Richard Caturano grew up as the son of Italian immigrant parents in what he described as an ethnically diverse, low- to middle-income community near Boston.
He said in his profession he’s never been judged by where he grew up or his ethnicity.
“They judged me on how I could work,” Caturano said. “I am proud of the profession.”
As the new chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants – he was elected to the one-year volunteer post last month – Caturano has taken on as his personal mission a push to raise awareness and increase diversity within his profession’s ranks.
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“When I look at the profession today, it does not look like America,” he said. “If you look at our profession, the minority community is significantly underrepresented.”
Caturano’s push for diversity comes at nearly the same time the AICPA has created a National Commission on Diversity that aims to not only increase the ranks of minorities in the profession, but also retain and advance minorities already in the profession.
Caturano, who is executive managing partner of accounting firm McGladrey in Boston, was in Wichita on Wednesday to speak at a Kansas Society of CPAs Professional Issues Update event at the Hyatt Regency Wichita.
Caturano talked with The Eagle about diversity and other high-priority issues and initiatives specific to his profession.
Q. How underrepresented are minorities in the accounting profession?
A. Less than 10 percent.
Q. Why is this such an important issue to you?
A. We need to look more like our clients and more like America in order to represent them. And more diversity brings better thinking, a broader range of thought.
Q. I know that at one point in the recent past there was a real concern about not enough kids in the CPA pipeline. What is it like today?
A. The pipeline is the strongest it’s been. There are 200,000 accounting majors in colleges right now. It’s become a real popular major, and I think the word has gotten out. … The pipeline is real strong. We have no indication that it’s going to weaken. We anticipate 22 percent growth in our profession in the next decade. The challenge is we still lack diversity in that enrollment.
Q. Why do you think the profession has been successful at bolstering the ranks of kids pursuing accounting degrees?
A. They understand they can earn a significant living and enjoy a very desirable lifestyle. It’s a great pathway to the American dream, therefore we’ve sparked a lot of interest in the profession.
Q. On another issue, the AICPA has developed a new framework for accounting statements aimed specifically at small and medium-sized businesses that are privately held. You said the new framework is less complex than accounting statements based on GAAP, or generally accepted accounting principles, which are primarily aimed at large, publicly held companies. How are the new statements for small and medium-sized businesses better?
A. (It’s) a framework … that’s more readable, more understandable and has more common sense built into it.