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Board Message

My CPA roots run deep. I grew up helping my CPA stepfather run his boutique sole practice out of our basement (talk about an easy commute). By ICPAS Board Chair Scott D. Steffens, CPA | Spring 2016

Scott

I took my first “accounting” (aka bookkeeping) class in high school, which only grew my youthful interest in business and fueled my entrepreneurship in lawn-care services and sports memorabilia. And so it goes my fate was sealed at an early age. I attended DePaul University’s excellent Strobel Honors accounting program, and I’ve never looked back—that was 27 years ago.    

I am grateful to our profession for so many reasons. I appreciate the variety of work. In 27 years, I’ve never had the same day twice. I love the clients and people that I get to meet. And there’s little that’s more rewarding than helping to grow the profession as I recruit, coach and mentor the next generation of CPAs sprouting up in the field.

But our profession is at a crossroads. Three-quarters of all CPAs working today will retire over the next 15 years. We desperately need a steady supply of young people pursuing accounting and finance careers—and the CPA credential. Moreover, if we’re going to meet marketplace demands and stay at the top of our game, we need to attract and retain talent that reflects the growing diversity of the clients and communities we serve, and this goes for all of us in public accounting and corporate roles. To succeed, we need to continue to promote and enhance the value of the CPA credential, the profession, and the opportunities they present.

An enhanced focus on diversity is one of the mission-critical initiatives I support as the Society’s Board Chair. I’m excited to announce our inaugural ICPAS Diversity Summit, which we’ll host on June 15, 2016 in Chicago. This event will bring together CPA firms, educators, professionals, professional organizations, diversity officers and others to learn from each other and ensure we’re all working together to move the needle on the important issue of diversity in the CPA profession.  

The collective skill set of our field is like the rings on a tree. We need to continually grow and nurture it year by year. If we fail to fuel the growth we need, it’ll be evident in our workforce, quality and capabilities as we struggle to meet the needs of the business community in the years to come.  

During the recession, for example, both corporations and public accounting firms under-hired new talent and laid-off young CPAs. Now we’re hurting because of that shortsightedness as evidenced by the thin supply of CPAs with seven to nine years of experience. We can’t risk another move like that or jeopardize the next generation of CPA growth.   

I’m deeply invested in sowing the seeds for our continued success. From the sole practice in the basement to personal partnership in two large firms, I know from experience what we’re capable of. Let’s keep the momentum going and the profession growing!

It’s an honor and a privilege to be your Illinois CPA Society Board Chair for 2016-17.