Bill Pirolli reflects on his achievements as AICPA Chair
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Bill Pirolli reflects on his achievements as AICPA Chair

2 months ago · 4 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

Our world is changing by the minute. And the impact on our profession is striking. We face unrivaled challenges and a heightened uncertainty about the future. Nevertheless, our profession continues to lead the way.

In my past year as AICPA Chair, and Co-Chair of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (Association), I have seen the profession work to stay ahead of the curve. Despite weathering the unexpected, we have helped our clients, firms and businesses survive, adapt and thrive.

I am proud to have led in such a momentous time for the profession — a time when people around the world have come together as one to drive it forward. I am delighted that my successor, Anoop Natwar Mehta, CPA, CGMA, can build on a strong platform to continue to grow our profession.

As I reflect on the past year, I am especially proud of the progress we’ve made to help ensure the next generation is well equipped to tackle the challenges of the future.

Through CPA Evolution, our joint initiative with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), we’re transforming the CPA licensure model to offer future CPAs deeper skill sets, more competencies and greater knowledge of emerging technologies. The new CPA Exam will launch in 2024. And we’re already working with educators to prepare students for the changing landscape of the profession.

I can’t wait to see where this initiative leads our profession.

We’ve certainly faced monumental challenges, but that did not stop our progress. To close out my year as Chair, I would like to share where I’ve seen the profession really move the needle.

Embracing diversity, equity and inclusion

To attract top talent at our firms and businesses, we need to reflect the changing world. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) make our profession stronger and enable us to meet the needs of the publics we serve.

In fact, McKinsey has consistently found that companies with more gender, racial and ethnic diversity routinely outperform those who are not more representative of the world we live in. We need to address biases and their implications on advancement and retention in our firms. We must showcase diversity in the profession so that everyone can see a place for themselves.

Most importantly, we must maintain accountability through the establishment and measurement of DEI goals. This is all just talk if we are not holding ourselves accountable for change. Diversity will give our profession a variety of different perspectives, increased creativity, better decision-making, higher employee engagement and increased profits. We’re committed to prioritizing DEI initiatives. For example, our annual Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop offers students from ethnic minorities, historically underrepresented in the profession, the opportunity to network and expand their skill sets completely free of charge.

Championing small business

Small businesses are the backbone of our economies. I grew up in a family that ran two small businesses and have spent the past 40 years working with small businesses. We must be their trusted professional partners in crises and recovery.

CPAs and CGMA designation holders have been essential to small business resilience by helping them with Paycheck Protection Program 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.

We continue to help them reinvent the way they run their businesses. For instance, we identified that business relief advisory services are becoming a critical area of practice. So, we collaborated with CPA.com to support firms on how to build out this new service line.

Being a leading voice for the profession

The pandemic demonstrated our voice is truly key to sound policymaking on a wide range of issues. We enhanced our advocacy efforts in response to the pandemic and to promote economic recovery, while also continuing to represent members’ interests to governments.

We continue to advocate on behalf of tax practitioners, encouraging more streamlined processing, modernization and relief for taxpayers. We will continue to provide recommendations to help the IRS address service issues and an overwhelming processing backlog. As a result of our advocacy, the IRS suspended many automatic notices and is implementing surge teams to reduce the backlog.

And we continue to protect CPA licensure. There is a trend across the U.S. to deregulate occupations and professions by eliminating or weakening professional licensing at the state level. Such anti-regulatory legislation makes no distinction for advanced, highly complex and technical professions such as CPAs. Anti-regulatory efforts were defeated throughout the country, thanks to the tireless efforts of the national Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing coalition, in partnership with state societies.

Prioritizing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues

There is an increasing awareness of corporate responsibility and impacts on the well-being of our planet. The accounting profession leads corporate accountability to stakeholders and to social and sustainability goals through environmental, social and governance reporting.

The Association helped to establish the International Sustainability Standards Board and supports the creation of global sustainability standards. This will enable continued progress in sustainability efforts, including better reporting of this progress to stakeholders. As the world continues to evolve and change, we are adapting to ensure our profession can too.

Enhancing the skill sets and abilities of the profession

We know that continuing education is essential for us as CPAs and CGMA designation holders. We must keep learning, unlearning and relearning. That’s why the Association continues to work to enhance the skills and abilities of the profession. Here’s how we’re doing that. Our apprenticeship program for CGMA empowers an employer to take control of their early career talent pipeline. Growing a sustainable pipeline of talent will drive increased business value and more competitiveness in today’s talent wars. It will also broaden the talent pool to attract a more inclusive group of candidates.

We offer vocal support of legislation to recognize accounting as a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field in K-12 education. The AICPA has argued that this bill should be passed because there is a clear logical overlap between accounting and technology.

Technologies like AI, data analytics and automation have been critical in how we drive and increase value. We must be aware of the latest advancements in these areas along with new tools that will enable us to remain on the cutting edge as a profession.

For instance, our Agile Finance Transformation Certificate series is a comprehensive program to help you adopt cloud-based solutions.

Final reflections

What an honor it has been to serve as Chair of the AICPA® and the Co-Chair of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants®, representing AICPA® & CIMA®. This year has been a once-in-a-lifetime privilege.

Despite the challenges, we have achieved a great deal. I’m so proud of the great work I’ve seen you accomplish and the impact you’ve had on clients, businesses and economies. And there is so much more to accomplish. I know that together we will.

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