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To No One’s Surprise Except the AICPA’s, AICPA Membership Is Falling

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FT‘s Stephen Foley has written an opinion piece for, you guessed it, FT on the profession’s deadest of horses: the accountant shortage. Rather than rehashing bits of information that have been repeated ad nauseam for the last two years in the reputable accounting press and the last ten here at Going Concern, I’d like to call your attention to this bit of information:

Membership of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the US professional body, fell from 430,000 in 2017 to 415,000 last year and it has missed membership targets in four of the past five years.

My mother was kind of an asshole (that’s where I get it from, thanks mom) so she never taught me that bit about not saying anything should you have nothing nice to say, hence I shall say this:

Let’s check out the AICPA/CIMA annual reports (found here) for more on these targets. Working back from 2021:


Note: It was 2017 when AICPA & CIMA joined together “to forge a powerful international alliance that promotes accounting and finance in every corner of the world.” Actually they use the words “came together” on the website but I refuse to use that phrase as I’m perpetually 15 years old. So it appears AICPA membership got a boost from that for a bit.

In 2022’s annual report (found here) they changed things up:

I like how they just gave up with the verbose excuses in the discussion column. Pipeline challenges *insert jerking off motion here*

Whatever. Not my circus, not my spreadsheet jockeys. If you’re one of the many people who haven’t renewed your AICPA membership these past few years and care to tell us why, reach out if you want.

Buckle up, the next few years are going to be fun.

Dire shortage of accountants prompts calls for shake-up [Financial Times Opinion]

14 thoughts on “To No One’s Surprise Except the AICPA’s, AICPA Membership Is Falling

  1. I chose not to renew my AICPA membership about two or three years ago, even though my company would pay the dues for me. I don’t feel like the AICPA is advancing or promoting my interests as a CPA. In recent years, they’ve been more focused on money grabs like the CGMA (or whatever it’s called) certification which seeks to devalue my CPA license. I’m tired of the rhetoric about the CPA certification become obsolete from the nation’s top lobbying group for CPAs.

    I’d consider coming back if the AICPA decides to start promoting CPAs and the accounting profession again, rather than accepting the profession’s demise and trying to get out ahead on what’s next.

  2. In addition to their stubbornness on the 5th year, as a partner at a regional firm, I do not think they represent our interests. The ERTC was a perfect opportunity for someone from the AICPA to stand up there and pound their fist on a podium – the profession was under open assault from shady operators whose entire marketing pitch was “your CPA doesn’t know what they’re talking about”. Instead, the AICPA’s communication was to CPAs to remember their obligations under Cir. 230. Cir. 230 also prohibits contingent fees and applies to all preparers – it was being openly flaunted by non-CPAs. Why when congress held a hearing on this were there trade group representatives from PEOs and Non-profits but only two CPAs appearing on their own (who did an excellent job expressing the frustration) and no one from the AICPA? Why aren’t they sticking up for us?

  3. In addition to the issues others have noted, I remember around 2013 the Obama admin proposed paid overtime for anyone below ~$55k salary. The AICPA lobbied against it because it would hurt the stingiest accounting firms who didn’t want to pay their staff $55k, and now they’ve successfully held salaries down long enough that students are avoiding the profession. Great job guys!

    1. I vaguely recall this. Are you talking about this one?

      From the AICPA:

      On May 18, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) released their final rule on overtime titled Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees. The final rule will increase the standard salary threshold to $913 per week or approximately $47,476 per year. In making this change, DOL is tagging the standard salary threshold to the 40th percentile of workers for the lowest-wage census region in the nation, currently the South. This threshold will automatically update on January 1 every three years beginning in 2020. The rule also sets the highly compensated employee (HCE) exemption at $134,004 up from $100,000. This represents the 90th percentile of full-time workers nationally and will also automatically update every three years starting on January 1, 2020.

      Finally, the final rule does not take into account certain nuances of the profession, for example, the spike in tax preparation work performed seasonally. Under the FLSA, only public agencies (states, a political subdivision of a state, or an interstate government agency, and some public universities that qualify as “public agencies”) may utilize compensatory, or “comp,” time to cover overtime pay obligations. According to DOL, “Private employers cannot satisfy their overtime obligations by providing comp time and must pay overtime-eligible employees an overtime premium for hours over 40 in a workweek.”

      AICPA Position
      The profession remains concerned that the rule on overtime will increase the administrative burden in complying with the regulations while dramatically increasing employers’ payroll costs. We urge Congress to engage to halt the rule and encourage DOL to conduct a robust economic impact assessment before issuing a new rule. The AICPA supports H.R. 4773 and S. 2707 and encourages Members of Congress to cosponsor these bills.

  4. I stopped renewing my AICPA dues 3 years ago. There is virtually no value to the member, except to put on a resume.
    The entire approach to how they document accounting topics is obtuse and poorly documented…the profession needs an update.

  5. I stopped my renewal years ago. I tried to figure out what were the advantages of being a member as a Partner in a small firm. Could not come up with any?

  6. Only reason I’m basically forced to renew is to keep ABV & CFF credentials and access to those resources. Otherwise they don’t add really any value to the profession.

  7. I work at a small 10 person shop. The owner keeps the AICPA membership because we do one (yes, one) audit, and we are required to have it for peer review. He pays my dues each year, but I get no value from it at all. The free CPE isn’t helpful and you need to be in absolute perfect health to get the life insurance (granted I’m not in the best of health, but 10 straight tax season with an owner who is afraid to bill market rates will do that to you). I should probably leave for somewhere else, but the pay and flexibility I have in the off-season is second to none. If I ever quit the profession, I will put my license in inactive status and quit AICPA.

  8. Actually, I find those numbers slightly encouraging. With so many CPAs entering retirement age, and supposedly such a decrease in new CPAs, I would have thought it would have decreased more than 3.5% over a 5 year period. The next 5 years will really tell I suppose. I know there’s quite a few still working at over 70 years old.

  9. Small firms don’t pay good wages and use the reason you are not certified then when you get certified they say that doesn’t qualify you for More money.

    Also the aicpa has allowed none cpa’s to own cpa firms that was the last draw for me.

  10. I tried renewing out of habit but their website was so awful that I couldn’t get to a spot to actually pay. They kept wanting me to add extra memberships and got caught in a loop when I’d say no. I just gave up. Eff those guys. They never did anything for me anyway.

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