Skip to main content

The CPA Recruiting Game

How commercialized strategies draw students to the Big Four ahead of the auditing profession itself

The CPA Recruiting Game

The recruitment messaging of public accounting firms has shifted to prioritize the commercial values of the employment experience over the traditionally touted professional values of the auditing field. As a result, aspiring Certified Public Accountants are driven almost exclusively to the elite Big Four in pursuit of career perks. It is a game in which students are more motivated by the benefits they can reap than a passion for audit work. The entire process raises concerns about the impact on the profession and the quality of audit work:

  • Will recruits take their tasks seriously?
  • If not, what does this mean for audit quality?
  • If they leave, how will their audit experiences affect their performance in their next firms?

To maintain professionalism in the field, the author proposes a shift back to recruitment messages that emphasize professional values of expertise, independence, and public protection.

The paper is written by Laurence Daoust, an assistant professor at HEC Montréal who completed her PhD in Accounting at the Smith School of Business. She is a CPA auditor and CA.


Download discussion paper (PDF, 1.7 MB)