In a world of increasing financial complexity, CPAs are in high demand. They earn excellent pay and hold exalted status for their ability to keep clients and organizations financially stable. With experience and professional credentials, they build the specialized skills to climb the career ladder into management and even the C-suite.

The CPA profession is wide open to anyone with talent and drive. It’s an opportunity to build a career with impact, contributing to economic health and viability.

But as with any career, there are hurdles to overcome.

What are the challenges of a CPA?

Although CPAs are in high demand, there are many business challenges for CPAs to overcome, especially as they start their careers. Here are four challenges all new CPAs face and tips for overcoming them.

Talent retention and acquisition

Let’s start with the good news for early-career accountants. You’re hired. A shortage of CPAs is growing into a crisis as firms struggle to find qualified hires. Naturally, in a tight labor market, talent has the upper hand. Higher salaries, better benefits and advantageous working conditions such as hybrid and work-from-home offers are on the table.

Why is this a problem? Just that accountants have what it takes to start their own businesses. They have an entrepreneurial spirit and a client base willing to pay top dollar for their expertise. Capital investments are minimal, so ambitious CPAs can launch their own practice on an accelerated timeline, lifting their careers to new heights.

If growth is in the business plan, the CPA pipeline crisis becomes a hindrance. Demand for services is soaring, but the labor pool of skilled accountants is stagnant.

A perfect storm of issues is behind the CPA crunch, one of the biggest business challenges for CPAs. Baby boomers are retiring, but fewer licensees are behind them to take their place. Young CPAs are declining in number due to the following:

  • Falling U.S. birth rates
  • Declining college and university enrollment
  • More lucrative jobs in tech and software
  • Fewer accounting graduates
  • Fewer candidates for the CPA Exam

The 150-credit hour requirement for licensure could be exacerbating the problem. It has been a uniform standard in most states and jurisdictions since 2000, ensuring that CPAS can transport their credits across jurisdictional boundaries and practice without acquiring additional credits. However, many experts say the requirement could delay talent from pursuing their CPA, especially when tech is looking for talent with technical and mathematical skill sets.

To help solve one of the biggest CPA challenges today, check local job listings to ensure you’re offering a competitive or better salary, attractive perks such as work-from-home arrangements and flexible time off, and reimburse staff for pursuing industry credentials that support your clients.

Client acquisition

Word of mouth. Networking. Referrals.

The fundamentals still apply when building a solid client base, but more is needed. Increasingly, individuals and businesses seeking CPA services turn to the internet. A search for “CPAs near me” and a quick read of reviews, and the decision is made.

Try these 21st-century methods for attracting new clients and, just as importantly, retaining and growing existing clients to hurdle over one of the top business challenges for CPAs:

Write blogs or sponsored content establishing yourself and your firm as a content expert — present solutions to topics that are bedeviling your target audience.

Keep up a healthy, current stream of online reviews. Ask them to take a few minutes to post honest reviews.

Maintain an engaging website and social media presence. Focus on the social media platforms potential clients are likeliest to use, and be there with helpful news, updates, and solutions.

Follow up with value-adds for existing clients. Keep in touch — judiciously — with helpful news and reminders that you’re there to help. Offer to answer questions when news headlines or economic turmoil could be causing worry.

Staying up-to-date technology

Business is changing at the speed of technology. Today’s technology is streamlining workplace tasks, improving accuracy, freeing time for higher-order thinking and strategizing, managing remote workforces and creating opportunities for innovative insights through data analytics.

In this atmosphere, accountants who aren’t ahead of the curve face obsolescence. The dizzying speed of change can make it challenging to keep pace, but a technology strategy can help accountants wrangle the essential details:

Follow industry resources and experts, such as AccountingWEB, CPA Practice Advisor and Accounting Today.

Align continuing professional education strategies with tech-focused courses. Surgent CPE’s regularly updated courses introduce learners to new tech and teach them how to apply it.

Assign a staffer or hire a consultant to regularly research the technology landscape and stay on top of innovations that could benefit your firm and your clients.

Maintaining cybersecurity and data privacy

CPA firms are tempting targets for cyberattackers. Their databases are motherlodes of the information that scammers crave – Social Security numbers, bank account details and other keys that unlock the vaults of your clients’ money.

Strict controls and enforcement are a must. Consider these safeguards:

  • Set computers to require more secure passwords. Don’t allow simple configurations.
  • Make sure that computers and software accept automatic updates. Outdated software might still be functional and cost-effective, but cyberattackers have an open door to your system when the updates stop.
  • Test your systems regularly and stage mock attacks to uncover vulnerabilities.
  • Train employees in recognizing phishing — watch for unusual requests or misspelled email addresses — and in strict email and internet usage protocols.
  • Don’t do company business on personal devices.
  • Create multiple backups of your data and store them separately.

The Surgent difference clears away CPA challenges

For every profession, today’s rocky economic climate and rapid pace of change present challenges. CPAs stand at the front lines, applying their talents and training to help clients navigate the safe harbor of financial stability and growth potential. The gratification, fulfillment and career opportunities make the challenges worthwhile.

Fortunately, accountants have the resources to adapt to the challenges of CPAs pelting their profession and clients’ businesses. Surgent offers educational support at every career phase, from Surgent CPA Review, which takes candidates to the CPA Exam faster, to Surgent CPE, with regularly updated continuing professional education courses that keep CPAs licensed and in touch with emerging trends.

Consider these state-of-the-art features that make Surgent CPA Review the best in the market:

  • A.S.A.P.® Technology: Adaptive learning assesses your existing knowledge and areas of weakness. Spend your time studying only what you need to know.
  • ReadySCORE™: No need to throw a dart to decide when it’s time to take the exam. ReadySCORE predicts your likely score if you were to sit for the test that day. 
  • Daily Surge: Your time for studying is limited. With Daily Surge, you don’t waste it reviewing your progress. Daily Surge suggests the topics you must study every time you log in.
  • MyMCQ™: Customized multiple-choice practice questions challenge you to learn more complex concepts.
  • Full access until you pass: Surgent CPA Review materials include free content and software updates that don’t expire. 
  • Unlimited practice exams: Relieve test anxiety by taking practice exams whenever needed.
  • 100% pass guarantee: Surgent’s 92% pass rate gives you the confidence that you’ll pass, but it’s nice to know you won’t lose your prep course investment if something goes wrong.  

Pathway to career satisfaction

So, you want an in-demand career with unlimited growth opportunities and high earning potential? That’s the bottom line for jobs in accounting. Conquering the challenges of the CPA profession is a pathway to career satisfaction and fulfillment. Now that you know the top business challenges for CPAs, you can find your way through them with support from Surgent CPA Review and Surgent CPE. It won’t be long before you’re on the way to an impactful career.