SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Korea Bizwire) – Despite the increasing number of certified public accountants in Korea, the number of CPAs at accounting firms continues to decrease gradually.
According to the Korean Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the number of CPAs at accounting firms was at 10,100 at the end of last year, accounting for 52.9 percent of all CPAs in the country (19,081).
The rate is on a steady decline, officials said, dropping from 53.8 percent in 2014 and 53.3 percent in 2015, while the total number of CPAs has increased by 1,496 since 2014.
Larger firms were suffering the most from the phenomenon.
The number of accountants at the big four accounting firms – Samil PwC, Samjong KPMG, Deloitte Anjin, and EY Han Young – fell from 5,283 at the end of 2014 to 5,032 at the end of last month.
These firms are most lacking in junior accountants, with the four companies reporting that they saw a drop in the number of accountants with less than 10 years of experience from 4,093 in 2014 to 3,997 in 2015.
In particular, Samil PwC, which currently boasts the highest number of CPAs in Korea, lost over 100 accountants with less than 10 years of experience over the past two years, with employment numbers dropping from 1,666 to 1,524.
According to industry sources, some of the factors leading to the trend include a deteriorating public image of accounting firms from numerous fraud scandals, a strenuous work environment when working on behalf of major companies, and a lack of corporate welfare.
“We’ve recently had an increasing number of accountants with five to ten years of experience, which is when work can get most burdensome, changing their workplace, leaving the accounting firms struggling to find replacements,” said an official from an unnamed accounting firm.
Another official said that the practice of non-accounting companies actively hiring in-house CPAs recently has also contributed to employees quitting their jobs.
In fact, the number of CPAs working at public institutions and non-accounting corporations has increased noticeably from 6,119 (34.8 percent of all CPAs) in 2014 to 6,849 (35.9 percent) in 2016. The rate was 30.9 percent in 2010, and remained around 32 percent from 2011 to 2013.
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)