Why accountants (and tax pros) continue to leave the profession

Vertex Inc. Sales & Use Tax Automation Solutions in the Cloud (SaaS)

The Great Resignation officially ended in July, but if you were hoping for a big rebound in the availability of accounting talent, here comes a Wall Street Journal article that may prove otherwise. Auditors and tax accountants are quitting in droves, the Journal reports. Job security and a stable career path just aren’t enough to keep them in the profession, and many are looking for other options amid a widening shortage that’s also challenging tax departments. 

Why is this happening? The career experiences and decisions shared by accounting pros quoted in the article make for some interesting reading. Dissatisfaction with salary levels, especially when compared to what’s available in tech and banking, is one big reason for change. Burnout caused by stress and long hours is another. But the key motivator seems to be a desire for less routine, more creative and personally rewarding work. The article shares one professional is considering going back to school for nursing in the hope of achieving more meaningful employment and a better work-life balance. Another is considering a switch to a career in counseling, working with people who are struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues. 

Also, while some professionals worry that generative AI may take over some of their work, others hope that it will take on more of the mundane tasks and allow them to tackle more complex projects earlier in their careers.  

As I reported in this post, some States are exploring ways to accelerate CPA certifications to encourage new college grads to enter the profession. That’s unlikely to do much to ease the talent shortage in the short term. Yet, there are actions that tax and finance leaders can take. As Larry Mellon, Vertex’s Tax Director in the Chief Tax Office, pointed out in this post, automation can help by creating roles that are more fulfilling and less intensively manual to improve the employee experience. You may also want to check out my blog that looks at how advanced tax automation provides recruiting and retention benefits.

Blog Author

Michael J. Bernard, Chief Tax Officer – Transaction Tax at Vertex Inc. Vertex's Chief Tax Office (CTO) provides insight regarding the impact of tax regulations, policy, enforcement, and emerging technology trends on global tax department operations.

Michael J. Bernard

Vice President of Tax Content and Chief Tax Officer

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Michael Bernard is the Chief Tax Officer of Transaction Tax. In his role, he provides insight and thought leadership around tax department operations, U.S. indirect tax, tax risk management, and tax policy, as well as emerging tax trends. He is an executive-level tax attorney with a diverse portfolio of experience in corporate tax, administration, and finance, including a substantive knowledge of U.S. and international tax laws.

Prior to joining Vertex, Michael was in various tax leadership roles at Microsoft Corporation for 28 years, the most recent being Senior Director – Tax Counsel. Michael led teams in the following functional areas: direct and indirect tax controversy, sales and use, business license, property, tax IT, SOX, and telecommunications. He also co-led a corporate taxpayer advocacy group with the Washington Department of Revenue and was a Director on the Board of the Washington Research Council. Michael has also testified before administrative and lawmakers at both the federal and state level.

Michael earned both a J.D. and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Creighton University. He is a part-time lecturer of Law in the LLM program at the University of Washington School of Law. Michael also served on the board of directors, executive committee, and chaired committees for The Tax Executives Institute (TEI) for nearly 25 years.

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