HOUSTON – August 2, 2023 – alliantTALENT, a professional services firm delivering international remote talent solutions to US CPA firms, today released its ‘2023 Temperature Check.’ The data confirms what was until now only anecdotally cited within the profession; that the CPA talent shortage is affecting the bottom line of firms, and that there is now widespread interest in remote talent solutions. The study, conducted online with Censuswide, an accredited third-party research firm, polled 250 US CPA leaders from small to medium-sized firms ($8M to $150M in revenue) and quantifies the business impacts of the CPA talent shortage, as well as near- and long-term solutions being implemented.
The dearth of available talent in the profession is already well documented. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 300,000 accountants and auditors quit their jobs in the last two years. The AICPA further reports that the number of those graduating with accounting degrees is declining every year, with a 2.8% decline in 2021 at the bachelor’s level and an 8.4% decline at the master’s level. This follows five consecutive years of decline.
This issue has become so widespread that major industry and business news outlets cover it with increasing consistency, including Wall Street Journal, CFO Dive, Business Insider, Forbes and more. The most recent news is highlighting how this shortage really is affecting the bottom line of businesses.
“In my well over 20 years of working with several thousand CPA firms and their clients, the concerns around the ever-growing gap in accounting talent has become a resounding chorus. alliantgroup has worked with more than 4,000 CPA firms in it’s 22-year history and I have personally seen these firms have to turn away work due to lack of qualified staff. This issue is top of mind with every firm we speak to,” said Dhaval Jadav, CEO of alliantgroup which created alliantTALENT to provide remote talent solutions for firms outside of the top dozen CPA firms.
Looking Beyond Traditional Hiring Methods
The report further highlights the all-encompassing attempts by CPA firms to extract as much out of domestically based professionals as possible, even those that do not possess the traditional backgrounds that CPA firms prefer. Most of these firms continue to use tactics in an effort to ease hiring challenges.
“This survey data contains what we’ve heard from the CPA ecosystem for many years now – but it’s getting more severe,” said Subrata Bagchi, Senior Managing Director & COO of alliantTALENT. “Firms of all sizes are considering solutions to address the short- and long-term impacts of this CPA talent shortage. This spirit of action, and willingness to put solutions in place now, is what will ignite the change necessary to propel the accounting industry into its next era.”
Completing the traditional industry standard of an extra 150 hours for accounting majors is a tough sell, so 75% of US firms are either considering, planning or are already employing workers without the extra graduation requirement. 74% of CPA firms are considering, planning or are already offering fully remote roles. Further, 79% of these firms are considering, planning or are already integrating more technology to execute baseline work.
Rapidly Rising Salaries
With so few accounting professionals in the field, CPA firms across the board are already paying a premium for qualified talent. To remain competitive in the labor market, 56% of CPA firms are expected to have to increase starting salaries by 10% or more, with an average increase of 14% reported. At the far end, 18% of CPA firms anticipate increasing starting salaries by an eye-watering 21-40%.
CPA firms are not only competing with themselves, but they are also competing with employers in other sectors. 27% of CPA leaders polled report that former staff moved outside the industry for higher pay.
“We have long said that raising industry pay is not THE solution. In addition to some of the key changes the data reveals, we really want to advocate for engaging future talent earlier to excite students about CPA career opportunities while ensuring promising growth and a sense of purpose for the life of their career,” said Frank Tirelli, alliantTALENT’s Chairman of Professional Services.
A Shift in Perception on International Talent
Less than 1% of firms believe they can find all the talent they need domestically, which has caused many to explore remote staffing options and services. CPA firms now realize that international talent solutions offer a new pool of highly qualified professionals that can alleviate obstacles that they are currently facing or to bolster their existing teams.
The majority of the US CPA firms polled are no longer dissuaded from using international talent based on what were previously cited objections. By working with accredited international staffing companies, CPA firms can source top quality international talent, some with over 20+ years of experience and Big Four credentials, alleviating workflow backlogs and saving up to 20-30% on labor costs on average. While in the past there may have been some doubts, the data shows an ongoing industry shift in perception.
Remote Talent Solutions Becoming the New Norm
To further confirm the changing perceptions, when asked directly if firms were willing to employ remote talent solutions, the answer was resoundingly positive. More than three quarters (77%) of all firms polled reported that they were either considering, planning or are already employing qualified international talent. Prior perceptions of these talent pools may have slowed adoption in years past, but the polling data shows the mindset of firms has shifted.
“Over my career, I have implemented international talent operations at Deloitte, Grant Thornton, and now at alliantTALENT. Almost 100% of the top dozen or so US CPA firms employ this strategy, saving them from the challenges felt by smaller firms. US CPA firms that have looked into remote staffing solutions are quickly learning that the talent in India equals that of US talent, and preconceived concerns are unfounded,” said Jim Brady, CEO of alliantTALENT. “This talent gap has been looming over our industry for well over a decade, and demand for CPAs has grown as regulatory requirements have become increasingly complex. Compound this with veteran CPAs retiring in large numbers, and less new college accounting graduates filling their shoes. This picture will continue to grow even more challenging, and small and mid-sized CPA firms have much catching up on implementing these solutions.”
alliantTALENT, an alliantgroup subsidiary, serves as an extension of your CPA team providing quality talent to improve your business every step of the way. This seamless support allows firms to focus on growth again. We are a one stop shop that supplements the audit & assurance, tax, advisory and client accounting service practices of US CPA firms. Our solution is customized to your needs and ensures your standards of quality.
The total sample size was 250 leaders in US Certified Public Accountancy firms aged 18+ at firms between $8M-$19.99M, $20M-49.99M, $50M – $99.99M and $100M-$150M in revenue. The survey was conducted from May 2-12, 2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.