Almost two-thirds of large firms report that their accounting teams are understaffed, according to a new study.

Of the approximately 1,400 U.S. and Canadian leaders of accounting and finance departments polled, the median number of staff at all firms were found to have either plateaued or decreased from 2016. The median staff number of 95 this year, found at the largest firms, represents a dramatic drop from 236 reported just last year. Businesses with revenue of $1 billion to $4.9 billion weren't safe either, dropping from an average staff of 84 to 40 in 2017.

“The tight job market for skilled accounting and finance talent, combined with a growing wave of baby boomer retirements, is leading to staffing shortages,” stated Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. “Many businesses are struggling to find the talent they need to handle general accounting duties; some have found it more effective to staff certain roles with interim professionals.”

The Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function 2017 report via the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) - the research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI) - and accounting staffing firm Robert Half, represents the eighth such survey from the two organizations.

72 percent of U.S. of respondents, up from 62 percent last year, also went on to claim that they're currently using cloud-based solutions, or plan to do so in the near future.

“Businesses are realizing how essential it is to migrate from legacy systems that are inefficient and costly to maintain," said Andrej Suskavcevic, president and CEO of FEI and FERF, per a statement. "Similarly, many larger organizations have made a shift to the cloud over the past year, and more plan to make the move soon.”

Other notable figures from the report include:

  • For the third consecutive year, the median employment-related cost of internal financial staff as a percentage of revenue held steady at 2 percent in the United States. The same figure increased in Canada for the first time in three years.
  • Most companies, sans firms with over $5 billion in revenue, will be investing in budgets and analysis this year, with the largest firms polled focusing on finance.
Robert Half

For the full report, head to Robert Half's site here.

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