CPA Firms of All Sizes Are Struggling with This Challenge

Jordan Andreola
March 21, 2016

Small partnerships and large multi-partner CPA firms may have more in common than you think. According to a recent survey conducted by the AICPA Private Company Practice Section (PCPS), four distinct segments of public accounting firms have identified the same issue as their number one business concern: finding qualified staff.

Although a challenge for many employers, “finding qualified staff” was unanimously selected as the top business challenge facing firms of all sizes. The CPA profession has faced talent shortages in the past, and it appears that this obstacle is back once again.  

Where “Finding Qualified Staff” Ranks

1 professional (sole practitioner) 2–5 professionals 6–10 professionals 11–20 professionals 21+ professionals
Not ranked No. 1 No. 1 No. 2 No. 2

Source: AICPA 2015 Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS)

How did we get here?

Some speculate that the worsening stresses associated with the profession have people leaving public accounting all together. It’s reasonable to assume that the rebounding economy has put more power in the hands of the job seeker. Small and medium-sized firms are also being caught off guard by “rock star” staff who were on track to become partners but left their companies to start their own firms. This is particularly prevalent with up-and-coming millennial talent who don’t wish to adopt the stodgy ways of their predecessors.

For those who don’t see themselves as life-long accountants, a career servicing the wealth management needs of the CPA firm’s clients can provide exciting new opportunities. When implemented correctly, key employees can be retained, and future revenues can potentially be used to fund partner buy-outs.

Expanding service offerings is only part of the puzzle, however. The industry as a whole needs to do a better job of getting students excited about public accounting at a younger age. If more high school students were able to understand and articulate to their peers the career paths and opportunities available to CPAs, I believe we would have many more students entering accounting programs.

If your firm is having difficulty finding or retaining talent, 1st Global may be able to help. If you are interested in learning more about the ways that 1st Global partners with CPA firms, feel free to reach out to us at 877-959-8400 or

You can read more about the PCPS Top Issues Survey here.  

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