CLA CEO Supports Minnesota Proposal, Sees ‘No Empirical Evidence’ That 150-hour Rule Elevates Profession


Jen Leary, CEO of IPA 100 firm CLA (FY21 net revenue of $1.45 billion), supports a Minnesota Society of CPAs (MNCPA) proposal calling for new options to earn a CPA license, which include taking 120 credit hours of coursework, rather than the 150 in place today.

Leary, who leads the ninth largest CPA firm in the U.S., throws considerable weight behind MNCPA’s proposed legislation, which runs counter to the AICPA and NASBA. NASBA unanimously reaffirmed the 150-credit rule earlier this year, opposing a “state-by-state solution.” The existing model allows CPAs to work in nearly every state, and a lower educational requirement could create the perception of “dumbing down” the profession, NASBA CEO Ken Bishop has said.

By contrast, in a column published on LinkedIn, Leary applauded MNCPA’s bid for two new paths to earn a CPA license, in addition to passing the CPA exam – 120 credits plus two years of work experience, or 120 credits and both one year of work experience and 120 CPE credits, earned concurrently. “Critics of the legislation argue that adjustments to the credit requirement may impact the quality of accounting candidates entering the profession. However, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that the 150-hour requirement has elevated our profession. In reality, we’ve experienced a shortage of talent that continues to accelerate,” she wrote.

She argued that the MNCPA has taken the first step in remedying a problem that is years in the making. As the CPA exam has evolved, so must the licensure requirements. “I myself graduated from college when you needed only 120 credit hours plus work experience. As someone who could not afford another day of college after graduation, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be in my current role if the 150-hour requirement was enacted when I was working on my CPA certification.”

Having recently visited historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Washington area to speak on the pipeline issue and meet students, Leary heard their frustration over the extra money needed to obtain 150 credit hours when some are working 30 or more hours a week on top of going to school.

The change would remove one of the barriers to the profession, which needs to “double or even triple” the number of students who choose accounting as a major and stick with it, Leary wrote. “As other states and stakeholders look to address how the profession can better accommodate students from diverse backgrounds, increase representation and overall attract more people to pursue careers in accounting, it is clear that it begins with education and providing more opportunities for individuals to learn how to become a CPA.”


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Thanks for submitting your comment!


    Recent Posts


    Sign up for the IPA INSIDER: a bi-weekly news round up sent directly to your inbox.

    Related Stories