The Aging of CPA Societies

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.

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3 Comments on “The Aging of CPA Societies”

  1. Alan says:

    It would be nice to have greater initiative and/or transparency in what a society actually does or is supposed to do. Such as representation through FASB’s proposed report thickener through note disclosures. California, Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Florida, and Virginia CPA societies have represented. Even Ireland, British Columbia, England, South Wales, South Africa, and India. Where is Texas? While a committee may not have been formed for this purpose, every line and number counts in perceived benefits of joining such organizations… to be shown on the front page of every website and newsletter and listed in the archives. But that’s just me.

    • Bill Schneider says:

      I agree that the Financial Statements have gooten long and complex, but the TSCPA has supported national efforts to simplify financial statememnts for proviate companies through the PCC (with our own Billy Atkinson serving as Chairman) and support the AICPA reporting initiative for SMEs. The TSCPA also has a standing Professional Standards Committee that is very active in the comment process for the FASB and other standard setters. The 2014-2015 chair fo the committee is Jerilyn K. Barthel and can be reached at jbarthel@ozrcpas.com . I am sure he would be glad to hear your ideas on responses to any FASB initiatives including disclosures.

    • Jerilyn K. Barthel says:

      The TSCPA’s Professional Standards Committee is very active in responding to pending changes in accounting and auditing standards. We have six subcommittees that review potential changes to determine if a comment is warranted. The subcommittees allow the membership to focus on individual areas of expertise. If a subcommittee determines that a response is warranted, the subcommittee drafts the response which is then reviewed by the entire committee and, when approved, submitted to the appropriate standard setting body. If you have any more questions on this, I would be happy to discuss them with you. My email is jbarthel@ozrcpas.com.


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