• Salaries

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

    By | August 10, 2017

    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

    • Michelle

      That’s one of the reasons I left Big 4. To be fair, I was making a decent salary at $92k as a first year tax senior, but I was also working 100 hour weeks in the lead up to 9/15 and had no life outside of work.

      I ended up leaving for a PE firm for a 20% raise and 45 hour workweeks and for a far more interesting role. I don’t regret the decision.

      • Big4Veteran

        Would you have gotten that job at the PE firm without the flashy Big 4 pedigree on your resume?

    • Adam Hill

      Go to a public accounting firm sometime and look around. There is a shortage of GOOD accountants. It is like any other bell curve, with the “good” designation shifted to the right of middle. Those “goods” get paid. The others go into banking (non-investment), insurance and analyst positions. Or stay in their current accounting role with their current accounting salary.

      • Big4Veteran

        What’s a good accountant? Serious question.

        • Adam Hill

          Friday afternoon at 4:08 response, so it might be lacking. However, here are some scenarios/situations that make the grade.

          1) They never talk about their workload and how huge it is (all the while eating into the time that they could be using to get said overload of work done).

          2) 99% of the time, they don’t believe in black and white situations.

          3) You wouldn’t be able to tell they are an accountant without telling someone.

          4) They are shitty salespeople. Substance over form.

          Just a few that come to mind.

          • Debit_cash

            That’s a terrible description of a good accountant. Your either a low performer or you must work at a local POS firm.

            • Adam Hill

              Damn it, caught.

    • Big4Veteran

      I fucking hate millennials. They constantly bitch about how they aren’t “appreciated”. Maybe if they would spend more time working and less time bitching, they would actually be worthy of appreciation.

      • Leighzies


      • Build_tha_wall

        One day us millennials will be old gasbags like yourself. Better enjoy it while I can

        • Big4Veteran

          There are very few millennials working 80 hour weeks.

          I do concede that there are a lot of millennials who bitch about working 80 hour weeks though.