Accounting Firms Change Hiring Patterns

Gina Deveney
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Accounting firms face several dilemmas with regard to hiring patterns and human resources thanks to two major factors. Technology represents a game-changing aspect for firms, while younger millennials replace retiring baby boomers as the major labor pool in the accounting industry. Firms must take advantage of both of these facets simultaneously to keep moving forward and to retain major clients.

Seven out of 10 top issues facing accounting firms in 2015 center around human resources. High salaries, high costs of benefits and high attrition rates remain tough issues partners must tackle as firms look to keep talent yet lower costs. Low productivity, workload pressure and succession also come into play thanks to high stress and demands of the job. Another issue, high operational and infrastructure costs, may not seem like an HR problem, but solving this dilemma alleviates several others within a firm.

Some accounting firms offshore some jobs to other countries, such as India and the Philippines. However, new technology may keep more firms in America due to hiring fewer employees. While offshoring does reduce the cost of labor, cloud computing and network access may keep businesses from having brick-and-mortar buildings altogether. This creates a major shift in hiring patterns.

Go Virtual

Some accounting firms choose to have virtual offices with telecommuting employees as opposed to making infrastructure improvements within an existing office. BMRG Accounting took its office virtual and paperless to save $95,000 per year in expenses. When large companies consider the average rent of $100,000 per year, the cost savings become clear. Small and midsized firms factor in 6 to 7 percent of client fees to cover rent and building costs. Going virtual eliminates the extra overhead and allows smaller companies to compete with the bigger fish.

Hire Freelancers

Instead of adding employees in the office, outsource some work by hiring freelancers. This saves human resources costs, benefits payouts and salary increases. Rather than outsourcing to foreign countries, firms may consider going for American talent with a flexible hiring model.

Age Gaps

The average age of employees, according to an AICPA survey, is 48 years old in 2015. As more millennials work for accounting firms, older partners must cater to some of their needs. This younger generation loves technology, needs plenty of feedback and craves more work-life balance. Firms must plug into younger workers and get them started on the newest technology as soon as possible.

Cloud computing, mobile computers, smartphones and Wi-Fi connections make the jobs of millennials easier as they bring clients more value. The best technology in the hands of younger workers saves companies tons of money.

In the race to cut costs and add value, accounting firms can test what technology works best for them. Cloud computing and connected technology represents a major factor that reduces costs by increasing efficiency and reducing employee workload. As such, firms may see a change in how they hire new accountants.

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