Advisory group making progress, seeking inclusivity on national strategy to address accounting talent shortage

NEW YORK (Oct. 19, 2023) — Progress is being made on the creation of a national strategic plan to address the profession’s talent shortage, attendees of the American Institute of CPAs’ (AICPA) fall governing Council meeting were told.

Since this summer, the AICPA has convened the National Pipeline Advisory Group (NPAG), whose 22 members represent a broad spectrum of the profession’s stakeholders. The group’s mission is to use a data-driven, highly collaborative and inclusive approach to tackle issues that have led to declining numbers of accounting graduates and CPA candidates. NPAG, whose activities are steered by independent facilitator Jennifer Wilson of ConvergenceCoaching, is expected to deliver a draft national strategy plan in May 2024, with progress updates along the way.

“We’re in this together,” said Lexy Kessler, NPAG’s chair. “All of us have a role; it’s not just one of us. We all want the same outcome — to increase the pipeline. So let’s rise to the challenge on this together.”

NPAG has developed working groups that are drilling down into different “life stages” leading up to and through the course of an accounting career, from middle school and high school to college, post-graduation and on to early career paths. These sub-groups are looking into reasons why fewer people are choosing a career in accounting in those respective stages and assessing potential solutions. The advisory group is also conducting a deep dive into substantial equivalency — the concept that undergirds the ability of CPAs to practice from state to state without additional administrative hurdles or fees — and its interplay with the education requirement for licensure.

“We’re asking tough questions and having tough conversations,” said Sue Coffey, the AICPA’s CEO of public accounting and NPAG’s executive sponsor.

The advisory group has prioritized the collection and assessment of unbiased research on the pipeline. In meetings this fall, there are plans to bring in additional voices and groups with unique perspectives to ensure there is a unified understanding of the pipeline problem and a unified plan to attack it. NPAG also plans to field a national survey this year to validate and test potential solutions.

Apart from NPAG’s work, the AICPA continues to pursue shorter term initiatives to address the talent shortage through its Pipeline Acceleration Plan. Elements of that plan — including the Experience, Learn and Earn (ELE) Program – are moving forward. The AICPA Council’s fall meeting concludes today.