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HomeAccountingFixing the accounting occupation's actual pipeline challenge

Fixing the accounting occupation’s actual pipeline challenge

The variety of college students majoring in accounting has declined since 2016, as has the variety of college students reaching CPA licensure. The pandemic has not helped the accounting occupation’s expertise points, as many college students determined throughout COVID to take a spot yr or not attend school in any respect.

Leaders throughout the accounting occupation are working laborious to handle the pipeline problem. This consists of wanting on the three Es of the CPA licensure path — training, expertise, and examination necessities — to find out the place the most important impression will be made. 

Within the space of expertise, the American Institute of CPAs and the Nationwide Affiliation of State Boards of Accountancy are working to pilot a program this fall that will mix paid work expertise at a CPA agency with entry to reasonably priced school credit score hours for college students who’ve accomplished between 120 and 150 school credit score hours and core accounting programs. The emphasis is on reasonably priced credit, with the purpose of maintaining the price of the training at or beneath the common price per credit score of group school. The brand new employees hires — staff, not interns — would earn a wage in addition to time to finish on-line programs to succeed in the 150-credit hour requirement. Companies of varied sizes would profit from devoted new recruits whose coursework would give attention to expertise and competencies wanted by first yr employees. 

In the meantime the CPA Examination is present process a metamorphosis set in movement a number of years in the past to make sure that the licensure and training course of adequately prepares these getting into the occupation for work within the public curiosity. Expertise is altering the providers CPAs present and the way CPAs work. The brand new examination will launch in January 2024. It is going to embody three required core sections — Auditing and Attestation, Monetary Accounting and Reporting, and Taxation and Regulation. College students sitting for the examination will select certainly one of three self-discipline sections finest matched to their profession targets — Enterprise Evaluation and Reporting, Info Programs and Controls, and Tax Compliance and Planning. 

For the third E of the licensure path — training — the best reply to the decline within the pipeline might seem like eradicating the 150-credit hour requirement, however I do not assume the extra academic requirement is essentially the most urgent concern for college students. There isn’t a query that the requirement to attain 150 hours has an impression and could possibly be a deterrent to some college students who’re considering turning into a CPA. The extra money and time wanted to attend an extra yr are private components that completely should be thought-about. You will need to all the time think about these components and take note of the suggestions.  

But, when talking with college students, I most frequently hear considerations or questions concerning the pay, hours, and tradition of the companies. Therefore, my give attention to fixing the actual pipeline challenge. Basically, I consider it’s a query of worth. Is it value it? It’s legitimate to debate and debate the necessities for entry into our occupation, however I submit that the uncomfortable however key query is whether or not there are simpler methods to make extra aggressive compensation and to succeed in the highest ranges of a corporation with flexibility when wanted. 

To be much more direct, why pursue the fifth yr, if you may make extra money in 4? Should not there be a premium for many who earn the CPA license? Should not CPAs earn a better return on funding beginning earlier of their profession? This query is not answered by altering the 150-hour requirement, however it’s extra a query for employers and decision-makers within the occupation. 

What issues to college students

Let’s discuss 150 hours, however let’s tackle the components which will carry extra weight for the scholars themselves. Latest surveys of scholars carried out by the California Society of CPAs and the Institute of Administration Accountants, the Middle for Audit High quality, and the Illinois CPA Society reinforce this notion as nicely. 

In my direct interactions with college students, I discover it attention-grabbing that it is the employers who’re extra vocal concerning the 150 hours, whereas college students usually talk about values, management, range, inclusion, flexibility, pay, tradition, hours and the way laborious the examination is earlier than the 150 hours comes up.  And on a aspect notice, I’ll say that our battle tales are usually not concerning the 150 hours; they’re extra about how a lot we studied and the way lengthy it took us to go the examination. 

In discussing the pipeline, some colleagues recommend that extra minorities would change into CPAs if it weren’t for the 150-hour training requirement. That is a chance, however a superb level was lately made by a frontrunner within the occupation who famous that we did not have extra minorities majoring in accounting when the requirement was solely 120 hours. 

After I converse with minority college students, I spend most of my time making an attempt to dispel the parable that we aren’t as financially profitable as different professions, are usually not inclusive and are boring. And with out resolving different considerations, I believe the trouble of adjusting the training threshold can be in useless. In lots of communities of individuals of colour, careers in medication, regulation and know-how are key ambitions. The extra training wanted to enter these fields is well-known, but the ambitions stay. Like many leaders, I’ve requested myself why. I believe it comes again to perceived worth and the myths of our occupation.  

Retention of expertise is an space that warrants extra consideration throughout all segments of our occupation however completely in public accounting. What occurs when the scholars present up within the companies? How lengthy do they keep? Why do they depart? What are the hours? Is there flexibility? Is their quick supervisor nicely versed on how one can lead, encourage and inspire others? Is the pay aggressive? 

Initiatives to enhance staff member expertise, development, and development would go an extended strategy to making a distinction within the pipeline. It might additionally assist if we highlighted the choices and alternatives within the occupation. On the danger of being requested tax questions, if we’ve not achieved it already, I believe we want to verify our CPA standing is thought in our varied networks. Many docs and attorneys are certain to let you realize their credential — nice thought! It reinforces their model within the market. I wish to volunteer in elementary faculties and once I discuss to college students, careers in medication and regulation extra instantly come to their minds, fairly than accounting. 

Simon Sinek is credited with saying that clients won’t ever love the corporate till the workers do first. I could not agree extra. Current staff members are the very best ambassadors of the occupation.  

So we as CPAs have to ask ourselves, what’s our model? What do college students consider after they consider the accounting occupation? Do they see those who appear to be them in management? Do they know all of the choices accessible in an accounting profession?  

Altering the 150-hour requirement is not going to vary the notion of the occupation. First, I consider we should tackle the uncomfortable perceptions and “truths” of our occupation. This effort isn’t just for the AICPA. It is going to take all of us working collectively to showcase the worth and premium of being CPAs in an ever-changing surroundings the place we’re wanted now greater than ever.  

I’m all in to extend the pipeline. However first we should give attention to the actual drawback. 



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