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Top 5 tips to get more CPAs in your firm or company

There is a severe shortage of CPAs in Maryland (and across the U.S.), and in the words of the famous cartoon character Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us!"

How many of us know the new requirements to qualify and sit for the CPA exam? How many of us know the new sections and content of the new computerized CPA exam?

Answer: Very few.

Remember when we all took the old paper-based exam? Every May and November, same week. CPA firms and companies worked around scheduling candidates, everyone knew who was sitting for the exam, time was given for studying, and everyone knew when the grades were out. There were rituals and celebrations that supported the excitement and importance of getting this important license.

Cpa_exam_changes Fast-foreword to today: The exam has been computerized, and in most states the 150-hour requirement is in effect, combined with experience requirements, ethics self-study (in Maryland) and, of course, the changes in format of the new exam.

The result is that the senior members of our profession cannot advise young people on how to enter it!

My take on this is that we, as a profession, have done a poor job in change management as we changed educational requirements and went to a computerized exam. It is time that we retrofit our changes with a new, reinvigorated culture about the CPA exam and rituals that celebrate and recognize the importance of this license and achievement. The fact is, CPAs are in greater demand as the business environment gets more complex and the public interest of financial reporting is more important than ever -- in CPA firms, corporations, and even government and non-profits.

That is why we worked in partnership with our State Board of Public Accountancy to add  an official swearing-in ceremony for CPAs. Maryland CPAs now take an oath that signifies their commitment to the public interest and to our community -- the ultimate purpose of the license. Check out our first swearing-in ceremony and the words of Maryland Secretary of the Department of Labor,Licensing, and Regulation, Thomas Perez in the short video clip below. He gets it and did a great job conveying that to our first batch of newly licensed CPAs. Perez will be officiating the next ceremony on the evening of June 17 at the Baltimore Convention Center as part of the first Maryland Business and Accounting Expo.

So here are my tips to help more people to get their CPA license:

  1. Understand the new CPA exam and requirements to take it.
  2. Encourage MACPA Candidate membership. We give them resources and reasons why they should sit for the CPA exam sooner rather than later.
  3. Use the handy CPA exam tracking tool created by the AICPA PCPS team to help you track and follow up on candidates in your firm/company. (Remember that this new generation needs structure and support.)
  4. Take your new CPAs to our swearing-in ceremony on June 17 at the Baltimore Covention Center.
  5. Re-create a firm/company culture that recognizes the importance of the CPA license and celebrates this major milestone. Think in terms of rituals that can be started.

Check out Maryland Secretary Tom Perez's remarks at our inaugural swearing-in ceremony:

Tell us what you are doing to recognize and celebrate new entrants to our profession and help us find the new CPAs and get them to attend the swearing-in ceremony with you. All new CPAs who have received their license since June 30, 2006 through June 17 are invited to attend.