The accounting profession is changing; there is no doubt about it. The current population in the profession is aging, and new technologies and business processes are emerging on the scene. This presents many challenges, but it also presents a great deal of opportunity and rewarding choices for the next generation of CPAs. And the PICPA is putting itself in a position to help guide them.
Effective April 1, 2017, the PICPA has a new entity, the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation (Foundation), founded to inspire students to pursue careers in accounting and to provide educational, motivational, and financial support to those working to attain the CPA credential.
More than 50 percent of PICPA’s current membership will likely be retired in the next 15 years. This retirement will occur concurrently with fewer students enrolling in colleges and universities. The Foundation was formed to expand on the programming that had been driven by the PICPA and broaden the impact and reach of these programs. The Foundation will start its work on five critical areas that impact the pipeline of talent into the profession.
Student Education – The Foundation will provide opportunities for students to learn about the career options available to them when they choose to pursue an accounting degree. It will reach out to students in elementary, middle, and high schools with programming, contests, and materials.
Education and Support for Accounting Majors – There are more than 100 accredited accounting programs at Pennsylvania colleges and universities, and the number of undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded across Pennsylvania numbered 3,500 in 2015. The Foundation will provide financial, educational, and career guidance to students enrolled in accounting programs through scholarships, awards, networking events, and mentoring programs.
Diversity and Inclusion Awareness and Education – The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 1 in 3 residents is a minority. By 2044, minorities will become a majority in the U.S. population. The work of the PICPA Diversity Committee recognizes the urgent business case for diversity and inclusion, and the Foundation is committed to addressing the recruitment, retention, and development of minority CPAs.
Educating the Educators – The Foundation will offer programs to accounting educators at both the high school and post-graduate level to keep them informed of professional issues, the needs of employers, and best practices in curriculum and delivery among their peers. More than 160 current PICPA members are actively engaged in committee activity in this area, and we expect that number to grow as Foundation programs expand.
Supporting Aspiring CPAs – Even though record numbers of students have graduated with accounting degrees over the past several years, many do not pursue the CPA credential. This is creating a talent gap in firms and businesses of all sizes. Couple this with the accelerating retirement rate in the profession, as mentioned in my opening, and you can see how this gap is approaching crisis proportion. The Foundation will provide financial, educational, and motivational support through the journey of CPA Exam completion.
The Foundation is led by a committed 15-member board of directors from among PICPA membership, and supported by the many members who voluntarily engage in PICPA outreach activities. Recent research commissioned by the PICPA shows that there are many CPAs, firms, and companies interested in supporting these activities, and we look forward to your participation. Finally, please consider making an investment in the profession that has provided you with so many opportunities throughout your career. You can donate as you pay your dues or visit www.picpa.org/donate.
Michael D. Colgan, CAE, is CEO and executive director of the PICPA. He can be reached at email@example.com.