Looking to hire accounting and finance professionals in the upcoming year? You aren’t alone. Based on Aston Carter’s internal 2022 fourth-quarter survey data, the top three in-demand financial skill sets among employers are financial analysts, tax managers and bookkeepers.
This demand, however, has also made them some of the most difficult positions to recruit. We expect to see competition for these employees continue into 2023. Accounting, in particular, will see a big fight for top talent, exacerbated by a growing skills gap.
Traditionally, accounting professionals have been in demand, with the industry seeing low unemployment numbers. Businesses, regardless of industry, need accountants. To become a licensed accountant, however, workers need to pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. This barrier to entry means that employers are typically competing for talent within a small pool of qualified candidates.
In recent years, that already small pool has shrunk. According to internal Aston Carter data, 89% of clients reported being impacted by the inability to find qualified accounting and finance candidates. Thanks to burnout, a skills gap and the recent uptick in retirements, businesses are scrambling to fill accounting roles even as their candidate options dwindle.
The threat of burnout has real repercussions for the future of accounting. A 2022 survey of accountants showed that 99% of respondents reported experiencing chronic workplace stress.
Chronic stress causes problems on the job: According to the same survey, 85% of accountants had to reopen their books at least once to fix mistakes. But a bigger worry is that burnout will intensify the struggle to find and retain workers. As workers leave the profession due to stress, remaining employees experience even more burnout as they struggle to pick up the slack. Seeing this burnout can deter new employees from entering the profession, making it harder to fill these open roles and keeping this vicious cycle going.
It’s not just the threat of burnout keeping new employees from entering the industry, however. Overall, the industry is struggling to make up for a massive skills gap that only appears to be getting worse.
Much of it may be an education problem. The number of U.S. students completing accounting degrees is falling. In 2020, bachelor’s degrees in accounting fell by 2.8%, and master’s degrees fell by 8.4%. This, in turn, has led to a decrease in those getting CPA certified. In 2010 nearly 50,000 candidates sat for the CPA exam, compared to just over 32,000 in 2021. That’s a big drop in accounting professionals entering the labor force.
It’s possible that a recession may encourage more students to enter a relatively stable and in-demand field like accounting; however, dropping interest from college grads will only exacerbate the long-term issue of finding qualified talent.
Some are trying to combat this lack of interest by raising awareness of the profession among students in high school and even middle school. While this may help establish a pipeline of candidates down the line, it doesn’t provide a short-term fix. It seems likely that the skills gap will only get worse, at least in the foreseeable future.
As companies struggle to get new workers interested in accounting, they face a challenge from the opposite direction. Baby boomers, who make up almost 75% of the CPA workforce, are getting ready to retire. As these employees exit the workforce for good, there may not be enough qualified candidates to fill the positions they leave behind. This could result in a major talent crisis that leaves employers desperate for employees to build out their workforce.
Aston Carter’s Solver Studio podcast invited Kathleen Valenti and Mary Rafter, Learning and Development team leaders to discuss...Listen Now
See how understanding current governance, risk and compliance (GRC) hiring trends can help you better secure in-demand GRC talent for your workplace in 2023.Read More www.astoncarter.com/en/insights/articles/top-governance-risk-and-compliance-hiring-trends-in-2023
Hiring for corporate and administrative positions in 2023? Learn how remote work, talent shortages and a looming recession will impact finding top talent.Read More www.astoncarter.com/en/insights/articles/navigating-corporate-and-administrative-hiring-trends-in-2023