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'Companies grapple with accountant shortage' (WSJ)

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Perhaps useful to younger FWF members considering college majors, parents/friends of such individuals, etc.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-regulations-change-companies-gra...

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Some accountant have amazing tax avoidance techniques which AI and ML don't

manuvns (Mar. 08, 2017 @ 6:59p) |

What kind of accountants? I can see tax going AI, but AI can never replace accountants unfortunately.

user1337 (Mar. 08, 2017 @ 8:03p) |

Some of them are sending linked in private messages which is basically an email.  Others have my email address most like... (more)

Chrisk327 (Mar. 09, 2017 @ 8:51a) |

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Also less of. Sausage party than engineering

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Good news to hear that my daughter picked a good career field.

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rufflesinc said:   Also less of. Sausage party than engineering
I don't know about accounting but it was definitely true for engineering. Was the only female student in my EE classes. Talk about traget-rich environment.  

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odds (47.14kB)
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Shandril said:   
rufflesinc said:   Also less of. Sausage party than engineering
I don't know about accounting but it was definitely true for engineering. Was the only female student in my EE classes. Talk about traget-rich environment.  

  http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive/phd1105.gif 

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Ya, I was quite surprised at the salary for accountants. I think it's also driven by new compliance requirements.

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As soon as news hits of a shortage in a specific occupation, thats a sign that there will be a glut of oversupply for that occupation in about 4 years.

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ZenNUTS said:   Ya, I was quite surprised at the salary for accountants. I think it's also driven by new compliance requirements.
  
Look up Actuaries.  If you can pass the tests you are set.

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Buddy of mine has an accounting degree.  Couldn't find a job for almost 2 years, finally had to go outside his field.  Guess he was the problem in that equation and not the lack of opportunity.

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ZenNUTS said:   Ya, I was quite surprised at the salary for accountants. I think it's also driven by new compliance requirements.
  
To which Trumper has said he wants to gut.  So might not be there for long.

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daw4888 said:   
ZenNUTS said:   Ya, I was quite surprised at the salary for accountants. I think it's also driven by new compliance requirements.
  
Look up Actuaries.  If you can pass the tests you are set.

  
Yeah but passing those tests is not easy.   Thats a key reason they're well compensated.
 

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But its also based on where the jobs are located.
My company has about 40 finance positions open.
But no one is applying because of the locations.
Also the salary.

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The article says:
"The unemployment rate for experienced accountants and auditors was 2.5% in 2016, compared with the overall rate of 4.4% for experienced workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics"

But they are comparing accountants with "experienced workers" in general.

The unemployment rate in general for people with college degrees is 2.5%. The same as accountants.
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm


WSJ also then say that :
"The number of accounting graduates hired by accounting firms surged to a record 43,252 in 2014, the most recent year for which the AICPA has statistics. That represented a 7% jump from 2012, when the group conducted its prior study."

Look what I found:

https://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/AccountingEducation/NewsAndP...

54,423 bachelors were awarded in accounting in '13-14.

Enrollment in accounting programs is growing year over year 5 years straight. Total enrollment grew from 173k to 207k between '06-07 to '13-14.

The firms hired 43k and 54k graduated...

The rest of the WSJ article looks like various anecdotes about people having trouble filling a position.

I wonder if this is the same kind of shortage as the perennial engineer/programmer shortage I keep hearing about?

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jerosen said:   
I wonder if this is the same kind of shortage as the perennial engineer/programmer shortage I keep hearing about?

  it was enough of a shortage in 2011 (like the depth of the recession) that my then-gf was able get an H1B as an entry (like literally entry level)  accountant doing basic bookkeeping crap.

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Accounting is trade not a career and median salaries are under 70k i won't persue a field unless it pays 100k

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rufflesinc said:   
jerosen said:   
I wonder if this is the same kind of shortage as the perennial engineer/programmer shortage I keep hearing about?

  it was enough of a shortage in 2011 (like the depth of the recession) that my then-gf was able get an H1B as an entry (like literally entry level)  accountant doing basic bookkeeping crap.

