Thursday, September 21, 2023

Can Outsourcing Help the US Accounting Talent Crunch?

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

CEO at Aleph Integrated. Building a world where talent and hard work can cross borders. Connect on LinkedIn.

When we talk about outsourcing jobs abroad, people often think of back office operations, call centers, customer support, IT and even textiles. But I’ve found that few think of skilled positions like tax accountants and auditors – full-time, professional positions that keep core business operations going. In my experience, it’s not because these positions can’t be filled effectively by foreign workers, but rather because employers simply don’t know that there’s a pool of professional talent ready and willing to take on these in-demand, hard-to-fill jobs. filling roles or how to tap into that talent.

As the CEO of a staffing agency that connects companies with professionals in Mexico, I speak every day with accounting firms, CFOs and other executives looking to hire accountants and other financial professionals in the US. The story is always the same: they have fill jobs but they cannot attract the workers they need.

There are not enough qualified candidates to fill all vacancies.

Last month I was contacted by a mid-sized CPA firm that had brought in a slew of new clients and was looking for 16 auditors and a high-level manager to lead the audit team. And they needed this team quickly. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to recruit the talent they needed. They were annoyed by the lack of qualified candidates. In addition, the applicants they considered hiring, even entry-level candidates, had salary expectations that often exceeded those of highly experienced employees who had been with the company for years.

The hiring challenge facing US companies is as unprecedented as it is systemic. In the last months of 2022 it turns out that there were 10.5 million vacancies in the US and 5.7 million unemployed. The US is also facing one decreasing number of accountancy graduates each year – a trend that is likely to get worse in the future. It should come as no surprise, then, that employers struggle so much to meet their needs.

Many small and medium-sized businesses are starting to look elsewhere to solve their staffing needs.

The US is not the only country in the world with talent. Our neighbor to the south, for example, is full of bright, bilingual individuals, often with the same (if not better) qualifications as their American counterparts. As of the second quarter of 2022, there were more than 466,000 accountants and auditors in Mexico, while the US, despite having more than double the population, has just over 665,000 actively licensed CPAs. With a shared border, strong cultural familiarity, and other benefits, I’ve noticed that many multinational accounting firms are beginning to view Mexico as a gold mine for accounting and finance talent.

While Mexico represents a large and culturally compatible pool of foreign talent for U.S. companies, there are also unique challenges. One of these challenges is the highly complex and ever-changing labor laws that govern the relationship between employees and the companies they work for.

When starting up business in Mexico, it is vital to navigate carefully when setting up business operations and negotiating employment contracts. While this can be challenging, and may take some time to get right, I’ve found that Mexican labor law and the benefits it provides employees contribute substantially to a healthy corporate culture and long-term business success.

So then the question comes, “If we hire abroad, aren’t we taking jobs away from Americans?” Yes and no. Yes, in the literal sense that jobs can go to foreign workers. But no, if you consider that few opportunities are used away of domestic talent. There are plenty of job opportunities in the US, but many US candidates are simply not intrigued enough by the jobs and salaries currently on offer, or don’t accept them.

In many industries, it’s an employee market right now, and candidates are browsing and taking advantage of offers more than I’ve ever seen in my 30 years as an employer and now in my role as CEO.

So, what should companies do?

We live in new times. And from my perspective, these new times call for a redrawing of boundaries when it comes to recruiting professional talent. If you’re ready to look a little further afield, here’s what I humbly suggest:

First, think about what kind of features you really need.

How often should the employee interact with prospects in person instead of doing their work in the office via phone or video call?

Second, be open to new sources of talent.

Outsourcing to talent hubs around the world can significantly increase your pool of candidates while reducing costs as salary expectations can differ drastically from the US. From my experience, companies can save up to 60% on staffing costs for a higher caliber professional than is currently available in the US

Third, understand new employee expectations, including remote work.

Companies struggle with personal, flexible or hybrid working models. This is often caused by the high cost of living in major metropolitan areas and long commutes from more affordable locations. Transferring departments to lower-cost U.S. metro or nearshoring offices can help companies create both in-office and hybrid work hubs with high levels of team collaboration and synergy.

Fourth, offer fulfilling careers, not just jobs.

The accounting profession has a certain stigma and is not always seen as the fun, technologically advanced field that it is. Help individuals see the excitement in a role and where it can take them. Employees want to be fulfilled by their position and also by the prospects within a company, be it foreign or domestic talent.

Finally, provide connectivity and culture.

Staying connected and instilling company culture in a remote environment is challenging, but virtual connectivity, face-to-face meetings, networking and relationship building are critical to creating a work culture that people want to be a part of.

Integrate them when attracting professional foreign talent whole. Some high-ranking professionals even hold long-term U.S. travel visas and can fly in for client meetings, corporate training, or networking events. This practice allows a nearshore office to serve just like an out-of-state location in the US. Business Council is the premier growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?


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