Why Are Talented People Not Attracted To The Accounting Field? (And What Can Hiring Managers Do About It?)

According to the American Institute of CPAs, there was a 22% decrease in accounting bachelor’s degree enrollments over the last several years and an 11% decrease in awarded accounting degrees. Not only that, but public accounting has experienced massive turnover in recent years, according to the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA). Why are people shying away from the field, and what can employers do to ensure they are able to find talented accountants in this challenging market?

Per Ashlie Randolph, Branch Manager at Contemporary Staffing “The talent is out there! As an employer, you need to be willing to provide feedback on a regular basis, share the strategy and goals of the company, all while tying them to the accounting departments impact, and allow the accounts to use data to tell a story so better decisions are made at your company.  You also need to be willing to pay enough for retention and make a fast decision on A players so you don’t lose them to the competition.”

Learn more about the current accounting / finance pipelines and create a plan on how to modify yourselves to attract more talent to your accounting department.

Why Are Talented Students Not Entering The Accounting Field?

In a recent article in the CPA Journal, Richard Vangermeersch outlined 50 reasons for the decline of US accounting majors. Notable points include:

  • The CPA Exam: Requires 150 credits to be eligible to sit for the exam. The added cost of additional credits can be a deterrent when the cost of postsecondary education and student loan debt is at an all-time high.
  • Low Starting Salaries for Pre-CPAs: The added cost of 30 additional credits is bad enough, but pre-CPA salaries are quite low, putting further financial strain on graduates.
  • Higher Starting Salaries in Finance: Money talks, especially to students staring down the barrel of an average of $35,000 in student loans. Finance offers higher, therefore more attractive, starting salaries.
  • Long-Term Earning Potential of Finance: Not only are starting salaries larger, but there are very attractive bonus structures in finance. There are also fewer opportunities for accountants to build wealth through stock options than there are in finance.

There isn’t much that a single firm can do to change the educational system or the business culture that rewards finance over accounting. However, if you’re looking to attract top accounting talent, the perceived drawbacks of the field at large can provide you with insight into effective recruiting strategies and tactics. Student loan assistance programs, tuition reimbursement for CPA credits, higher starting salaries and more accurate job descriptions can help set you apart from the competition and turn the heads of talented accounting graduates.

Why Are Talented Professionals Leaving the Accounting Field?

Not only are fewer talented people choosing accounting, but the professionals that exist in the field are choosing to leave the field in higher numbers than recent decades. According to a recent PICPA survey, there are a few factors that are driving this trend for accountants to make a change:

  • They seek stronger work-life balance.
  • Looking for pay that reflects hours worked.
  • Searching for the ability to make a meaningful impact on an organization.

Again, firms can’t change the overall culture of the field, but they can work on their internal culture to provide accountants with better work-life balance, strong compensation structures and helping them see how their work makes a difference. If you can set your organization apart in these areas, you will attract and retain strong accountants over the long term.

If your company is seeking top accounting talent, or you want to improve your accounting hiring processes this year, contact the expert accounting and finance recruiters at Contemporary Staffing Solutions today to learn how we can help you achieve your recruiting goals.