Outsourcing Trends for CPA Firms

by Daniel J. McGuckin, CPA, Mazars USA LLP | August 8, 2023

As we distance ourselves from the pandemic, there are new realities that accounting firm leadership has come to face, including:

  • Remote work
  • Demand for higher wages
  • Decline in the number of accounting graduates
  • Consequently, less skilled staff/senior-level employees

In addition to navigating the reality of a post-pandemic workforce, accounting firms are also seeing an above-average increase in responsibilities and client services, such as:

  • Multiple stimulus programs
  • Increase in sale transactions/complex tax solutions
  • Long wait times when trying to resolve tax notices

So how does leadership solve the issue of more work and less help? We need to get the leverage of staff back in our favor. This may slowly happen over time as we move away from the free money provided through COVID relief programs and interest rates normalize. However, we need to come up with permanent solutions.

Benefits of Outsourcing

Many accounting firms are outsourcing their work to countries where wages are lower and employee motivation potentially higher. It needs to be highlighted that for a firm to implement an offshore practice, they need to first confirm they have taken all security measures to keep client information safe. Additionally, all clients will need to give express consent to have their work offshored. 

While firms will always need U.S. staff, it is important that we start leveraging our accounts so that an increased amount of preparation work is being done by less-expensive employees. This allows our U.S. staff to get a first level of review and can lead to an immense development of their skills.

Offshoring was once frowned upon in the accounting profession, but it has gradually become the norm as the number of qualified U.S. accounting graduates has decreased tremendously. We are also seeing that many newcomers to the accounting industry are not as willing to work the grueling hours of busy season. It has long been a detriment that the accounting profession rewards promising staff with more work. We need to move in a new direction with our high-performing staff, so that although they may receive more responsibilities, it will not always equate to the grunt work of preparation. Instead, they will be given a team of outsourced staff to manage and complete lower-level preparation work, thereby alleviating some burden and freeing them to complete higher-level analysis work.

Managing an Outsourced Team

For large and midsize accounting firms, bringing outsourced teams to a satisfactory standard will take continuous investment. During this process, it’s important to convey to these new employees your corporate culture and to ensure they feel that they are an important part of the team. Look at these employees as if they are your U.S. staff. If they can develop and your firm can keep them motivated, it will be an exponential benefit as your tenured offshore employees can now train your newly hired offshore employees.

It’s vital to commit ample time to get the first wave of your offshore employees to where they need to be. This includes a lot of training and, most importantly, shadowing so that the new offshore employees get firsthand knowledge of what it is they are expected to do.

Daniel J. McGuckin

Daniel J. McGuckin

Daniel J. McGuckin, CPA, is a tax senior at Mazars USA LLP. He is a member of the NJCPA State Taxation Interest Group.

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