The Future of CPA Careers in Big Four Firms: Trends & Outlook

Introduction

The last three years saw drastic changes in the geopolitics of the world concerning every way we view various aspects of our lives. These changes have reset our priorities and changed the future outlook on the various trends of career paths. Such change can be noticed in the future of CPA, especially with the Big Four firms. The accounting industry is also changing and evolving in accordance with developments in other sectors, such as technology and automation, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Technology and other factors will continue to influence accounting and accountants, especially the CPA career in a big four firm.
This blog will discuss the latest trends in CPA and the future of CPA careers. Let us take a brief look at the CPA course, which may help you understand CPA and its career opportunities in accounting.
US CPA Course - Overview
The US CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, is a professional certification of the highest competence at an international level. US CPA is offered in the Accountancy discipline by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in association with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). The US CPA certification is provided after clearing a standard accountancy examination called the Uniform CPA exam.
The Uniform CPA exam in India is held four times a year in their nearest Prometric Testing centers. These testing windows are open in January-February, April-May, July-August, and October-November. The US CPA exam is held in four parts consisting of Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Regulation (REG), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR), and Business Environment & Concepts (BEC).
CPA USA eligibility criteria for candidates as specified by AICPA:
  • Candidates must possess a Bachelor's or Master's degree in any discipline from a recognized university/institution.
  • Candidates should possess at least two years of work experience under a licensed US CPA.
  • Candidates must get 150 credits to apply for the US CPA license.
  • Those candidates who have their 4-Year Bachelor's degree are eligible for around 120 credit points; however, those candidates who completed their graduation with first class division from a NAAC 'A' accredited college/institution are eligible for 150 credit points.

US CPA Career Opportunities

Candidates can obtain a license from AICPA after clearing the Uniform CPA exam, which makes them eligible to practice accounting. The major responsibility of a CPA is to assist their clients or their company in enabling smoother financial services daily. They take an important role in preparing financial records and taxes while assisting their firms in making important business decisions.
As CPAs have a wide area of expertise and knowledge in the various aspects of accountancy, they are in high demand across several industries. The CPA career in a Big Four firm is great as they get exposure to a wide network of professionals in their respective fields. But a shortage of eligible CPA-certified accountants has been noticed in recent years, although the number of companies wanting to hire US CPAs has not decreased. So, it is safe to say that pursuing US CPA will help candidates showcase their expertise while drawing a handsome salary of around five figures annually while pursuing a CPA career in a Big Four firm.

US CPA Job Opportunities in India

The prospects of a US CPA career in a Big Four Firm and other top MNCs have increased significantly. The US CPA curriculum makes the candidate adept at handling many intricacies of various sub-sectors of accountancy with acute dexterity. The scope of CPA in the USA and India extends to lucrative job roles like Chief Financial Officer, Consultant, Financial Analyst, Corporate Controller, Tax Manager, Internal Auditor, etc. To talk about US CPA Career salary, a well-experienced US CPA candidate can expect around $75,000 annually, which may increase depending on promotion prospects and additional salary benefits. In India, candidates with the US CPA qualification may expect anywhere between INR 1.5 lakhs to INR 10 lakhs depending upon the job role and additional salary benefits.

US CPA Career in a Big Four Firm

So far, you have seen what it takes to become a US CPA and what you will do as a US CPA. Now, let's dive into the world of firms that hire US CPA-qualified candidates, including the Big Four firms, namely, E&Y, PwC, Deloitte, and KPMG, which need no introduction. The Big4 firms employ thousands of dedicated professionals from various fields, of which the US CPA candidates comprise a major chunk.

