BlogTalent Gap in Australian Accounting

The accounting industry in Australia faces persistent talent shortages, technological advancements, and rising expectations from clients. For this article, we sit down with Krish Sritharan, Managing Principal of Solutions Centric, and Dorothy Christopoulos, Managing Principal of Empowering Accountants, to discuss these challenges and explore strategic solutions.

With over 25 years of experience, Krish has worked with firms of all sizes, providing tailored outsourcing and offshoring solutions to enhance operational efficiency and strategic growth.

Dorothy specialises in training decision-makers in the accounting industry, helping them run their firms more effectively and lead with confidence.

 

1. Question: Why is there a talent gap in the accounting industry? Could you share your perspectives on this?

Krish: We’re seeing firms grapple with a shortage of skilled talent, especially at the managerial level. This talent gap is widened by rising client expectations. There’s a clear need for a structured growth trajectory within firms, but aspirations among accountants are also shifting. More accountants today prefer strategic advisory roles over processing tasks, which they view as less fulfilling.

Dorothy: Exactly. Many junior accountants are disillusioned by the long hours and significant sacrifices made by senior staff, which deters them from pursuing traditional career paths within the industry. This shift is driven by a desire for more meaningful work and better work-life balance. However, the lack of mid-level managers who can mentor and guide them is a significant gap. Firms need to create environments where junior staff can see clear, aspirational growth paths without being overwhelmed by the current workload demands. 

 

2. Question: How is the talent gap impacting accounting firms?

Krish: Well firms are finding it difficult to manage capacity and scale operations efficiently. Despite having more technology and tools available than ever before, many firms lack the time and resources to build processes and frameworks that leverage these tools effectively, leading to ad hoc work. Clients are looking for an end-to-end service that can help them grow and they would prefer to get this from their accountants. However, the capacity issues within firms often mean that clients do not get everything they are looking for.

Dorothy: It’s no secret either – clients understand their accountants are overloaded. They wish their accountants had more capacity to offer additional advice, which they need and trust. However, due to capacity issues, accountants often end up focusing on processing tasks, leaving little room for strategic advisory services. There’s also a big opportunity here for accounting firms. Clients would eagerly embrace these services because of the established trust and relationship. The key is for firms to find ways to expand their capacity to meet these expectations without compromising on quality or increasing burnout among their staff.

 

3. Question: Could you shed more light on how accounting firms could potentially bridge this gap?

Krish: There is a significant opportunity for firms to adopt more flexible staffing models and leverage technology more effectively. By creating structured processes and investing in tools that enhance efficiency, firms can free up time for their accountants to focus on higher-value advisory work. Additionally, firms can look into partnerships and collaborations that allow them to scale operations without overburdening their existing staff.

Dorothy: Firms can also invest in continuous professional development for their staff. By equipping their team with the latest skills and knowledge, they can improve overall performance and client satisfaction. Additionally, creating a supportive environment that promotes work-life balance can help retain talent and reduce burnout. 

 

4. Question: What trends do you see shaping the accounting industry in the next few years?

Krish: We’ll see an increasing reliance on technology and automation, which will continue to drive efficiency and accuracy. The demand for specialised skills will grow, making flexible staffing solutions even more important. Firms that can adapt to these changes and leverage the right tools will thrive.

Dorothy: I agree Krish.  The investment in learning and development in the areas of rapidly changing regulation and technologies will continue.  As will the trend of moving more processing work offshore.  This will ultimately lead to increased capacity for more consulting work and the need for improved communication skills at all levels in firms.

 

Any final thoughts?

Krish: Firms must embrace flexibility and strategic partnerships. By adopting innovative solutions and focusing on long-term growth, they can overcome many of the challenges they face and position themselves for success.

Dorothy: Investing in your people is essential. Providing the right training and development opportunities can empower your team to deliver their best, driving your firm’s success and meeting client expectations.

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