CPA firms facing talent shortage hike starting salaries 14%

By Jim Tyson | CFO DIVE

Many accounting firms lacking qualified staff have had to turn away work, according to alliantTalent.

Dive Brief:
  • Fewer than 1% of small- and medium-size CPA firms can find enough qualified U.S. candidates for employment, and 56% plan to hike starting salaries by 14% on average, a survey found. Nearly one out of five CPA firms (18%) plan to boost starting salaries by 21% to 40%.
  • Struggling to narrow a yawning talent gap, CPA firms are also hiring workers overseas, shifting basic tasks to technology, allowing accountants to work from home full time and signing on accounting students before college graduation, according to a survey of 250 top executives at CPA firms by alliantTALENT.
  • “I have personally seen these firms have to turn away work due to lack of qualified staff,” alliantgroup CEO Dhaval Jadav said in a statement. “This issue is top of mind with every firm we speak to.” alliantgroup is the parent company of alliantTALENT.
Dive Insight:

More than 300,000 accountants left the profession during the past two years either to start retirement, enter a new line of work or for other reasons, alliantTALENT said, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Meanwhile, the number of job openings for accountants and auditors will likely grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, on pace with the average for all occupations, according to BLS.

The talent shortage arises from a shrinking supply of qualified U.S.-based accountants. The number of accounting graduates awarded a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree after the 2019-2020 academic year fell 2.8% and 8.4%, respectively, extending a five-year trend, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants said.

“This picture will continue to grow even more challenging,” alliantTalent CEO Jim Brady said, noting that the number of college graduates with accounting degrees lags the number of retiring accountants and those leaving the profession for other reasons.

“Small- and mid-size CPA firms have much catching up on implementing” solutions, including hiring remote talent, Brady said in a statement.

More than three out of four firms (77%) said they were considering, planning or already employing qualified accountants working remotely from India and other countries, according to the survey.

“U.S. CPA firms that have looked into remote staffing solutions are quickly learning that the talent in India equals that of U.S. talent, and preconceived concerns are unfounded,” Brady said.

In another effort to close the talent gap, nearly four out of five CPA firms (79%) are either considering, planning or already relying on technology to perform basic accounting tasks, according to the survey. alliantTalent, based in Houston, surveyed firms with annual revenue ranging from $8 million to $150 million.

Featured Leadership

CPA firms facing talent shortage hike starting salaries 14%
Dhaval Jadav

Dhaval Jadav is Chief Executive Officer of alliantgroup, America’s leading consulting and management engineering firm, which helps American businesses overcome the challenges of today to prepare them for the world of the 22nd Century and beyond. Jadav co-founded the firm in 2002 to be unlike any other consultancy, with an emphasis on partnerships with clients to not only identify but also implement quantifiable solutions to their most critical concerns.

Since its inception, his passion to help and serve U.S. businesses (and their CPA firms) has resulted in alliantgroup investing tens of millions of dollars of the firm’s resources annually in knowledge development, learning and advocacy. To date, alliantgroup has infused 30,000+ clients with over $16 billion in cash to optimize their performance and accelerate growth of their businesses.

CPA firms facing talent shortage hike starting salaries 14%
Jim Brady

With 40 years of experience as a global and domestic professional leader, Jim Brady is an accomplished Audit technical quality partner having served this role for over 27 years at Deloitte.

During his lengthy career, Brady has established a proven track record for his ability to grasp challenging business situations and deliver breakout P&L results. In his various executive capacities, he has created and translated business strategies into high-growth and high profit business units by quickly assessing the turnaround operating levers, developing and implementing remedial action plans, and executing with a sense of urgency.

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