I knew very little about the accounting profession or CPAs before joining the ConvergenceCoaching® team and I didn’t even know that my family had a history with the profession. Me, the family member who researches the family tree! Sure, I knew my grandma was “good at numbers” and my grandpa worked “in accounting” for Northern Natural Gas but past that I was clueless. To my defense, when asked my mother said, “I don’t know, something in accounting for Northern Natural Gas.”

I enlisted my grandma’s help and learned my grandpa worked his way up from the maintenance crew to a Director of Administration and Contract Negotiator for the Northern Natural Gas Accounting department. Grandma was adamant to note that she, too, had a career in accounting, ranging from department stores to insurance agencies. Pretty bold for a woman and mom in that “day and age.” Go, Lloydette!

According to the 2022 CAQ Increasing Diversity in the Accounting Profession Pipeline: Challenges and Opportunities report, “…three out of four accounting majors/minors today know an accountant personally, confirming the highly influential role of personal connections.”

I clearly had a personal connection. So, why didn’t I know that my grandma had a career in accounting? My grandma was ecstatic to tell me about her experiences, what she did, and how it all started as a 5-year-old making deposits at the bank for her family grocery store in small-town Iowa. Why didn’t my grandparents and parents proudly tout accounting as a potential career? What are we, as individuals in the profession, saying -- or not saying -- in our own families and personal communities to attract talent to our profession?

Studies, reports, and stories are circling our profession about the talent pipeline. At ConvergenceCoaching® we’ve been sounding the talent alarm since our inception 24 years ago! But even more prevalent than the need-for-talent stories are the profession’s stories about working 80+ hours a week, the high volume, weekends, grinding, and “paying dues” as if being drained or burnt out from our work was some kind of badge of honor. And, with each negative overwork story we share, we discourage the next generation, or someone working their way up, or those switching careers from pursuing a career in the profession.

We must begin to reframe our stories and shift our focus from the negative war stories to instead share the opportunities, the different paths or niches, roles, or possibilities that lie within our profession. Interested in law or pursuing mysteries? Get into forensic accounting! Have a passion for the environment or sustainability? Explore the ESG auditing route! Love technology and AI? The technology-forward accounting profession is ready for you! Want stability and steady earnings growth, with a pathway to build wealth? A career in accounting can provide that!

Like my grandma’s story, your story of pursuing a career in accounting is unique and special and deserves to be told. It is time to share why we love this profession, the positive opportunities, or experiences we’ve had because of it, and the impact we’ve had on our clients, community, and family because of our work. It is up to each of us to connect with those around us. Start at the kitchen table, with the neighbor, middle school or a high school kid, and influence the next generation to join our profession.

And, while you are thinking about how YOU can personally influence the profession’s shrinking talent pipeline, I would be remiss to not mention the multi-stakeholder National Pipeline Advisory Group (NPAG). NPAG needs your help to prioritize a range of potential solutions to improve the pipeline via a national survey. Please complete the NPAG national survey: bit.ly/NPAG_NationalSurvey.

Equally important are students and their unique viewpoint of the profession. We encourage you to please share the NPAG’s student survey with any students you may interact with like interns or students you know from your on-campus recruiting or networking events. The survey is only open to current accounting and business students pursuing associates, undergraduate, and advanced degrees. The student survey link is: bit.ly/NPAG_StudentSurvey.

Let’s raise the awareness of the GREAT profession we have the privilege of being part of. Go and tell your story!

Emily