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Today's CPA

Are You Looking Back or Moving Forward?

2018 was a heck of a year for the Society and the profession. Let’s keep the momentum going in 2019.
Todd Shapiro ICPAS President & CEO


We’re getting into that time of the year when many of us start looking back on the could haves, would haves, and should haves of the past year. But I’d like to stress, more importantly, that it’s time to take stock of 2018’s highlights and victories and look forward to more in 2019.

For me personally, a 2018 highlight was watching ICPAS member Lester H. McKeever, Jr. receive the AICPA’s Gold Medal of Distinction Award, the highest award in our profession. Lester established himself as a leader in the business community, mentored countless CPAs, and has been a driver in advancing diversity in our profession throughout his career. He himself was a mentee of Mary T. Washington Wylie, whose 75th anniversary of becoming our nation’s first African-American female CPA we recently celebrated. Adorning light poles with banners honoring her throughout Chicago’s financial district, and having Sept. 30 formally designated as Mary T. Washington Wylie Day in Chicago, are victories for advancing diversity in our profession.

The Society also tallied up several highlights in its ongoing effort to enhance the value of the CPA profession and the professional education and connections it provides. We launched ICPAS Connect, an online community where members virtually connect to share insights, advice, and form stronger professional networks. We revamped our major annual accounting event into the ICPAS Summit, bringing you a new look and new content. We’ve committed resources to our Academy of Learning to bring you more hands-on, data- and technology-focused education to help you succeed in an increasingly digital workplace. And our annual CPA Day of Service had a record turnout — nearly 1,500 CPAs across the state took a day to come together and give back to the communities they serve.

We’re also in the midst of piloting a new Corporate Access Program that extends our resources to a much broader group of accounting and finance professionals and focuses on improving the competencies of corporate finance teams in an easy-to-administer, cost-effective program.

Of course, we also had a busy year on the advocacy front in Springfield. We continue to diligently watch for any attempt to tax professional services; we moved legislation forward to allow government entities to continue using cash-basis accounting; we launched Voter Voice, an easy-to-use, web-based system for contacting your legislators when we need our collective professional voice to be heard; and we continue our efforts to form bi-partisan relationships with legislators to help move the state and our profession forward. I share all of this with you because I want to highlight that you are part of something significant, and what we accomplished in 2018 is just the start of what we hope to accomplish in 2019.

The AICPA predicts three trends will significantly impact our profession moving forward: technology, changes in hiring practices, and new client demands. Over the next year, we’ll be exploring each of these areas in greater detail to reveal how accounting and finance professionals can innovate to capitalize on them. I hope you’ll join us, because every CPA in every business needs to embrace innovation. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “don’t change for change’s sake.” Maybe you even live by those words. But we can no longer wait to change. To be successful in the future, we need to start saying “the best reason to change is because we haven’t.”

I recently heard a speaker say that we’ll never experience a pace of change slower than it is right now. I know for many of us it feels like change is occurring at light speed. We have to keep up, we have to stay relevant, and we have to keep looking forward — now and in the years ahead.