[Ed. note: scroll down for assy commentary and screenshots of BDO leadership’s visit to India just days after they laid off a bunch of people in advisory, I need to get this part out of the way first]
Financial Times has written about BDO USA’s plan to double its offshore workforce and couched the move as a direct result of the accountant shortage here in the US. “Shortage of young accountants leads BDO USA to double offshore workforce,” reads their headline. Some details from that article:
- BDO USA will add thousands of overseas jobs, largely in India
- The firm is aiming to have 5,000 people at BDO RISE within five years
- The firm currently employs about 12,000 people, has 2,000 people in India, and recently added about 100 jobs in South Africa
“We are seeing a tremendous talent shortage in the profession,” said BDO USA CEO Wayne Berson to FT. “While it would be nice to just hire domestically, you have got to be open to the notion that maybe someone else has something that you don’t have, that you can buy.” For cheap. He forgot for cheap.
People who regularly point out that there isn’t an accountant shortage but rather a shortage of salary offered to domestic accountants (looking at you, Reddit) will be pleased to hear that the FT article goes on to acknowledge that “US starting salaries for accountants often fail to match up to those available in finance or technology.”
As we already know, audit and tax in particular are starved for talent for reasons that I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone in audit or tax. Just in case though, FT includes this:
Berson said young people appear more interested in becoming consultants than joining the more stable, but less immediately lucrative, tax and audit professions.
“The next generation are wanting to move quickly, wanting to be excited by their job. A lot of them are looking at things like advisory services,” he said.
You know what’s exciting? Money.
Anyway, the FT article made me remember a tip we got way back in March when BDO laid off 85 advisory people. Actually it was more like 125 people including 40 back office folks but who’s counting. Just days after advisory head Eskander Yavar wished the newly-severed “the very best,” Wayne Berson and his entourage traveled to India to party with the RISE folks (RISE stands for “round-the-clock international services for excellence” which is just a fancy way of saying “cheaper offshore talent”). There was much celebrating the visit on LinkedIn at the time:
While we’re here, let’s look at some chatter from BDO’s bowl on Fishbowl around that time:
All of this might compel a reasonable person to ask if the so-called “shortage” is really the problem.
This article acts like this is something new. The BIG 4 have something like 40,000 offshore workers. The issue is that everyone wants a higher salary, but no clients want to pay a higher audit fee. So in order to pay people more, like the article criticizes, you have to find cheaper ways to do the work, make better margins so you can actually pay to retain people. No one wants to make minimum wage, and when those wages go up, well guess what the costs of the cheap ass McDonalds goes up as well.
I have seen countless cringey articles on this website, but this might take the cake…old dudes cheesing in face paint, getting ready to exploit an impoverished nation for their own financial gain, and publicizing it all as a “win.”
Why is the public narrative on doing this a “forward step” and not a shameful last-resort?
Just because a company hires offshore employees does not mean that they are being exploited. The “hype” was mainly from the Indian side. They are excited to see large American companies coming to India bringing very good paying jobs.
They are most certainly being exploited. Do you think the audit fees will decrease? No! The increase in margin goes to the partners.
What’s that you say? You always wanted progressive globalism? Well here it is. You now truly get to compete with everyone across the globe. You’re welcome! Also, it’s hard to understand the writer when she speaks out of both sides of her mouth. The same writer that laments the industry being “overworked” and who promotes “meaningful impact” then goes on to claim in this article that money is now the ubiquitous factor. Well, this ain’t Burger King, you can’t have it both ways, and the job market determines what a particular position is paid, nothing else. It’s clear that the writer feels entitled to be paid more for doing as little as possible.
Lot of assumptions you just leaped to there, are your knees okay?