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Turning What Ifs into Reality: The Journey Toward Solving the Pipeline Crisis

April 22, 2024

by Kimberly Scott, CAE

Last June a couple hundred members joined together for our first Membership Summit. During this event members were invited to share their feedback on professional issues like pipeline and the profession’s image. While opinions were varied, one theme was consistent and clear: something needs to be done to address these challenges.  

One of the discussed issues continues to be in the newsfeeds, and that is pipeline for the profession. In July, I had the honor of being appointed to the National Pipeline Advisory Group (NPAG—I obviously did not get assigned to the group with the cool acronym). NPAG was established to start the work described in a resolution passed by AICPA Council members in May of 2023. The resolution reads in part: "This collaborative process, convened by and through the AICPA, should result in a continuous research-driven national pipeline strategy that, among other things, addresses the image of the profession in the eyes of students as well as educational and experience requirements, and outlines short and long-term initiatives and actions that result in measurable outcomes to address the profession's ongoing and evolving human capital needs and priorities."

Since July, our group of 22 and a facilitator (for details, visit the NPAG website) have maintained a robust working schedule of in-person and video-conference meetings multiple times a month. As a data-driven group, we have absorbed many research papers, articles, surveys, and have hosted meetings with various organizations and state society leaders and created our own surveys to glean perspectives and needs. We created a thoughtful process to give us direction on the main areas of focus along the pipeline path. Our facilitator likes to call these “the biggest leakage points.” These include precollege, college, licensing, and first five years after license. Sub-committees were established to assist with the process of identifying solutions.  

I am excited to participate on the Substantial Equivalency committee, or the licensing committee. What thrills me the most about this committee are the objectives we generated at our first meeting, which are as follows:  

  • A successful output of the substantial equivalency working group is a bold and broadly accepted proposed solution to modernizing licensure while protecting substantial equivalency and mobility, addressing cost barriers, and upholding the integrity of the CPA license.  
  • Ultimately, the proposed solution should appeal to a diverse and broader group of people and be created with input from key stakeholders.
  • Additionally, the working group will work to establish a transparent process by which input can be provided to the UAA (Uniform Accountancy Act) on a regular basis.”

As we started our ideation process, we collectively decided that all ideas would be considered. Although our report will not be released until the AICPA May Council meeting, I am confident you will be inspired by the “What Ifs” we explored and adhered to during our solutioning process.  

  • What IF we could modernize the licensure system while still protecting the public?  
  • What IF license pathways for the profession could be future-proofed against changes both in and outside of our control.  
  • What IF instead of being reactive we were proactive
  • What IF pathways were developed that provide equitable access to CPA candidates?  
  • What IF licensure pathways had a built-in methodology of enabling transparent and ongoing evaluation
  • What IF licensure could align with how business is done now while being nimble and adaptable?”

We strongly believe that we can turn all of these What IFs into reality. If we fail to address these questions, we believe we will not genuinely resolve the issues that we have been tasked to tackle.  

Join us in person on June 12, 2024, at the Membership Summit in Bellevue to get the latest updates from the AICPA Council’s May meeting. Summit registration is free for members, though space is limited. I look forward to sharing and discussing this important issue with you.  

Kimberly Scott, CAE, is President & CEO of the WSCPA. Contact Kimberly by email

This article appears in the spring 2024 issue of the Washington CPA magazine. Read more here.

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illustrations: © iStock/PeterPencil, © iStock/Iconic Prototype