What New CPAs Want: Insights and Recommendations from the Field

by Dr. Sean Stein Smith, CPA, City University of New York-Lehman | July 25, 2023

The CPA pipeline is one of the most prominent topics being discussed in the accounting world. Any number of articles, podcasts, webinars, conferences and conversations have been generated around this topic, but few clear and concise answers have emerged. The accounting profession is at a cross-roads. On the one hand, the profession is well-respected, trusted by clients and other professionals, provides opportunity for career development and can be a very lucrative career option for college students weighing the cost-benefits of degrees and majors. Conversely, the profession is battling a reputational problem — long hours, low probability of making partner, busy-season stressors, a misconception about the variety of career options and a firm business model that is in need of an overhaul.

These issues are not going away and will not be solved overnight. And they are compounded by the generational shift that is also underway — boomers are retiring from the workforce, millennials are assuming leadership roles and Gen-Z is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.

With that context, the following question seems more important than ever to answer: what do new CPAs want? Here are what some members of the CPA community have to say on the matter:

“I believe new CPAs entering the profession are more focused on the work-life balance aspect of their job when jumping into their career because being a CPA can be a demanding, yet rewarding, profession. With younger professionals, it seems that their motivation may not be stemming so much from compensation as it is to free time or mental health aspect that may be made available to them. I believe we are past the days of fully in-office and the constant grind that used to be associated with the CPA profession as firms have become more flexible and understanding to their employee’s needs.”
— Mark Eckerle, CPA, senior manager and team leader in digital currency and blockchain technology at Withum

“1) Work-life balance: Flexible schedules, remote work options and a supportive company culture to manage both personal and professional lives effectively.
2) Competitive compensation: A fair salary package that reflects their skills and qualifications.
3) Career development: Opportunities for continuous learning, skill development and a clear path for growth within the organization.
4) Mentorship: Access to experienced professionals for guidance and support in their early careers.
5) Diverse work experiences: Exposure to a variety of industries and clients to broaden their knowledge and build a strong foundation in the field.”

—Blake Oliver, CPA, founder & CEO at Earmark CPE and co-host The Accounting Podcast (formerly Cloud Accounting Podcast)

“I think that new CPAs want a career with a high return on invested time (ROIT). Right now, public accounting is failing in that aspect. As a result, new CPAs tend to go to other industries with high ROIT like consulting and working in private companies.”
—Shehan Chandrasekera, CPA, head of tax strategy at CoinTracker and a crypto tax analyst at Forbes

On-the-job training/regular feedback:
  • Real-time, regular feedback vs. standard mid-year and year-end reviews
  • Shift to performance reviews (and systems/software)
  • More effective measures of improvement
  • Be proactive vs. reactive

Flexibility and work-life balance:

  • Open time off vs. PTO
  • Hybrid working arrangements
  • Fully remote working arrangements
  • Appropriate hiring and staffing to enable work to be more evenly distributed and scheduled

Type of work:

  • Variety of experience in a specific department (tax vs. audit)
  • “Try before you buy” mentality”
—Nicole DeRosa, CPA, MAcc, partner at Wiss


What do you think? Let the NJCPA know at feedback@njcpa.org.


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