Like many CFOs, Paul Young, CPA, CGMA, prefers to have someone already in the organization in a senior role for a number of reasons.
“It’s hard to recruit from the outside right now,” said Young, Liberty Bank’s senior executive vice president and chief financial officer. “Accounting and finance roles typically take six to nine months to fill, command a high premium, and many candidates still don’t have all the skills we look for in new hires.”
Those barriers became even smaller when Young discovered AICPA’s pioneering Financial Business Partners Registered Apprenticeship Program.
“Attracting new, diverse talent and upskilling existing teammates were the main challenges. When I learned about the apprenticeship program, I said, ‘This is great for helping my team develop.'”
Young’s “Big Eight” — eight Liberty employees — have now begun piloting the program, the first of its kind in the accounting and finance industry.
On Monday in Chicago, as part of National Apprenticeship Week, AICPA and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the first three companies to sign up to the program: Liberty, Aon and HP.
Liberty registered its top eight program apprentices last month. Aon will recruit 15 apprentices later this month and HP will recruit 10 apprentices in March.
“It’s exciting that the program responds to market trends, and most importantly, it begins to address the number one issue facing these finance and accounting teams — access to qualified, skilled and diverse talent,” said the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). ) said Tom Hood, Executive Vice President, Business Engagement and Growth, CPA/CITP, CGMA. “If we can help our businesses and industry members solve their number one problem, then that’s what we’re going to do. We want to help solve those problems.
“This is the beginning of a new path.”
Hood and Joanne Fiore, vice presidents of pipelines and apprenticeships at CGMA Americas, have been working hard to get this day’s recognition, but this is just the first chapter of a program designed to address the talent-related challenges facing corporate accounting.
While Liberty’s “Top Eight” are currently employees receiving significant upskilling through the program, this is just one way that the Financial Business Partner Enrollment Apprenticeship Program can help.
Organizations implementing the program also have the option to train apprentices their companies are not currently hiring, including recent graduates from two- or four-year colleges. And, Fiore said, AICPA is currently working with universities to create pathways for current students to continue their studies while earning credit through the program.
The program is built around the globally rigorous CGMA Financial Leadership Program. Apprentices who complete the program, which typically take 18 to 24 months, will be certified by the DOL as a Financial Business Partner and will receive the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation.
“Employers have responded very well because it combines this truly proven approach – apprenticeships – with this globally recognised programme of study,” Fiore said. “And at a time when so much is happening in the economy and what’s going on in this industry, it’s married to them.”
Much of what is happening in the industry is not unique to the industry, but the challenges are obvious.
A recent Deloitte survey found that nearly 80 percent of finance and accounting hiring managers believe they will struggle to attract and retain enough talent over the next year. This was echoed during a recent panel discussion on “The Future of Finance” at the AICPA committee, which included Hood and Young, where participants identified “finding and retaining talent” as the top issue facing their companies.
“College enrollment is down, and our Financial Futures group says talent is our number one problem. It’s been that way for over a year,” Hood said. “Some of them said, ‘If we could have access to a pipeline of diverse talent, we’d reach out to the right hand.’
“So, I think, it’s driven by three things. It’s driven by the urgent need for more talent. Second, companies want to have diverse talent as part of the mix. And then there’s a third trend that makes It’s even more applicable to the need for new skills. Through the pandemic, the finance function has had to change and adapt, and in this way, we’ve found that many people at the bottom of the finance function don’t have the right skills to keep up with the changes. And what’s going on in the market digital transformation.”
Fiore added: “While this is all happening in the accounting profession – the need for talent, diversity and new skills – what is happening in the US economy is allowing us to succeed through apprenticeships. Often referred to as ‘proficiency’ Via an alternative route, ‘STAR, the concept of getting into a career without going through a four-year degree, is an ongoing movement in the US, and apprenticeships are making waves.
“As fewer people go to university, more alternative routes are needed. It’s the perfect storm for a program like ours, and for apprenticeships to become even stronger.”
Launched by AICPA in November 2021, the program has previously been approved by the DOL. Then, in September, the program received funding from the Maryland Department of Labor.
AICPA and CFOs like Young hope this is just the beginning.
“It’s a world-class learning platform, and I’ve heard great feedback on how apprentices are applying what they’ve learned to their current jobs,” Yang said. “Apprentices go into all the different levels – operational, managerial and strategic – because we have people at each level who are able to share knowledge and develop their own group meetings. We provide mentoring, which is very important .I am a mentor for one of the groups and we have great support from AICPA.
“When our apprentices complete the programme, they can become Chartered Global Management Accountants, an increasingly prominent certification in accounting and finance. It’s a title they aspire to, and it breathes a lot of energy into their pace.”
what other people are saying
- U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh: “The Financial Business Partner Registered Apprenticeship Program will help ensure a diverse, highly skilled team is ready to fill finance jobs now and in the future. Registered apprenticeships are a way for employers looking to develop a talented and diverse workforce A proven model and solid investment. Today’s signing reflects the sector’s continued commitment to expanding registered apprenticeship programmes in high-growth and emerging industries.”
- Aon Global Director Mike Neller: “Our people are the heart of our company. We are committed to creating a culture of opportunity for our colleagues to feel more relevant, connected and valued to help them reach their full professional potential. We are delighted to offer This program is for our finance colleagues to help them gain essential skills, earn a CGMA designation, and open the way for job training, mentoring and career development.”
- HP CFO Marie Myers: “Diversity is a business imperative; as we attract and develop people from diverse backgrounds and increase their representation in the workplace, we reinforce the company’s business objectives. We look forward to being part of the Financial Business Partner Registered Apprenticeship programme. Recruit from HBCU graduates in our Finance Cohort programme launching in 2023 [historically Black colleges and universities] Drive more diverse and equitable talent across our teams. “
— To comment on this article or to suggest another article, please contact Bryan Strickland at Bryan.Strickland@aicpa-cima.com.