Letters to the editor: CPAs give their perspective on why no one wants to be an accountant anymore

Last week we published a letter written to Fortune by a former CPA who turned to riding 18 wheelers and found far more professional happiness than he ever would have had in accounting (good for him ). It seems his words resonated with a few people who felt compelled to reach out and offer their own insights. Here are two of the emails we received in response to this article.

Accounting and the CPA profession has been the worst personal decision and the worst professional organization I have participated in since my death.

It’s all low pay, nepotism, good old boy, white dominated bunch of c***p.

We won’t argue with you there, dear reader. The numbers don’t lie: of 658,267 actively licensed CPAs in 53 of 55 licensing jurisdictions, less than 1% are black (2020 data), a number that has remained largely unchanged in 40 years. It wasn’t until 2015 that a woman became CEO of a Big 4 accounting firm for the first time. 65% of new graduate recruits hired into accounting/finance functions at US CPA firms are white. And check out this table from the 2021 AICPA Trends report on accounting firm demographics:

via the 2021 AICPA Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report

Let’s move on. This next reader hits the same old drum: the pay sucks and the work sucks.

Hi,

I’m CPA & CMA – I find that being an older student (accounting at 32 BC, SEC audit of the company left me jobless in real estate leasing) I had some hard to find a good candidate. Most companies want a Controller+ level employee with Big 4 experience. Initially, I couldn’t take the kind of pay cut to be a ground checker or entry-level tax specialist. The accounting is miserable. Manual processes that waste time. Companies pay more for finance employees who do more budgeting and analysis. It seems accounting doesn’t pay for as much knowledge as you need compared to someone in finance.

That’s why no one really wants to be an accountant – not enough pay or benefits. All the tedious, monotonous work has to be done, so give it to people who rarely complain and just do the work because no one else will.

Just so you know, dear reader, some people like tedious, monotonous work and that’s what attracts them to accounting. Not really.

Anyone else wanna blubber? Our inbox is always open.

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