The national pool of accountants is quickly shrinking, leaving businesses vulnerable to skill gaps and other major setbacks. The CPA shortage is a serious issue for businesses and accounting firms, but while the talent pool evolves, methods of recruiting are largely staying the same.
Today’s accountants desire more flexibility, purpose and innovation. And this is reflected in the ways they want to be hired. The solution isn’t doubling down on traditional recruiting to increase headcount, it’s radically rethinking where and how you look.
Just How Serious Is the Accountant Shortage?
The shortage of accountants and CPAs is accelerating and well documented. In the past two years, more than 300,000 U.S. accountants and auditors left their jobs—that’s a 17 percent decline in employment levels from a 2019 peak.
The CPA shortage is exacerbated in two ways. Veteran accountants are retiring from their positions, and college students are graduating with accounting degrees in much smaller numbers. Students are finding higher paying options in areas like consulting, tech or banking. Accounting’s poor reputation for work-life balance is also unappealing for new graduates who want to avoid busy season crunch and burnout. In addition, new barriers to the CPA exam—extra required credit hours—add to the list of difficulties.
Why Businesses and Firms Must Restrategize Now
This shift away from accounting doesn’t seem to be changing, and it’s putting businesses at risk:
- Burnout on current staff increases the likelihood of critical errors, filing delays and compliance risks.
- Low bandwidth forces firms to turn down new clients and projects that could lead to growth.
- Increasing industry automation is quickly requiring accountants to leverage new technologies, such as AI, and derive insights. These skills may not be easy to find.
Though some could argue that emerging technology and automation will replace many accounting positions, the truth is that these technologies still need experienced talent to gut check and drive value from them. And that will continue to be the case.
Embrace the Mindset Shift
Organizations are addressing the CPA shortage in the same manner that they would have five, ten or fifty years ago.
- They’re offering higher salaries to current and future staff.
- They’re making large upfront investments in technology to ease workflows, and in turn, workload.
- They’re offering internships and remarketing the career to young adults.
- They’re transitioning to remote and hybrid positions.
- They’re offshoring work rather than tapping into domestic talent pools.
While many of these tactics are not troubling on their own, and many can work, these approaches take time and money to implement. And businesses need talent now.
It’s time to evolve alongside workers and embrace the shift. Ultimately, the traditional employment environment is no longer appealing to prospective hires. What do workers want?
What Workers Want
In a survey of knowledge workers conducted by Paro, nearly one in five workers who are not currently freelancing are considering joining the freelance economy. While stress and boredom were their main concerns with their current work, the top drivers for freelancing were greater flexibility and the ability to build their own business.
Knowledge workers, including today’s accountants, are looking for meaningful work, challenging work and, most importantly, flexibility to work on their terms. And there’s one major way to provide this while getting the direct skills and expertise your team needs.
The Hiring Solution to the CPA Shortage: Go Fractional
Traditional hiring is proving difficult. But maybe you’re looking in the wrong places.
Freelance or fractional hiring doesn’t have to mean offshoring to teams in vastly different time zones or with less knowledge of domestic rules and regulations. It can mean tapping into highly qualified talent at home—and there are plenty of professionals ready to work, if you can meet them where they’re at.
Get Smart, Creative and Cost-effective
Bypass the usual expenses associated with hiring full-time employees like recruiting, onboarding and providing health insurance and a 401(k). You can have several fractional employees working fewer hours each week, tackling all of your accounting functions most cost-effectively while also getting full utilization.
Find Niche Talent
The increasing need for finance and accounting experts skilled in AI, budgeting, compliance and other high-level skills makes fractional hires a great choice. They bring invaluable insider knowledge on industry trends and cutting-edge technology gained from both their previous full-time experience and their current range of freelance clients.
Focus on the Future
Maybe the most important benefit of fractional hiring is that it allows you to focus on your core competencies, business priorities and future growth. Hiring an internal accounting team is time-consuming. Every reclaimed hour can be used to move your business forward.
It’s time to subvert the shortage mindset. With innovative and elastic recruiting, businesses can overcome the accountant shortage. Paro can quickly and accurately match your firm or business with an elite accounting professional with the exact skills and software proficiency you need. Our trusted talent network is sourced from the top 2% of finance and can integrate into your team in as little as a day.