Accounting

How PwC is encouraging the next generation of accountants

It showcases the many career paths CPAs can take—even if that means leaving their firm.
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· 3 min read

The accounting profession’s grappling with a shortage of new entrants into the field. One of its leading firms may have found a partial solution.

Earlier this year, PwC invited about 1,300 accounting students to Orlando for a three-day event called Destination CPA, where they networked with and learned about the accounting profession from around 300 PwC staff and other professionals. The event’s in its second year, and it’s proven successful: Upwards of 90% of the invitees—all of whom had internship offers from PwC—chose to accept those offers, Rod Adams, principal and talent acquisition and onboarding leader for PwC US, told CFO Brew.

Though, naturally, the event is aimed at securing accounting talent for PwC, it serves another purpose: introduce students to the many career paths an accounting degree opens up for them.

School ties: To that end, PwC brings in “alumni,” or former staff, to speak with students about where they’ve gone since leaving the firm. They “talk about what they’re doing now, whether they’re in charge of investor relations, or they’re a CFO, or they’re an entrepreneur, or they’re running a nonprofit,” Adams said.

PwC acknowledges that staff may leave the firm after a few years. “We know, at the end of the day, everyone we hire is not going to stay at the firm and progress to partner,” Adams said. However, it encourages staff to preserve their relationship with the firm after they exit. One element of its career development strategy is called “always a PwCer,” Adams said. “We want them to still feel like they’re part of the PwC family, that whatever development and networks they build here they can leverage as they progress” in the careers they choose.

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The Destination CPA event also emphasizes the importance of getting a CPA license, which associates need to advance to manager and higher positions at the firm. Adams said that the credential is still valuable even for staff who opt to leave the firm. “But even if you do decide that you’re going to do something else, it opens up doors, having those three initials next to your name,” he said. It signals you were able to achieve something difficult, he added, “and verifies your skill level.”

“Cast a wide net” when recruiting: PwC, obviously, is a major firm. But Adams has advice for organizations that might not have Big Four-level resources to devote to recruiting new accounting grads: Don’t limit yourself to specific schools. “There is strong accounting talent across every school that offers [accounting],” including community colleges, he said. “Cast a wide net in your search for accounting talent.”

Thanks in part to initiatives like the student program and efforts by its campus recruiting teams, PwC has seen a 15% rise in job applications from new accounting grads between FY 2023 and FY 2024.

Adams is encouraged by what the program’s success implies—not only for his firm, but for the accounting profession. PwC wants to “encourage [students] that we’re a great place to start their career,” he said, but added, “but [at] the end of the day, if we can get more accountants, if we can get more CPAs, all boats will rise.”

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.