Talent shortages in accountancy: how to become an attractive employer

By Jim Scott | 30th June 2022 | 4 min read

If the talent shortage hasn’t bitten you just yet, it will unless you act now.

Recent surveys indicate  that 74% of accountancy practices are ‘feeling the strain’ from a lack of skilled workers, and 49% said hiring/retaining staff is a significant challenge.

The UK job market is currently in a unique position – unemployment is at its lowest since 1974, with the number of job vacancies between March and May 2022 reaching a new record of 1,300,000.

People have more choices than ever before. As a result, firms need added focus on becoming sought-after employers, or they risk losing out on much-needed talent.

The talent shortage’s implications on accountants

To remain competitive in an increasingly crowded sector, compliance services need to be taken to the next level with value-added activities and an advisory-focused approach, representing a new frontier for accountants.

However, the talent shortage is hindering many, halting the transition to advisory as they simply don’t have the resources, technology or time to pursue this shift in service.

In some cases, accountants are turning down new clients as they’ve no capacity to deliver core compliance services remaining within their firm.

But how can accountants attract more employees and retain existing talent to unlock this opportunity?

More content: looking for information on offering advisory services? Check out this recent article.

Top talent want top employers

To attract and retain the best talent, you need the best work environment – this is where the connection to technology comes through                                                                                                                                       

PwC found that due to the way work has changed, staff want more digital capabilities, with almost half of surveyed employees dissatisfied with the mobile options available to them at work.

The new generation of employees has high expectations of the business they choose to invest their careers with.

Their expectations require you to ditch outdated admin, instead opting for flexible, modern technology which streamlines processes and gives staff more time in their day to think, interact with colleagues/clients and be creative.

The bottom line: employees no longer want to be stuck, doing meaningless admin day-in and day-out, only considering ‘after the fact’ accounting challenges.

People desire careers that offer growth, stimulation and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around them.

So, how can you begin the process of releasing employee capabilities, enabling them to pursue the value-added work they seek? One word: cloud.

The current state of cloud within accountancy

The pandemic drove most of accountancy and other service businesses online, with many adopting cloud-based tools so they could maintain operations.

Subsequently, during this time, the first truly ‘cloud-native’ accountancy firms were born.

These cloud-native practices work smarter, automate mundane tasks and help staff make decisions far faster by using real-time data.

The reality is that cloud-native firms offer many next-generation employees what they want, while more traditional accountancy firms that adopted cloud as a means of survival, now sit in the ‘digitised’ category, struggling to adapt and further capitalise on technology.

Meeting demands: how can firms further digitise their processes?

Firms need to consider the future needs of their clients and design journeys and services around this.

I’d advise you look at re-evaluating and aligning your employee experience, analysing your shortcomings and utilise those insights to facilitate change.

Look at your current technology and ask yourself:

  • Is your onboarding process user-friendly?
  • Are processes admin-heavy?
  • Do employees have the necessary tools to enable flexible working?
  • Is data in one place or spread across disparate systems?
  • Do office-based and remote employees have the same experience?
  • Are systems connected or siloed?   

More content: for more help with evaluating your processes, check out our recent article that delves into the challenges of admin in accountancy – read here.

Unlocking your potential with cloud integration

Cloud has been a fantastic first step for many accountants and ultimately a lifeline during the pandemic.

But these disparate solutions, while productive in isolation can become cumbersome and inefficient when they don’t interact and connect together.

To truly bring your practice into the future, the next step is needed: deep cloud integration.

With cloud integration, accountants have a truly connected tech stack, providing an all-in-one location to manage processes and clients, with one version of the truth and one client experience.

The streamlined approach offered by cloud integration means accountants spend less time on admin, data management and jumping between software, drastically improving the employee experience.

See how IRIS Elements’ cloud integration is changing the lives of accountants here.

The future of accountancy

The future is undoubtedly focused on technology.

Meeting employee expectations with intuitive technology will not only improve your employee retention efforts, but ensure you’re able to find and recruit the best talent.

All of which will ultimately improve your clients experience, leading to growth and reputational improvement. For more insights into ’what’s keeping accountants awake at night’ and how technology can support, read the recent whitepaper.