Why accountant shortage is hurting startups—and how AI can help

on October 4, 2023

There have been rumblings for months now that as businesses across the United States approach tax extension deadlines and fiscal year ends, a concerning trend among financial professionals—namely, accountants—has emerged.

In just the past two years, more than 300,000 U.S. auditors and accountants have quit their roles. This is a 17 percent decline from employment levels in 2019, and a concerning trend that many fear is only set to get worse.

This all comes as the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast that over the next decade, businesses will need roughly 136,400 accountants and auditors each year to file taxes and maintain financial records. 

In total, there were about 1.65 million accountants and auditors in the U.S. last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current population survey. But there are also simply far fewer students pursuing degrees in finance today than in years past: While some experts blame this on the 150 college credit hours required to receive a degree in the field as being too high of a barrier to entry, others see the talent drain in the industry as a response to non-competitive salaries (which has been exacerbated in recent years) and demanding hours.

While, combined, all of the reasons paint a gloomy picture for the future of accounting and finance jobs, it’s an especially tricky situation for early-stage businesses and startups.

Smaller finance teams as businesses look to scale

It’s par for the course in the startup world for founders to wear many hats. As a result, you often get a multi-hyphenate CEO-CFO-CTO (or any such CXO combination) steering both the business strategy, the product strategy, and even the financial operations as the company maps a path toward growth. 

One struggle founders are facing in drove as they scale up and seek out financial talent to help steer the company and ensure runway is the inability to compete with larger businesses when it comes to pay, 

While this is especially true for accountants who are early in their careers (which is an increasingly smaller pool year-over-year), it’s also starting to impact where later-career finance professionals steer their career. 

In a recent Forbes article, for instance, Steven Wasserman of Bentley University cites anecdotal evidence that not only are his own students avoiding entry-level roles at smaller businesses (in favor of more lucrative gigs at public accounting firms), but even controller positions—once considered a lofty post at any org—taking many months to fill.

Fortunately, founders and startups have options when it comes to filling in the gaps where a lack of staffing is involved.

Leveraging AI to streamline processes, capture credits

While artificial intelligence has been applied (correctly or incorrectly) across virtually every industry, sector and task over the last year, the benefits of leveraging AI for accounting are very real—and could be a major boon for startups. 

By leveraging AI for certain accounting tasks, startups can improve productivity, save money, and unlock real-time analysis of their financial data. With these insights in hand, startup teams can embark on more informed decision-making and effective financial planning, helping increase agility across the organization and ultimately extend their business’ runway.

“You have the data layer, then the insights layer, then the predictive layer, and what we’re seeing right now is a complete transformation in the industry on how you can apply scale at the predictive layer, “ Suresh Joshi, Boast’s VP of Engineering, explains in a recent podcast and webinar unpacking the practical application of AI. “The predictive layer is going to accelerate not only how you can course correct but make predictions of the future.”

At Boast, our AI-powered platform allows startups at any stage to sync the systems they use to manage financial, payroll and workflow data into a single source of intelligence. From there, teams can actively understand what activities could qualify for R&D tax credits, for instance, while also actively tracking all of the relevant information necessary to file a claim in one spot. 

Boast goes beyond providing guidance on non-dilutive government funding, too. Our solution offers businesses a comprehensive resource that combines cutting-edge technology and expert guidance to optimize their R&D efforts, streamline capital management, and visualize a successful capital strategy.

Learn more about our latest product capabilities here, or schedule a call with our team today to learn how we can help you map a capital strategy that fits your business.

Talk to an expert from Boast AI today to learn more about how we combine cutting edge technology with years of expertise—and a founder’s POV—to optimize your R&D and fund your innovation.


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