Three Tips to Pump up the CPA Pipeline

September 12, 2017

As a record number of CPAs look to retire over the next decade, firms begin to prepare for this departure. The big question is this: Will there be enough CPAs in the pipeline to fill this talent loss? 

While enrollment in accounting programs is at all-time highs, a troubling gap exists between the number of recent graduates and the number of them who sit for the CPA exam. Consider these findings from the newly released AICPA 2017 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report.

  • 253,048 Total enrollment in college and university accounting programs
  • 79,524  Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting awarded
  • 48,004  New exam takers (13% increase between 2015-16)

To ensure there will be enough CPAs in the pipeline going forward, we must be committed to highlighting the value of the CPA credential for the next generation. 

  1. Make the CPA a Central Part of Your Firm’s Culture 
    Help everyone understand the value of the CPA by making it a central part of your firm’s culture. 
    • How do you communicate the importance of the CPA in your firm’s brand? 
    • How do you encourage new hires to take the CPA exam?
    • How do you stress the value of the CPA throughout one’s professional career?
  2. Discuss the Value of the CPA in Your Firm's Recruiting
    This pipeline gap reminds us that the importance of the CPA should be emphasized during the recruiting process. Help upcoming graduates understand what this credential can mean to them. 
    • 10–15%   Average amount a CPA can earn over a non-CPA when starting out
    • $1M     Average amount a CPA can earn during their career over a non-CPA
    • 84%    Average percentage of key decision-makers that would be more confident in a job done by a CPA
  3. Provide Staff with Needed Resources
    Research shows an encouraging, supportive work environment is a primary reason that staff pursue their CPA. 
    • Does your firm understand the current exam process which they can share with staff?
    • Do you provide time off to study, take CPA prep classes and sit for the exam?
    • Do you provide monetary incentives for staff who take the exam?

For more tips and tools your firm can use to pump up the CPA pipeline, a new toolkit is being produced to help firms communicate the CPA value to staff, explain best practices to engage and support staff through the exam process, and easily convey the steps toward licensure.  Look for the new CPA Toolkit coming this fall!