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Attracting the best candidates.

The subject of attracting the best candidates has many facets. It is essential to appreciate the candidates' perspective. What is important to them as they assess the profession as a career and later seek opportunities in it? What will attract them? What do they want in development and advancement?


Are people with the raw talent and drive we need attracted to accounting curriculums and in sufficient numbers? This is an increasing debated issue. The answers will determine the caliber of student we will recruit and the future of accounting education.

The bright side to this issue is that accounting enrollments have stabilized and quality appears to be on the rise. The curriculum innovation being promulgated by the Accounting Education Change Commission grants, the number of high-quality master's programs emerging in response to 150-hour legislation and the addition of many excellent graduate accounting education programs jointly sponsored by firms and universities for nonaccounting majors all point to a talent pool that should be sufficient in size and strength.


Enhancing the image of the profession in order to attract students is a continuing challenge. Recent studies, including those by Professor Dan Deines at Kansas State University, indicate we still have a long way to go compared with other professions in terms of attractiveness in the eyes of high school and college students. Recent research, conducted by the Gallup organization for the AICPA accounting careers subcommittee, confirms the existence of negative stereotypes. The profession must be perceived as attractive to be seriously considered by the best students. Whether the issue is salary/compensation, status or more excitement and advancement opportunities in other fields, it is clear the profession is not totally effective in communicating its salient features to the professionals of tomorrow.


The profession, however, already is undergoing many changes that will make it more attractive to the best candidates. For example

* Work will become more "value oriented" by becoming more directed to determining and filling the needs of companies and clients, as well as more interesting, and should generate greater excitement.

* A CPA's performance will be measured by clients and employers in terms of "value added" and ability as a business adviser.

* As industry becomes more globalized, international experience will be demanded and highly compensated.

* Less lower-level work will be performed as technology has an increasing impact.

* Higher compensation should result from more education, skills and experience.

* As CPAs become more qualified, opportunities should improve for promotion or rising to the top in related fields such as finance and management.

* More flexibility is being demanded by CPAs and will evolve in careers and life-styles. Women will rejoin the work force after having children.

* The 150-hour education requirement will mandate more master's degrees. Many of these CPAs will have business experience, now being required for a master's.

* Entry-level requirements will become higher, and CPAs will be expected to be productive sooner.

* With continued growth in the consulting area, there will be more movement, both ways, between CPA firms and industry. Public practice and industry currently employ CPAs almost equally.

While it is not yet clear sailing, the ongoing changes in demographics and in the profession should mitigate today's difficulties in identifying, attracting and recruiting the best candidates. How long the profession can remain in that enviable position is another question.

DENNIS REIGLE is a partner of Arthur Andersen & Co., Chicago. JOHN MEINERT, CPA, chairman emeritus of Hartmarx Corp., is an investment banking principal with J. H. Chapman Group, Ltd., Rosemont, Illinois.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Accounting Education; CPA candidates
Author:Meinert, John
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:Internationalization of the accounting curriculum.
Next Article:The accounting graduate of the future.

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