AICPA Chairman: A Changing Marketplace Offers New Opportunities

Cybersecurity, Profession of the Future and Talent Are Critical Areas, Ellison-Taylor Tells SEC-PCAOB Conference Attendees

December 4, 2017

Washington, D.C. (December 4, 2017) – Emerging technologies, workforce changes and regulatory complexity are among the challenges that are changing the marketplace and creating new opportunities for the CPA profession, the chairman of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) told attendees of the AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments here today.

In remarks prepared for the event, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, CPA, CGMA, said CPAs “must be relentless in our efforts to increase investor protection and public confidence in our work. We do this by providing greater insights, leveraging new tools and anticipating the needs of an evolving marketplace.”

Ellison-Taylor sees three critical areas for the profession: responding to the changing cybersecurity landscape; preparing for the future of the profession; and continuing to grow and nurture the talent pipeline.

Organizations must demonstrate that they are safeguarding personal information and that they can quickly and effectively respond to the many cyber threats, she explained. “Earlier this year, the AICPA developed a reporting framework for cybersecurity risk management. The framework creates a common language to strengthen cyber risk programs among all sizes of companies, public and private, in all industries, around the world. Organizations and businesses can use the framework as a guide in creating and evaluating their cybersecurity risk management programs. It will help them assess controls, identify gaps and develop a robust response plan – and management accountants can lead their organizations throughout that process.”

“While change can be daunting – and the new brave world of technology is no exception – we must stand ready to embrace it,” Ellison-Taylor told the gathering. She pointed to blockchain and audit data analytics as examples. The AICPA and CPA.com – the technology subsidiary of the AICPA – recently joined the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance, with an objective of defining the impact of blockchain for the profession and to drive basic utility of the tool. And she noted that the benefits of data analytics aren’t limited to just the financial statement audit. “Where finance professionals used to spend half their time on transaction processing and less than 7 percent on strategy, they can now primarily focus on strategy, providing critical insights to the business. As a result, management accountants can influence their organizations’ strategic direction more than ever before,” she said.

Ellison-Taylor emphasized that a big part of creating a dynamic profession is making sure it has the talent necessary to deliver its services and meet market demands. “To do that, we must make sure our profession is attractive and full of opportunity for the next generation. … We must create environments that provide the cutting-edge technology and services they expect,” she said. “We also need to address the fact that a growing number of CPAs are looking to the corporate side of the profession. They want to develop the strategic thinking, business partnering and management skills required to be successful in business today. Our Chartered Global Management Accountant designation – or CGMA – is designed to do just that.”

“We are definitely in extraordinary times where technology is both an opportunity and threat,” she went on to say. “Yet, I remain confident in our individual and joint initiatives. Together, we are working to address technological innovations, mentor new talent and ensure we are offering the skills and services necessary for a rapidly changing world. We at the AICPA stand ready to embrace the evolution of the profession and make sure it is one that continues to enjoy the public’s trust.”

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, with video simulcast to The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, and is available in real time over the Internet.