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Chair's corner.

We hear it everywhere: We need more qualified people. In 2004, one out of six CPAs changed their position--up 2% from 2003. While we all recognize that this turnover is much too high, many of us are unsure how to react. It seems simple enough. We need to encourage future generations to join our great profession and work harder to retain them. Now, more than ever, we have a strong incentive to attract and retain talented young people to meet the demand for our services. But how?

To begin, we must:

* Inspire. Become role models for young people and other professionals seeking to shape their own professional values around those of this great profession.

Lead. Set the standard for performance and quality, offer guidance in meeting them, measure progress in pursuing them, and provide both constructive criticism and deserved praise for achieving them.

Create excitement. As CPAs, we've been given a chance to lead a rewarding life but, more importantly, we've been given an opportunity to make a difference. It's incumbent upon us to make sure that future generations enjoy our profession and live its values.

To attain these lofty goals, we must recognize that the professionals we want to attract and retain are driven by goals unique to them. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to meeting their needs. As such, we must find new ways to reach out to all who can contribute. A recent AICPA survey found that as focused as accounting professionals are on upward mobility, they are equally interested in another professional concern--the balance between their professional and personal lives. We must understand these concerns and develop programs to support the individual needs of each staff member. We also need to do a better job of reaching into minority communities and attracting, developing and retaining that talent. The face of America is changing; the face of the profession must change with it. To attract a diverse range of talented people, we must adopt a new philosophy and new processes to engage today's and tomorrow's CPAs. Finally, and most importantly, we need to stop the revolving door and improve retention of all staff.

To support these efforts, the AICPA will be launching a new initiative this year. Focused solely on young professionals, the Young CPA Network will help introduce our newest members to the sustaining value of being a CPA. It will offer new resources tailored to this age group, including a Web page and a newsletter. Research shows that the longer one stays in public accounting, the greater the likelihood of long-term success, both financially and in professional opportunities, whether in public practice or business and industry. The Network will make sure young people understand the different options and opportunities that await them as they move forward in their careers as CPAs. It will help to build a generation of leaders, inspiring the next cadre of students to join our profession and benefit from its rewards over the long term.

We belong to a great profession, one that's trusted at the highest levels by business decision makers, executives and investors. We need to attract committed individuals to our ranks and recognize the needs of our people at all stages of their lives. It's my personal priority to work toward achieving those goals during my year as chair. I invite all of you to join me in this effort.

[contact] Leslie.Murphy@plantemoran.com
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Author:Murphy, Leslie
Publication:CPA Letter
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:566
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