New AICPA Chair shares his vision for profession’s future
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New AICPA Chair shares his vision for profession’s future

1 year ago · 3 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

Bill Pirolli
This past year has been like no other. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve all been through so much. As an accounting and finance profession, we can look to all the ways we’ve adapted. We have fully lived up to our role as trusted advisers and demonstrated once again our critical place in the country’s economic well-being.

I know many of you working in not-for-profit, government and business and industry have elevated finance as central to the decision-making process. Those in public practice have quickly adapted to remote auditing and new services around business relief, business model transformation and tax and financial planning in an uncertain environment.

As we recover from some of these unprecedented challenges, we can continue to take the lessons we’ve learned with us. With that in mind, I’d like to share five areas of focus that I personally feel will strengthen the future of our accounting and finance profession.

1. Encourage the next generation.

We all have a role to play in supporting the next generation. Talking to young people thinking about their careers, embracing community college students, hiring interns, mentoring and coaching talent — together, these things collectively add up to make an impact.

To attract the best and the brightest, our profession must continue to be relevant, exciting and challenging. And that’s why CPA Evolution is so important. CPA Evolution, our joint initiative with NASBA to evolve CPA licensure, will help us continue to attract talented people to our profession and maintain our relevance far into the future.

2. Leverage technology to support solutions.

As accountants, we are problem-solvers, and our clients and organizations look to us for this expertise. This also makes it important for us to find solutions that enable us to do our jobs better.

We are re-inventing the audit with the Dynamic Audit Solution project by leveraging technologies such as cloud and artificial intelligence to help auditors identify and respond to the most critical risks. Within both public and management accounting, we will need tech-savvy professionals on our teams to understand how emerging technologies such as blockchain, data analytics, robotic process automation and artificial intelligence are transforming our profession.

3. Embrace supporting small businesses, including small firms.

This year has shown just how important small businesses are to our economy, and I’ve been proud to see our profession help them survive, adapt and protect jobs during a year of extraordinary challenge. CPAs and CGMAs have been essential to small business resiliency by helping them with PPP loans, supporting them with business continuity or offering other key financial guidance. And with help from our members and CPA state societies, we successfully advocated for many relief programs and efforts to support small businesses throughout the crisis.

Growing up, I watched my dad struggle to run a small business. When I became a CPA, people like my dad were who I wanted to represent. And that’s what I’ve done my entire career. Helping businesses and other practitioners become more successful has always motivated me. I consider myself a business owner first, and that’s how I relate to my clients. I stand in their shoes, which helps to build their trust in me and my work. This trust has led to relationships that span decades, some more than 40 years. The subject of trust brings me to a core issue and my next point.

4. Focus on the human element.

Clients and employers need us in the trusted adviser role. Today, more than ever, practitioners must embrace the challenge of going beyond compliance services and into advisory work. Clients turn to us for our judgment and guidance. And, increasingly, management accountants are leading sound financial decision-making in organizations. These trends mean we must develop interpersonal skills around communication, emotional intelligence and leadership.

Focusing on this human element also means that we commit to connecting with our colleagues and employees. While this may sound basic, business priorities often absorb our attention as we push to get our work done. But it’s so important to build a sense of community, which is exactly what the AICPA & CIMA did by coming together five years ago. Being one organization makes us a global, influential force for members.

5. Let’s dare together.
Having experienced a global pandemic, we have clearly seen the strength that comes from working together. As management and public accountants, we can use our combined experiences to enhance the value our profession provides, support economic recovery and use our wisdom and expertise to tackle other emerging issues facing society. Daring together is the best, most effective way forward.

I’m continually honored by the trust placed in our profession. The most amazing thing about the letters after our names is that when we get them, they come with a level of trust earned by those who came before us. Each of us protects that trust.

When I think about the leadership you’ve shown this past year, it’s obvious to me that this trust in our profession is well-placed. You’ve helped businesses adapt. You’ve protected jobs. You’ve provided guidance and stability to clients and employers when they most needed it. I feel privileged to serve you this year as Chair, and I look forward to supporting you as you help lead the way to economic recovery and a prosperous future.

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