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Recruitment in Accountancy – Industry vs Practice

As I enter the world of recruitment with fresh eyes, I question; why is there a shortage of accountants in practice? And why do accountants want to work in, or move to industry rather than practice?

Wanting to understand the topic further, I Googled it and the first reference I found was from the ICAEW in 2022 here: Decline in applicant numbers raises alarm for recruiters | ICAEW

“Recruitment in the accountancy sector is hitting problems as the number of candidates for each vacancy is falling dramatically, indicating a growing skills shortage”

Realising this was not a new problem, I needed to understand the bigger picture. This #ICAEW article refers to data from Broadbean Technology which showed that accountancy application numbers have reached low levels of concern.

Research online suggests, an aging workforce, increased demand for specialised skills, and the evolving nature of the industry. In addition to this, with the rise of automation and technology streamlining processes as traditional accounting roles are seeing a move towards more advisory roles to support clients. The introduction of new software means people feel accountants won’t be needed in the future but surely in reality it means they are needed even more to assist with unravelling rogue transactions?

Speaking with a leading Staffordshire Accountancy Firms I asked their thoughts on practice vs Industry

“Quick answer would probably be salary!! Or maybe they feel they would prefer to add value to one business rather than act on behalf of several businesses. For me, practice is full of interesting characters and every day brings something new, and that fulfills me more than working in the same business all the time”. They then go on to say, “In the current climate business owners need our support more than ever to help with cashflow issues and tax planning”.

A recent ACCA qualified candidate, also commented:

“Industry opportunities for professional growth and salary are significantly higher’. They then went on to agree with the point that they would prefer to add value to one business.

@Rob Brown the Co-Founder of Accounting Influencers who posts discussions on LinkedIn with a panel of accounting professionals on questions like:

  • The Outlook for Accounting?
  • What is the future for today’s accounting firms?

Posted some interesting videos on the subject. From watching these I picked up their following key points

“Accounting qualifications must continuously evolve with changing business needs, emphasizing skills like communication, ethics, sustainability, and digital proficiency along with technical expertise.”

“Rebranding the profession is crucial to attract diverse, younger talent by changing the perception that it’s just number-crunching to showcasing it as an exciting, entrepreneurial career with varied opportunities.”

“Firms face significant challenges in adapting to rapid technological changes, attracting and retaining talent, and transitioning from traditional compliance work to advisory services.”

What’s apparent is the danger of a skills shortage meaning smaller firms will be unable to compete if they struggle with recruitment.

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic, and if you are a candidate looking for a new accountancy role please drop me a line on 01782 976976 or view online here


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