Talented US Accountants Are in Short Supply

By: James Flippin · July 14, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Wanted: Qualified Accountants

US-listed companies are facing a shortage of accountants, with companies like Advance Auto Parts (AAP), Joby Aviation (JOBY), and Evotec (EVO) all lamenting a lack of qualified staff to help keep their books in order.

Without the proper number crunchers in place, publicly-traded companies are more susceptible to “material weaknesses” in their financial reporting. The term “material weaknesses” refers to flaws in internal controls that could result in inaccuracies, errors, and even fraud when reporting financial figures to investors.

Talent Shortage

This shortage stems from the fact that fewer people from younger generations are choosing to study accounting and enter the field. Between January 1 and November 30 of last year, only 113,400 accountants started new roles, a decrease of almost 16% from 2021. It also took an average of 56 days to fill these roles, up from 46 days in 2021.

Pursuing a career in accounting requires students to meet rigorous academic standards. Not only do they need to obtain an advanced degree, but they must also pass the CPA exam and meet requirements for continued education even after they’ve landed a job.

Despite all the necessary credentials, accounting is sometimes viewed as an underpaid and undervalued profession when compared to positions in tech or finance — a potential reason younger generations are straying away from the industry.

As a result of this shortage, nearly 600 US-listed companies have reported material weaknesses related to personnel through June of this year. This represents a 40% increase from the same period in 2019.

Two Solutions

To address the shortage of accountants, some companies are assigning less-experienced personnel to help balance the books, a less than ideal scenario that can present challenges.

The second, more sustainable solution is to simply entice qualified accountants with higher pay packages. This means that, unless generative AI chatbots get the green light to start creating detailed financial reports, qualified accountants can expect higher salaries coming their way.

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