Research

Report: Accountants Want Financial Transformation, but Lack of Fulfillment and Confidence Stand in the Way

Since pretty much the dawn of time, the accounting profession has found itself on the business end of many a workplace joke. From comedians telling people at parties they’re an accountant in order to skip awkward small talk to comments about doing taxes, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what accountants do and their standing in the world of business.

But we know this. Most of us became accountants because it’s a very, very reliable profession. Accountants are always in need — now more than ever — and the analytical nature, combined with relative predictability (that helps and hurts us each and every year), make for a pretty stable way of making a living. 

But to say that accountants are set in their ways and totally content with a paycheck is far from the truth.

In the latest edition of FloQast’s Controller’s Guidebook series: Controller’s Guidebook – When Accountants Dare to Dream, published in partnership with the University of Georgia Consumer Analytics Program, we took a bit of a different approach, this time asking accountants to dream about how the profession might be different if they were in control. The goal was to shed light on accountants’:

  • ideal-on-the-job state
  • the role of technology in their future 
  • recommendations for their employers

And boy, did we find some interesting patterns. 

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Yeah, you’ve probably heard this one before. Until fairly recently, accounting teams seemed to operate under the assumption that the status quo was working just fine. Of course, macro-economic challenges, and a global pandemic helped usher in new demands of the accounting department, meaning they had to operate more quickly, efficiently, and accurately to provide insights to help businesses operate more aggressively.

According to the report, most accountants recognize that their employers need financial transformation to drive strategic business performance, and in many cases, a lack of on-the-job fulfillment gets in the way of that reality. Just 42% of accountants are not completely confident — alarming when taking into account the sensitive financials handled by accountants on a daily basis. 

“I want there to be a better division of labor and more recognition for work completed,” said an accountant with 6-10 years of experience, currently working in a Private C Corp with 1,000-5,000 employees. “I want managers to be more understanding of a work-life balance, especially during month-end close, even more so during year-end close with our annual audit. I want better training on our accounting software for everyone who interacts with it and more accountability when errors are made.”

Accountants believe that having the right technology would mean that upstream and downstream processes would be better integrated with their work (76%) and the execution of their work would be solid (75%). In addition, technology would favorably impact company performance (75%), and they would be better equipped to make more strategic decisions (74%). Further, their company culture would even be stronger (67%).

“I would like to see more effective processes and less manual tasks. We need to update all processes so that it’s not so time-consuming. We shouldn’t be working holidays and weekends to get things done,” said an accountant with 21+ years, currently working in a public company with more than 10,000 employees.

We Want More

All of this, of course, impacts job satisfaction. 

Research indicates that 60% of accountants would give their fulfillment from the profession a C or lower. Only 5% of accountants would rate their fulfillment in their job as A+. 

“I want the technology we use to be more intuitive and user-friendly. I dream of a world where we no longer have to waste time sifting through endless pages and tabs to find what we need,” said an accountant with 6-10 years of experience, currently working at a company of 50-100 employees that had recently IPOed.

When asked how they would approach their job differently if given the opportunity, accountants reported that they would like to set the strategic direction for projects (83%), and have more of an impact on the success of their organization (78%). According to the report, accountants believe that these activities and more could be possible with more reliable systems, more automation, and more transparent processes that everyone understands and follows.

“I would love to see a more efficient financial management system that automates tasks, simplifies processes, and improves work efficiency.” said one accountant with 6-10 years of experience currently working for a scaling/pre-IPO company of 500-1,000 employees.

The Big Picture

With a talent crunch and an imminent shortage of trained accountants on the horizon, it’s clear that the time is now for accounting departments to proactively look for ways to improve their employees’ satisfaction, while also making them more efficient and capable of taking on more strategic responsibilities.

Check out Controller’s Guidebook – When Accountants Dare to Dream, to learn more about what accountants are reporting and what changes they feel should be made.

Stefan van Duyvendijk

Stefan van Duyvendijk is FloQast's first Accounting Operations Evangelist. Stefan is a tenured controller who has consistently nurtured finance professionals and improved accounting processes throughout his career. Previously he was Corporate Controller for Kodiak Cakes where he led a 10-member finance team through a pre-IPO initiative. Before that, he was U.S. Controller for Skullcandy and senior associate at KPMG.