Recruiters and accounting firm insiders report a strong demand for accountants and CPAs in public accounting, the corporate market, and financial services and alternative investment firms in Chicago.
"If you're an accountant in the Chicago area, it's a great marketplace," says one of them, Dave Falardeau of 10k Financial Recruiters.
Indeed, Chicago is no exception to the nationwide shortage of accounting talent. Despite the slowdown in hiring in many industries and layoffs at banks and investment firms, numerous accounting positions remain open.
Mid-Level and Senior Positions
While entry level accountants and CPAs are often recruited right out of college and rise through the ranks at the firm where they started, industry sources see a need for CPAs and accountants at mid- and senior levels. Falardeau says while many firms do promote from within, they still face stiff competition in recruiting individuals with between three and five years of experience. Managers trying to fill corporate accounting spots are particularly challenged.
"We're looking for senior people who can manage departments," says a recruiter at a top tier Chicago firm. She notes many firms promote from within for mid-level positions, but have a harder time finding individuals with leadership experience who can oversee staff.
Falardeau notes that CPAs with proven management and communication skills are attractive to employers in all areas, but particularly in Chicago's suburbs. He notes a number of major corporate offices are located outside of the downtown area, which is dominated by banks and financial services firms.
"There are three times as many corporate offices in the suburbs," says Falardeau. Often, those employers have a tough time finding mid-level talent who want to relocate or commute to the outlying areas.
Another recruiter, who declined to be named, echoed Falardeau's sentiments. "If you're willing to move outside the city, you can name your price," he says.
Public, Corporate, and Financial Services
The need for accounting talent is as broad as the city's shoulders. CPAs are needed by top-tier public accounting firms with offices there, as well as regional firms and smaller partnerships, recruiters say. In the corporate marketplace, CPAs and accountants are needed across a wide variety of industries. Among those firms openly advertising positions in Chicago are KMPG, Grant Thornton, JPMorgan Chase, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group.
Others describe a need for individuals with experience in specific areas of finance, such as private equity, hedge funds or other alternative investments.
Compensation Levels Up
As has happened nationally, the dearth of CPAs in Chicago has driven compensation upward from entry level positions to more senior spots. Numerous recruiters say salary levels have been rising for over a decade but that in the last few years there have been additional increases. "It's a good time to be a CPA," says one recruiter.