  
How was the pay?

 

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jerosen said:   The firms hired 43k and 54k graduated...
 

  So only 79% of graduates placed in a job?

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jerosen said:   
rufflesinc said:   
jerosen said:   
I wonder if this is the same kind of shortage as the perennial engineer/programmer shortage I keep hearing about?

  it was enough of a shortage in 2011 (like the depth of the recession) that my then-gf was able get an H1B as an entry (like literally entry level)  accountant doing basic bookkeeping crap.

  
How was the pay?

 

  Median, a little higher than non-H1B at the company. But I got the feeling the real reason they had trouble filling the position was because they're a small family owned company thats located way outside the metro area. Like 15 minutes further from what most people would consider the outer edge of the metro area

Her predecessor was also H1B and also left when she married a us citizen. Her successor was also H1B, they got wise with her sucessor and made her sign a contract to reimburse H1B fees if she left before a year

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elektronic said:   
jerosen said:   The firms hired 43k and 54k graduated...
  So only 79% of graduates placed in a job?

  
The report cites the # of graduates "hired by CPA firms" and its talking about public accounting so it appears to be just a subset of all hiring.     
The appendix says they "A census of public accounting firms was invited to participate (n=34,120)"     

Seems the industry is split between private / corporate accounting versus public accounting.  I tried to find information about how much the industry is split between the private and public sections but didn't find much.   Maybe an accountant can chime in with the specifics.

But that AICPA document goes back many decades and the # of graduates and the # of hires seem to track mostly in proportion and I don't see a huge spike in hiring versus graduations.   OTOH there could be a lot of baby boomers retiring fueling an actual demand vs supply gap.
 

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I hear there will be a couple of vacancies available at the Oscars next year

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The field that is in demand when you enter college likely won't be when you exit college. Other folks are also surveying supply/demand of labor.

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As an accountant, the diversity of positions makes this harder to look at. The article talks about "technical accountants." Between tax, audit (financial, operational, and compliance), cost accounting, and you're just regular ol' controllers I'm sure there's some in demand while others aren't so much. You have your basic bookkeeping roles as well as your more analytical forecasting ones. I think if you want to do accounting the best you can do is get experience in a couple different roles (tax and audit or compliance and analyst) and decide what you want to do to make that your niche.

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jerosen said:   As soon as news hits of a shortage in a specific occupation, thats a sign that there will be a glut of oversupply for that occupation in about 4 years.

I'm hoping I see the opposite play out for the legal industry. Throughout the Great Recession there were a flood of articles about how all the attorney jobs dried up and the future was bleak for anyone going through law school. In response law school applications and enrollment plummeted.

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novocane said:   The field that is in demand when you enter college likely won't be when you exit college. Other folks are also surveying supply/demand of labor.
  
That's a silly way of coming to that conclusion. If kids entering college only picked fields in high demand, why are there so many feminist dance theory majors?

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meade18 said:   
novocane said:   The field that is in demand when you enter college likely won't be when you exit college. Other folks are also surveying supply/demand of labor.
  
That's a silly way of coming to that conclusion. If kids entering college only picked fields in high demand, why are there so many feminist dance theory majors?

Your conclusion is even sillier. He didn't say that all choose their major that way, just that enough people do so as to shift the labor supply.  

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in math 1+1=2

in business 1+1=14 this year and 22 next year

in government 1+1=3.2 billion

hire me!

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I'll add my two cents as a CPA about 12 years out of college, and having worked at 2 of the Big 4 up through Manager level.

The subject matter can be quite dry, but really helps you truly (at a deep level) understand finance and business, which will set you up successfully with any ventures/business you may form in the future. Unfortunately, many people in this field are not the creative types and never take advantage of that knowledge to their own benefit (such as by creating side businesses). Not saying they don't have personalities...some of the biggest extroverts I know are in accounting...just saying they are more 'following the path' kinds of people and are usually content with just sticking to the profession.

