In a press conference this week, seven central Louisiana businesses stood with LSUA to announce an official partnership known as LSUA Accountants for the Future that will provide funding, support, and professional opportunities to increase the number of qualified accountants graduating into the workforce.
In 2017, the Alexandria statistical area reported having only 53% of the accountants needed for a region its size as measured against national averages. Over the last five years, the administration of LSUA and the faculty of LSUA’s College of Business have met regularly with area employers to assess their workforce needs. In direct response to these conversations, LSUA has focussed on redesigning an innovative Accounting degree program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
Spearheaded by the vision of Roy O. Martin, III, CEO and CFO of RoyOMartin, the LSUA Accountants for the Future partnership is a collaboration between LSUA and seven area businesses, including RoyOMartin; Red River Bank; Payne, Moore, & Herrington; Cleco; Crest Industries; Virtual Partner Advantage; and Central Management.
Martin explained his motivation for encouraging the partnership between like-minded businesses and LSUA, “This collaboration is about the business community working directly with the university to address a critical need. Our businesses cannot grow until we grow our workforce. We have the raw material here in central Louisiana. We have to send them through the factory that is LSUA to produce the high-quality product we are all looking for…accountants!”
Randall Dupont, Dean of the College of Business, said, “This partnership is a great opportunity. We have put in the work to elevate the Accounting program because it is the right thing to do. We need to understand the needs of the business community and continue to improve our programs. We are working every day to do both.”
Nearly every partnering company noted the need and desire to hire local talent educated in central Louisiana. Isabel Carriere, Executive Vice President at Red River Bank, noted “Banks are always looking for good employees in all areas of the financial services sector. We want to help graduating students stay and work here in our community.” Similarly, Rebecca Morris, Managing Partner at Payne, Moore, & Herrington, added, “Our CPA firm hires accounting graduates every year. We are looking to the future to hire more accountants that will continue to help us grow and move up in the industry.”
Kent Lachney, Chair of the Accounting and Finance Department, along with Assistant Professor of Accounting Beverly Alwell, explained the motivation, process, and results of the innovative changes LSUA has made to the Accounting degree program. Students in the Bachelor of Science in Accounting not only acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to pass the CPA exam, but they also develop expertise in Excel, the preparation of financial statements, audit standards, taxation, data analytics, and data visualization.
Cleco Chief Financial Officer Kristin Guillory said, “All of the hires Cleco makes in the financial office start with a strong foundation in accounting. We are a big business in a small town. LSUA is forward-thinking, and we will continue to be a next-level company as LSUA feeds our talent pipeline with the graduates we need.”
Ken Wasmer, Vice President of Virtual Partner Advantage, spelled out exactly what this program will mean to area businesses stating, “This is a fabulous partnership. You may not know much about our company here locally, but we are a back-office accounting firm for technology companies across the country. There is a nationwide need for accountants. Like many businesses, we can grow as fast as we can hire accountants.”
LSUA’s accounting graduates pursue a variety of paths after graduation. Most seek careers in public accounting (auditing, tax preparation, and business consulting) or private accounting (financial accounting, management accounting, and internal auditing). Some graduates continue their education to earn a Master of Science in Accounting, a Master of Business Administration, or to attend law school.
Written by Adam Lord
Photo credit - Nathan Parish