April 11, 2023

Higher Salaries: Not the Answer?

Lauren Kemp

In recent years, salaries have quickly climbed, particularly in the accounting and finance world. However, industry observers say that increasing pay alone may not be enough to remedy the shortage of accountants sweeping across the United States

The rate of people pursuing accounting degrees is slowing, which has created difficulty in filling positions for open roles and has increased search time to find the right fit for open positions. Accounting jobs have historically been viewed as under-compensated and less dynamic than positions in comparable industries.

To combat this, companies industrywide boosted salaries, offered signing bonuses, provided more flexible office options, and gave opportunities to more junior candidates, including more responsibility. It is no secret that accounting and finance individuals are an integral part of the overall health of a company. Recently, inflation has increased, which has been reflected in increased wages. On average, United States accountants and auditors were offered starting salaries for entry-level positions that were 13% higher in 2022 than in 2020 and an even larger increase of 21%, nearly $67,000, in 2023.

This pay increase does not only apply to entry-level workers. Average salaries across five seniority levels climbed by 12% in 2022 and by 9% in 2023, amounting to nearly $90,000. Accountants and auditors at Big Four accounting firms and Fortune 200 companies, particularly in major cities, are typically paid on the higher end of these percentages.  

Salaries and Recent College Graduates

80% of college graduates who seek employment say a higher salary ($80,000 or more annually) makes them more likely to apply for a position. 85% are more likely to apply when job stability is high, and 81% will apply when a job has good benefits. However, some professionals in the accounting industry do not consider recent salary spikes as enough to boost the number of new entrants, as there are many obstacles to entry, such as 150 college credit hours required to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), leading toward a fifth year of school. 

How to Increase Entrants Into the Industry

Because of the costs associated with the higher education needed for many accounting positions and the historically lower salaries, increasing pay alone may not be enough to incentivize people to join the accounting industry. 

What can employers do to build excitement?

Accounting graduates may be unaware that this industry has significant technology involved in the day-to-day work, which can include artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and other opportunities involving technological advancements. This not only makes work more efficient but provides employees with the opportunity to further their skills and stay current with the tech world. 

How to Attract and Keep Top Talent 

Work with a recruiter, such as J2T Financial Recruiting. Working with a recruiter has several advantages, including: 

Recruiter specialization

Recruiter specialization is an integral part of finding the right hire for your team because the recruiter you partner with is an expert in your industry. Some recruitment agencies specialize in industry-specific hires; for example, J2T specializes in recruiting for the finance and accounting industries. This specialization will help your team in finding the right candidate, as the recruiter will understand the nuances of your specific employment market. Recruitment agencies provide companies with access to years of market knowledge and use this experience to accurately present your company's offer to prospective candidates. 

Success with previous clients

When hiring a recruiter to find an employee, ask for a list of prior clients the company has worked with and customer testimonials. These will give you insight into whom the company has worked with and their success in making an informed decision on your company's needs. 

Faster hiring 

Recruitment agencies can shorten the timeline it takes your company to fill positions by using established databases, connections within their network, and access to systems that assist in locating people with specialized skills. 

High-quality candidates

Using a recruitment agency increases the likelihood of securing a high-quality candidate. Agencies often have talent pools of referenced and screened candidates, meaning candidates will only be suggested after being carefully interviewed and assessed. 

Close-knit relationships 

Your company may also hire a recruiter to work closely with managers to understand the hiring needs of a position and to best meet hiring goals. Recruiters can initiate and grow high-quality relationships with their database of qualified active and passive talent to produce candidates as positions become available. Lastly, hiring a recruiter can help your company stay active with current social networks, platforms, and job boards to create and post job announcements. 

Salary alone may not be enough to attract and keep talent in the accounting industry. Working with a recruiter to make the right hiring decisions the first time helps create a win-win situation for all involved. J2T evaluates not only what knowledge, skills, and abilities our qualified candidates have but also if they are a good cultural fit and have a history of longevity that companies seek.