Want to Find and Keep Quality Accounting Talent? Pay Them More, Already

By | 1 week ago

Smiles and handshakes will ensue.

The AICPA’s mega report on the supply of accounting graduates and demand for accounting recruits will be out any day now. If the CPA robots have proliferated to a far greater degree than anyone could’ve thought, then that will be bad for lots of you.

However, I believe we’ll learn that there are still LOTS of accounting graduates and LOTS of employers looking to hire them. Will there be an imbalance between the two? Of course! Chances are, the supply will fall short of demand. These things are never neat and tidy.

After the report comes out, in the not so distant future, I’m confident that you will hear or read about a concerned accounting firm partner, a CFO, consultant or some so-called expert talk about how difficult it is to find quality accountants. The statement will be misleading at best and a baldfaced lie at worst.

And yet people will take it seriously, look around, and conclude that, yes, there is a shortage of good accountants. They will lament and wonder aloud, “How can I find the finest accountants in this fine land?” It will seem like an impossible problem to resolve.

Fortunately, there are smart people out there that have practical solutions to these problems. One of these people is Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari. He spoke at a Rotary Club meeting earlier this week and got all Socrates on them:

“Are any of you planning to raise wages in the next year or two? Or are you just complaining about you can’t find workers?” Kashkari asked the group.

Now, you might be thinking, “He’s not talking about professional jobs in this context,” and I would say to you, “Correct. But it does not matter, dummy.”

This is not difficult, wranglers of quality accounting talent. If a bright, well-adjusted accountant walks into your office and you are desperate to hire them, consider the salary that you plan to offer and increase it. Substantially. If you are not willing or able to do that, then I guess you aren’t that keen to hire a decent accountant.

Likewise, if you have a good accountant in your employ, you should pay them more. I do not mean throwing them a $500 bonus for a job-well-done. I mean a raise. A good raise. A raise that will surprise and impress them. You ignore this advice at your peril.

But what about culture and meaningful work and ping-pong and whatever? Sure, those things are important (well, not the ping-pong table) but those are hard things to figure out and take time. Paying people more, by contrast, is not hard.

Hey, and if you are planning to pay more in the next few months, or next year, great. Good for you, you figured it out. Sorta like the millennial stuff, it’d be great if we could move on from this topic.


Image: iStock/Tsyhun