Last May, the Philippines saw less than a third of 9,830 accounting graduates pass their licensure exams. That meant accounting firms had to compete over the 2,843 new licensed accountants. Even more alarming for the local industry, not everyone in that pool was applying.
Instead of joining the auditing industry, a large chunk of these graduates chose to work overseas, or in the accounts departments of multinationals and the like.
According to P&A Grant Thornton Human Resources Director Rhia Girmendonk Dee, some accountants decided to leave the profession altogether, shifting to law or opening their own businesses.
And this isn’t only happening in the Philippines. The auditing industry is facing a talent shortage on a global scale.
Citing a study by the ManpowerGroup, Dee said global talent shortage in six industries across 43 countries and territories posted a 12-year high. Out of all the skills employers look for, accounting and finance ranked as the 7th most in demand globally.
Latest data by Monster.com showed that finance and accounts professionals posted a 31% growth in online hiring activity in September, one of the highest across all job roles.
Local accounting companies face stiff competition in the Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing Industries, where accountants are in high demand to work in financial processes.
“It’s tough being up against BPOs that offer higher pay, fewer tasks, and where everything is pretty much automated,” Ms. Dee said.
While BPO is among the industries at risk of being highly automated in the near future, it’s not expected to go down so easily. In fact, some experts believe automation will actually further its growth.
Despite challenges in recruiting and retaining accountants amid the talent shortage, P&A Grant Thornton Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Maria Victoria C. Españo said quality will always be kept at a premium.
“We need to attract people who have the same values as we have and would flourish in the kind of culture and environment,” she said.
The firm hopes to continue the development of its employees through a graduate school program, and attract younger prospects through partnerships with students groups, schools, review centers, and job platforms.
As part of their drive to create an inclusive environment for workers, P&A Grant Thornton has also developed flexible working arrangements for their accountants and a non-discrimination hiring policy.
“We start with competencies and skills, not with age group,” Ms. Dee said. “Don’t set the tone for segregating people – whatever package they come in, accept them if they fit the bill.”