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Could an accounting temp agency solve your firm’s staffing problems?

Incomplete puzzle with four missing pieces, symbolizing the current state of the accounting staffing crisis.

Your accounting firm faces a double-edged sword: a booming demand for qualified professionals and a shrinking talent pool. It’s no secret that finding qualified accounting candidates has been a challenge for firm owners. Accounting temp agencies may seem like a feasible solution to this staffing challenge, but can they help you attain long-term success?

This article explores the limitations of temporary accounting staffing solutions and introduces a more strategic alternative. We’ll guide you through building a reliable and skilled accounting team, even amidst a tight labour market.

What drives firms to accounting temp agencies?

An accountant resting his head on his hand overwhelmed by paperwork due to their firm’s accounting staffing challenges

You scan the applications for the open senior accountant role, but a nagging feeling persists. Your team’s been stretched thin lately, and a new project just landed. Qualified candidates seem scarce, especially if your firm operates in a smaller town.

As a last resort, a temp accounting agency comes to mind. These agencies can provide qualified personnel with the specific accounting skills you need to address immediate challenges. For instance, you need someone to hit the ground running and support the implementation of a new accounting software system. A temporary accountant can provide essential assistance while you conduct a thorough search for a permanent team member.

According to the ABS, Australia's demand for accountants is expected to surge, reaching 338,362 by 2026 – a jump of nearly 10,000 annually.

by 2026

Some employers rely on temp agencies for temporary needs. This could involve covering maternity leave or vacations, bringing in specialised skills for a specific project, or boosting staff during peak times.

Accounting temp services include:

Advantages and drawbacks of an accounting temp agency

Accounting firms seeking quick fixes often turn to temp agencies. The advantages of using temp agencies in accounting include getting pre-vetted candidates and filling open positions quickly during busy seasons. You can also access specialised talent for specific projects. Additionally, hiring temporary staff can appear more cost-effective compared to permanent hires.

However, you need to look at the bigger picture. Temp agencies provide a valuable service for immediate accounting staffing needs, but they may not be the best fit for long-term goals. Here are the disadvantages of using temp agencies in accounting:

Limited Knowledge & Continuity

Temporary staff might not fully understand your company culture, require additional training, and leave with valuable knowledge. This disrupts workflow and hinders long-term growth.

Lower Investment

Temp staff may not be as invested in the company’s long-term success, potentially impacting quality and efficiency.

Cost per Hour

Temp agencies often charge a premium, making temporary staff more expensive per hour than permanent hires in the long run.

Loss of Expertise

Valuable knowledge gained by the temporary staff is lost when they leave.

Staff Relations & Potential for Legal Issues

When temporary staff work alongside permanent staff for extended periods, a division might unintentionally arise. Temporary staff may not receive the same benefits and could be perceived as outsiders, impacting team morale and potentially leading to legal issues. To mitigate this, you need to clearly define the temporary employee’s status and benefits in the contract and even consider a legal review.

Why firms shift to outsourced accounting services

Efficient invoice handling with outsourced accounting services.

Outsourcing makes for a better alternative to accounting temp agencies. This essential guide to scaling and growing your firm describes outsourcing as a strategic solution that frees you from daily tasks, allowing you to focus on growth.

The rise of outsourcing stems from key challenges: lower client cost expectations, difficulty finding skilled (and affordable) accountants, lack of time for strategic work, and global competition requiring increased capacity.

Firms turn to outsourcing accounting services for the following reasons:

Seamless acquisition and onboarding

Unexpected staff vacancies can disrupt your workflow. Partnering with an outsourced accounting service provider like TOA Global can offer valuable support. They maintain a network of pre-qualified accounting professionals, like a temp agency, but with a key difference: a focus on long-term collaboration.

Kindred Accounting, a TOA Global client, started by outsourcing with a growth vision. Their first hire was a Senior Accountant whom they viewed as a future leader. They focused on empowering this hire with tools like Xero for long-term team scalability. Next, they hired a bookkeeper who complemented their first hire’s skills.

Reduced gaps in skill and expertise

When temporary staff leave, valuable institutional knowledge goes with them. They often require additional training to become proficient in your unique accounting practices and software. Strategic accounting staffing solutions come with pre-developed training materials and experienced professionals who can quickly adapt to your workflows.

Resilience from security risks

There is a higher guarantee of stability and security in outsourcing. A dedicated team of outsourced accountants undergoes rigorous security training and maintains consistent protocols for handling your sensitive financial data. This minimises disruptions and ensures optimal data protection.

Strengthened capacity building with outsourcing

When you outsource admin & compliance tasks to an offshore team, you reclaim time for strategic initiatives like building a business development strategy, providing more client value, doing more advisory work, or promoting your local staff to positions of greater responsibility. Unlike temporary staffing, long-term outsourcing relationships provide the stability needed to support sustained business growth.

For example, customers have engaged with TOA Global for a minimum of two years, while interactions with temporary staffing agencies tend to be more short-lived.


Factors Outsourcing Staffing Agency
Costs Projected costs with fixed fees Agency premium on hourly rate, less transparency on hidden fees
Specialized Skills Access a global talent pool with specialised competencies Limited pool of talent within the agency's network
Management Ensure management over project deliverables and team communication Less control over worker selection and day-to-day management
Scalability Easily scale resources up or down based on project Scaling may be slower or more complex depending on the agency

Finding qualified accounting talent can be a challenge. Temporary staffing agencies offer a solution, but they often require additional investments of your time. You may find yourself researching numerous agencies, training temporary staff on your specific processes, navigating potential staff relations issues, and ensuring all employment contracts are meticulously drafted.

Accounting outsourcing services are more sustainable and geared toward long-term growth. While temporary staffing agencies fill vacancies, outsourcing partners offer a strategic advantage. They recruit and screen top talent, then go beyond by building and managing your global team. This includes streamlining onboarding, fostering long-term collaboration, and providing expert outsourcing strategy and planning. This frees you to train efficiently and focus on your core accounting practice.

Interested in learning more? If this approach resonates with your needs, we invite you to request a free accounting outsourcing strategy plan. This will provide you with valuable insights into how outsourcing can benefit your firm and help you achieve sustained growth.