With college graduation season behind us, recruiters are keeping an anxious eye on the number of graduates in the high-demand field of accounting. They’re not seeing the number of new grads they’d like to see, according to a Korn Ferry report. That’s cause for concern across industries, “from organizations looking for new recruits to help balance the books to big professional-services firms which derive substantial revenue from accounting services.” And, I would add, to any organization looking to hire and develop new tax talent.
The article points out that more than 300,000 U.S. accountants and auditors have left their jobs in the past couple of years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) reports that, in addition to the decline in the number of new grads, the number of students and professionals taking (and passing) the certified public accountant (CPA) exam is falling.
Why are students turning away from accounting? Initial salaries are not stellar, compared with the going rates in the data science and technology fields. Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have raised some concerns about future changes in accounting professionals’ roles. Plus, the hours can be grueling, especially during “busy season” at big accounting firms, where 60-100-hour workweeks are not uncommon.
Young learners may also feel that the profession doesn’t provide a strong sense of purpose. A Korn Ferry exec quoted in the article notes that “people are searching for more than just hours, and they might not necessarily get that with their organizations.”
In my view, this is where automation can help: by creating roles that are more fulfilling and less intensively manual. Finance leaders have already discovered that leveraging automation can improve the employee experience, as I’ve recently noted in the blog, A Gameplan for CFOs to Attract and Retain Top Talent. Tax leaders can follow a similar approach by leveraging advanced sales tax technologies in ways that enable their teams to focus more of their time and skills on higher-value activities.
Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information. The views and opinions expressed in Tax Matters are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position, or opinion of Vertex Inc.