Company: BKR International
Name: John Beauston, Managing Partner, Moore Beauston & Woodham LLP
Title: Chair, Americas Regional Board
With a competitive hiring market, how is the CPA profession dealing with the shortage of qualified CPA candidates?
The CPA profession is doing several things to navigate the shortage of CPA candidates.
- CPA firms are beginning to offer starting salaries that are competitive with starting salaries in other high-paying professions, such as technology.
- CPA firms are beginning to hire students graduating with four-year undergraduate degrees and assisting new hires with obtaining the required 150 hours for the CPA certificate qualification.
- CPA firms continue to place emphasis on quality-of-life concerns when working in the profession. They are focused on ways to reduce the time compression overtime hours often associated with working in public accounting.
- CPA firms and the profession are reaching into high schools to tell the story of public accounting and how rewarding a career as a CPA can be.
As for BKR’s efforts, we have created The Center of Excellence, which is in the process of surveying college students, as well as employees of BKR member firms. The college students will consist of accounting students, as well as non-accounting students, to gain more insight into factors that drive student education decisions and expectations for the ideal professional work environment. Surveying employees of BKR member firms will provide timely feedback on how well BKR member firms’ efforts are dealing with the recruitment and retention of CPA candidates.
What advice would you offer to someone entering the accounting profession today?
- Be proficient in using business and accounting software. Various business and accounting software packages are valuable tools for accountants, so it’s important to be proficient in using a wide variety of packages that are commonly used and available in the marketplace.
- Develop strong communication and interpersonal skills. CPA candidates are expected to be able to communicate effectively with colleagues, clients, and regulators, etc. CPAs need to be able to explain complex financial and tax concepts in a clear and concise way. Strong communication skills will enable them to build relationships and work well with others.
- Be willing to learn and adapt to change. The accounting profession is constantly changing, so CPAs need to be willing to learn new things and adapt to change. This means being open to new ideas and technologies.
- Stay up to date on the latest accounting regulations and standards. The accounting profession is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up to date on the latest regulations and standards. You can do this by reading industry publications, attending continuing education courses, or taking online courses.
- Be able to work independently and as part of a team. CPAs work on projects as part of a team, so it’s important to be able to work well with others. However, there are also times when CPAs need to be able to work independently and meet deadlines.
For CPA candidates still studying in college, here are some specific things to prepare for a career in public accounting:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in accounting. This is the minimum educational requirement for most accounting jobs.
- Secure an internship at an accounting firm. This is a great way to gain experience and network with professionals in the field.
- Build a professional network. Networking is an important part of any career, and it’s especially important in the accounting profession. Attend industry events, connect with professionals on LinkedIn, and reach out to your professors and former colleagues.
- Be aware of the growing demand for data analytics skills in accounting. Data analytics is becoming increasingly important in accounting, and accountants who have these skills will be in high demand. If you are interested in this area, consider taking some data analytics courses or getting certified in data analytics.
- Be open to different career paths in accounting. There are many different career paths in accounting, so don’t be afraid to explore options. You may find that you are more interested in one of the primary disciplines of auditing, tax, or consulting.
How do you see BKR member firms changing in the next five years in order to deal with the shortage of qualified CPA candidates?
- The use of technology will increase. BKR member firms will increasingly use technology to automate tasks, improve efficiency, and provide better service to clients. This will include the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing.
- The focus on data analytics will grow. BKR member firms will increasingly use data analytics to gain insights into client businesses and make better decisions. This will allow BKR member firms to hire non-CPA candidates with educational backgrounds and skill sets.
- The importance of diversity and inclusion will grow. BKR member firms are increasingly focusing on diversity and inclusion. This will include hiring more diverse employees and developing a more inclusive culture to expand the CPA candidate pool.
- Providing access to cutting-edge technology. BKR member firms are always at the forefront of technology, and they will continue to invest in new technologies that can help member firms improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
- Offering innovative solutions to complex problems. BKR member firms have a deep understanding of the accounting and consulting landscape, and we are constantly developing new solutions to help CPA member firms solve complex problems.
- Providing training and development programs. BKR offers a wide range of training and development programs to member firms that help CPA firms stay up to date on the latest trends and technologies, including leadership and management training.
- Providing networking opportunities. BKR connects member firms outside of the BKR association with other professionals in the industry, which can help them collaborate, share ideas, and learn from each other.
Overall, I see BKR member firms becoming more tech-savvy, data-driven, and diverse in the next five years. These changes will help the firms better serve their clients and remain competitive in the marketplace. I believe that these are just a few of the ways that BKR will help its members change in the next five years. As the accounting profession continues to evolve, BKR will be a valuable resource for its members who are looking to stay ahead of the curve.
How is BKR approaching training and staff development in 2023 for member firms?
- BKR member firms are focused on a culture of continuous learning, where staff are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to learn new skills and knowledge. This includes offering opportunities for staff to attend conferences and workshops along with other BKR member firms, as well as access to online courses and resources.
- Aligning training with the needs of the profession. BKR is aligning its training programs for its member firms with the needs of the profession. This includes ensuring that staff are trained on the latest accounting standards, regulations, and technologies. BKR is also working to ensure that staff are trained on the skills they need to provide advisory services to clients.
By focusing on these key areas, BKR is helping member firms develop the skills and knowledge their staff need to succeed in the ever-changing accounting profession.
What is the biggest and sometimes often missed opportunity for firms/the profession?
I often observe a missed opportunity for firms in leveraging and investing in technology to perform tasks that, in the past, have been performed by people. By embracing advanced technology, CPAs can expand the role of trusted advisors to clients.
CPAs become more valuable to the clients they serve by spending more time as strategic advisors and less time performing tasks that technology can do more efficiently. CPAs providing more than just traditional accounting and tax services will keep clients longer. Clients see significantly more value when CPAs spend more time helping them understand financial data, identify and mitigate risks, and make better decisions about their businesses.
CPAs have a unique combination of skills and knowledge that makes them well-suited for this role. They are experts in financial accounting, taxation, and business advisory services. They also have a deep understanding of the regulatory environment.