Staffing remains top issue for firms

Jul. 12, 2017  |  Linda Wedul

Finding qualified staff. Are you already groaning?

Whether you’re a firm of two or 222 CPAs, the 2017 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey reveals finding qualified staff as the No. 1 issue for U.S. accounting firms. What else tops the list? Retaining qualified staff, naturally.

Staffing will continue to be an issue for several years. Minnesota’s high school graduation sizes are projected to be smaller through 2025. Accounting, IT and engineering professions are all recruiting from a smaller applicant pool. Recruitment is — and will continue to be — a challenge for several years.

Well-managed firms have a plan to recruit new clients. Firms also need a strategic plan to recruit and retain employees. Such a plan includes, but is not limited to, office culture, firm name recognition, compensation, staff development, technology and building relationships with key influencers.

An informal survey of accounting interns by Marc Rosenberg, a CPA firm consultant, provides some insights into accounting’s future workforce. Interns were asked, “How many total work hours a year do you think a typical staff person at a CPA firm works?” The interns’ average response was 2,600 — almost 20 percent higher than the actual 2,241. Additionally, interns thought partners worked 2,875 hours; again, 20 percent higher than the average of 2,450. Finally, when asked to name local firms, interns could recall very few (if any). These results, even in an informal survey, point to an image problem for the profession. 

What is the MNCPA doing to support recruitment? For us, it starts with supply. We share information about the accounting profession and the variety of career choices it brings with high school students. This month, we are also hosting a training program for high school teachers interested in offering an honors accounting course. This is not your father's traditional high school bookkeeping course. The curriculum is a combination of financial and managerial accounting and comparable to an entry-level college accounting course.

We are on college campuses presenting CPA exam and licensing information. The MNCPA also is one of four sponsors for the annual Accounting and Auditing Student Conference scheduled for Sept. 19. This conference is a perfect fit to build firm name recognition with potential interns and soon-to-be-graduates. Exhibitor registrations and volunteer opportunities are open. 

So, when it comes to staffing, know that you don’t have to do it alone. Make the MNCPA part of your strategic plan to recruit and retain employees, and turn those groans into grins.

Topics: Staffing

Linda Wedul

Linda Wedul is president and CEO of the MNCPA. She’s usually spotted at MNCPA events, introducing herself to members with a warm smile and memorable laugh. Mixed among the Footnotes, accounting journals, leadership books and three monitors in her office, you’d be surprised to see a dog kennel. Her unpaid job is volunteering as a foster family for service dogs in training through Can-Do-Canines. She and her husband have two adult children and live in Farmington. Linda can be reached at 952-885-5516 or

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