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What CPA Firms Need to Know About the Changing Workforce

Dec 19, 2019
The workforce is changing, and the way we work is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Not just in the accounting profession — all employers are facing new challenges. 

  • There are currently four generations working side-by-side with varying needs and wants that employers must meet. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 25% of accountants and auditors in the workforce are 55 or older. Employers need to be prepared for the loss of the boomer generation and how they will be replaced.

  • Technology continues to affect the way we work and communicate. The use of artificial intelligence has replaced routine tasks, forcing employees to develop new skills. These changes in skills needed will likely lead to changes in academia and continuing professional education.

  • The gig economy is expanding. More and more people are working as independent contractors or freelances which offers better flexibility. 

  • All generations want a better work-life balance. Flexibility is becoming more important than pay.

  • The younger generations are likely to change jobs more frequently than older generations. They don’t see themselves working for one employer their entire career. As a result, employers are seeing an increase in voluntary employee turnover. 

These changes are creating difficulties for employers in recruiting competent, dedicated employees. There has been a shift in skills needed from technical to more analytical and critical thinking. The CPA role is changing. CPAs cannot focus on mechanical tasks. They must focus more on relationships and assisting clients in making business decisions. The CFO position is becoming more of one focused on analysis and strategy. CPA firms are hiring more non-CPAs which is changing the culture of CPA firms. Individuals with a data analytics or technology degree are becoming more common in CPA firms. 
"There is more competition for workers as fewer individuals are entering the workforce. Employers who want to be in business in the future must adapt to the changes."

Colleges and universities are seeing a decline in accounting majors and expect the overall student enrollment to drastically decrease in the near future with the decrease in birth rates. The stringent requirements to sit for the CPA exam are deterring some potential candidates from the profession. With the increased cost in higher education and the 150-hour requirement, students are opting for alternative degrees that allow them to enter the workforce sooner with less debt. There is more competition for workers as fewer individuals are entering the workforce. 

Employers who want to be in business in the future must adapt to the changes. In order to survive, companies must shift their culture to fit the needs of the changing workforce. The concept of an 8-5 work day no longer works. Flexible work schedules and professional development are expected, and wellness initiatives are becoming standard. Organizations must change their recruiting process to attract new employees and their retention efforts to keep them. 

The Indiana CPA Society recognizes the significance of the changing workforce and the effect on its members, as the topic was one of this year’s task forces. Each year the board of directors focuses on three issues important to the profession and how the Society can provide support to its members. The Society believes it is important for members to be aware of the changes in the workforce and provide resources to be successful. 

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About the Author
Carrie is a Director of Dulin, Ward & DeWald, Inc. (DWD) and is head of the firm’s Nonprofit Service Team. She is the author of DWD’s “Mission Minded” blog, a valuable resource for nonprofit organizations. She has been with the firm since 2004. Carrie earned both a Bachelor of Science degree in financial accounting (cum laude) and a Master of Accountancy (MAcct) from Manchester College. She has served on various nonprofit boards and committees and currently serves on the board of directors, finance committee and integrated reporting committee of the Indiana CPA Society, the board of directors and audit committee of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, and is a member of the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne.