Accounting plagued by candidate shortage

Two recruitment companies have revealed that as the role of accountants evolves, firms are struggling to find suitable candidates, which is set to have a significant impact on the accounting landscape in the short to mid term.

The Hays Quarterly Report for January to March 2017 has revealed that the candidate shortage in the accounting industry isn’t going to end any time soon.

“Professional practice has always been, and remains, candidate short. As firms organically grow, there is almost continuous demand for intermediate to senior level accountants,” the report read.

“The shortage is a cumulative result of the number of accountants moving into commerce, a lack of in-depth Australian taxation experience and the changing nature of the role.”

Robert Half director Andrew Morris spoke to Accountants Daily about how the roles of accounts are changing and expanding.

“Essential job skills in the accounting profession encompass more than the ability to crunch numbers,” he said.

“In today’s market, it isn’t enough to have watertight knowledge of systems and processes; it’s also essential to be able to tackle complex problems as they arise.”

Technology has overturned the way financial systems work, which in turn has changed the way accountants should approach their work, according to Mr Morris.

“Companies today are looking to recruit a prospective candidate based on IT skills and knowledge of standard accounting programs,” he said.

“It’s important for financial professionals to understand the relationship between a company’s fiscal behaviour and marketplace demands. Candidates that exercise commercial savvy as well as an interest in the trends shaping the industry are well-placed to get ahead.”

Given the shortage of candidates with these skills, firms are not in a hurry to recruit and will instead wait for a candidate who is the right fit, according to the Hays report.

Firms are considering alternative options, such as hiring from interstate or employing bookkeepers who can be trained to fill other roles, the report said.

Another trend revealed in the report was the pressure on salaries.

“Commercial salaries are attracting the interest of candidates, while in Canberra government roles are appealing. As a result, firms may need to consider increasing their salaries to help retain staff,” the report read.

“We’ve also seen an increase in the use of online numerical and behavioural testing.”

 

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