The Daily CPA posed an interesting question about the potential for an accounting work-life balance and whether it’s realistic or not. Because taking back your time is our bread and butter, we felt obligated to answer their prompt “Will there ever be a 40-hour work week for accountants?” Their conclusion, “Having a work-life balance is not only possible but will be the future of public accounting.” Accountants can get to the point where they work an average number of hours, but not just yet.
We have a slightly different take.
You don’t have to wait for the future to enjoy a healthy work-life balance. You just have to be proactive. We have clients, right now, that worked 35 hours a week during tax season, for higher earnings than before they joined our program. What are the obstacles that prevent so many CPAs and accounting professionals from a work-life balance? How can you overcome them and increase your wealth and happiness? Here’s our take on the 40-hour work week in accounting.
The Great Resignation- Why So Many Accountants Are Quitting
Earlier this year, Fast Company took an in-depth look at why so many accounting professionals were leaving public accounting. To summarize: they hate public accounting. Accounting professionals are quitting the big four because of burnout & low pay. Before the phenomenon of the Great Resignation, the turnover rates for accounting firms averaged about 15%. Now, accounting firms average a turnover rate of more than 25%.
This mass departure from the world of public accounting can be entirely attributed to accounting professionals being overworked and underpaid. The average pay for an accountant has been relatively stagnant for decades now, despite demand for their services increasing every year. This discourages new professionals from entering the field and puts even more pressure on existing accountants, forcing them to work even longer hours, and ultimately inciting even more resignations.
Where are CPAs Going?
Some are leaving the industry entirely, others are moving to management accounting positions or pivoting to owning their own firm to have direct control over their hours. One of the big four has already attempted to diminish this exodus. KPMG set aside $160 million at the beginning of the year for salary increases. But that only addresses part of the problem. Burnout is still a huge issue for many accounting professionals.
Can The Burnout Be Cured?
Aside from leaving the industry entirely or starting your own firm, options to “cure” burnout are limited. Burnout occurs in every profession. However, due to the exceptionally long hours and low pay, burnout is rampant in the accounting industry. Starting your own firm isn’t always the path to fewer working hours, especially in the beginning.
The obvious cure for burnout: stop working a job where you have 50, 60, 70+ hour work weeks. But, when you feel cornered in your job, the stress of leaving, losing your income source, and finding another job can feel just as daunting and relentless as burnout. ACCA put together a “survival guide” for long hours in the accounting industry that you can check out here. But, this is a reactive solution. And if you’ve seen anything from us before, you know that we preach proactive accounting.
What Is The Solution For An Accounting Work-Life Balance?
Your best bet for an accounting work-life balance is to bet on yourself.
We know that a 40-hour work week is possible for accountants. Our clients are already enjoying a more normal work week, even during tax season. Consistently working late hours is detrimental to both your physical and mental health. Your work and life will suffer because of it. This is why we put so much emphasis on taking back your time in our 5-star Create Your Dream Firm program.
Leaving the security of a traditional corporate job to set off into the unknown alone is intimidating. It offers many opportunities for failure and can be a lonely road. However, the potential for higher pay and an accounting work-life balance is more than worth it. That’s why we started our Facebook group, The Proactive Accountants. It’s a resource for everyone in the industry to gather, ask questions, and learn how to grow their accounting firms sustainably and sucessfully.
The family time, trips with friends, and general peace of mind you can achieve with the right systems in place is invaluable. If you want to know the actual value of what our clients earn with our revolutionary approach to this overworked profession, check out some of our case studies. But know that any firm or firm owner can do this, and the first step is to automate. We put together a guide here for automating your firm with our DDAD principle here.
We also offer step-by-step guidance through the marketing & sales processes and a community of like-minded accounting professionals and firm owners inside the Create Your Dream Firm program. An accounting work-life balance isn’t just the future of the profession, it’s the present. And, entrepreneurial accounts that take a proactive approach to their firms are already experiencing it.