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NextGen Magazine


AICPA Releases Plan to Create National Pipeline Strategy

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 19, 2023


The AICPA has announced its Pipeline Acceleration Plan, a framework to increase the number of accounting graduates and make the profession more appealing to students.

The plan, which is to be presented to the AICPA's governing council next week at its spring meeting, aims to address some of the root causes of the dwindling number of prospective accountants, despite the increasing need. The reasons vary, but the profession's licensing requirements and starting salaries are among them, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The AICPA, in collaboration with stakeholders, identified initiatives that address the following key areas:

● Awareness: Increasing awareness about the accounting profession and promoting the benefits of a career in accounting;

● Improved perceptions: Dispelling outdated perceptions and leveraging updated, positive messaging that can help the profession resonate with today’s students;

● Training and education: Providing high-quality accounting education and training opportunities;

● Firm culture and business models: Equipping firms with the tools to offer competitive salaries and benefits, as well as career advancement opportunities and compelling work;

● Diversity, equity and inclusion: Attracting and retaining a broader range of talent; and

● Partnering with educational institutions: Affiliating with colleges and universities to offer internships, scholarships, and other programs to attract individuals to the profession, help defray costs, and assist students in developing the skills needed to succeed as a CPA.

The detailed plan builds on earlier versions that were circulated in draft form in February. The Pipeline Acceleration Plan includes several recommended actions not included in earlier drafts:

● Expand 529 funds to CPA Exam costs—The AICPA and state CPA societies are working with federal legislators on the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (H.R. 1477), which would 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—To address concerns over the ability of local governmental entities to find skilled auditors and finance professionals, the AICPA is collaborating on solutions with the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (NASACT). A working group involving key stakeholders – state auditors, state comptrollers, state treasurers, CPA firm representatives and local government representatives -- will delve into opportunities and best practices for hiring CPAs to work in state and local government and finding qualified CPA firms to audit local governmental entities;

● Develop best practices for offshore talent—The AICPA is examining the need for best practices and other potential resources that would help small and medium-sized firms partner successfully where needed with offshore talent suppliers. This is in addition to the expansion of the administration of the CPA Exam in India and South Korea, and exploration of offering the CPA Exam in the Philippines; and

● Explore launch of a CPA image campaign—The AICPA is looking into a campaign to create positive awareness of the profession with middle and high school students. The initiative would build on the Center for Audit Quality’s Accounting+ initiative, and the AICPA will work with state society input and perspectives to draft a feasibility plan later this year.

“Building the CPA pipeline requires a united effort from all stakeholders tied to the profession,” said Susan Coffey, he 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. As the largest national body for the accounting profession, the AICPA is uniquely positioned to channel ideas into action and mobilize efforts in a coordinated way to achieve success. 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.”

Both a synopsis and a full version of the Pipeline Acceleration Plan can be downloaded from this web page.