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Talent: the biggest challenge for accounting firms

Talent the biggest challenge for accounting firms

We know that talent is an enormous source of pain for accounting firms around the world. From hiring, training and retaining staff—there is no bigger cause of headaches for partners, owners and managers. So we wanted to dedicate an entire edition to exploring how your firm can tackle this.

To get started, we surveyed hundreds of accountants to give us a deep understanding of the issue. We wanted to discover what specific aspects of managing talent were causing so much angst. We then broke down the overall issue and analyzed each aspect of the employee lifecycle—from recruiting, training and performance management, all the way to retention We also looked at what it actually means to be an accountant today and what skills are required. 

And what we discovered was eye-opening.

You can read all the findings in the report, but one, in particular, was striking: 77% disagree with the traditional definition of an accountant. If there is no clear acceptance and understanding of what those in this profession actually do, how can we expect acquiring great staff to be trouble-free? And what repercussions does this uncertainty have on what needs to be learned and taught, or how performance is measured? Do we even know what it means to be a great accountant anymore?

Also, the skills required to be an accountant today have changed significantly—and they’re continuing to evolve. This means graduates are not as equipped as those who entered the profession years before them were, the criteria for identifying the best candidates to hire is new, and training and development within accounting firms need more attention.

To throw another curveball, remote workplaces have become more prolific—and are steadily rising—and technology has brought new ways to collaborate as a team and communicate with clients. The idea of “the office” has changed, which is having significant implications on all aspects of the employee lifecycle. 

All accounting firms, and the profession as a whole, need to make some changes to manage talent better. 

So to shed light on how staff can be managed better, we spoke with members of the industry who have experienced some or all of the challenges identified in Karbon’s talent survey. These leaders will contribute to this edition—sharing how they diagnosed their firm’s issue, the steps they took to remedy it, and what they learned along the way. 

Managing staff is full of obstacles, but doing it well is the key to running a successful accounting firm. We cannot afford not to give this topic the attention it deserves. We want this edition to help you navigate the challenges that your practice is facing, and hope you can lean on your peers, see what has worked for them and what has not, and put together—and implement—a suitable action plan. Our objective is to help you put together the best accounting team that can lead your practice to success.

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Karbon Magazine

The industry magazine for accountants. In-depth reports, editorials, videos, and resources to keep you at the front of today’s modern accounting industry.

The talent challenge

Overcome the challenges your accounting firm is facing acquiring, training and retaining staff. Put together the team that will lead your practice to success.

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