The CPA exams (4 exams) are extremely brutal and very difficult to pass. Pretty much give up a full year of your social life just towards studying for these. And you need an extra year of college credits just to sit for the exams (eg. Masters in Accounting).

If you can get yourself into a Big 4 firm, you will have a very demanding (and often miserable) time there due to the workload, but once you leave you'll be set for life with a nice work/life balance and compensation.

There has always been a strong job market for accountants; people don't flock to the profession the same way they do law school because it's not as "sexy." But, maybe Ben Affleck has changed that with the movie "The Accountant."

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EdMcK515 said:   
jerosen said:   As soon as news hits of a shortage in a specific occupation, thats a sign that there will be a glut of oversupply for that occupation in about 4 years.

I'm hoping I see the opposite play out for the legal industry. Throughout the Great Recession there were a flood of articles about how all the attorney jobs dried up and the future was bleak for anyone going through law school. In response law school applications and enrollment plummeted.

  I'm sure some foreclosure mill in S. FL will always be hiring "bar numbers" for 40k a year.

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althes said:   [...]
But no one is applying because of the locations.
Also the salary.

  
Yes, often "there are not enough X" really means "we don't want to pay what we have to pay in order to attract X".  Companies are big in talking about supply and demand should drive pricing, except when it's the companies that need to pay.  

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ArmchairArchitect said:   I'll add my two cents as a CPA about 12 years out of college, and having worked at 2 of the Big 4 up through Manager level.

The subject matter can be quite dry, but really helps you truly (at a deep level) understand finance and business, which will set you up successfully with any ventures/business you may form in the future. Unfortunately, many people in this field are not the creative types and never take advantage of that knowledge to their own benefit (such as by creating side businesses). Not saying they don't have personalities...some of the biggest extroverts I know are in accounting...just saying they are more 'following the path' kinds of people and are usually content with just sticking to the profession.

The CPA exams (4 exams) are brutal and very difficult to pass. Pretty much give up a full year of your social life just towards studying for these. And you need an extra year of college credits just to sit for the exams (eg. Masters in Accounting).

If you can get yourself into a Big 4 firm, you will have a very demanding (and often miserable) time there due to the workload, but once you leave you'll be set for life with a nice work/life balance and compensation.

There has always been a strong job market for accountants; people don't flock to the profession the same way they do law school because it's not as "sexy." But, maybe Ben Affleck has changed that with the movie "The Accountant."

  
Another CPA here, 11 years out of college. I worked 2 years in public accounting, but for a local firm (100 total employees). I got my CPA license, but hated it and decided to do something completely different knowing I had the CPA and auditing background to fall back on. Fast forward 7.5 years and I decided to fall back. Now I'm working in internal audit in local government (8 hour day, year round). I don't make the big bucks that I could have by staying in public accounting or going from public to private. But if I felt the need to try and make big bucks, I doubt it would be difficult to find a corporate gig with decent advancement opportunities. It's a great profession for someone that wants to make sure their skills will always be in demand. And I'm home every weekend and evening at 5:45 PM with my family, and my wife is able to stay home.

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Computers/AI and Outsourcing affect the promise?

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ArmchairArchitect said:   I'll add my two cents as a CPA about 12 years out of college, and having worked at 2 of the Big 4 up through Manager level.

The subject matter can be quite dry, but really helps you truly (at a deep level) understand finance and business, which will set you up successfully with any ventures/business you may form in the future. Unfortunately, many people in this field are not the creative types and never take advantage of that knowledge to their own benefit (such as by creating side businesses). Not saying they don't have personalities...some of the biggest extroverts I know are in accounting...just saying they are more 'following the path' kinds of people and are usually content with just sticking to the profession.

The CPA exams (4 exams) are extremely brutal and very difficult to pass. Pretty much give up a full year of your social life just towards studying for these. And you need an extra year of college credits just to sit for the exams (eg. Masters in Accounting).

