November 2003

Seniors Returning to the Accounting Workforce: Supply Meets Demand

By Neil Lebovits

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), by 2030, the number of Americans over 65 will be 70 million, double the number in 2001. AARP also indicates that in the next 10 years, the number of labor force participants over 55 will increase by 46%.

This unprecedented growth in the senior community and senior workforce is already making its presence felt. Retired CPAs (usually over 55) are reentering the job market at a notable pace. This return to the accounting profession is due not only to these demographic trends; other factors, including sweeping changes in the profession’s landscape, have also contributed. As the demand for experienced CPAs grows, there are relatively fewer professionals in today’s market, and as baby boomers retire, the number of professionals will continue to fall. These trends challenge the accounting profession to replace and grow its intellectual capital base.

CPAs are increasingly important in the corporate landscape, and they will continue to be an integral part of conducting corporate America’s business. Should CPA compensation fall as a result of accounting firms shedding consulting practices, there may be a greater demand for seasoned veterans. Those who can jump into an engagement without intensive training have a considerable advantage in the current environment.

Seniors returning to the workforce do so for personal reasons as well. Many find themselves needing to supplement their retirement income because of unexpected investment losses or inadequate savings. Many of them also have a desire to contribute to society again. People realize that they will live longer—in some cases 20 years more than was historically expected—and younger retirees don’t necessarily want to spend their time at home.

Seniors face challenges as they move back into the current workforce. Rapidly changing technology, increased requirements for broader skill sets, and the need for self-marketing all pose significant obstacles to returning retirees. These challenges can, however, be overcome with proper knowledge and preparation.

Ajilon Finance, a specialty-staffing firm focused on recruiting accounting and finance sector executives, recommends the following for seniors preparing to return to the workforce:

As they overcome challenges, returning seniors have the opportunity to contribute their expertise and help restore the accounting profession to its respected role. More than ever, experience, integrity, and knowledge are essential requirements for professional success.

Neil Lebovits is president and COO of Ajilon Finance (, a worldwide accounting and finance staffing firm.

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