The Aging of CPA SocietiesPosted: July 28, 2014
There is a tidal wave of CPAs across the U.S. nearing retirement age. This is causing a variety of issues for CPA firms and businesses employing CPAs, but is even a bigger concern for the state and local CPA societies across the country. The membership of these associations is aging and new younger members are not joining to take their place. This is despite record numbers of students in and graduating from college accounting programs. The unfortunate fact is we are also seeing record percentages of accounting graduates not pursuing licensure and even when the graduates pursue licensure they are not joining the state and local accounting societies.
This could have a significant impact on the state and local societies as their number of dues paying members continue to decline. Many are having to look at time honored traditions of not charging dues after so many years of membership because they simply can’t afford to give away their services no matter how loyal their members have been. My suggestion to all associations is to first understand if and what the issue is you are facing. This requires more than simply a look at the average age of your association or the number of members by age group. You need to take that data and then transform it into a projection on what will happen to dues revenue over the next 3, 7 and 10 years. The projections need to account for members that leave, retire and otherwise age out of a dues paying membership status. Offsetting this are new members so you need to look at your new members – are they young and will be paying dues for sometime or are they like the rest of your membership and will not be around for the long-haul. With this information you can then calculate a dues projection and see what will happen to your society based on current trends.
If you don’t like what that projection is telling you then you need to decide what you will do differently because doing what you have always done will result in the projection becoming reality. And doing something different is not simply a matter of creating an online presence for your association. The problem that state and local organizations face is that national organizations can always outperform smaller organizations online. They have more resources (money) for online tools and forums and they provide a larger networking opportunity. State and local associations need to determine what they can do better than a national organization that the younger generations want and need. Those that are able to solve this puzzle will thrive and those that don’t will struggle and find they no longer are serving their existing or prospective members.