The American Institute of CPAs outlined its strategic plan and priorities at its Fall Meeting of Council and Annual Members’ Meeting.

One of the top priorities is people, making sure that accounting firms will continue to have the staff needed as partners get older and retire.

“The people issue is not just about our profession,” said Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the AICPA. “It’s an incredible adult workforce challenge.”

He noted that 86 percent of the key partners in CPA firms with between 66 and 100 full-time employees are between 55 and 60 years old. The institute has spent $30 million on feeding the pipeline to ensure that more young people join the profession and take the CPA Exam. The AICPA is also studying the “defection points” to find out why many young people enter the accounting profession, but don’t choose to take the CPA Exam. Melancon would like to broaden the diversity of the accounting profession to include more minorities.

The second priority involves professional excellence and the public interest. Melancon believes that high-level tax service will remain highly valued among clients.

CPA reputation is a third priority. “The profession’s image must be strong,” said Melancon. However, he noted that many firms and individuals are de-emphasizing "CPA" as part of their names.

Other top priorities include advocacy, operational excellence, committees and state societies, international opportunities, and competition and risk.

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