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Navigating the Accounting Talent Shortage: How Cayuse Can Help

The tax and accounting sector is facing a significant talent shortage. Since 2021, more than 300,000 accountants and auditors have left their jobs in the U.S. This issue is becoming increasingly apparent as fewer graduates enter the field, and those who do often opt for careers at the Big Four accounting firms—Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG. The allure of these firms, with their prestigious reputations and attractive career opportunities, has drawn a substantial portion of new talent away from smaller firms and the broader industry. 

 Several factors have contributed to the decline in graduates including: 

  • the perceived monotony of accounting work 
  • the rigorous demands of the CPA exam 
  • the growing appeal of careers in technology and finance.  

These factors have led to a competitive job market where firms are grappling over a limited pool of qualified candidates. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, over the next decade, there will be over 126,000 openings for accountants and auditors each year.  

The Growing Talent Gap

The accounting profession has traditionally relied on a steady stream of graduates to replenish its ranks. Recent trends, however, indicate a decline in the number of students pursuing accounting degrees. A study by Best Colleges references The Wall Street Journal. It explains that “The decline in degree completions comes amid a nationwide accounting shortage that has been worsened due to retirements, barriers to entry, and accountants moving to other financial roles."

A survey done by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants reports that In the 2021-2022 academic year, bachelor’s degrees in accounting dropped 7.8% to just over 47,000. Master’s degrees fell 6.4% to just over 18,000. This decline, ongoing since 2016-2017, has averaged 1-3% annually since 2015-2016.

The graph below represents the number of students who graduated with bachelor's or master's degrees in accounting since 2010. Reaching a high in 2016, the declining trend is notable:

Along with the decline in graduates, the number of CPA exam candidates has also been on a downward trend. Peaking at over 102,000 in 2021, the number of candidates has since declined, dropping to 67,355 in 2022. 

Graduates who do choose accounting are increasingly drawn to the Big Four firms. These firms offer substantial training programs, diverse career paths, and the prestige that comes with working for a globally recognized company. While this is beneficial for the graduates themselves, it poses a challenge for smaller firms and other industry players who struggle to attract and retain top talent. 

With fewer staff available, existing employees are often stretched thin, taking on additional responsibilities and working longer hours to meet client demands. This can lead to burnout and decreased job satisfaction, further exacerbating the problem. Moreover, the lack of available talent can hinder a firm's ability to take on new clients or engage in special projects, limiting their growth and profitability. 

Suggestions for Shortage Mitigation

The CFO Leadership Council recently reviewed five strategies to address the accountant shortage. Such strategies are crucial to firms working to enhance their accounting capabilities and reduce the risk of overworked teams, higher costs, and increased errors.  

  1. Leverage Technology. Software exists that can perform basic, repetitive tasks such as invoicing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and financial statement preparation. Doing so frees accountants from the significant amount of time they spend on these necessary but time-consuming tasks. 
  2. Upskill Existing Employees. A long-term strategy, offering accounting-related professional development opportunities keeps your workforce in place but not stagnant. Career growth is pivotal to breeding a happy, efficient, talented team. Providing the tools and training necessary protects your employee investment and keeps your team excited about their contribution to the firm. 
  3. Engage in Staff Augmentation. Enlisting a Managed Services Provider (MSP) gives access to accounting staff that can be scaled and customized to the specific needs of your firm. Through such an MSP partnership, your firm also gains access to resources and opportunities offered by both their expertise and the scope of services they provide. For example, if your partner resource also offers IT services, such resources become available to you.
  4. Utilize Offshore Talent Pools. Low-cost geography solutions exist that help with the daily requirements of an accounting firm while protecting the budget. Offloading roles from bookkeeping to CPAs helps considerably to open up your leadership and executive-level personnel for more client-engaging and business building opportunities.
  5. Protect Your Talent. Creating an attractive workplace for your team is vital. It can be difficult to protect them from overworking and burden, particularly during busy seasons. A supportive and engaging work environment can help your company stand out in a competitive market, from both the employee and client perspectives. 

Cayuse Resources

The continued globalization of business is expected to boost demand for accounting expertise, particularly in relation to international trade and mergers. Along with this, a growing economy and complex tax regulations will also drive the need for accountants and auditors. As more companies go public, there will be an increased need for accountants to manage the legalities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 4% increase in accounting jobs from 2022 to 2032, slightly above the 3% average growth for all U.S. occupations.  

Technological advancements like cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) could automate routine accounting tasks over the next decade. This could increase efficiency without reducing overall demand, shifting accountants’ focus to more advisory and analytical roles. 

This is where Cayuse comes in. Cayuse is a U.S. based, Native American-owned company providing business and technology services, including full service recruiting and staffing of accounting and tax professionals in low-cost geographies. Since 2006, Cayuse has built a strong track record in delivery excellence and client satisfaction. 

By offering skilled professionals at each level of the accounting staffing chain, we enable your core team to focus on high-value tasks such as special projects and client onboarding. Our staff augmentation services are designed to seamlessly integrate with your existing operations, giving you continuity and efficiency. Whether you need temporary support during peak seasons or long-term assistance to manage ongoing workloads, Cayuse has the resources and expertise to meet your needs. 

The benefits of partnering with Cayuse include: 

  1. Recruiting Services: Cayuse offers in-house recruiting services in low cost geographies to fill the specific talent gaps of our clients. 
  2. Reduced Employee Burnout: With additional staff to handle routine tasks, your existing staff can focus on higher level work, avoid burnout, and maintain higher levels of productivity and job satisfaction. 
  3. Enhanced Client Opportunities: Creating leverage for your core team allows them to dedicate more time for business development and client relationships. 
  4. Maintained Operational Efficiency: Our experienced professionals are ready to step in and support routine office functions, making sure that your operations run smoothly and without interruption. 
  5. Flexibility and Scalability: Whether your needs are short-term or long-term, Cayuse provides flexible solutions that can scale with your business. 

Help is Ready

The talent shortage in the tax and accounting sector is a significant challenge, but it also presents an opportunity to rethink how firms manage their workforce. By leveraging staff augmentation services from Cayuse, firms can mitigate the impact of the talent gap, freeing their key staff to focus on strategic initiatives and client growth. 

Prevent the talent shortage from holding your firm back. Partner with Cayuse to enhance your operational efficiency and drive your business forward. By addressing the talent shortage and offering practical solutions, we help your firm navigate these challenges and thrive in a competitive sector. Let us be your partner in success. 


Contact us today to learn more about our recruiting and staff augmentation services and how we can support your firm's success. 

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