CPA Profession Evolving, Adapting and Adjusting, AICPA Board Chairman Tells SEC Conference

December 9, 2015

Washington, D.C., (Dec. 9, 2015) – The Chairman of the American Institute of CPAs’ (AICPA) Board of Directors says CPAs’ skills and services as we know them today must keep evolving to stay relevant in an ever-changing business world. In his welcome address to the AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments, Tim Christen, CPA, CGMA, highlighted emerging service areas and the profession’s strategy for making sure the best and brightest choose to become CPAs so the profession can meet market demands.

“We are a strong profession, and the core of what we do is essential in the world’s largest economy,” Christen said in his prepared remarks. “The fact that we’ve been around for nearly 130 years proves that very point. And we’ll continue our trajectory to evolve, adapt and adjust in line with what our organizations and clients need. The public expects this of us, and we must answer those demands – even before they arise.”

Christen, the chairman and CEO of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, told attendees that a commitment to quality is the single common denominator that drives all of the profession’s efforts. He said the AICPA’s Enhancing Audit Quality initiative is one way to tackle the fast-paced, increasingly complex business landscape. “While the initiative is designed to address today’s most important audit quality issues in the private company space, it parallels audit quality efforts for public companies. For example, we’re all looking to attract the best and brightest into careers in auditing and assurance. We’re making sure professional standards and guidance drive quality behavior. We’re providing learning resources focused on competence, not just knowledge. And we’re creating a more robust monitoring and enforcement system that enables prompt remediation,” he explained.

Investors are looking for clearer and more comprehensive ways of evaluating organizations, according to Christen. “Corporate reporting must evolve to meet the information needs of users by embracing the concepts of Integrated Reporting, while at the same time leveraging technology to make that information more accessible and optimized for automation and analytics,” he said.

He also remarked that as business moves toward enhanced electronic information, the imperative for cybersecurity solutions is heightened. “Information security is not a new concept, and the AICPA has been addressing the challenges for many years,” Christen noted. “Now we’re laser-focused on cybersecurity risk and how the CPA profession can provide value-added services to meet market needs. Given our history and professional foundation related to assurance on information security, services that help mitigate cyber risk are a natural extension of what CPAs have already been doing for decades.”

Christen also spoke of the CPA profession’s desire to be a magnet for the best and brightest talent, saying, “We need the right people to perform emerging services in a complex, ever-changing business environment.” He stressed that engagement must start early, with high schools and college campuses the most influential touch points. “Besides the numerous programs we have long offered to pull potential CPAs through licensure, we have a new three-pronged approach to boost the CPA pipeline. First, we’ll enhance our presence on college campuses. Second, we’re building a community college initiative. Finally, we’re continuing to build relationships with the academic community on the importance of the CPA pathway,” he said.

“To shape the future, we have to be willing to take steps every day that will have an impact tomorrow and beyond,” Christen went on to say. “Continuing to evolve to meet the needs of businesses and clients is the key to staying strong and maintaining the relevance of our great profession.”

The AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments is an intensive three-day, high-level event that provides the forum for attendees to absorb new regulatory issues, and how they will affect audits, reporting and governance for public companies. It is being held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in our nation’s capital, video simulcast to locations in New York and San Francisco and available in real time over the Internet.