August 26, 2021

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Vaccine mandates

If you’ve been wrestling with whether to require COVID-19 vaccinations for your employees, the full approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday is supposed to make that decision slightly easier.

But if you’d rather take cues from your peers in the profession, then here’s one:

Professional services firm Deloitte will require vaccination against Covid-19 for employees to enter its office beginning Oct. 11. 

The requirement will go into effect seven weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine, the company said in a statement. Workers will have to disclose their vaccination status on a secure Deloitte website, Joe Ucuzoglu, chief executive officer of Deloitte US, said in an email to staff. 

Most accounting firms probably can’t relate to Deloitte in terms of the size and scope of its business. Even so, these things have a way of trickling down in the profession. But what’s really interesting about this news is something buried in the email that Joe Ucuzoglu sent to employees. Going Concern has the full text:

The ability to participate in the broader business ecosystem will be increasingly challenging for those who are not vaccinated. 

This is obviously a message to Deloitte’s employees, but you wouldn’t be wrong to take this as a message to Deloitte’s clients as well. The gist seems to be: Opinions about vaccines are becoming less relevant in a business context; what matters is getting businesses back to running full speed. 

The number of businesses requiring employees to be vaccinated is increasing by the day, and it will continue as competitors of these companies are sure to follow. Businesses that don’t face unknown, potentially significant risks. 

The stakes don’t feel all that different for small businesses. Initially, mandating vaccines was seemingly complicated, but it now appears that the momentum is going in the opposite direction. Requiring employees to be vaccinated is likely to become the norm, and many small businesses are probably wondering what that means for them and what they should do.

One of the main themes of this newsletter recently has been what accountants will do post-PPP to advise clients through the remainder of the pandemic. Most accountants don’t moonlight as immunologists, so counseling clients on vaccines would be ill-advised. But what accountants are qualified to advise on is “participat[ing] in the broader business ecosystem.” Employers trying to decide what’s right for their business when it comes to vaccination policies seems to fall within that.   

People are worried about the CPA designation

Over at Accounting Today, Dan Hood asks, “Is it too hard to become a CPA?” He genuinely wants to know, and the answer seems to be: Maybe?

The test is hard, I guess. I have no plans to retake it. And CPAs sure do like talking about how hard it is. Or was. The more vintage of us like to talk about how much more difficult the pencil-and-paper-exam-taken-over-two-days version was compared to the current take-it-whenever-one-section-at-a-time version. Still, professional exams are supposed to be hard. You don’t want every dunce who wanders into a Prometric center passing it, after all.

So perhaps “hard” isn’t the right word? The 150 credit hour rule can certainly make it more “expensive” and “unappealing.” Hood notes that EY has even gone so far as to launch an accelerator program to give accounting students “a more accessible and affordable path for CPA licensure.” 

We’ve talked quite a bit about how the CPA designation fits into the future of the accounting profession. Trends like accounting firms hiring more non-accountants and doing even more things that don’t require professionals to be a CPA might suggest that the CPA is losing some relevance. Not to mention that the Illinois Society of CPAs discovered that the main reason people start the exam but don’t finish is because they have too much work to do. Those things are working against the relevance of the CPA; none of them have much to do with how hard it is. However, you will notice that all of those people—non-accountants hired by accounting firms, non-CPAs, and CPA exam quitters—still have careers in accounting.    

Which is great! Part of what makes the accounting field so appealing is its versatility. But if part of your job is to think and worry about the CPA’s future, then that versatility might actually be part of the problem. It’s not that it’s too hard to become a CPA; it’s just too easy to not become one and still have a promising accounting career. 

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Caleb Newquist Caleb is Editor-at-Large at Gusto. In 2009, he became the founding editor of Going Concern, the one-of-a-kind voice on the accounting profession, serving in the role for 9 years. Prior to Going Concern, Caleb worked as a CPA for nearly 6 years in New York and Denver. He lives in Denver with his wife, two daughters, and two cats.
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