Today's CPA | Fall 2020
Will You Control Your Future or Will the Future Control You?
If CPAs don’t proactively plan for the future, they risk not being a part of it.
ICPAS President & CEO
To be an organization of the future, you need to be in the future.
Those are interesting words to live by, but I don’t think the CPA
profession has many alternatives. Accounting and finance will see
significant, if not revolutionary, changes over the next five to 10
years. Technology is changing rapidly with the expansion of artificial
intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), and big data.
We’re also witnessing a changing workforce and, with it, changing
expectations as baby boomers rapidly retire and millennials and
Gen Zers become dominant in the workplace.
We at the Illinois CPA Society have been studying the trends
dictating the future, specifically with regards to ensuring the
relevance of the CPA profession. We’ve looked at the trends
mentioned above, as well as those driving hiring at accounting firms,
what firms and companies are expecting from their accounting
professionals, and who is (and who isn’t) pursuing the CPA
credential. We’ve previously discussed some of these topics in our
Insight Special Feature, “Trust Is Not Enough,” and articles like
“Becoming a Firm of the Future.” But what we haven’t yet shared is
the outcome of our full-day Illinois CPA Society Board of Directors
retreat to discuss all of these trends and more. The culmination of
our examination to date is the development of our “CPA Profession
2027” outlook, which we hope will serve as a beacon for which we,
as a profession, can chart a course to the future. We’ll soon issue a
new Insight Special Feature with more details behind our outlook,
but here are some of our predictions to ponder now:
- Tech takes over – RPA and AI are utilized in every function a
- Firms evolve – With audit and tax automated, firms will focus on
strategic planning and insight
- Finance evolves – Corporate finance teams will focus on
interpreting data to drive profitability
- Workers evolve – The talent pool will be digitally agile, demand
greater flexibility, and be socially conscious
- CPA numbers fall – There will be significantly fewer CPAs than
in 2019 when there were 650,000
The question firms and finance organizations face now is how to
ensure they’re part of the future. I’m always struck by the number
of prominent Illinois firms that end up being merged into larger out-of-state firms. The fact is, if we don’t proactively plan for the future,
we risk not being part of it. I received a call last winter from a firm
that asked for help becoming a firm of the future after reading our
Insight article. Subsequently, we sat down for about 90 minutes to
discuss the key trends they’ll be facing. That experience got me
thinking about how the Society needs to do more than just
developing a future vision for the profession. We need to help firms
and organizations develop strategic plans and roadmaps to
become organizations that survive and thrive in the future.
Fast forward to the Society’s launch of its new Strategic Planning
Service tailored to public accounting firms and corporate finance
organizations. Using a proven methodology, the Society will work
with your organization to develop a bold future vision and strategic
roadmap to get you there. The day-long process includes facilitated
interactive sessions that will help your leadership team reflect on
the past, think strategically about the future, and prioritize realistic
and actionable steps to move forward together. Throughout the
session, participants share diverse viewpoints, ask tough questions,
challenge assumptions, identify points of insight, and build
consensus—all with the focus of becoming future ready. The
outcome is a plan that is strategic, actionable, and achievable.
Please email me if you’d like to learn more about this new service
from your Illinois CPA Society. Now, on to the future!
To share your thoughts, email me at [email protected] or just give me a call at 800.993.0407.