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Tax Talent & Culture

Help wanted: Providing feedback on solutions for the accounting talent pipeline

Samantha Mansfield  Consultant & Leadership Coach / ConvergenceCoaching, LLC

· 5 minute read

Samantha Mansfield  Consultant & Leadership Coach / ConvergenceCoaching, LLC

· 5 minute read

The accounting profession seeks feedback and opinions on potential talent pipeline solutions

Since July 2023, the National Pipeline Advisory Group (NPAG), a diverse group of 22 stakeholders from across the accounting profession have been collaborating to examine the current talent pipeline shortage and identify ways to increase the number of people drawn to a career in accounting. NPAG members include representatives from academia, accounting firms of all sizes, finance professionals, state societies of certified public accountants (CPAs), and regulatory bodies.

NPAG has been committed to developing recommendations grounded in data. The group first focused on identifying the specific points in the pipeline lifecycle where people choose another career or leave the accounting profession. NPAG coined these decisions as pipeline leaks or leak points, and the group has devised strategy ideas to address the most significant of these talent leaks.

After many months of research, NPAG has identified six major themes for its solutions and is gathering feedback from as many individuals in the accounting profession as possible to better prioritize some of its potential pipeline strategies.

Critical success factors and themes

“One of the big ah-has of the NPAG journey is the impact every person in the profession can have on growing the pipeline,” said Jennifer Wilson, partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching®, LLC, and the independent facilitator for NPAG.

This process this will take people engaging in the discussion by adding the talent pipeline topic to their leadership agendas, showing up when the topic is being discussed, and reflecting on what they personally can do, Wilson said, adding that the profession’s major stakeholder groups need to be “rowing in the same direction” to achieve transformative change and success in increasing the pipeline.

The accounting talent pipeline discussion in the press and social media has centered around the idea of modernizing the licensure requirements. NPAG’s scope has been broader, however, and the group has identified six major solution theme areas to create a comprehensive plan to minimize the leaks in the talent pipeline. The six themes include:

      1. Telling a better story— All members of the profession can tell a more compelling story on why they chose a career in accounting, how it has benefited them and their clients, and what opportunities exist for others in the profession.
      2. Drawing in more underrepresented minorities— The accounting profession does not mirror the diversity within the US population, and NPAG seeks to increase the number of underrepresented minorities who choose a career in accounting.
      3. Making the educational experience more engaging— A career in accounting offers many opportunities and career paths, in addition to tax and auditing, which could be introduced earlier in students’ education. In addition, accounting programs could be designed to develop and shepherd more students through to graduation rather than weeding out
      4. Reducing the time and cost of education— The additional educational requirements to become a CPA present a barrier for some, and NPAG has been discussing a number of options to help.
      5. Providing better support to CPA exam takers — In order to increase the number of individuals choosing to sit for the CPA exam, employers could provide more support with mentoring, study time, scheduling, financial incentives, and more.
      6. Transforming cultures and business models to inspire a more inclusive, attractive employment experience— There are aspects of the accounting business model that are less appealing to the next generation of talent, such as starting salaries, workload compression, and the lack of work/life integration. Placing a focus on culture, career progression, and purpose in their work are some of the elements being discussed.

There are two surveys currently open, and one is the National Survey, which is for CPAs, accountants, educators, state society members, and others working in the profession.

Participants can begin by filling out NPAG’s National Pipeline Survey, which takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. They are then encouraged to recommend the survey to colleagues, friends, and students to engage their participation as well. NPAG hopes to get as many people as possible to provide their feedback.

NPAG is especially interested in the perspective of students and those in the early part of their career because the resulting initiatives will impact them the most. Given their unique perspective on career opportunities and education, a separate survey was created for business and accounting students currently pursuing an associates, bachelors, or advanced degrees.

A draft report on the initial results of the survey will be shared with the American Institute of CPAs Council in May. To learn more, listen to this podcast on the Journal of Accountancy.

ConvergenceCoaching® co-founder, Jennifer Wilson, is the independent facilitator for NPAG. Samantha Mansfield is not assigned to the National Pipeline Strategic Plan project or a member of NPAG.

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