The accounting profession has been significantly impacted by recent global events such as the war in Ukraine, supply chain shortages and the COVID pandemic. That hypothesis is supported by trends in the hiring of undergraduate bookkeepers.
Annually, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) examines the trends in accounting education and hiring undergraduate accountants. The future of the accounting profession is critical to industry veterans John Savignano, C.P.A., in New York. In a recent interview, he spoke about a number of issues, including the need for personalized financial services and insurance and how accountants are branching out.
The shift in undergraduate hiring practices
One way industry experts like Savignano gauge the future of the accounting profession is through reported trends from the AICPA. For example, recent reports show a decrease in accountancy graduates in the academic year 2019/2020.
The report shows a 2.8 percent drop for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the field and an 8.4 percent drop for those working toward a master’s degree in accounting. This follows a trend that started in the 2017/2018 academic season.
With a decline in the availability of accounting graduates, CPA firms are hiring fewer people with these degrees right out of college. As a result, they are hiring more non-accounting staff. The report indicates that 42.7 percent of new hires at CPA firms do not have accounting degrees.
The role of accountants
While somewhat alarming, the decline in the number of bookkeepers is not earth-shattering. Accountants are unique and their role in society changes accordingly Fordham University adjunct professor John Savignano. In a recent interview he said:
“…most accountants just think like accountants, put the number in the box, make it right. I just can’t stand the way accountants think. So I consider myself more of an advisor. I didn’t want to say business advisor.”
In other words, today’s accountants wear many hats. They do more than just keep the books and sign the tax forms. For example, they work in life insurance and are financial advisors. CPA firms can hire non-accounting graduates and grow their business to offer more services to their clients. That also makes life more interesting for those who work in the industry.
Trends for Accounting Graduates in 2023
Accounting graduates are also looking beyond the traditional role of accountants to broaden their horizons. the Jour book Accountancy lists some career trends for those who graduate with an accounting degree.
This may be less about actually looking into the books. Many companies use advanced technology for this. Auditors who perform audits are now looking for more sustainability. By auditing financial statements, these professionals are in the best position to provide environmental, social and governance (ESG) information.
As more CPA firms hire non-accounting staff, they need certified professionals to manage them. Add to this list those accountants who choose to run their own practices or freelance. This allows them to keep their customer base small and manageable and maintain a few quality relationships.
Personal financial planning
While this seems like a growing trend, it’s not new. CPAs like John Savignano have been doing this for years. However, he sees his role as more comprehensive.
“I am becoming more of a life advisor at this stage. But the more I know, the better I can help clients and myself. So knowledge is power, and not depending on other people who can jeopardize my relationships…. it was all about customer service because that’s the business we’re in. ”
Included in this total life package, Savignano advises its clients on their insurance needs. He tries to be that one person they come to for answers instead of searching the internet and maybe getting the wrong information.
“But if you can build a certain level of trust with your clients or client, your client doesn’t have to go to the internet or talk to other people and have five different answers and get totally confused. So you want to be in that position? I don’t think you have a choice because if you want to be good at whatever you do, you have to build that level of trust with your client, client or patient because there’s so much information out there.
About John Savignano, New York CPA
John Savignano was born in New York and graduated from St. John’s University. He grew up in a close-knit family and got his first job in his family’s grocery store in Brooklyn.
After earning his BA in accounting, Savignano worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers PwC as a certified public accountant (CPA). During that time, Savignano worked in the company’s audit department before studying tax administration at Pace University.
A certified CPA and member of the NYSSCAP and AICPA since 1985, he is now an adjunct professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business.
In this uncertain time, one thing remains clear: people are still looking for the personal service that someone like John Savignano can offer them. As a result, one-stop financial care is the accounting trend for 2023 to watch.