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The Changing Face of the CPA Profession


Despite a decline in recent years in the number of CPA candidates, many college students still want to be accountants but are taking varied paths to prepare for the CPA exam. As Del Wright of the Illinois CPA Society explains, many of those who continue to pursue the profession are doing so on their own terms and redefining success in the field. 

Jan 31st 2022
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Much has been made of the projected scarcity of certified public accountants (CPAs), and for good reason. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy reports that 95,654 candidates took the Uniform CPA Examination in 2017. By 2019, that number was down to barely 83,000, with 2018 reflecting a 10-year low in new CPA candidates.

But with all this talk of who isn’t pursuing the credential, what about those who are? What has led them down a path so many of their peers are forgoing? Five young CPAs share their unique journeys to the credential—and beyond.

The Power of Integrity

For one emerging CPA, it started with a television show. Jalaj Haryani was a junior in high school when she came across the immensely popular Korean drama “Chief Kim.” The show’s central character is a CPA who solves financial crimes. During one episode, a snippet of dialogue caught Haryani’s attention: “Numbers don’t lie, people do.” 

“It was a simple line, but it made me think a lot about the power of the people behind the numbers,” she recalls. “I thought that if we had more honest people in the profession, the world could rid itself of a lot of corruption.” 

Because of “Chief Kim,” Haryani came to see CPAs as agents of integrity and trust—though she wasn’t always interested in the actual credential.

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