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How to Prepare Now for Looming Bookkeeper Shortage: A SMB Guide

March 9, 2020 Advisory

The conventional wisdom for several years has been that bookkeeping and accounting clerk positions are doomed for extinction. Automation has been expected to take the place of many manual and repetitive tasks in the accounting world, reducing the need for these paraprofessional positions.

A recent article in Strategic Finance magazine puts a different spin on this topic. It’s two major conclusions are:

  • There will in fact be a bookkeeper shortage, as the retirement rate of baby boomer bookkeepers will be faster than the rate of elimination of bookkeeping positions due to automation.
  • The shortage will be particularly acute in small and mid-size organizations, since they will be slower to implement labor saving automation solutions.  

The article includes several recommendations for actions that organizations can take to prepare for the upcoming shortage including:

  • Using part-time or temporary employees
  • Partner with trade schools/community colleges
  • Educate existing staff
  • Automate certain back office functions
  • Consider outsourcing

Different strategies will work best for different organizations. We believe that the most important thing that organizations can do is to assess their current work force and anticipate retirement dates and additional staff needed due to business growth and potential head count due to automated solutions. This will give a rough picture of what net needs could be over the next several years. Once this is known, then the most appropriate of the various recommendations can be pursued. 

One note of caution:  As always, when discussing sensitive personnel issues like potential retirement days, make sure that you have professional human resource advice in advance. 

Need a hand getting started? Contact us.  We’re standing by, ready to help. 

About the Author
Doug Jones is part of our fractional CFO & controller practice, providing senior financial management services to small and mid-size organizations on an “as needed” basis. In addition to serving his own clients, Doug manages relationships with companies using other fractional resources on a short-term, long-term or project basis. Doug has over 25 years of experience as a CFO with various middle market companies, in addition to experience with several Fortune 500 firms. Doug holds the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation. Contact Doug.

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