Magazine article The CPA Journal

Best Cities for Minority CPAs

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Best Cities for Minority CPAs

Article excerpt

All Cities Are Not Equal

Almost 500 years ago, the French writer Michel de Montaigne stated, "There never were, in the world, two opinions alike, no more than two hairs, or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity." Today, more than ever, these words of wisdom hold significant meaning for those in the business community. The accounting profession, in particular, has the potential to greatly increase its diversity in areas ranging from gender and age to socioeconomic background and, especially, ethnicity. Across the United States, accountants who are not of European descent are greatly needed to balance the ethnic diversity of the profession with that of the nation as a whole. The AICPA reports that in 2004, the two largest U.S. minority groups, African Americans and Hispanic Americans, were significantly underrepresented in the accounting profession. African Americans and Hispanic Americans accounted for 1% and 0.5%, respectively, of all CPAs employed in public practice. This level of underrepresentation is hard to ignore, particularly for those interested in workplace diversity. With representation so low, it is important to identify optimal environments in which minority CPAs are likely to thrive and succeed.

Location, Location, Location

Those savvy in real estate recognize how important location is when purchasing property. Similarly, minority CPAs looking to maximize their career investment may benefit from learning which areas of the country are most conducive to their professional success. Location not only affects employment options; it also impacts practice development, professional opportunities, and quality of life. For example, if a minority CPA practicing in a small rural town wants to significantly increase her client base, she may strategically want to relocate to a metropolitan area with more favorable demographics. While moving may be financially and emotionally drain- ing, the benefit of getting to the "right place" could far outweigh the costs of relo- cating. The question that needs to be answered is: "Where are minority CPAs most likely to develop and thrive in an environment that supports them professionally and personally?"

Studying the Situation

To help identify locations that would be optimal for African Americans and Hispanic Americans, the authors conferred with several highly successful minority accounting practitioners and academics. They also looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Council for Community and Economic Research. The feedback from these partners and profes- sors pointed to five key factors for the authors to consider in determining the top 10 cities for African American and Hispanic American CPAs. The first factor was the city's minority population. The second factor was the total receipts of minority-owned businesses in each city. The authors also looked at the median household income of the residents and the percentage of the population represented by each of the two racial groups. The fifth and final, factor that helped the authors rank the cities was the cost-of-living index.

And the Winners Are . . .

Overall, the city of Houston, Texas (which in the authors' analysis places fourth for African Americans and first for Hispanic Americans), ranks as the best place for minority accountants who provide services to the public. While a number of cities fared well on several dimensions, Houston moved ahead of the pack when the cost-of-living was factored in. In fact, Houston's cost-of-living index is significantly below the national average - a claim that very few of the other cities under consideration could make. Goods and services that cost approximately $1. …

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