insight magazine

Today's CPA | Winter 2020

A Look Back, a Race Forward

If this year taught us anything, it should be that, together, there are no challenges we can’t overcome.
Todd Shapiro ICPAS President & CEO

What more can be said about 2020, a year for the ages? Once foreign concepts, Zoom meetings and social distancing are now parts of our daily lives. We’ve taken to wearing masks to protect ourselves and each other, and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary “Word of the Year” is “pandemic.”

Like our lives, the CPA profession was dramatically impacted by the pandemic over the past year. Our offices moved to remote working in an instant, tax deadlines shifted, and we had to learn everything about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other government relief programs overnight in order to help our clients and companies survive COVID-19 and thrive in the future.

Despite the darkness that engulfed much of 2020, there are some bright spots for our profession. Moving to remote work environments forced an immediate and, I think, long-lasting change to a more employee-friendly workplace. The work-from-home flexibility will almost certainly help us retain some of our best and brightest talent. Our deeper embrace of new technology, especially the cloud, has proven critical in enabling our employees and clients to get their jobs done while, in many cases, improving productivity and profitability. Most of all, I’ve seen many firms, which for years had been viewed exclusively as auditors or tax preparers, step up to become critical advisors to companies and clients. Providing this insight was a strong step toward positioning CPAs as the most trusted and strategic business advisors.

I also think 2020 has provided us with a bit of a glimpse into the future, which I believe will be dominated by technology and changing expectations. Human insight and strategic advice will be demanded and must be provided for the profession to maintain its relevance. We’ve talked a lot about these trends over the past couple of years. The past year didn’t change those trends and, if anything, it may have accelerated them.

Recently, we released our newest Insight Special Feature, “CPA Profession 2027: Racing for Relevance.” In it, we detail what’s driving many of these trends and challenges and what they mean for us all. We sifted through countless articles, interviews, reports, studies, and surveys—and conducted some of our own—and coalesced the findings into seven powerful predictions for what the future of the CPA profession may hold and what it may look like in 2027.

Yes, I said 2027. While many strategic plans are looking just one, two, or maybe three years out right now, I believe we cannot risk being shortsighted given the long-term implications of everything that’s changing around us. Will these predictions all play out perfectly? Not likely. Do I firmly believe they’re directionally correct? Yes, and I hope these insights will rev up conversations that help us chart a roadmap for ensuring the sustainability, relevance, and growth of the CPA profession for many years to come.

We will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, and we will need to be stronger and more prepared for the future.

To share your thoughts, email me at [email protected] or just give me a call 800.993.0407.

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