How Accounting Firm Cultures are Changing

workplace flexibility, employee with happy child

Fridays off. No more 80-hour work weeks. Hybrid and remote positions, even for audit work. Artificial intelligence and automation. This is not your grandmother’s CPA and advisory firm.

The public accounting industry used to be among the most prestigious careers, and it still is in many parts of the world. But long hours, advancing technology skill demands and rapid learning curves have steered many people away from the profession on a global scale. Also, statistics by AICPA suggest that 75% of current U.S. accountants will retire by 2030.

If you are still pursuing a career in accounting, it’s usually because you love puzzles and problem solving, you love the people you work with, and you know that the industry has a much broader array of career opportunities than it had just 10 years ago. Accounting jobs prospects are also very solid, with average salaries above the U.S. median at around $70,000, depending on the role and location. With incentives, bonuses and leadership roles, advancement provides more income.

From AI and cyber security careers to business advisory, valuation and estate planning niches, accountants can specialize and also choose a more manageable schedule — even through “busy season.”

In fact, some firms are restructuring their cultures and business models to avoid busy season as much as possible. Spreading work throughout the year, setting client expectations for tax filing extensions and allowing job sharing are helping firms manage the workload and take care of their people.

More Room at the Top

By offering more flexibility and personalized career plans, firms are also providing more room for diverse leadership. Women now make up 60% of U.S. accountants and auditors, with about 39% at the partner level. Small to mid-sized firms have more gender equity among leadership than at the largest firms.

In addition, the advancement of accountants and auditors in other countries is leading to more global collaboration, which offers diverse voices to solve client problems and support innovation.

Socially Responsible Initiatives

As Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) initiatives advance across the business community, the accounting industry is already studying and advising solutions for demonstrating ESG outcomes in financial statements.

Accountants have a unique role in calculating costs and benefits to the top line and bottom line. Companies will need to show how responsible they are with resources, people and processes to support a healthier society and planet. It’s an exciting career area that will flow into all aspects of finance.

Acts of Service

Another key change to accounting culture is a focus on core values and how firms reach out to the communities where they operate. Whether through volunteering or sponsorships or fundraising events, accountants can pursue their causes and interests with full support from the firm.

Some of these opportunities happen through days of service by the whole firm, but also through perks such as paid volunteer time or encouragement to serve on not-for-profit boards. Some firms have committees that empower employees to identify local causes and projects that the firm can support. Other firms have established foundations for service outreach.

Overall, accounting industry culture is evolving from a solitary and technical profession to encompass proactive client service, technological and leadership diversity and social transformation. If you are interested in an accounting career, contact us at LvHJ. We welcome professionals from other industries, too, and can direct you toward career resources.

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