Professional accountants are facing significant challenges from workplace stress and a cost of living crisis, while a potential talent crunch is looming for employers. So finds ACCA’s report Global Talent Trends 2023, which surveyed 8,405 professional accountants across 148 countries, making it one of the largest ever studies across the profession.

The report identifies seven key trends affecting accountants and the businesses that employ them.

Of greatest concern to respondents across all regions and in nearly every sector is the impact of inflation on wages. Keeping up with wage demands in a profession where career mobility opportunities are high was cited as a major struggle for employers, while employee satisfaction with pay is lagging in every sector – practice, corporates, public sector/not-for-profits, and academia.

While inflation may start to ease over the first six months of 2023, the report points out that it remains to be seen how a broader economic slowdown across the world may impact the situation.

Joy of remote

Also top of the list of significant concerns was remote and hybrid working. Over half of respondents say their organisations are not currently embracing these flexible working practices, even though most employees (70%) say they are more productive working remotely, and some are happier doing so.

Responses varied somewhat by generation.

But any greater flexibility in the workplace does not appear to be alleviating key mental health pressures, which is the second highest-rated work concern for the future. More than 60% report that their mental health suffers because of work pressures, and more than 70% want more help from their organisations in managing their mental health.

Younger people are more likely to say their mental health is suffering because of work pressures and are also more likely to want more support from their employers.

Eying the exit

Almost half of respondents (44%) expect to move roles in 12 months, rising to 69% over the next two years.

Gen Z are the most mobile age group, but over 50% of Generation X respondents (age 43–57) also expect to move role within two years.

Tech troubles

Although respondents say they understand how technology helps them add value, 86% want more training support from their employers, and 42% say they are overwhelmed by the pace of technological change, including younger employees. Those in the Big Four accounting firms and in academia were the most likely to voice concerns about the speed of change.

Inclusivity up

Employees believe their organisations are making progress in the accessibility and integrity of their leaders, and inclusive organisational cultures, although the public sector performs notably less well.

Social mobility appears more challenging, with almost half of respondents (49%) indicating that a low socio-economic background is still a barrier to career progression in their organisation.

Prized career

A career in accountancy is still seen as a smart choice for those seeking long-term career prospects and in challenging economic times. The opportunity to acquire a professional qualification that affords cross-sectoral and international mobility adds further to the attraction.

There’s also good news about the perception of the broader contribution accountants can make to society and the environment.


Listen live to ACCA’s ‘Are we facing a talent crunch?’ webinar on the findings of the Global Talent Trends 2023 report on 8 February, 10am GMT, or at any subsequent time on demand