[Ed. note: The following is a letter we received in response to a reader letter we published in September which lambasted the AICPA for diluting the profession. We are publishing it with permission from its author, who we have chosen to keep anonymous due to the anonymity of the original letter writer. We hope this further facilitates an important discussion about the future of the CPA profession.]
I read with great interest the “Opinion” article you recently published in response to your Sept 14th column on the potential dearth of CPAs in the future.
I must make a strong objection to the anonymous writer’s take on this important matter.
He, wrongly in my opinion, equates seeking a CPA credential with being a partner in a CPA firm. The fact that other talented professionals can also become equity owners of such firms has nothing to do with the decreasing trends in accounting majors.
I also question whether the writer is currently involved in the auditing profession as this constantly evolving area of practice is what is driving a lot of the non-accounting major hires by the big firms. These firms need employees who are skilled in data analytics, artificial intelligence, IT security, and many other areas of study in order to carry out a quality audit, particularly in today’s age of remote auditing. The hiring explosion that is seen in the larger firms is also in response to their need to build teams of young college graduates to staff their ever-growing consulting services practices.
By tying partner ownership to potentially dwindling interest in the CPA as a profession is also meaningless when, if you ask entry-level accountants whether they even desire to become a partner when they begin their career, based on many surveys over the years the potential golden ring of partnership has minimal appeal to them.
I also fail to see the connection between the “CPA who worked so very hard to pass the CPA exam” and the apparent lack of interest in future students wanting to become CPAs. In fact, all the learned professionals will tell you that the CPA exam is the beacon that other professionals could only hope for. Through the years, the high standards (and low passing rates) bring great acknowledgment to those who have successfully achieved a passing grade. Further, I think that you will find that one of the major issues in the dwindling number of CPA candidates is that once they have taken an initial part of the exam, they feel that the standards to pass are so high that they no longer wish to commit the time and energy to further pursue a CPA and simply take their accounting skills elsewhere.
The writer should have looked at the economy as a whole. Where are the best and brightest students going: high tech, private equity, and Wall Street. These institutions promise significant financial rewards, but only to a certain few, and after all entry-level employees invest outlandish hours and relentless pressure to succeed.
Tell me where the profession has been diluted. Your initial attempt to slam the profession as a whole and the AICPA has fallen far short of the mark.