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As the pandemic lessens its grip in many areas, businesses are shifting their focus from survival to growth. With economic confidence high, CPA firms are ramping up their business, which is driving hiring.

Despite the optimistic outlook, accounting firms still face challenges in recruiting and retaining employees. A shortage of qualified professionals allows the best candidates to receive several job offers and the possibility of obtaining the best salaries. And for their part, accounting professionals must consider new skills they will need in an increasingly automated world.

Build flexibility into the culture

The trend of digital transformation was well underway before the pandemic, but the sudden shift to remote working has accelerated the adoption of cloud-based technologies. And according to the Robert Half 2022 Salary GuideAccounting firms with a traditional face-time culture have found that reporting, auditing, and other financial processes can be done remotely as efficiently as in the office.

By trusting their workers and providing them with the resources and flexibility to complete their tasks from home, employers have found themselves with a a happier and more motivated workforce. The remote working option has become a must for many professionals, with 75% of workers surveyed by Robert Half saying they want to work remotely at least part of the time.

The message is clear: companies that do not accept flexible or hybrid work as part of their culture risk losing the best workers. Employers who do provide this flexibility not only to increase retention, but also to access a much larger pool of additional talent with specialized skills, as new hires can work from anywhere. For this reason, three out of four companies (78%) are now open to recruitment outside their geographical area, according to the Salary Guide. The guide includes a salary calculator CPA firms and job seekers can use to find specific compensation ranges tailored to their location.

Acceleration of digital solutions

Faced with the unprecedented disruption of the past 18 months caused by the pandemic, accounting firms have accelerated their shift to automated solutions that save time, minimize errors and optimize processes. In addition to enabling businesses to operate more efficiently, increasingly sophisticated AI means financial planners and analysts can offer better advice, based on deeper insights, that helps leaders make data-driven decisions. data.

As the use of robotic process automation (RPA) in the accounting industry is expected to increase in the coming years, accounting managers need staff with technology expertise to support them in the process. ‘coming. According to the Salary Guide, 72% of CFOs plan to increase their professional development and training budget.

To add value to their role, today’s CPAs must have an aptitude for technical solutions and be comfortable with cloud-based technology, customer relationship management (CRM) software and digital ERP systems. Professionals with advanced Excel skills, knowledge of QuickBooks and experience in data analysis are also in high demand.

Sustainable accounting skills

Given that many functions are already largely computerized, should CPAs worry that their jobs will be automated and disappear?

The good news for accounting professionals is that any emerging automation software is likely to create more jobs than it replaces. Still, they must be willing to grow and grow with their role. Although they must embrace digital systems, employees must understand that Success in the accountancy profession is not just about technical know-how. Soft skills such as adaptability and change management, collaboration and teamwork, critical and independent thinking, and problem solving are equally essential to a professional career. In fact, the deciding factor in promotions is often proof of these abilities.

The hottest jobs right now

While some industries are still recovering from the COVID crisis, sectors such as government, healthcare, insurance and technology have seen substantial growth. Hiring in financial services and accounting expertise is also active, particularly for the following positions:

  • Compliance — regulatory changes and complexity mean compliance professionals can expect a busy year
  • Mortgages and banking services — a booming housing market is increasing the demand for mortgage and real estate financing specialists
  • Digital Security — the rise in cybercrime and fraud means companies are prioritizing investments in risk assessment and digital security initiatives
  • Tax — businesses looking to save money in an uncertain climate need dedicated tax professionals to capitalize on the savings and help them navigate new regulations.

Accounting graduates wanted

A shortage of qualified applicants means now is the perfect time to pursue an accounting degree. Competition for early-career professionals is fierce, with employers having to hire earlier and earlier to fill entry-level positions. Campus recruitment has become a common strategy and many students are offered positions even before they graduate.

Accounting leaders want to capitalize on the new perspectives that newly qualified accountants can bring. More than seven in ten managers (71%) offer reverse mentoring programs, where senior professionals can exchange skills, knowledge and ideas with their younger colleagues, and high-potential graduates are trained to company-specific roles.

To look forward

The Salary Guide points out that as CPA firms return to business, confidence should remain high in the job market over the next 12 months, keeping candidates in control. With more than half of companies (51%) looking to hire additional full-time staff, managers can bring in contract professionals to quickly fill skills gaps and support their core teams. Since the hiring process can take a long time in the meantime, many accounting organizations choose to work with a talent solutions company, which gives them immediate access to shortlisted candidates in their region.

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that flexibility is key. The ability to learn, adapt and meet new challenges will be paramount for tomorrow’s workforce.

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Paul McDonald is senior executive director at talent solutions and recruitment firm Robert Demi. He writes and speaks frequently on topics related to hiring, the workplace, leadership and career management. Over more than 35 years in the recruitment industry, McDonald’s has advised thousands of business leaders and job seekers on how to hire and get hired.