Challenges facing the accounting profession today

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Introduction

Open secretes associated with accounting can be defined in different ways and they include talent shortage, education bubble and skills gap. However, for at least half a century, the challenges have almost not changed.  Employers have had challenges on finding appropriate finance and accounting talent (Okolie and Amos 132). In this case, finding qualified candidates to fill the existing or new position has always been a challenge. There are different issues or dilemma facing accounting profession and they have been discussed in different perspective as seen in the next section.

Skilled professionals increasing demand

Top accounting professionals demand is expected to remain the same and this is based on the fact that there is continuous workload growth and ongoing requirements of regulatory compliance (Wyatt 2004).  Increase on the experienced workforce demand is expected and this is so as firms start working on the baby-boomers   departure. Thus, the baby boomers (accountants) retirement has a huge effect on the accounting profession. It is hard to find a replacement when baby boomers retire and this leads to what is known as “huge knowledge gap.” Regardless of the status of the economy, still, there will be a high demand for accountant who are specialized to take over or act as a replacement  and hence, this has been a challenge to accounting profession where finding a skilled and experienced accountant specific for that particular job is not easy (Parker 509).  It has been found that several companies have taken initiatives of compensating employees who incur such losses where their retention and recruitment programs have been enhanced.  The finance and accounting professionals are important pillars to any firm in terms of performance.  In this respect, many firms majorly focus on retaining the brightest as well as best employees.  Most firms have much worry when they lose a high skilled member to other firm.

Fraud control

There has been a demand increase on the skilled forensic accountants and this is as a result of intense scrutiny of the financial related activities by government agencies and shareholders (Chen et al. 236). Before, these professionals were not hired, but it was until when the firms saw the urgency of their need in terms of the challenges faced regarding financial issues. In this case, these professionals are being hired by companies with the aim of preventing fraud through procedure tightening.  Early fraud detection is critical and this has not been taken into consideration in the past decades (Chen et al. 235). There is a high demand for a service for this kind where auditors are replaced by other agencies (Hassab et al. 240).

Globalization

It is very critical for the accountants to be well versed with different business perspectives as well as cultures. This is because most organizations operate on international platform where the workforce consists of different nations. For instance, there are various firms that are US-based such as US exchanges which have international operations usually consider accountants who are well acquainted with international regulations and laws and thus, the companies are able to adapt to emerging legislations (Zeghal  and Mhedhbi 374)

Pervasive technology

New accountants (such as students who have just graduated) joining workforce are known to have been exposed to much connectivity during their past life where they were ever connected to cellular phones that are web-based and digital assistants connected to wireless networks.  These new professionals will exhibit a multitude of challenges in terms of learning how to balance between the productive benefits offered by information technology and potential pitfalls like concentrating too much on information technology rather than focusing on building relationships through one –on-one communications (Parker 510).  All accountants are aware that accounting is considered to be a business language. There are many changes observed with time in this sector and accounting technology in this case has been associated with making work easier.  Technology knowledge has increased with increase in the capacity of the accountants to analyze values related to statistics.

The profession future

The profession potential has been limited by the skills gaps observed in finance and accounting for quite a long time. However, it has not been a priority closing this gap. New accountant skills are required advanced technology such as data preponderance, artificial intelligence and automation.  Sectors which cannot be automated like communication, strategy and complex decision making required accounting careers that are viable with advanced level of skillsets.  Accounting students might not be as qualified as they should be once they graduate. This is based on the fact that the accounting curriculum offered at school has so many challenges and in this case, their major focus is on financial accounting that includes compliance, statutory reporting, tax and audit (Okolie and Amos 131). It is believed that most graduates abandon public accounting for management accounting (where they focus on advisory skillsets and value creation) and this is due to their career journey starts at public accounting companies doing tax work and audit. The new professionals who opt for public accounting companies end up doing advisory functions as well as consultation work.  Consequently, the accounting skills gained by the student at school end up serving a narrow aspect of what they were meant for (Okolie and Amos 130).

Conclusion

In case there are no initiatives taken to address the dilemma or issue facing the accountant profession such as skills gap, the profession could suffer a major blow in terms of advancement where they could drag behind for the next decade. Digitization of value chains such as “internet of things” can be subjected transformation to pave way for opportunities and jobs for new accountants who have just graduated from school.  In terms of reforms on curricula, students who are not informed about available opportunities other than public accounting should be educated on different career options as well as motivated to search for appropriate work experience and relevant courses.  The accounting students need to be prepared for multiple jobs which are long term but not short term such as those of auditing.  Partnership between universities and businesses or companies is critical since the education institutions and organizations will have an opportunity to exploit the internship program to enable student strive to being business leaders in future. Furthermore, the entry level competencies will be comprehended clearly by these business leaders and hence, making them to have the capacity of allocating resources efficiently and appropriately in terms of career development.

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  1. Okolie O, and Amos  A. “The challenges of accounting education: the Nigerian experience.” Accounting and Finance Research, vol. 3, no 2, 2014, pp. 129-137.
  2. Parker L. “Professional accounting body ethics :In search of the private interest and Accounting.” Organizations and Society, vol. 19, no 6, 1994,pp. 507-525.
  3. Wyatt A. “Accounting Professionalism: They Just Don’t Get It”, Accounting Horizons, vol.18, no 1, 2004, pp. 45 – 53.
  4. Zeghal D, and Mhedhbi K. “An analysis of the factors affecting the adoption of international accounting standards by developing countries.” The International Journal of Accounting, vol. 41,no 2, 2006, pp. 373–386.
  5. Chen Y, Yasar, and Rejesus R. “Factors influencing the incidence of bribery payouts by firms: A cross country analysis.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 77,no 3, 2008, pp. 231-244.
  6. Hassab H, Epps R, and Said A. “The impact of environmental factors on accounting development: An Egyptian longitudinal study.” Paper presented at the American Accounting Association, USA. Vol 30, no 3, 2001, Pp.238-245.
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