Sage Intacct

February 07, 2023

Accountants Are Quitting

legacy system

Accountants are leaving their jobs in record numbers. Some 300,000 quit in the past two years — a 17% decline. Even in the context of the Great Resignation, the accounting profession is seeing a worrisome exodus. It seems even accounting majors don’t want to be accountants — they are seeking jobs in finance and technology instead. So, what’s prompting accountants to flee and creating this accounting shortage? The reason might just lie in companies’ legacy system accounting software. Can modern, cloud-based financial management applications elevate the role of an accountant and entice more workers into the profession? We think so.

Less hours, more glory

It’s not a stretch to say that accounting has a reputation for being, well, a bit dull. Introverted nerds crunching numbers in the back room late into the evening might come to mind. While we know plenty of extroverted (even some downright fun) accountants, it is true that the role traditionally involves long hours.

Increasingly, though, the accountant’s role is shifting from transactional to strategic. They are being asked to provide deep operational insights and drive efficiency improvement initiatives. Rather than reporting on the organization’s financial status by looking at past performance, they are now expected to also forecast and help guide future performance. In many companies, the CFO is in fact leading the business’s digital transformation.

Technologies, including modern financial management systems, are integral to this transition. These applications put superior data tools into the hands of accountants, busting the old myths and elevating the role of an accountant to that of a real-time analyst — even a visionary.  Accountants want to be empowered with modern technology and not be bogged down by a legacy system with limited capabilities.

Modern financial management systems also deliver automated workflows that elevate efficiencies, allowing many companies to grow without increasing their finance teams — and allowing their accountants to work smarter, not harder or longer.

Making accounting cool again

Recruiters working to lure experienced accountants into new roles report that new recruits are eschewing accounting for jobs in finance and technology. Perhaps their perception of accounting as a low-tech, repetitive position can be adjusted by introducing more tech to the role. Established accountants are also leaving, some citing “stone age technology” as a factor.

We acknowledge that it will take more than software to solve the accountant shortage. However, technology helps reframe the role in ways that make it appealing to professionals starting — or restarting — their careers. Attracting more Millennials and Gen Z-ers to the field is crucial to combat the accounting shortage. An industry group even launched a Tik-Tok campaign to help fashion the role in a more favorable light to attract younger workers to the profession.

A strategic priority

Helping to attract and retain qualified accounting staff is one direct benefit your company gains when it invests in technology. If you need more convincing, look no further than the news lately.

Companies can learn a life lesson from the recent meltdown at Southwest Airlines, a catastrophe blamed primarily on the company’s outdated legacy system applications. Essentially, the company waited too long to update its tech. An airline union leader was quoted as saying, “Southwest has never viewed technology as a strategic priority.” As a result, the company’s stock — and of course, its customers — paid the price.

There’s also the case of FTX. At the time of its collapse, the billion-dollar company was still running QuickBooks.

If your organization is still relying on outdated technology, it could be time to shift your strategic priorities. We invite you to contact us at info@btpartners.com or (847) 205-5015 to learn more about modern financial management applications like Sage Intacct.

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Accountants Are Quitting

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