Looking to address one of the most frequently cited challenges facing the profession, the AICPA has unveiled its updated plan to increase both the number of accounting graduates and those who go on to obtain a CPA license.
Based on ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders – including state CPA societies, accounting firms, academia, state boards of accountancy and NASBA – and building on earlier drafts to create a nationwide CPA pipeline strategy, the new plan encompasses efforts on multiple fronts, including:
Expanding 529 funds to CPA exam costs: Working with federal legislators on the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, the goal is to allow the use of 529 college savings plans to include expenses required to obtain or maintain postsecondary credentials, including CPA-related costs such as exam review courses.
Support for the government audit and finance sector: The AICPA is collaborating with the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (NASACT) to find opportunities and best practices for hiring CPAs to work in state and local government and finding qualified CPA firms to audit local governmental entities.
Developing best practices for offshore talent: In addition to identifying potential resources to help small and medium-sized firms partner with offshore talent suppliers, this area also addresses the possibility of offering the CPA exam in the Philippines – something that was previously done in India and South Korea.
Launching a CPA image campaign: The goal of a potential marketing blitz would be to create positive awareness of the profession with middle and high school students.
“Building the CPA pipeline requires a united effort from all stakeholders tied to the profession,” says Susan Coffey, AICPA’s CEO of public accounting. “We need to work together to raise awareness about the rewarding work we do, broaden the range of talent we draw from and address stumbling blocks that derail too many prospective CPA candidates. Our plan offers a framework for moving forward but is by no means the last word – this is an evolving process that will require resolve, foresight and close collaboration with important partners.”
Notably absent from the AICPA’s plan is any provision to alter the current 150-hour rule, something that several state societies have begun to take into their own hands.