The New York State Society of CPAs noted recently that while the number of accounting students has increased dramatically in recent years, the number of those students who prepare and take the CPA exam has not.
Those in the Society, as well as educators in the region, are trying to figure out why. Some wonder whether the dramatic need for accountants is leading some firms to hire graduates without CPA licensure. There are even cases where an applicant can be hired without a degree in accounting altogether.
Caleb Newquist, editor-in-chief of Sift Media’s US Branch, a content hosting platform that publishes media related to the field of accounting, thinks that CPA programs and accounting firms that hire graduates should offer incentives rather than requirements for those who want to work in accounting. “Nothing motivates people like a bonus. I’m not sure what kind of bonuses firms pay employees for getting their license these days, but I guarantee it’s not enough to sufficiently tempt people to pursue it with any kind of fervor.”
The reason CPA licensure is important enough to incentivize is that accountants with a CPA license have gone through thorough testing and can demonstrate their expertise. The CPA license is more than just a test; it is the official sign of an excellent, experienced accountant.
Newquist says the push for CPA licensure needs to happen quickly, or inexperienced and under qualified persons working in firms could cause a major loss of business, a loss of trust in clientele. “…An accounting firm that says, “We have a pro-CPA culture,” is kinda like law firm saying, “We have a pro-Lawyer culture,” or an advertising agency saying, “We have a pro-designer culture!” It just doesn’t mean that much. And when people find out what it does mean, they might decide that culture isn’t for them.”
Newquist refers to an accounting firm that assures a knowing client that they greatly encourage the hiring of CPA licensed accountants, rather than a require it. In Newquist’s opinion, the answer is not merely requiring accountants who want to work in these firms to have the CPA, it is demonstrating that the CPA is a viable and beneficial step for a budding accountants education.