Why Is There a Huge Talent Shortage in Accounting and Finance?

A significant talent shortage persists across the country in many different industries, especially in the fields that are more specialized and narrow than others, like accounting and finance. Recent statistics even predict that the finance field will grow 5% over the next decade. But, for firms to recruit qualified candidates for financial and accounting careers, they will have to learn why specific roles, like certified accountants and auditors, are consistently ranked in the top 10 most challenging positions to fill. Here are some of the factors contributing to the talent shortage and what is being done to fix it.

Accounting Outlook

Perhaps the best way to discover why there is a massive talent shortage in this industry is to look at the future supply of accounting graduates. Despite data suggesting some optimism for accounting majors and future employment prospects, some experts disagree by pointing out that there are still students who don’t perceive an accounting education as valuable. Plus, the gap between students graduating with accounting degrees and sitting for the CPA exam is growing.

Boomers Retiring Earlier

For those working and over the age of 50, high sensitivity to Covid-19 contributed to early retirement. Statistics indicated that close to 30 million boomers were forced into leaving the workforce prematurely, creating an even wider gap between the pool of available candidates and the job market. Accounting firms continue to face hiring challenges because many Millennials lack the specific company knowledge and general business skills needed to be successful that boomers had.

Mismatch of Skills

Yet, hiring managers may face an even more significant challenge than having a lack of available candidates. A growing number of employers express that they are having difficulty finding candidates with the technical and workplace competencies required to succeed in this industry. Strong math skills might have been the main prerequisite in the past, but now firms want candidates that are also well-versed in data science and analytics. This suggests that many accounting curriculums aren’t effectively preparing graduates to enter the workforce, leading to another obstacle: a shortage of accounting professors.

Potential Solutions

Fortunately, there are some solutions for attracting and retaining accountants and other finance professionals. For instance, accountants today don’t want to be known as traditional bookkeepers. They want to be connected to a company’s larger purpose. Next, offering more work-life balance is essential regarding recruiting from the newest generation of talent. Firms need to paint clear accounting career pictures and share them with candidates, so they can commit to majoring in related programs.

The best solution might answer why other professions are more attractive to high school and college graduates. Is the compensation for accountants lower than other similar jobs, are there specific barriers to entry (a CPA license), etc.? Then, you can focus on improving your hiring strategy.

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