This is a great time to be starting out as a CPA. Like never before, businesses are looking for people who have the unique combination of education, objectivity and financial insight that distinguishes our profession. In the next 15 years, 75 percent of current AICPA members will be reaching or approaching retirement age. This will only increase opportunities for advancement.
The opportunities open to young people entering the profession today are endless. CPAs now work in large and small firms, as business executives, in academia, in government, and everywhere from Hollywood, to major league baseball, to the FBI.
That’s not to say being a young CPA is easy. The first years of working in any profession are difficult, and being an accountant in this post Sarbanes-Oxley environment is certainly no exception. In fact, one of the central challenges facing our profession is attracting and retaining qualified people.
In order to better understand the generational differences that are impacting the younger members of our profession, we’ve launched the Young CPA Network. We hope this new initiative, of which this newsletter is an important part, will help young CPAs become more engaged in the profession and help them connect to the sustaining value of being a CPA.
Most importantly, the Network will be a place with resources to help you take advantage of the many opportunities available to young CPAs, both in your employment and outside of work. For example, no effort of ours in recent memory has so galvanized the profession as our 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy campaign. Thousands of CPAs in every state are helping millions of consumers build and maintain small businesses, establish a financial plan, pay for college and plan for a secure retirement. You can play a role in this effort and use your skills to help those in your local area.
The tipping point for young CPAs deciding whether to stay in public accounting seems to be at the five-to-seven year mark, so one of the goals of the Young CPA Network will be to motivate CPAs to stay beyond that point. Research shows that the longer one stays in public accounting, the greater the likelihood of long-term success.
But we want to listen to young CPAs, not just tell them what we want them to hear. A survey we conducted last year found that while accounting professionals are very focused on upward mobility, they are equally interested in maintaining a balance between work and personal life. Particularly our young members are asking such questions as how can I participate in outside events that interest me, how do I best utilize my skills as a CPA and is it possible to have children and still have a productive career as an accountant? We want the Young CPA Network to address these concerns and more.
We also want to convey the idea that being a CPA can encompass the goals of young men and women looking for a way to contribute to society while building a satisfying and worthwhile life. We belong to a profession that commands respect, one that gives us the opportunity to contribute to society, and one that offers choices and enormous flexibility within the context of a single-minded commitment to integrity, competence and objectivity.
Being a CPA provides the opportunity to make a difference. As we blanket America in a wide variety of capacities and careers, we are simultaneously working to support the public interest, bolster our professional knowledge and seek new ways to expand our relevance and contribution to society. We are also one of the most trusted professions, as survey after survey continues to show.
My goal for the Young CPA Network is to get you as excited about profession as I am and understand the impact of becoming involved in the work of the profession and the AICPA.
Former AICPA Chair