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Multiple reports mention the challenges the professions, including the accountancy and auditing profession, face to attract and retain talent. The FSR–danske revisorer, which represents the accounting industry in Denmark, recently conducted a report on the Danish audit industry to understand better employment trends. The report comprehensively analyzes the most significant issues regarding talent and attraction to the auditing profession, considering the latest industry trends, regulatory changes, and emerging challenges. The FSR–danske revisorer expects the report will contribute to the advancement of the profession but also facilitate meaningful discussions and promote best practices on a global scale.

The report examines various aspects of employment trends, including the increasing digitization and legal requirements and the issues with attracting bachelor's and master's degree graduates. Overall, there is a need to reduce the workload and improve work-life balance if the industry's reputation is to be improved. Initiatives to address the challenges of heavy workloads and an unsustainable balance between work and personal life are crucial starting points for efforts to rectify the industry's poor reputation and establish a narrative of sustainable and diverse working life in the auditing industry.

Some highlights of the report include:

  • The increasing digitization and legal requirements drive strong development in the task portfolio of the auditing industry and pose new professional and technical demands. Digitalization and automation have led to resource efficiency and the liberation of resources. However, these benefits are not experienced within the companies as they are consumed by increasing legal requirements, causing massive amounts of time to be allocated to quality assurance, control, compliance, and advisory services.
  • The auditing industry is experiencing a workforce exodus and struggles to attract both bachelor's and Master's degree graduates, CMAs (cand.merc.auds), and statutory auditors. Companies are losing employees at all levels, but the departure of statutory auditors is particularly critical as they are essential for handling more complex and formal tasks related to audit and assurance work.
  • The departure from the industry puts significant pressure on the remaining employees and perpetuates a vicious cycle. The remaining employees must work harder to compensate for the growing understaffing. The significant workload seems to impact the employees' work-life balance negatively, contributing to further turnover as it affects the management's time and ability to lead.
  • Companies generally pay great attention to workload challenges, which they address through various initiatives. However, reduced working hours or eliminating annual overtime can be cumbersome and complex to design and implement as they interfere with the company's culture and traditional incentive structures. Furthermore, these measures can lead to companies having to decline both customers and revenue.
  • Companies focus on hiring more students for internal training and education. Since it is particularly challenging to attract CMAs and statutory auditors, most companies concentrate on attracting students from relevant fields of study, such as financial economists, to train and further educate them for higher-level positions. This follows the traditional pipeline, albeit with a broader and more heterogeneous pool of candidates in mind.
  • The internal training strategy is challenged by a lack of employees who want to become statutory auditors. Companies face challenges in getting employees to pursue education, especially to become statutory auditors. CMAs point out that the workload is too high during their education, and the education program is too lengthy. Several CMAs also mention that the education to become a statutory auditor is "overeducation" compared to their needs in future careers.
  • The education for becoming a certified auditor can be made more flexible, allowing the duration and quantity to be tailored to the desires of employees and the needs of the companies. Many companies suggest that the education for becoming a statutory auditor could be more flexible, allowing candidates to focus exclusively on becoming authorized to perform specialized assurance work, such as on listed companies, SMEs, sustainability reports, or IT auditing.

The full report of this work is presented in the study Together for the Future of the auditing profession (available in Danish), which was released on May 16, 2023.

Ulrich Haase Nielsen
Ulrich Haase Nielsen

Project manager

Ulrich Haase Nielsen is a Project Manager at FSR–danske revisorer.