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Qualified Accounting Shortages Affect Companies in the United Kingdom

In a recently published job survey by recruiting consultancy firm Poolia Parker Bridge, a shortage of qualified accountants was revealed throughout the United Kingdom. Accounting firms and other companies that hire qualified accountants revealed that while their initial recruiting efforts begin in the United Kingdom, the shortage of accounting professionals has required international graduate recruiting. Over the last five years, the number of accountants from continental Europe, North America, and Africa have increased steadily.

The reasons for this shortfall of accounting professionals are plentiful but complex. One of the main reasons why accounting graduates have decreased over the last five years is a response by university students to the post-9/11 downsizing of positions in accounting firms. Firm managers and executives felt that an economic recession was imminent following the terrorist attacks, requiring a pre-emptive move to save money. The resulting lack of positions resulted in an overabundance of accounting graduates who flocked to investment banking firms and financial companies who could use their skills. Accounting firms have had difficulties aligning their placement needs with a proper amount of regional university graduates.
 The aforementioned move of accounting graduates toward investment banks and firms was due to more than the lack of available positions in accounting firms. The attraction of working for an accounting firm has decreased with increased corporate oversight, overreaching government legislation, and ramped up competition with other firms in the United Kingdom. As well, the wages and benefits provided through investment banking positions are often 25 to 50 percent higher than the average starting wage of 48,000 pounds per year at an accounting firm. While demand for jobs in accounting companies have decreased, positions in the investment and financial fields have become much more abundant.
 Accounting firms that were part of the Poolia Parker Bridge survey have taken measures to increase the pool of qualified accountants available for their open positions. These firms have decided to expand their services from simple transactions to services like acquisitions and consultancy. This move is not only to attract creative and talented accountants who may be bored by the humdrum life of regular accounting but to expand lucrative corporate accounts. As well, accounting firms have expanded their recruiting efforts into broader financial fields with an eye toward training graduates in accounting. However, most accountants would agree that it takes at least six years of training and experience to become comfortable in the accounting firm environment. For this very reason, the most effective tool for accounting firms to keep their rosters full is to provide incentives and pay raises to current staff.