How tech is reshaping college career options for your kids and grandkids
Ric Edelman: It's Tuesday, November 7th. Who has more prestige in the business world? Investment bankers, technology professionals or accountants? Pretty obvious, isn't it? It ain't the accountants. Well guess what? Accountants know it, and they're leaving the field in droves. They say they're tired of comparably low salaries, mundane work, burnout and the threat that they're going to lose their jobs anywhere in the accounting field to technology – like generative AI, machine learning and robotics.
There are 1.7 million accountants and auditors in the US. That's down 16% from 2019. In the past three years, 300,000 accountants have quit their jobs and there aren't as many college students majoring in accounting. Not only is the pay less than it is for stock analysts and investment bankers and financial planners, accountants have to go to college for an extra year. That's at a cost of maybe 50 grand. And then they have to take the CPA exam. And only half of the people who take that exam pass it. So you figure five years in college only to fail the test and you get paid less when you do succeed? Forget it. I'm going to go join a Wall Street firm instead. And that's what a lot of college students are doing. They're majoring in business and finance, not accounting. It's also what a lot of current CPAs are doing. They're moving into non-accounting jobs in finance and in business.
They're also becoming financial analysts or working in business operations, HR and banking. Becoming a financial planner is also popular. CPAs never have happy clients. They're unhappy to have to deal with the paperwork. They're unhappy to have to deal with the CPA fees. They're really unhappy when they have to pay taxes. And there's always the pressure of those IRS deadlines, unhappy people doing things they don't want to have to do, having to pay to do it, and having to get it done by a deadline they didn't set – leads for unhappy clients. On the other hand, when you're a financial planner, you're helping your clients lower their taxes, save money. That's fun. And you get to do this at your leisure whenever you want. Financial planners give you peace of mind, a sense of comfort, financial security. When's the last time you ever heard anybody say, my CPA changed my life?
So what does the accounting industry doing about this? Oh, sure, they're starting to raise salaries to attract workers. But the real move they're making, they're turning to tech. PricewaterhouseCoopers is spending $1B on generative AI. Ernst and Young is spending $1.4B. So is Deloitte. KPMG is spending $2B. Accenture is spending $3B. All this makes sense. Taxes and accounting involves gathering, recording and reporting numbers. Numbers are child's play for a computer.
You think you can fill out a tax form better than software? Then why do all accountants use tax software to prepare their client tax returns? The software never makes a math mistake, never calls in sick, never commits fraud, doesn't sexually harass coworkers. And it's cheaper than humans too. So go ahead, tell your kid that when they grow up, they ought to become an accountant. That's like telling your kid to train to be an elevator operator.
Or you could tell your kid to learn how to use virtual reality to make movies. That's what students at Rowan University are doing. They're learning how to combine cinematic storytelling with virtual reality. Rowan is among the first group of universities in the nation to license new technology and curriculum developed by Dreamscape Learn in collaboration with Arizona State. The software lets faculty send students into immersive classrooms. For example, biology courses in a virtual reality zoo and a fictional world that operates on the same biochemical principles of Earth, but which has extraordinary flora and fauna of fantastical ecosystems. Students who study in programs like this are twice as likely to get an A compared to other students, and that shows how engaging this tech makes learning. For every 15 minutes the students spend in VR, they do three hours of work outside of VR. And while inside that virtual reality, 30 students and two instructors are outfitted with virtual reality headsets and sensors. Motion capture cameras convert each of them into an avatar, and haptic technology – like fans and mist and shaking mechanisms – mimic real world sensations.
And at the Ric Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts at Rowan University, students can now earn an online certificate in Esports Industry & Entertainment Experience. And soon there will be an Esports major with courses in communication, media, business and computer science. Rowan University has also opened Nerd Street, right on Rowan Blvd., that caters to attracting students passionate about this new multi-billion dollar industry. So think about this: Do you really think students are going to be interested in pursuing a career threatened by tech, as opposed to a career that embraces tech like virtual reality cinema production? Think about where technology is leading us, and make sure you and your clients and your client's children are pursuing the degrees and careers of the future, not those of the past.
You know, a lot of people call it the holy grail of crypto. A bitcoin ETF. Bitcoin's been around since 2009, and we don't have a bitcoin ETF. At least not yet. But there are nine applications in front of the SEC. Any day now, the SEC may very well approve one or more of these bitcoin ETF applications. Guess what's going to happen when the SEC really does give approval? It's coming soon.
You don't have a lot of time to wait. You need to get the knowledge you need right now about crypto, so that you're prepared and ready to help your clients when these ETFs enter the market. Your clients are going to see and hear and read all about these new ETFs. And they're going to call you asking you for your opinion. Right now, all you can say is: Sorry, I don't know anything more about bitcoin than you do. You think your client will be satisfied with that answer? You need to demonstrate to them that you've gotten that knowledge, and there's only one way for you to do it. Get your CBDA – become Certified in Blockchain and Digital Assets. It's offered by DACFP, the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals. It's online self-study and self-paced. Most advisors complete the course in less than two weeks, and you get to display your CBDA. It's listed in FINRA's database of professional designations just like the CFP, the CFA, the SLU, and the CHFC. Are you going to be helpful to your clients or not? You need to serve your clients. You also need to build your practice, and the CBDA designation will help you do both. Enroll today and get your CBDA designation.