How accounting practices can thrive without enough trained professionals

Written by

Parth Shah

Many accountants today in the UK are asking themselves: “Is there a shortage of accounting professionals?

The question is a valid one—a 2023 survey revealed that 90% of accountants are facing significant challenges with hiring new employees. The impending retirement of baby boomer accountants is set to leave an even bigger gap in the UK accounting space.

Meanwhile, smaller accounting teams are being forced to juggle more work, leading to higher stress levels and higher attrition rates.

The fact is, regardless of whether your practice finds suitable hires or not, you need to maintain a high standard of service for your clients. And that requires leveraging smart tactics to make the most of your existing staff without putting undue pressure on them.

Read on to know more about how to solve an accounting shortage for your UK accounting practice.

1. Embrace technology and automation

Accounting software and automation tools have come a long way, and by investing in them, your practice can manage its workload efficiently even with a smaller team.

From bank reconciliation to payroll calculations to completing tax forms, there’s a lot that can be done with the right tools, and that leaves your staff free to take on the high-value core services.

This is also a good way to guard against the concern about: “Are accountants going to be replaced by AI?” By incorporating technology into your work stream, it can become an aid to human endeavour rather than a threat to it.

2. Invest in continuous training and development

If you ask UK accountants: “What are some of the major challenges facing the accounting profession today?” you’ll get several answers around the theme of having to stay abreast of the latest technological advances and industry trends so as to serve their clients better.

So rather than worry about hiring more staff, why not upskill your current team members to handle more complex tasks? There are several training programs and relevant certificates that can help accountants deepen their areas of expertise, become savvy with modern software, and even improve their client relationship skills.

Offer these courses to your staff, or give them a budget to complete training of their own choice. By fostering a culture of continuous learning within your accounting practice, you’ll always be ready to take on new challenges.

3. Outsource non-core functions

An easy way to avoid overworking your in-house staff is by outsourcing some functions. Several tasks like payroll and bookkeeping lend themselves easily to outsourcing, and you get the advantage of a specialised team delivering timely results at a competitive price.

That way, your in-house accountants can focus on the core strategic functions that they’re uniquely poised to do. The best part? You can scale up or scale down your outsourcing as you like, depending on your accounting practice’s needs.

4. Foster a flexible work environment

A survey by The Behavioural Insights Team showed that job openings advertising flexibility attracted 30% more applicants. Over the last decade, and especially since the pandemic, companies of all kinds have seen the many benefits of offering flexible or remote work arrangements to their team.

By giving your accountants a choice about how often to come to the office, you let them design a schedule that suits their work patterns, boosting their productivity and their mental wellbeing.

Strategies to experiment with include the option to work from home two days a week, having asynchronous meetings, and using communication tools like Slack for quick updates rather than calls or meetings.

Understandably, some times of the year will call for longer hours than others (such as tax season). You can offer extra time off after tax season to help your accountants decompress—they’ll definitely welcome the break.

5. Enhance recruitment and retention strategies

Having a structured recruitment policy will help you connect with strong candidates sooner, such as by maintaining an active online presence and having an easy-to-understand hiring process.

Be sure that the salaries and benefits you’re offering are competitive and commensurate with the candidate’s skills. In addition, it may be a good idea to take a closer look at “Why is the accounting profession declining?”

Many accountants are choosing to opt out on account of the long hours and inadequate work-life balance — for which, as we’ve mentioned above, building a flexible work environment is a good idea.

It’s also important to nurture a strong workplace culture where every employee feels seen and where they feel like they’re part of a close-knit team. The more connected your staff feels to your accounting practice, the more likely they’ll be to stay on.

In conclusion

While the accounting talent shortage is undoubtedly a challenge, there are ways for accounting practices to adjust to it without compromising on their good name.

Indeed, investing in technology adoption and smart hiring techniques now is key to the long-term survival of any practice, given that the economy and market forces will always be in a state of flux, regardless of how many or how few accountants you hire.

At Stellaripe, we believe that processes are as important as expertise, and our accountants live up to that by seamlessly integrating technology with the human touch in every working relationship.

When you outsource your clients’ accounting processes to us, you gain the expertise, experience and resources to get your practice to where you want it to be—minus the hassle.

Learn more about how our accounting outsourcing operates or simply reach out to book a consultation with Stellaripe today to understand how we can help your practice.

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