The many Boomers partners of firms who are planning to retire or slow down is being viewed as generating firm succession and staffing issues. Similarly, another expressed concern is the declining number of Ph.Ds. in accounting, which hurts the pipeline of incoming accounting graduates to the profession. A partner in a national firm also commented that he was alarmed by the many college professors teaching accounting who don’t have a familiarity with U.S. businesses.
These concerns always seem to be talked about and the fixes seem to be to encourage more individuals to enter the profession or go for Ph.Ds. It is a solution, but a rather long-range one.
The drain of senior talent might actually have some immediate opportunities. Yes, many of these CPA Boomers want to be paid out for the equity they have built up in firms over the years, but a good number don’t want to stop working. They like and see value in what they do, they want to remain professionally active, and they expect, because of longer life expectancies, to enjoy many years ahead and want to ensure their financial security.
So firms should look favorably and actively provide for partner’s continued participation, in a reduced role in different capacities. This will open up more partnership positions at firms without losing expertise acquired over the years. It should also lengthen and reduce many of the buyouts. Those Boomers could also be encouraged to teach accounting at the college level, perhaps as adjunct professors. They would be stimulated professionally, accounting college students would get a real-world education, and firms would benefit.
Firms and the AICPA in the last few years have invested tremendous time, money, and resources into improving retention and recruitment efforts, and the AICPA is also actively ensuring that the pipeline for future accounting graduates is flowing. Perhaps the attention and resources of both should also be focused on taking continued advantage, in a new way, of all these CPA Baby Boomers. This requires looking on these Boomers’ changing roles as just another step, although a more relaxed one, in their professional lives. Why can’t a longer life expectancy also mean a longer professional life expectancy?
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