How Top Accounting Firms Thrive in Talent Shortages

While many accounting firms are grappling to attract and retain skilled professionals, others are succeeding in their recruitment efforts – and it’s not because they’re bigger, in a better location, or have more recruitment budget available.
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Accounting firms up and down the country are locked in a fierce battle to attract the best talent. In this article, I’ll explore why some accounting firms are managing to succeed in today’s talent shortage, and share actionable advice that you can start implementing right now.

So, how do successful accounting firms thrive during a talent shortage?

They invest in an inclusive company culture

With so many jobs available at their fingertips, why would an accounting professional in today’s market stay with an employer that isn’t making the effort? They simply won’t – 64% of employees would consider leaving if their company’s culture wasn’t up to scratch.

Successful firms recognise that their company culture is the cornerstone of attracting and retaining the best accounting professionals. They take the time to deeply understand their employees and what’s important to them, and they offer a company culture that’s inclusive and able to be enjoyed by employees from all walks of life.

Creating a strong company culture isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather a tailored strategy that encompasses elements that deeply resonate with your staff, such as:

  • Offering true flexibility in working arrangements.
  • Providing employees with autonomy over when and how they work.
  • Wellness programs that nurture both mental and physical well-being.
  • Dynamic and collaborative work environments.
  • Shared values and goals that employees can rally behind.


In a busy accounting firm, you’re probably wondering how you’ll find the time to develop and implement a company culture that resonates with your team.

Don’t be tempted to just throw money at ad hoc social events and call that your company culture. Be intentional about it – invest and bring in an external and impartial company culture expert, such as Kin & Co or Dragonfish, who can provide a thoughtful strategy that delivers real change.

The result? A company that your team want to stay with and help succeed, recruitment efforts that resonate with top-tier talent, and a revenue growth that could be up to 4X higher.

They’re thoughtful about their job descriptions 

Leading accounting firms use careful language and content that promotes the diversity and inclusion practices within their firm – and they attract more job applications as a result.

A study by McKinsey & Company found that 44% of women, 45% of ethnic or racial minorities, and 50% of LGBTQIA+ respondents decided against pursuing or accepting a job because they believed the organisation would not be an inclusive workplace.

Unless you’re a globally-known accounting firm, the job description is likely to be the first time a candidate comes across your organisation, and it can make or break whether an application is made.

You might think you’re being inclusive, but non-inclusive language and content can be extremely subtle:

  • Are you using corporate jargon? Doing so could be alienating younger applicants and those who have never worked in a corporate environment before. I was recently advised by an accounting graduate that terms like ‘onboarding’ caused them confusion because they didn’t know what it meant.
  • Are you specifying language abilities? Including phrases like seeking a “native English speaker” may exclude proficient non-native speakers or trigger language confidence issues, plus imply a working environment that isn’t diverse.
  • Are you mentioning your flexible working policies? Not doing so can alienate parents and caregivers (such as those who are helping to support ageing family members) alongside neurodivergent individuals who may prefer to work from home.
  • Are you listing unnecessary degrees or professional certification requirements? You might think that this will attract the ‘best individuals’ but it can trigger confidence gaps that deter great candidates from applying. 


They leave a positive impression on candidates 

How you treat candidates during the job application process sends a direct signal to a potential employee on what you would be like to work with.

Making a good impression becomes even more important if the candidate is weighing up job offers from several accounting firms – an extremely likely scenario in a talent shortage.

So, are you clearly communicating to candidates what the process will be from application, to interview, to decision? Are you keeping them informed along the way? Are you being respectful of the time you’re asking from them? Are you giving them feedback?

There’s nothing worse for a candidate who has moved mountains to attend your interview than waiting to hear back from you, receiving a generic rejection email with no feedback, or – the ultimate sin – being ‘ghosted’ (never spoken to again) – naturally putting them off ever applying for future jobs with you, and no doubt communicating your approach to people in their circles.

During the interview itself, top accounting firms don’t grill and interrogate candidates in an attempt to ‘catch them out’ either. They use the opportunity to have a two-way conversation with candidates because they understand that the role needs to be compatible for both parties to be a success.

Justin Moore, a partner at established accounting firm Arnold Hill, uses the interview process to have an engaged and open conversation with potential recruits to understand exactly what they’re looking for. He likes to find out their career goals and values from the start to assess their compatibility for both the role and the company culture they’re considering joining. In Justin’s wise words, “Listening is key, but it’s also important to ask questions that make sure everyone is getting what they really want.”

They think beyond the traditional

There are several fascinating examples of accounting firms who are consistently attracting great talent by rethinking the traditional hierarchies and norms that are typically associated with accounting businesses.

Clare Wright, from Clarity Recruitment, kindly shared with me a brilliant example of an accounting firm that has created an organisation that appeals to a modern and diverse workforce, who are reaping the rewards as a result:

  • They put zero pressure on employees to be qualified or have certain credentials – a rare approach in an industry where exam results rule supreme.
  • They offer management level jobs that don’t require the management of staff. This allows people who love their jobs but don’t want to manage people to progress, while ensuring teams are always managed by people with the necessary skills.
  • They have no set days in the office – but they do find that if they provide a great lunch, everyone comes in!
  • They have created an office environment which is modern and spacious, with lots of room for hotdesking, decent coffee, and a kitchen offering plenty of freebies.
  • They encourage employees to look after themselves mentally and physically with an office workout area and a personal trainer who comes in twice a week.
  • They offer a truly flexible working week so parents, for example, can have a career and still be present at the school gates.
  • The business has a clear growth plan so new work keeps coming in, is varied, and engages staff with plenty of learning opportunities.


I hope this article has inspired those of you who are currently navigating the accounting industry’s talent shortage, and provided some reassurance that there are many elements within your control.

If you’re an accounting firm that would like support with your recruiting, email us at [email protected].

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