AICPA releases expanded plan for addressing CPA pipeline challenges

By Bryan Strickland

The AICPA released an expanded plan Thursday focused on boosting the profession's talent pipeline.

The detailed plan features input from a significant set of stakeholders and calls for those stakeholders to work together to increase the number of accounting graduates and the number of graduates who obtain CPA licensure.

"Building the CPA pipeline requires a united effort from all stakeholders tied to the profession," Susan Coffey, CPA, CGMA, the AICPA's CEO–Public Accounting, said in a press release. The plan will be presented next week at the spring meeting of the AICPA's governing Council.

"We need to work together to raise awareness about the rewarding work we do, broaden the range of talent we draw from, and address stumbling blocks that derail too many prospective CPA candidates," Coffey continued. "As the largest national body for the accounting profession, the AICPA is uniquely positioned to channel ideas into action and mobilize efforts in a coordinated way to achieve success. Our plan offers a framework for moving forward but is by no means the last word — this is an evolving process that will require resolve, foresight, and close collaboration with important partners."

The AICPA, in consultation with state CPA societies, accounting firms, academia, the Center for Audit Quality, state boards of accountancy, and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, identified several areas paramount to the pursuit of talent:

  • Awareness: Increasing awareness about the accounting profession and promoting the benefits of a career in accounting.
  • Improved perceptions: Dispelling outdated perceptions and leveraging updated, positive messaging that can help the profession resonate with today's students.
  • Training and education: Providing high-quality accounting education and training opportunities.
  • Firm culture and business models: Equipping firms with the tools to offer competitive salaries and benefits, as well as career advancement opportunities and compelling work.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion: Attracting and retaining a broader range of talent.
  • Partnering with educational institutions: Affiliating with colleges and universities to offer internships, scholarships, and other programs to attract individuals to the profession, help defray costs, and assist students in developing the skills needed to succeed as a CPA.

The plan builds upon a previous eight-point draft released early this year. Top initiatives include the Experience, Learn & Earn Program — which partners students with firms during the final stages of their education journey — and a fresh look at the potential impact that firm culture and transformative business models can make on the pipeline.


— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Bryan Strickland at

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