How accountants are addressing the recruitment crisis (and avoiding recruiters)

They want to avoid two pitfalls that would be detrimental to the activity of their accounting firms: not finding collaborators and making bad hires. Unable to find the right fit (through recruitment agencies and directly with potential candidates) and because not all of them have an internal HR function, accountants and auditors are creating their own recruitment platform dedicated to accounting professions. The project is being led by the French Institute of Chartered Accountants and Auditors (IFEC), the main professional union in the industry with 4,000 members in France.

The accounting profession has around 22,000 chartered accountants (and 170,000 employees) as well as 11,250 auditors. However, the sector is also undergoing a revolution: the retirement of baby boomers, the entry of Generation Z into the job market, and the digitalization of the profession. These factors are causing tensions in recruitment.

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« Between 30 and 35% turnover »

« I cannot reword »

According to the BVA barometer for the Observatory of Accounting Expertise, Audit, and Accounting (OMECA), nearly 68% of accounting firms faced recruitment challenges in 2021. Approximately six out of ten firms have conducted recruitments in 2022, and two-thirds of them continue to experience difficulties. By 2025, the entire accounting profession could potentially hire around 12,670 additional employees.

While the digital and ecological transitions are disrupting and energizing most professions, the industry admits that it still suffers from a « dusty and unattractive » image. However, the (r)evolutions are happening quickly: the advent of electronic invoicing – which will be tested in 2024, piloted on a voluntary basis in 2025, and implemented definitively in 2026 – will both generate a need for digital tool proficiency skills and free up time to carry out other tasks, such as consulting.

« We are in the midst of a technological turning point that is accompanied by a relatively recent recruitment crisis, regardless of the size and geographical location of the firm, » observes Eric Gillis, from the national office of IFEC and first vice-president of the Occitanie regional order council of chartered accountants. Currently, there is a turnover rate of between 30 and 35% in firms. Additionally, the lifespan of CVs is very short, no more than 48 hours… The problem is that recruitment agencies push CVs without conducting proper sourcing and without truly understanding the needs of the firms. Therefore, IFEC has decided to create a tool for firms that includes an HR function and a recruitment function, based on artificial intelligence and incorporating soft skills, which are often overlooked by recruiters. »

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IA et matching

« I cannot reword »

Francis Senceber, a member of the innovation committee at IFEC, collaborated with Skillpotting on the development of the SKIFEC platform. This platform is not your typical platform, as its goal is to create a pool of candidates. The candidates’ profiles are based on their technical skills, with multiple levels of proficiency, as well as their personal qualities. Candidates are invited to take a psychometric test, resulting in a Profile Scan that is not visible to recruiters. They also create their profile by providing their name, gender, date of birth (which can be anonymized if desired), as well as their education, languages, and experience. On the other hand, the firms simply indicate the job title, for example « accounting collaborator with or without experience, » desired languages, educational level, desired skills, and level of proficiency. They also specify personal qualities such as self-control, listening and communication skills, and effectiveness. However, to avoid searching for an impossible candidate, the tool limits the number of criteria that the firm can include. In the end, there are no published advertisements, but rather artificial intelligence that matches the recruiter’s expectations with the candidates’ profiles and suggests candidates from the pool. The firm can then click on « Contact. » The objective is not so much to find a rare gem but to avoid making a bad hire!

Je ne peux pas reformuler cette phrase car elle est déjà en français.

Since the national congress of chartered accountants in Montpellier from September 27th to 29th, where it was presented, the SKIFEC platform is currently being tested by IFEC members at cost price, which amounts to around a hundred euros per advertisement paid by accounting firms. Starting from January 2024, it will be available to the entire profession (not just IFEC members) for an additional fee of a few tens of euros, as stated by Francis Senceber.

Eric Gillis is not hiding the intentions and ambitions of IFEC with this tool: « We would like firms to regain their independence from recruiters… We estimate the recruitment needs of firms at 50,000 per year (new positions and replacements, Editor’s note), for profiles ranging from accountants to data scientists or RSE profiles. The platform will also serve for workforce planning (GPEC, Editor’s note) as it will allow firms to establish a mapping of internal skills. »

« With digitalization, there will be less and less time spent on data entry, and clients are increasingly demanding advice, » said Nicolas Bollé, a manager of an accounting firm in Ile-de-France and president of the innovation committee at IFEC. « Therefore, we will need employees who adapt their approach towards clients. »

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Cécile Chaigneau

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