The accounting and finance talent shortage has prompted many CFOs to reevaluate their approach to staffing.
The search for quality talent, something that nearly every industry has had issues with over the last few years, continues to hinder finance leaders and their teams.
As younger people are no longer seeking to become accountants at levels they once were, in part due to concerns over work-life balance, current and aspiring CPAs are having second thoughts about their career choices.
Eighty-four percent of CFOs said they face a significant talent shortage within their accounting and finance teams, according to a new survey by tax and compliance software provider Avalara. The survey of just over 300 finance chiefs in the U.S. and the U.K. also found that the problem is more severe in the U.K., with 92% of surveyed CFOs struggling to recruit finance talent compared with 76% of CFOs surveyed in the U.S.
How Burnout Impacts Finance
Accounting and finance employees aren’t just making their feelings known with their words; their actions are hindering the functioning of finance departments. Avalara data says nearly half (47%) of CFOs believe employee burnout around hours and menial tasks, as well as accounting and finance employees changing careers, are notable factors in the quickly evaporating talent pool.
Eighty-one percent of CFOs told surveyors they are trying to overcome talent shortages in accounting roles. This exodus of accountants isn’t just impacting the ability to keep the books; it’s also preventing companies from leveraging finance talent for analysis and decision-making.
Nearly half (49%) of all CFOs reported the need for financial planning and analysis (FP&A) expertise within their organizations. Businesses don’t have enough bodies to keep track of the past and present financials simultaneously.
A Cyclical Issue
A lack of experience continues to be a major problem. Two-thirds (63%) of all CFOs surveyed said this an issue for them. But, if the problem is the quality of talent in today’s labor pools, further data suggests that the problem shows no sign of improving. More than half (54%) of CFOs surveyed said the shortage results from fewer people studying finance disciplines at institutes of higher education.
So, if the problem is the talent pool is weak right now, along with data that shows the talent pool is shrinking at a nearly unsustainable rate, companies assessing their finance team’s ability to function and to meet demands in the future may need to look to new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to perform some finance tasks.
Addressing the Problem
Technology, an area in which the quality of offerings at the disposal of a CPA can determine whether or not they work for an organization, may be the initial remedy to the talent shortage. According to the finance chief at Avalara, CFOs and their teams must balance the business demands of finance with the integration of technology that will not only help the business but supplement finance’s talent issues.
“Finance leaders must balance their company’s business dynamics while navigating unpredictable waters, given the pressures of high inflation, growing talent gaps, and concerns over an impending recession,” said Ross Tennenbaum, CFO of Avalara.
“The rise of artificial intelligence will help finance leaders around the world find new ways to drive savings and help make their current teams more energized by streamlining and automating repetitive accounting and financial tasks to help manage the accountant talent gap that the majority of CFOs are facing.”
According to his company’s data, nearly 9 in ten (89%) CFOs plan to invest in AI to help address the talent problem.