Study Finds Demand High, Supply Low for Accounting Professionals

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Aug 30, 2019

The Robert Half 2020 Salary Guide says that in both corporate and public accounting, the balance of power is favoring workers, as employers are scrambling to find qualified professionals who are in short supply. This situation, in turn, has led companies to make extra efforts to appeal to potential candidates: Beyond the flexible scheduling and telecommuting options that are offered at many firms, increasingly firms are turning to benefits such as enhanced mentoring programs and tuition reimbursement.

In public accounting in particular, said the guide, skilled candidates are often entertaining multiple job offers at once, and even entry-level candidates can command incentives they would not have been offered just a few years ago. Because of this development, while job seekers are still looking for positions at large public accounting firms, they are increasingly willing to take their talents elsewhere if they're unhappy, especially where it concerns work-life balance, which continues to be a major priority for new hires.

Candidates are also showing more savvy in salary negotiations, and have become more willing to walk if compensation is not to the levels they'd prefer. They're also more concerned about a company's culture, with 35 percent of workers saying they'd turn down a job offer, even if the role was a good fit, if they were not comfortable with company culture.

Consequently, companies are increasingly turning to interim workers to address workflow fluctuations and new projects such as mergers and regulatory compliance. Beyond that, they are also more often partnering with outside companies to help them with major projects and internal business functions, or to even manage them entirely. Robert Half believes this is indicative of a new labor model emerging within the industry, "a mix of talent that can include interim professionals, consultants and managed solutions providers to ensure an initiative’s success," according to the guide.

Technological skills are becoming more important, too. Across the board, employers are increasingly seeking out those with technological proficiencies, especially those having to do with cloud-based systems, data analytics and database management software, ERP systems, Excel, industry-specific software and, for small and midsize businesses, QuickBooks. Because routine tasks are becoming more automated, this has also led to employers placing a premium on excellent soft skills like critical thinking, communication, business acumen and problem-solving.

Overall, the guide describes the current state of the industry as one where skilled candidates can "write their own ticket."

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