Trends for Young CPAs: Report From the EDGE Conference 

What are young CPAs most concerned about, how do they spend their time in their firms and businesses, and what do they need to do to enhance their career?

The answers to these questions and many more were heard and overheard during the 2nd Annual E.D.G.E. Conference, August 8-10 in Orlando, Florida. More than 150 young CPA professionals gathered to learn more about how they can make a long-lasting impact on their companies and within the profession.

Communications is a Top Priority
A major theme in this year’s conference focused on interpersonal skills, including building relationships and the way young CPAs communicate with each other, their colleagues, employers, and clients.

For example, the first-day keynote speaker, Lonnie Stockwell, CPA.CITP, CGMA of Coaches@Work, discussed how the differences among generations are key to the way CPAs deliver services.

“You’re missing out on opportunities if you are not mindful of the generations,” he says. “For example, we know that Gen-Xers read only when mandatory and necessary, so as an accounting professional who works with other Gen-Xers in the office or in client relationships, you have to find other ways to communicate other than giving them something to read.”

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “doing business on the golf course.” While many young CPAs may not have the time to play a round of golf, let alone even know even how to hold a golf club, Joan Pharr took this adage to a whole new level during her session, “Communications Skills and Working With Clients: Business Strategy Meets the Golf Course” and also emphasize the necessary of referrals and relationships during another one of her sessions, “Business Development for the New Manager.”

Pharr, president of Blackman & Sloop, CPAs, P.A., believes rainmaking all boils down to building relationships.

“The hardest thing to do for anyone is to go out and cultivate new business,” she says. “If you’re not going to try to build business and form relationships in person, then don’t do it!”

Leading With Integrity and Vision
In addition to an AICPA professional issues update, as well as tax and accounting and auditing sessions, several sessions of the conference focused on being a leader in your business and in the profession. Many of the attendees were graduates of the 2009-2011 Leadership Academies or candidates set for the 2012 class. Whether leadership qualities come naturally or whether they are learned, all attendees agreed that trying to be leaders is a trait and quality that is present in any profession, and the more you know about being a leader, the more you and your company will benefit for the long term.

Conducting two leadership sessions was Tamara Loerzel of ConvergenceCoaching, LLC, who covered “Being a Great Leader Today” and “How to Manage Conflict Successfully.”

In the workplace, all of us encounter conflict in one way or another. Loerzel discussed the four types of personalities: the avoider, the accommodator, the confronter and the compromiser.

“What you want to surround yourself with—and try to achieve yourself—is the ‘collaborator’ because this type of person is a win-winner every time. Sometimes, however, conflict can be a good thing because it enhances morale, encourages compromise, and stimulates a feeling of team and morale.”

Donny Shimamoto Receives the Maximo Mukelabai Award
As a member of the inaugural class of the AICPA Leadership Academy in 2009, Maximo Mukelabai was a great example of a committed and loyal member of the accounting profession. Among his many accomplishments, he was the youngest and first African-American chair for the North Carolina Association of CPAs Board of Directors. Tragically, his life ended abruptly at age 36.

As a tribute to honor Maximo, the AICPA created the Maximo Mukelabai Award for a deserving CPA under the age of 40 whose passion and contributions help build the CPA pipeline, serving as an advocate of the accounting profession and performing outstanding community service.

At this year’s E.D.G.E. Conference, AICPA Chair Greg Anton, CPA, CGMA, presented the Maximo Mukelabai Award to Donny Shimamoto, CPA.CITP, CGMA. In giving Shimamoto the award, Anton referred to him as “a timeless advocate for the profession.”

“You have to have the courage to take a risk—and that was what Max did,” says Shimamoto, head of IntrapriseTechKnowlogies, LLC, and chair of the AICPA’s Information Technology Executive Committee. “He and I would discuss ways we could change the profession. Today, we have a huge opportunity to preserve Max’s legacy.”

Make plans now to attend next year’s E.D.G.E. Conference. Details will be announced very soon.


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