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Where Are All the Accountants?

As tax season looms, accounting firms are struggling to find enough accountants, and hiring overseas staff to make up for it, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

The problem: In the past two years, there has been a significant turnover among accountants and auditors, with more than 300,000 leaving their jobs, federal data shows.

The impact on clients: This means that companies providing basic services like audits and tax returns are struggling to meet the needs of their clients, and many have had to increase the cost of their services drastically to account for increased strain on their staff.

A solution: Many of these companies are looking overseas for accounting support—a strategy that has been used by large firms for years, but which is a new avenue for smaller accounting firms.

  • Usually, the international hires will perform basic, entry-level work, which frees up the U.S. accountants for more dense or complicated services, depending on the firm and the international hires’ knowledge.
  • India, the Philippines and South Africa are some of the places where smaller accounting firms are looking for support.

The challenges: There are some obstacles that come along with international outsourcing. Working across different time zones may create communication complications, and international hires need to be schooled in American business practices, like how to conduct an audit or how to navigate Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

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