The Finance and Accounting industry has been embedded in the framework of the U.S. business landscape for many years, so why are workers for this sector so difficult to find? It’s an issue facing every size company, with even behemoth Johnson & Johnson taking six months to fill a junior-level Accountant role. Leaving a role open for that long lowers productivity, and ultimately, profits.
The answer to this question is multi-layered and goes deeper than an initial analysis of the low supply and high demand. The reason it is so hard to find great Finance and Accounting talent is because recent trends have driven a need for roles with complex and rare skill requirements.
The regulatory environment of the Finance and Accounting industry is more complex than most sectors. There are banking and trading regulations, Affordable Care Act requirements, tax code changes, and more. To further complicate matters, changes happen often.
Health insurance regulations are currently hanging in limbo. Once changes are finalized and formally placed into law, companies must be able to react quickly and understand how it affects their financial operations. Additionally, the Financial Accounting Standards Board has recently set forth new rules and changes affecting balance sheets. The 86-page document is difficult to understand without specialized knowledge and will not only require changes by December, but also the assessment and revision of the past two years of financial reports.
Each additional regulation or rule change makes it more difficult to find Finance and Accounting talent experienced with such laws and able to adapt to their modifications. The talent businesses require today needs to be able to understand and analyze these changes, forecast their effect on business operations, and be able to provide subsequent decision-making support.
Rapid advancements in technology have changed every area of the business world. Finance and Accounting talent must have the ability to understand modern technology, speak the language of IT, and articulate what they need out of their software tools. These skills related to digitalization are difficult to find paired with a deep knowledge of the field, worsening the skills shortage problem.
The generational shift in Finance and Accounting provides some explanation. Many young people are highly-skilled in using digital tools, but less of them are entering the industry. If they do enter a Finance or Accounting role, they sometimes lack soft skills like communication as well as general industry experience. On the other side, seasoned professionals that have worked in the sector for a number of years may not have kept up with the digital revolution, lacking a technological intuition.
With consumers increasingly demanding convenience in their financial services, digitalization will only become more prominent. New technology such as Internet of Things and Blockchain have disrupted the industry and are forcing new business models. These changes are happening rapidly, and CFOs need talent that can understand new technological developments and how they will transform Finance and Accounting operations.
Technology has helped increase the pace of globalization, connecting the world at lightning speeds. Today, businesses are not just competing with companies in their own city, but with companies all over the world. Many organizations conduct at least a portion of business across borders, and that requires further understanding of international accounting standards.
Many major countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, and France require International Financial Reporting Standards in preparing financial statements. These standards are not mandated in the U.S., and that has created a knowledge gap with American workers lacking experience with these rules. Major U.S. auto manufacturer Ford voluntarily transitioned to IFRS standards for internal purposes in order to stay consistent with their global operations. In order to do so, they needed hard-to-find specialized Finance and Accounting talent.
Find Great Finance and Accounting Talent
Given the numerous factors amplifying the Finance and Accounting talent shortage, it’s no wonder that attracting and retaining talent is a top challenge for CFOs. Understanding why locating great people is difficult is an important first step on the road to solving the issue. From there, knowing the latest salary data and modern hiring strategies will not just help fill one open role right now, but will assist in staffing a business for the long-term.
For further hiring insight and the most up-to-date industry compensation figures, download our 2017 Finance & Accounting Salary Guide today.