Employers embrace apprenticeship program for finance business partners

Like many CFOs, for many reasons, Paul Young, CPA, CGMA, prefers to fill senior roles with people already in the organization.

“It’s very difficult right now to hire from abroad,” said Young, Liberty Bank’s senior executive vice president and CFO. “Accounting and finance positions typically last six to nine months, command a high salary, and many candidates don’t yet have all the skills we want in new hires. “

Those obstacles eased a bit when Young discovered the AICPA’s Accounting Research for Business Partners program.

“Attracting new and diverse talent and increasing the skills of existing colleagues is a big challenge. When I learned about the program, I said: ‘This is perfect for helping my team. .'”

Young’s “Great Eight” — eight Liberty employees — are now a few weeks into the program, the first of its kind for the finance and accounting profession.

On Monday in Chicago, as part of National Education Week, the AICPA and the US Department of Labor (DOL) announced the signing of the first three companies in the program: Liberty, Aon, and HP.

Liberty enrolled its first eight students last month. Aon will take on 15 students by the end of this month, and HP will take on 10 students in March.

“What’s exciting is that this program is responding to market trends, and more importantly, it’s starting to solve the number one problem facing finance and accounting teams – getting qualified talent. , skilled and diverse. said Tom Hood, CPA/CITP, CGMA, Executive Vice President–Business Engagement & Growth at the AICPA. “If we can help our corporate and industry members solve the their first problem, that’s what we should do in the company. We want to help solve these problems.

“This is the beginning of opening a new way.”

Hood and Joanne Fiore, Vice President–Pipeline and Apprenticeships, CGMA Americas at the AICPA, have been building to this day of recognition, but this is only the first chapter for a program aimed at overcoming the challenges associated with in the talent facing the company.

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Although Liberty’s “Big Eight” are currently employees gaining the necessary skills through the program, this is one way the Registered Apprenticeship for Finance Business Partners program can help.

Organizations implementing the program can also choose to train students who are not currently working in their companies, including recent graduates of two or four-year universities. And, Fiore said, the AICPA is currently working with universities to create a pathway for current students to continue their education while earning credit through the program.

The program is built around the rigorous global CGMA Finance Leadership Program. Students who complete the program, which lasts 18 to 24 months, will be certified by the DOL as a corporate finance associate and awarded the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation.

“Employers are responding well to this because it marries this real-world approach — the learning — with this globally recognized learning program,” Fiore said. “And marry them at a time when the economy and what’s going on at work.”

Most of the things that happen in the work are not only the work, but the challenges are mentioned.

A recent Deloitte survey found that nearly 80% of finance and accounting recruiters believe they will struggle to attract and retain sufficient talent in the coming years. This was echoed during a recent “Future of Finance” discussion at the AICPA Council featuring Hood and Young, where attendees identified “finding and retaining talent” as a key issue facing their firms. .

“College enrollment is down, and the Future of Finance group says talent is our number one problem. That’s been the case for over a year,” Hood said. “Some of them said, ‘We’d give our right arm if we could get a pipeline of diverse talent.’

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“So it’s been driven by three things. I think it’s been driven by a desperate need for more talent. Second, companies like to have diverse talent as part of the mix. And then the third trend that makes more of it. Through the pandemic, the finance function has had to change and adapt, and in doing so we have seen that many of the people in the finance department -money that does not have the ability to adapt to change. and the digital transformation that is going on in the market.”

Fiore added: “While all of this has been in the financial sector – the need for talent, diversity and new skills – what’s happening in the US economy has put us to academic success. alternative paths,’ STAR, the idea that you can make it in the profession without going through a four-year degree, is an initiative in the United States that focuses on education.

“If fewer people are going to college, other paths are needed. It’s the perfect storm for programs like ours to rise, for learning to grow.”

The program, launched by the AICPA in November 2021, was previously approved by the DOL. Then, in September, the program received funding from the Maryland Department of Labor.

The AICPA and CFOs like Young hope this is just the beginning.

“It’s a world-class learning environment, and I’m already hearing positive feedback on how the students are applying what they’ve learned in their current jobs,” Young said. “Students come in at different levels – the operational, management and strategic levels – and because we have staff at each level, they can share knowledge and develop their own group sessions. We give advice. ., which is very important. I was a consultant to one of the groups, and we had great support from the AICPA.

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“When our students complete the program, they can become Chartered Global Management Accountants, which is an accreditation for the growing distinction between accounting and finance. This is the designation that they want, and put so much power in his journey.”

What others say

  • Marty Walsh, US Secretary of Labor: “The Registered Apprenticeship program for Finance Business Partners will help ensure a diverse and skilled team is ready to fill finance jobs now and in the future. It reflects the continued commitment of department for expanding registered programs in high growth and emerging industries.”
  • Mike Neller, Global Controller at Aon: “Our people are the heartbeat of our company. We are committed to creating a culture of opportunity for our colleagues that makes them feel more important, connected and valued to help them achieve We are proud to offer this program to our financial partners to help them gain essential skills, earn their CGMA designation, and develop a pathway for training. jobs, training and job growth.”
  • Marie Myers, CFO at HP: “Diversity is a must in business; when we attract and nurture people from different backgrounds and increase their representation in the workplace, we strengthen the purpose of a company. We hope to be part of this Financial Exchange program for Business Partners registered as a grant in the Financial Cohort Program launched in 2023 with the recruitment of recipients degree from an HBCU [historically Black colleges and universities] to lead diverse and equal talent on our team.”

— To comment on this article or suggest other articles, contact Bryan Strickland at [email protected].



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