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Are new careers in Finance & Accounting unattractive due to likely future outsourcing?

 

"Do you think the finance outsourcing trend has contributed to finance not being an attractive career for new talent?"

This question was asked at a recent webinar, now available on-demand:

"The Management Accounting & Finance Talent Crisis: How to Act Now!"

Please add your thoughts about it below. Thanks!

Answers

Topic Expert
Mary Driscoll
Title: Senior Research Fellow
Company: APQC (American Productivity and Quality ..
(Senior Research Fellow, APQC (American Productivity and Quality Center)) |

This question can only be answered subjectively. In other words, it seems your underlying assumption is that “word has gotten around” that it’s not smart to try to enter into a finance and accounting career track because the risk of losing your job at some point to a counterpart who works for a 3rd party business services provider is too great. But here is one angle to consider. If a large global company deems it to be wise from a cost-management perspective to outsource the bulk of its transaction processing activity—e.g., remittance processing or payables processing—then it’s likely that the finance professionals who are retained are focused (more or less) on value-adding work. If the transaction processing work is shipped elsewhere, then the retained people are more likely to be engaging and engaged. Surely, there are differing perspectives on this. And, of course, if you happen to be a highly motivated employee with strong potential working for that 3rd party, you may very well have a good opportunity to climb the supervisory ladder.

Anonymous
(Independent Consultant) |

Although the data in this AICPA study is 3 years old (latest graduation data from 2012), and keeping in mind that I haven't read the entire report, but at first glance it looks like more college students than ever are going into accounting (the supply side), but this isn't keeping up with the demand for accountants in industry and practice. Which should be a real concern for industry and practice and can only be good for people with these skills (ie. higher wages as demand outpaces supply).

http://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/AccountingEducation/NewsAndPublications/DownloadableDocuments/2013-TrendsReport.PDF

Also from my opinion the question is somewhat biased in that it assumes accounting professions won't be in demand in high-cost regions. Below are two articles that counter this bias. The first looks at the 100 Best US jobs in the future - and the second speaks to the same issue in Europe. I wouldn't consider either of these regions low cost.

http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobs?page=2

http://careerweb.leeds.ac.uk/info/56/job_market_trends/235/the_european_and_global_job_market

Just my opinion. Have heard about the inevitable decline (dare I call it extinction?) of the accounting profession for 30 years. Hasn't happened yet. Won't in the future either. Like other professions, accountants have unique skills sets and training that makes them very valuable to organizations (at every level). You can call it bean-counting, but someone has to do it. And the counting of the beans now includes fair value, recognition, measurement, impairment, reserve analysis, disclosure requirements, variable interests, internal controls, and so forth. Pretty complicated beans these days.

Anders Liu-Lindberg
Title: Regional Finance Business Partner
Company: Maersk Line Northern Europe
LinkedIn Profile
(Regional Finance Business Partner, Maersk Line Northern Europe) |

I have no intention of reviving the discussion from my previous blog post (https://www.proformative.com/blogs/anders-liu-lindberg/2015/06/13/why-accountants-are-threatened-species), however, there is nothing wrong with going into finance and accounting as long as you do it for the right reasons.

There are differing opinions about what those reasons are, but to me finance professionals of the future should be those that have a keen interest in the business, wants to create results with the business and are more outgoing and masters of communication than those professionals that preceeded them.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

I agree with Mary Driscoll's observations.

Finance and accounting is and will continue to be a viable career for the foreseeable future, although to Anders' point it is changing.

The better understanding a person has of the finance and accounting function the better, in my opinion, business partner and entrepreneur a person will be. If someone gets a business degree in marketing, for example, they may have difficulties grasping concepts of accounting and finance because of not having the exposure. They may understand the basics, but it is likely those basics wouldn't put them in a position to influence the company's decision to broker a deal.

I also think that it comes down to one's competency. If you're great at finance and accounting then it is best to go into that field, regardless of the outsourcing threat. If you're that scared of the function being outsourced, then start your own outsourcing firm focused on finance and accounting. Serve the market where the need is going, not necessarily where it is.

However, if numbers give you ulcers, then you need to find something that suits you better.

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