Town Hall recap: Developing future talent for the profession

By Nicole Fracasso, OSCPA communications intern 

As accounting continues to hold its reputation as one of the most trustworthy professions, it’s crucial to ensure the talent within the profession reflects the clients and communities in which they serve, said OSCPA CEO and president, Scott Wiley, CAE, at last week’s Town Hall meeting.

Professionally dressed woman smiling for camera.

According to 2019 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, only 7% of accountants are Black, just over 5% are Asian and 13% are Hispanic or Latino. (According to the U.S. Census Bureau, those percentages are 13.4%, 5.9% and 18.5%, respectively, in the population.) Given these results, it’s clear more work needs to be done to increase these underrepresented groups. 

“A profession that remains overwhelmingly white is not a sustainable profession,” Wiley said. 

Joining Wiley for this discussion was Shannon King Nash, CPA, Esq, and Felicia Farrar, CPA, chair and vice chair for The National Society of Black Certified Public Accountants (NSBCPA). Throughout the meeting, both Nash and Farrar discussed the organization's goals, how to engage in conversations around COVID-19 and much more. 

NSBCPA began back in the early days of COVID-19 when they realized a lot of businesses in the Black community did not have access to PPP loans, stimulus money and other resources to help aid businesses during the pandemic. They began by creating a Facebook group to help reach Black CPAs. 

“We wound up getting hundreds of people to join this group,” Nash said. “And the outworking of that was the need for an organization that was clearly laser-focused on increasing the number of Black CPAs in the profession.” 

To join the NSBCPA, members must be a CPA candidate, said Farrar. They are then matched with mentors and given the opportunity to attend different webinars. The NSBCPA also offers resources such as the John W. Cromwell Jr. CPA Scholarship. This scholarship aims to honor Cromwell, who was the first Black CPA and help provide Black CPA candidates with funds for CPA exam materials and fees. 

In addition, the NSBCPA is working on a program to encourage students to take the CPA exam, said Farrar. 

“We’re in the process of putting a bootcamp together where we will work with our students and get them encouraged to take the CPA exam,” Farrar said. “So, our whole mission is definitely to get more students to take the CPA exam.” 

Professionally dressed woman smiling for camera.

Also, in attendance last week was Tiffany Crosby, CPA, director of learning at OSCPA. Throughout the session, Crosby discussed the changes happening in the profession and how to develop talent for the future. 

Crosby said it’s essential for future CPAs to have both foundational skills and technical skills, including talents such as communication, critical thinking and problem-solving. And to keep up with technical skills, CPAs must be educated on different technologies such as RPA, data analytics, Excel and Power BI. 

To help keep up with these technological advances, Crosby emphasizes the significance of continuous learning. 

“One of the things we’ve really been working on is learning curriculums,” she said. 

For example, this could be in the form of attending a virtual conference, or even listening to podcasts and reading articles, she said. 

“The reality is that our profession has changed and will continue to change,” she said.