Rising to the challenge of a digital era: Reflections from AICPA chair
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Rising to the challenge of a digital era: Reflections from AICPA chair

3 years ago · 3 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

When I stepped into the role of Chair of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) in February 2018, we were — and continue to be — facing an unprecedented pace of change that’s transforming our profession. And I put forward a challenge:

Be early to be on time. Take bold steps and initiate change today so that we will not just be prepared for tomorrow — we will be even stronger than we are today.

You have risen to that challenge. As I’ve spoken with members and leaders across the U.S. and around the world, I’ve been energized and inspired by the progress our profession is making. We’re not just imagining the possibilities. We’re seizing them to create an even stronger tomorrow for ourselves and the next generation.

Here are some of the ways we’re doing it.

Delivering more value

We’re pushing our own boundaries by adopting new technologies, competencies and service areas to become even more indispensable.

Auditors are embracing new technologies such as audit data analytics, robotic process automation and OnPoint PCR to enhance the quality of services and improve efficiency.

Tax practitioners are deepening relationships with their clients — and therefore expanding their practices — by taking a more holistic approach and advising on areas such as retirement, estate and investment planning, as well as risk management.

Finance teams are using cloud computing, artificial intelligence and data visualization, empowering them to become the strategic partners their businesses need in these unpredictable, yet exciting, times.

And across the profession, accounting and finance, professionals are extending their trust and value into new areas such as cybersecurity, blockchain, integrated reporting and sustainability.

Through this journey, the AICPA is continuing to power your success. From the Go beyond disruption learning series to customized resources on aicpa.org, we’re delivering the insights, guidance and tools you need to both expand and apply your expertise.

Investing in people

One of the greatest contributions we can make to our profession is to invest in our people. Those in the profession today, as well as those climbing the rungs behind us. Each of us has a responsibility to attract the next generation of CPAs by sharing our own successes and the nearly limitless opportunities those three letters open up.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with several students this year. During one particular state society meeting, I spent an hour with some of the most inspiring accounting students. Or so I thought. After the event, one student told me that she actually arrived that day wanting to become a nurse. But after our time together, she was leaving knowing that the CPA path — and all it offers — is the one for her.

Our profession’s story is powerful. It’s just up to each of us to tell it.

But don’t stop there. One of the greatest things you can do is both mentor and be mentored. Sharing the wisdom of your experience with the next generation — and embracing the unique perspectives they offer — will elevate us all. This can occur through formal programs, such as the AICPA Mentor Program, or an employer program. Or it can be as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee with that go-getter sitting in the cube outside your office. All it takes is a little time and an open mind.

Extending influence

Through my additional role as Chair of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association), I’ve seen firsthand over the past few months how the ties binding us together — across practice areas, beyond borders — are becoming tighter and more complex as technology continues to break down the barriers of time and distance.

Whether a sole practitioner in Iowa, a CPA in Hong Kong or a finance leader in Poland, we all share a common ambition to stay ahead of a fast-changing world. And that’s why it’s so important that we maintain an active voice, working closely with legislators and standard setters to protect the interests of the profession and those we serve. Because in this hyper-connected world, one action can have a far-reaching impact. Prime examples? The implications of U.S. tax reform and Brexit on multinational business.

This year, we continued to focus on multiple U.S. federal policy issues, such as anti-money laundering and beneficial ownership legislation and cybersecurity. We worked with state CPA societies and state boards of accountancy to prevent anti-licensing proposals in state legislatures from conflicting with existing reciprocity and mobility statutes that cover CPAs. And we focused on international issues that could have ripple effects for CPAs in the U.S., such as mandatory audit firm rotation and international auditing standards.


I’m proud of the steps the profession has taken this past year to be on time for whatever the future holds. And the Association, which brings together the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, has been working harder than ever to position you for success. Check out our recent 2018 Integrated Report for even more ways we’re delivering on our mission to drive a dynamic accounting profession worldwide.

I truly believe there’s never been a better time to be part of the accounting profession, and I’m so excited to see how much more we’ll accomplish together.

Thank you for all that you do every day to keep our profession strong.

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