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Survey: Below 1% of Small and Midsize Firms Can Find Enough Staff Domestically

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Aug 3, 2023


Nearly all small- to medium-sized CPA firms cannot find adequate domestic staff, leading them to consider other hiring strategies, a recent survey by alliantTALENT found.

Fewer than 1 percent of the 250 leaders of firms with between $8 million to $150 million in revenue polled online said that they can find all the talent they need domestically. As a result, many firm leaders say that they need to turn to options such as hiring international remote workers, employing those who may lack traditional backgrounds and hiking salaries.

The qualified labor shortages afflicting the profession prompted these measures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 300,000  accountants and auditors quit their jobs in the last two years, . The number of those graduating with accounting degrees continues to decline, with a 2.8 percent decline in 2021 at the bachelor’s level and an 8.4 percent decline at the master’s level, the AICPA reported.

The 150-hour rule is also an issue, so 75 percent of the firms polled are either considering, planning or are already employing workers without the extra graduation requirement. Seventy-four percent are considering, planning or are already offering fully remote roles. And 79 percent of these firms are considering, planning or are already integrating more technology to execute baseline work.

To remain competitive in the labor market, 56 percent of the firms surveyed expect to increase starting salaries by 10 percent or more, with an average increase of 14 percent reported. Eighteen percent anticipate increasing starting salaries by 21 to 40 percent. This may be driven by the finding that 27 percent of the leaders reported that former staff moved outside the industry for higher pay.

More firms are looking abroad to recruit, having overcome previous doubts about going that route. Working with accredited international staffing companies, the survey reported, they can find top talent in other countries, some with over 20 years of experience and Big Four credentials.  More than three quarters (77 percent) of all firms polled reported that they were either considering, planning or are already employing qualified international talent.

“Almost 100 percent of the top dozen or so US CPA firms employ this strategy, saving them from the challenges felt by smaller firms,” said Jim Brady, CEO of alliantTALENT, which conducted the study with online polling firm Censuswide. “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.” AlliantTALENT provides staffing services for CPA firms.

The survey was conducted May 2-12. 

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