What we’re about to share with you shouldn’t be news to anyone and in fact the only news here is that somewhere, 9.1% of public company hiring managers and 14.8% of private company hiring managers are not struggling to find talent. Well that’s what they reported to Deloitte, anyway.
Deloitte shared new data with me that found 82.4% of hiring managers for accounting and financial positions at public companies said talent retention is a big challenge, compared to 68.9% of hiring managers at private companies.
In addition, 82.3% of hiring managers at public companies expect they’ll have to work hard in the next year to attract and retain employees. Meanwhile, 73.7% of hiring managers at private companies said the same.
So that’s approximately 80 public company hiring managers and 142 private company hiring managers who said they don’t expect to face challenges in attracting and retaining accounting and finance talent. Way to stay positive, y’all.
Deloitte’s Matthew Hurley (senior manager, Advisory) told Fortune they don’t know why public companies appear to have bigger talent problems than their private counterparts. “We found it very interesting as well as that these public company hiring managers seem to be having a tougher time than their counterparts in the private companies,” he said. “I don’t know that we’ve got a great line of sight on what is causing that gap. It could be any number of things, [such as] the size of the company, team sizes, complexity of work, work-life balance stability or even location. I think there’s just so many subjective and personal matters that play into it.”
The 1200 or so hiring managers surveyed identified three areas putting pressure on their talent needs:
- The need for more headcount in existing areas where workloads are increasing (34.3% public; 38.6% private)
- Obtaining talent with technological skills (23.4% public; 20.5% private)
- Attrition caused by the Great Resignation (21.9% public; 17.5% private)
That last one is a bit interesting. We know from the many hundreds of hours we spend on Reddit and Fishbowl as well as 13 years of articles on this here website that pay (relative to work-life balance, that is) is probably the most significant factor driving job hops in accounting at the moment however Hurley — in true Deloitte grunt fashion — says salary isn’t everything.
“Even though the majority of hiring managers in our poll said employees were leaving for higher pay (57.9% public; 46.2% public), there were also other impacts,” Hurley says. About 18.7% of respondents at public companies said employees left for a better title, compared to 14.4% of those at private companies. Respondents also said that talent who quit their jobs changed industries (5.8% public; 8.3% private).
“I think this re-emphasizes that this isn’t a problem that you can necessarily just throw money at,” Hurley says. “We’re going to have to think about what is important to our people.”
Well, you could start with not working people like dogs. That’s a good step.
Despite AICPA data showing a decline in accounting enrollments and graduations since a peak in 2015-16, Hurley says the problem isn’t that students are less interested in accounting in general.
“I don’t think it’s a decline of interest in finance and accounting,” he explains. “Anecdotally, what we hear when we have conversations with controllers and CFOs is finding talent with that right mix of a deep accounting and finance background coupled with the deep technological capabilities is creating a lot of challenges right now.”
But there’s also a push to keep the younger generation interested in finance and accounting careers and provide them with the right skill sets. “A few of the universities that I’m familiar with are going out of their way to really engage with finance and accounting leaders to understand what [training they need to provide] to make sure that their graduates are successful,” Hurley explains.
“If you look at the curriculum of an accounting major today, at a lot of universities you’ll see that they’re taking courses on machine learning, robotic process automation, new analytics and statistics courses,” he says.
To that last point, what we’re hearing and reading is that a good number of business students are diverting from the accounting track at Intermediate Accounting — nothing new there — and when they get into business analytics they realize that they can apply these skills to industries that pay better than accounting. So the very thing that the profession needs to stay future-ready is the thing that is luring talent away at the university level. Shocking revelations abound.