater to changing employee preferences and enhance your organization’s appeal to candidates seeking a better work-life balance.
- Build connections with staffing and recruiting firms. Investing in additional partnerships, including universities and colleges, can help your company secure a steady pipeline of young talent who are both seasoned or can be trained to suit your business requirements.
- Showcase your organization’s commitment to professional development and continuous learning. Offering financial support for certifications, designations and further education can be a major draw for ambitious, career-focused candidates.
Attracting new talent is only half the battle — retaining your skilled staff is equally essential to alleviate the challenges resulting from the talent gap.
Seek out applicants who possess strong soft skills — critical thinking, communication and a strong willingness to learn.
Retaining Your Current Employees
As indicated in our 2023 Salary Guide, “obtaining market-rate salaries” is now the number one priority of accounting and finance professionals. This change bumps the 2022 priority of “growth potential and career challenge” to the number two spot, and “flexible work schedule” to a close third. Top priorities in mind, here are some tips on retaining your finance employees:
- Consider compensation, which, in 2023, is king. Even with the uncertainty of the employment landscape, salaries for accounting and finance professionals are trending upwards. Plus, with the climbing cost of living expenses, this isn’t only a priority for incoming workers but current employees. Forty-eight percent of U.S. companies are planning for higher year-over-year salaries in 2023 to meet this demand, according to Salary.com. That’s why it’s important that, in addition to base salaries, you consider providing financial incentives for exceptional performance, such as bonuses, stock options or profit-sharing plans.
- Provide opportunities for growth and development. Enable your employees to grow within your organization by offering on-the-job training, skill development programs and regular performance evaluations. This not only helps them build their careers but also ensures that you’ll have a reliable pool of talent ready to fill more advanced roles.
- Embrace flexibility. Over the past few years, the working world has witnessed a remarkable shift as employees enthusiastically adopt flexible work schedules. Today, the irresistible allure of a hybrid work model is one of the primary factors keeping professionals loyal to their current companies. As we forge ahead in 2023, organizations must master the art of crafting sustainable flexible work arrangements to ensure their long-term success.
- Make employee satisfaction a top priority. Regularly gauge your staff’s happiness levels and be proactive in addressing any concerns. Consider implementing team-building activities, organizing company events and developing a mentorship program.
- Foster a culture of recognition and appreciation, where employees receive positive, timely feedback on their work. By recognizing their efforts and contributions, you strengthen their loyalty and commitment to your organization.
In a world where numbers tell the stories of commerce, the scarcity of accounting and finance professionals is an unfolding problem that demands attention. Companies must wield imaginative strategies to attract skilled individuals while keeping the loyalty of current professionals. How will you empower your business to tackle the talent drought head-on?