Expected Career Path in Big Four Firms

As the Big Four firms are top accounting institutes worldwide, working with them will help you garner more experience than others working elsewhere within the same time frame. This great CPA career in a Big Four firm is due to the high volume and quality of work handled by accounting professionals making them quite seasoned in their job. With the changing trends in the world, the corporate and working environment in these Big Fours is also fast changing. The job of Accountants in such companies is also adding a new dimension.
Future in the Big Four
The Big Four companies are adapting to the various changes on the technological front. Staying on top of trends and having the right set of skills needed to be a CPA is essential to keep up in the accounting profession.
Emerging Technologies
With the increasing volume and complexity of requirements in the accounting world, instant access to data will help accountants and clients to analyze and make decisions based on the available data. Cloud computing also allows for storing high volumes of data at a remote location that can be selectively accessible if necessary, and the storage volume can be increased as per requirement. Automated accounting tools allow seamless access to data, updating it with the greatest ease and using it for speedy analysis to tend to client demands. Blockchain technology is already being implemented in the Big Four companies, and keeping up with the changes in the accounting front in compliance with these changes will help in easy upskilling and upgradation in one career.
Finding Talent
Accounting degrees and qualifications often limit the working capability of individuals to just one sector. The number of accountants in executive positions is declining slowly, which is expected to result in zero growth for companies. This would call for upskilling and reskilling of available talents if not enough candidates are available. In such a situation, US CPA provides candidates with the necessary training and skills to handle top management functions and fulfill their accounting needs. 
Sustainability & ESG
US CPAs are trained and best qualified to provide assurance on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) information due to their expertise, professional standards, and independence requirement. The Big Four firms work in a fast-paced environment and have to look for sustainability and ESG concerns, and US CPA provides the best fix as they are well acquainted with the processes and controls in their clients' companies.
Future Outlook for US CPA
The outlook for US CPA candidates is often tied to the economic scenario of the world at large. With improvements in the economic health of economies worldwide, more jobs will be available for auditors, Accountants, and other professionals who will be responsible for managing the financial services of big and small companies, indirectly impacting the shape of how the world economy looks in the future. 
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting jobs for accountants are projected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029, which shows a steady growth on par with other occupations. Technological advancements may make way for automation in accounting jobs. Still, they cannot replace the expertise required for management alongside accountancy or the decision-making ability of a capable Management Accountant.

FAQs

1. Is CPA a good career in India?

There is excellent scope for CPA in India and abroad. Many job roles are available for US CPA candidates, including Finance Manager, Corporate Controller, Tax Manager, Internal Auditor, etc. They are hired by the top accounting firms and companies requiring accounting assistance.

2. What are the skills I need to get a job at a big firm as a CPA?

Candidates who pursue CPAs acquire certain necessary skills during their course, which will help them in their accounting jobs. Having updated knowledge of the taxation rules of the country you're practicing from is a must for a CPA. Having additional auditing skills, management and leadership qualities, and technical abilities in handling various software and systems used in the company.

3. How much does a CPA in the Big 4 make?

In India, a CPA can earn an average of INR 23 lakhs per annum. The starting salary can be anywhere between INR 7 to 9 lakhs and can increase with the increase in experience.

4. Will CPAs be in demand in the future?

There is an acute shortage of CPA candidates. It has created ample demand for CPA professionals in the field. This demand is projected to continue even in the future with the increasing load and availability of accounting jobs.

5. What is the future of the CPA profession?

CPA is in high demand due to a lack of available candidates. They are required in various industries, and many companies are looking to hire CPA professionals.

6. What is the scope of CPA in the Big Four?

The Big Four companies have a great demand for hiring US CPA professionals adept in the various aspects of accountancy and related fields. The CPA can enjoy the steep growth & learning curve in the Big 4 companies.

Conclusion

Future accounting jobs will require skilled professionals with expertise in other fields of the industry to provide extensive guidance to a firm. The US CPA provides the perfect opportunity for candidates wishing to pursue a successful CPA career in a Big Four Firm while also being skilled and eligible for the top management roles of a company.
Learn more about this excellent certification and how you can benefit from it with NorthStar Academy, where you can pursue US CPA certification with the help from Indias top mentors like M. Irfat Sir. NSA also provides study guides and quality video courses for completing the US CPA course within 12-18 months!
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