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The CPA profession of tomorrow will be ‘almost unrecognizable’ — and that’s a good thing August 18, 2016  /  by Bill Sheridan Posted in: Change / transformation, Leadership, Management / Strategy

Add a few more members to the Accounting Transformation Fan Club.

The folks who gathered in Kansas City for the 2016 Boomer Technology Circles Summit didn’t mince words about the future of the CPA profession: Things have changed and they’ll continue to change, to the point where the profession will be “almost unrecognizable” within 15 short years.

Accounting Today’s Daniel Hood attended the summit, and the things he heard from the Boomer team were familiar but thought-provoking nonetheless.

  • From Chief Innovation Officer Dustin Hosteler: “By 2020, we’ll see the shrinking of compliance work and the shift toward the more consultative and advisory services you offer clients. We’re going to see struggles between older accountants and the younger generation, who want to move toward this new model. We’ll see pain. … Your skill set and who you are hiring will have changed significantly.”
  • From CEO Jim Boomer: “Over the next five to seven years, we’ll see major changes in the audit. Whatever date I give for that change, it will probably happen sooner. With the cloud and more integrations, it will happen more quickly. We’re going to have to realign our value proposition to be forward-looking.”
  • From President Sandra Wiley: “By 2030, the vast majority of firms will be advisory firms. It will be slow for a while, but that shift will happen.”

No surprise here. All of the signs we’ve seen lately point to radical transformations ahead for the CPA profession.

I’m not ready to go that far. Professionals — CPAs among them — aren’t going anywhere as long as they (a) commit themselves to continuously learning new skills, and (b) make sure those new skills are things the machines can’t do. Those skills include collaboration, empathy, strategic thinking — telling the stories behind the numbers, in other words, instead of merely crunching the numbers.

I agree with Daniel Hood: The CPA profession of 2030 will be unlike anything we’ve ever known … and that’s a good thing.

It’ll mean that CPAs have learned the skills they’ll need to remain relevant in a changing and complex world.


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