Staffing Constraints Impacting Accounting Operations

100 of Australia’s top accounting firms were recently surveyed by the Australian Financial Review, with a staggering 77% claiming it was increasingly difficult to recruit and retain staff.

Labour market constraints were further exacerbated by closed borders due to the pandemic, reducing the number of skilled migrants arriving from overseas with accounting or finance qualifications.

When Australia and New Zealand closed their borders in March 2020, they slowed the surge of COVID-19 and shut off a steady supply of international workers.

For accountants in public practice, the timing couldn’t have been worse. The pandemic caused a sharp increase in their volume of work and a decline in the number of people to meet the demand.
Susan Muldowney
CPA Australia

A shortage of skilled accounting staff can impose severe constraints on an organisation. It can impact its ability to send out invoices in a timely manner, delaying the receipt of funds it is owed. This directly impacts the organisation’s cash flow position, hindering business operations.

Additionally, staffing constraints can undermine an organisation’s ability to pay its suppliers in an accurate and timely manner. This can harm supplier relationships and could lead to incorrect outgoing payments, directly costing the organisation substantial funds.

Finally, accounting staff constraints can undermine an organisation’s ability to remain compliant with a range of regulatory requirements, whilst directly impacting its capacity to maintain rigorous financial controls – exposing it to a greater risk of fraud.

Of course, staff shortages are not only a problem for organisations. They also directly impact existing accounting staff, who are likely to experience heavier workloads, reduced work/life balance and increased stress levels. This in turn increases the rate at which accounting staff consider leaving the sector, further exacerbating the problem.

Make Automation Your Friend

To help address the ongoing challenge of staff constraints, organisations are turning to a range of strategies which aim to recruit and retain accounting staff.

Some of the strategies currently being implemented include raising pay, as well as offering sign-on and referral bonuses. However, these initiatives are having limited impact. Right across the sector, from big firms to SMBs, the pain being felt is widespread.

Another strategy many firms are turning towards is increased automation.

One way to make accounting roles more appealing to professionals is through the automation of repetitive work that allows your accounting staff to focus more of their time on interesting and engaging work, such as spending more time solving complex problems.

By automating many routine tasks, organisations will be able to drive productivity and efficiency enhancements, as well as improve performance levels. This approach can be particularly effective when it comes to enhancing payments controls.

Automation Leads to Security Dividend

One area above all others stands to benefit from greater automation in accounting processes: Security.

Protecting an organisation’s financial assets has become increasingly challenging in recent years, with cyber attackers regularly targeting accounting departments in an attempt to deceive staff into transferring funds to the criminals. Finance and accounting executives have been forced to enhance their internal controls in order to meet the heightened threat posed by increasingly sophisticated cyber attackers.

An over-reliance on staff who manually maintain financial controls, could expose the organisation to a greater risk of fraud, particularly if the organisation is also experiencing staffing shortages. Lose one or two key staff members, and a firm could suddenly find itself unable to rigorously verify outgoing payments, making itself vulnerable to Business Email Compromise attacks.

However, with an automated security solution, such as Eftsure, it becomes possible to enhance financial security and internal controls, despite staff shortages and the Great Resignation.

Contact us today to learn why hundreds of Australian organisations have turned to Eftsure to help them automate their controls, enhance their security, and become less reliant on manual staff processes.

Mary Italiano
With an extensive background helping businesses assess and mitigate risk at PwC, I now assist organisations with preventing a range of cyber-threats, including invoice redirection scams and Business Email Compromise attacks, in my capacity as eftsure's Business Development Manager for Western Australia.

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