The Pennsylvania CPA Foundation had an outstanding first year of operations, culminating with the publication of its Annual Futures Report
this past summer. The Foundation was created in April 2017 to inspire students to pursue careers in accounting and to provide educational, motivational, and financial support to those working to attain the CPA credential. PICPA leadership created this new entity to direct strategic resources toward the growing issue of recruiting and retaining talent within the profession – a top concern for our members for the foreseeable future, even outpacing technology and regulatory concerns.
Everyone should understand the demographic challenges confronting all professions. There are 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, while the number of individuals reaching college age is shrinking. Add to that the profession is competing with other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career opportunities. Accounting has enjoyed record numbers of enrollments, but the pool of graduates and hires into the profession is shrinking. As an industry, we need to work harder to ensure that the best and brightest students are aware of, and attracted to, the profession’s unique opportunities.
During its first year, the Foundation reached more than 8,000 students and educators and provided in excess of $250,000 in awards and scholarships. We hosted career days for thousands of prospective accounting majors from high schools across Pennsylvania; featured and profiled CPAs working in many different careers within the profession; partnered with professional leaders from around the country to examine pipeline trends; trained high school teachers to bring a new, higher-level accounting curriculum into their classrooms; provided guidance and additional financial support to candidates taking the CPA Exam; launched social media campaigns promoting the CPA credential; and explored the critical issue of diversity and inclusion within the profession.
We have student ambassadors at more than 40 schools who provide a link between the PICPA and our more than 3,000 student members. We have many CPAs who sit on advisory boards for accounting programs and business schools around the state, providing valuable input into needed curriculum changes and enhancements. Our Accounting Education Conference provides an outstanding networking opportunity for accounting faculty and leaders from many colleges and universities.
In addition, we launched the CPA Mentor Match program during the year to provide crucial support for those starting or growing their careers, and created a diversity and inclusion pilot program for two firms to expand their organizations’ talent pools, manage unconscious bias, and promote inclusiveness. We have partnered with the National Association of Black Accountants and have plans to work with them and other minority-member accounting organizations. There are many resources related to these topics and initiatives available on www.picpa.org.
The Foundation is fortunate to have an engaged and passionate board of directors who drive strategy and provide valuable input. Their counsel and expertise has been invaluable. There are also many PICPA members who have volunteered to serve on committees and task forces who have been critical to the delivery of programs and activities.
Recognition of our talent pipeline challenges has been the impetus for individual members to commit to the Foundation with their financial contributions to support its mission. Corporate donors have also been critical to helping us get off to such a great start, as you can see from the accompanying graphic.
Many thanks for your support in year one, and we look forward to adding to this list in year two. The Pennsylvania CPA Foundation is just getting started.
Michael D. Colgan, CAE, is CEO and executive director of the PICPA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.