If you can get yourself into a Big 4 firm, you will have a very demanding (and often miserable) time there due to the workload, but once you leave you'll be set for life with a nice work/life balance and compensation.

There has always been a strong job market for accountants; people don't flock to the profession the same way they do law school because it's not as "sexy." But, maybe Ben Affleck has changed that with the movie "The Accountant."

  I'm an accountant about 15 years out of school and can echo what was said above.  When my biopic comes out, it definitely seems reasonable to have Ben Affleck play me.

Based upon the number of recruiters who cold call/email me on a weekly basis I'd say it seems pretty in demand once you have experience.  Pay is decent, not off the charts.  If you stay in public, pay only gets really good at the partner level and at that point, you have to be a salesman to really make it.  It can be very dry on a day to day basis.

 

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Chrisk327 said:   
 
Based upon the number of recruiters who cold call/email me on a weekly basis I'd say it seems pretty in demand once you have experience.  

 

  where do they get your contact info? Even if they troll linkedin, that wouldn't have your phone number and email

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rufflesinc said:   
Chrisk327 said:   
 
Based upon the number of recruiters who cold call/email me on a weekly basis I'd say it seems pretty in demand once you have experience.  

 

  where do they get your contact info? Even if they troll linkedin, that wouldn't have your phone number and email

  
If you've ever exchanged business cards at a conference or trade show, you've probably had your information end up on a contact info list somewhere.

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rufflesinc said:   
Chrisk327 said:   
 
Based upon the number of recruiters who cold call/email me on a weekly basis I'd say it seems pretty in demand once you have experience.  

 

  where do they get your contact info? Even if they troll linkedin, that wouldn't have your phone number and email

  
Terminated employees have been known to export the entire Microsoft Outlook (or whatever email program) contact list for the entire company, and then sell them to recruiters.

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needhelpplease said:   Computers/AI and Outsourcing affect the promise?
  For low-level bookkeeping, perhaps. For accounting and auditing done by CPAs, not so much. Too much judgement involved. Probably the same risk of automation replacing jobs as there is to lawyers, which is minimal at this point. But, never underestimate the progression of AI and what it can do. At that point, it will pose a risk to all jobs, not just accounting/auditing.

All the public accounting firms have already been using offshore resources for years. But, we would only send them really basic/straightforward stuff, and then review their product. The higher risk items, or the ones that required more judgement/careful analysis/working closely with the client to interpret, we would do ourselves.

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I am in the SF Bay and meet with Fintech startups regularly. There are dozens of startups trying to replace the accountant with machines learning and AI.

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quickfingerz said:   I am in the SF Bay and meet with Fintech startups regularly. There are dozens of startups trying to replace the accountant with machines learning and AI.
  But is there a startup trying to replace the startup founder with machines learning and AI?

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I have been in accounting for 21 years never went public only private and I really can't see AI doing that high level accounting dealing with WIP, Accruals, capital projects etc.
I have to concur my company uses India for basic accounting but when it comes final closing the books its always back in our hands.

Skipping 5 Messages...
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rufflesinc said:   
Chrisk327 said:   
 
Based upon the number of recruiters who cold call/email me on a weekly basis I'd say it seems pretty in demand once you have experience.  

 

  where do they get your contact info? Even if they troll linkedin, that wouldn't have your phone number and email

  Some of them are sending linked in private messages which is basically an email.  Others have my email address most likely when i was looking 4 years ago I gave my email address out to a recruiter or 2 at different firms and it goes in a database so other employees from that company end up contracting me when they move on.  Others get contact info from refer a friend type things.  The phone ones see my job history and where I am now, look up the phone number and call through the main switch board, after a certain time there is a dial by name directory too.

They have their ways...  Most of the jobs they're pushing are in NYC, which currently the commute doesn't appeal and I'm currently not looking, but it does make you feel that if you lost your job tomorrow, you have options.

 

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