19 Accounting Insights from the 2023 Accounting Talent Survey

January 24, 2023 Theresa Rex

Accountant downloading a copy of the accounting insights on her computer

This year was the second time that Personiv conducted a survey of accounting leaders to provide accounting insights and "take the temperature" on the accounting profession and labor market. Just as we did back in 2020, we asked business and industry leaders to weigh in on everything to do with the accounting talent market — from how they're hiring processes are faring to how much time they have for strategic initiatives.

The results we uncovered this year are included in a special report that provides a snapshot of the current accounting talent market. It's a useful resource for accounting firms, enterprise executives, small business owners and other stakeholders who find themselves in the process of benchmarking accounting hiring and retention information to compare their own experiences against.

As our "little" accounting questionnaire gets increasingly popular, we've seen participation in the survey grow and more requests to download the report that documents its results. To keep up with demand —and improve the user experience of our readers — we're including the top insights of our recent study right here on our blog this year. After all, if anyone knows how busy finance leaders are, it's us. To download the full reports: here are is the 2020 Survey Report and our most recent, 2023 Survey Report.

Why and How We Look at Talent Challenges & Provide Accounting Insights

We administered this accounting survey thanks to a prediction made by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in a draft of proposed revisions to the Uniform Accountancy Act back in 2015. In the draft, the AICPA predicted that the accounting profession would soon have a serious pipeline problem as the current generation of CPAs reached retirement age —75 percent of working CPAs at the time — by 2035.

We wondered how an exodus of this size might affect — or already be affecting — operations within the finance functions of the working world itself. We set out to ask the people who would know best: the finance leaders and executives who oversee them.

For this survey — and its previous iterations — we ask a standard set of eight questions to collect qualitative hiring, retention and outsourcing data from accounting professionals. We open the survey to all accounting professionals for six weeks and then cut and analyze data by full, executive-level and individual executive role cohort.

In addition to our standard accounting survey questions, this year we included four additional Covid-19 related questions to gauge the pandemic's consequences on our respondents' hiring, retention and workplace operations. This year, we received 1,043 responses from accounting professionals ranging from individual contributors to CFOs. Seventy-two percent of our respondents were in leadership positions (Controllers, Directors or VPs of Finance and CFOs). The insights they provided are compiled in our recently published report. What follows are the highlights.

Survey Shows: 13 Stats About Hiring Accounting Talent Every Finance Leader Should Know

  • Forty-four percent of finance executives need to hire at least one qualified accountant within a year.

  • The number of CFOs who said they needed to hire at least one accountant increased by 20 percentage points — from 27 percent to 47 percent — between 2020 and 2022.

  • The three most in-demand roles — identified by respondents as positions they anticipated recruiting for within 12 months — were accountants (44 percent), controllers (30 percent) and accounts receivable specialists (29 percent).

  • Eighty-one percent of finance leaders say there is a shortage of qualified accounting talent.

  • Of those, 11 percent say that shortage is "getting worse".

  • Eighty-five percent of finance executives said that Covid-19 "affected" or "somewhat affected" their hiring processes and talent sourcing abilities.

  • Seventy-two percent of finance executives said that Covid-19 "affected" or "somewhat affected" their ability to retain talent in the accounting function.

  • Eighty-eight percent of all finance executives and 78 percent of CFOs said they wish they had more time for strategy.

  • When asked to identify their most pressing challenge, finance executives cited "talent acquisition" and "technology and automation" at the same rate (26 percent), followed by "company culture" (21 percent).

  • Thirty-four percent of CFOs called "talent acquisition" the most pressing challenge of 2022.

  • Seventy-nine percent of finance leaders say they would at least consider outsourcing as a strategy to fill open accounting positions.

  • Of those, 69 percent affirm that they would definitely consider outsourced accounting to combat the talent shortage.

  • Just 15 percent of finance leaders said they would require their team to return to the office to work in-person within the year.

6 More Finance & Accounting Talent Statistics to Know from Around the Web

We couldn't have gotten to these insights (and many, many more) without the context that previous research on the accounting profession and labor market provided. We've rounded them up here to credit them and pass that context on to you:

  • Six percent of the workforce worked remotely pre-pandemic. During the pandemic, that number jumped to 35 percent. (NCCI)

  • Four million workers quit their jobs each month on average in 2021. (SHRM)

  • The unemployment rate for accountants and auditors was just one percent in the second quarter of 2022. (BLS)

  • Accountants sitting for the CPA decreased by 12 percent in 2021. (AICPA)

  • Seventy-five percent of working CPAs will reach retirement age by 2035. (AICPA)

  • Ninety-eight percent of all accounting professionals have experienced work-related stress, and 34 percent of report having to take time off work to cope. (AAT)

Where to Find Even More Accounting Insights

Team downloading accounting insights from website on their free time

If you're intrigued by this checklist of standout statistics about the state of hiring for accounting talent, you can take a deeper dive with the full report. Read our 2022 Talent Market Outlook Survey Report on this page, where you can also download a PDF if you want to store this information on your computer to keep it handy. Or head to The Ledger — our accounting and finance news archive, curated each week or visit our collection of accounting staffing content in our resource library.

Where to Find Out More About the State of Accounting Today

We've had our eye on the changes to the accounting talent labor pipeline and talent market for some time now, so when we saw how some common challenges were exacerbated or accelerated by Covid-19, we sat up and took notice. But it's not just about talent, is it? Remote work, company culture, automation and more have changed vastly in the past few years. If you're looking at the bigger picture and want more accounting insights, take a look at how to Navigate Finance Post-Covid right here. Want to join conversation? Take a listen to CFO Weekly -- an award-winning podcast designed to bring you actionably accounting insights from CFOs who've been there. Better yet, come on to CFO Weekly as a guest and share your experience with our incredible finance and accounting community.

Talk to Personiv About Your Hiring Needs

If you're ready to do more than talk about your hiring challenges, we specialize in tailoring solutions to them. Take a look at how Personiv helps companies tap into global talent markets and build teams of virtual accounting talent that help cut costs by up to half and deliver exponential increases in efficiency, then get in touch.

Previous Article
Storytelling in Finance: The Role of the CFO in High-Growth Companies
Storytelling in Finance: The Role of the CFO in High-Growth Companies

Working across the entire organization and collaborating effectively with other teams represents a leading ...

Next Article
Growing Profits Through Returns
Growing Profits Through Returns

Valerie Bauer Gore of Loop thinks that a modern CFO's responsibilities differentiate from those of ten or t...