New Illinois CPA Society Special Feature Report Examines Concerns Over Future CPA Pipeline

CHICAGO, August 23, 2016 The Illinois CPA Society today released a new report entitled, “Pipeline Disruption, The search for solutions to the weakening supply of CPAs.” The report is the latest special feature from the Society’s award-winning magazine, INSIGHT. Its release also coincides with the opening of the Society’s annual Midwest Accounting and Finance Showcase, beginning today in Rosemont, IL.

Although accounting is consistently ranked as one of the top career paths for young professionals and even with a record-high 250,000 college students currently majoring in accounting, there are growing concerns about the impact of fewer talented individuals earning the CPA credential on organizations’ ability to meet current and future business demands. The numbers tell the story:

  • Nearly half of college accounting majors will never sit for the CPA exam
  • A third of those who take the CPA exam will never complete it
  • On average, it takes 6.5 attempts for candidates to pass all four parts
  • Only 27 percent of test-takers finish all four parts on the first try

When you consider that only about a third of U.S. college graduates with accounting degrees become CPAs, and that three out of every four current CPAs are projected to retire within the next 15 years, the narrowing CPA pipeline is reaching a tipping point.

“A stagnating CPA pipeline is a threat,” said Todd Shapiro, Illinois CPA Society president and CEO. “It’s an issue that will only get worse and grow more troubling without action because there’s no slowdown in sight for accounting talent demand.”

Diversity and Inclusion

Cultivating more CPA candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds also remains a challenge. Although many accounting firm leaders acknowledge that diversity within the profession is a key issue that must be addressed, they also admit that it’s a struggle to find qualified candidates in the overall talent pool to meet their staffing needs. 

“Our profession is at a crossroads,” said Scott D. Steffens, CPA, Illinois CPA Society Board Chair and partner with Grant Thornton LLP in Chicago. “If we’re going to meet marketplace demands and stay at the top of our game, we need to attract and retain talent that reflects the growing diversity of the clients and communities we serve. That goes for all of us in both public accounting and corporate roles.”

To read the entire INSIGHT Magazine special feature report visit

About the Illinois CPA Society

The Illinois CPA Society, with more than 24,000 members, is one of the largest state CPA societies in the nation. Our mission is dedicated to enhancing the value of the CPA profession through the strategic initiatives of advocacy, information, education and connections. 



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