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Accounting Leaders Tell All: 32 Industry Leaders Talk about the Future of Accounting

Accounting Leaders Tell All: 32 Industry Leaders Talk about the Future of Accounting

What’s weighing on the minds of the leaders in accounting? Relevancy, international affairs, the talent gap, and much, much more. As the profession becomes more challenging, more technologically reliant, and faster than ever, we look to offer you some key takeaways from experts hailing from CPA firms, accounting technology companies, government and regulatory leadership, consulting firms, venture capital firms and more.

32 Accounting Leaders Share Their Top Takeaways for the Accounting Industry

In the Accounting Today Top 100 Most Influential People, a special report from Accounting Today, the question was asked of the leaders, “what are the most important issues facing the accounting profession in 2016?” The following answers provide thought-provoking, insightful, and somewhat controversial looks into the profession in 2016:

  1. It continues to be relevancy. Unless our profession continuously innovates and adds value, we deserve irrelevancy. What was the last innovation from the profession? We continue to avoid the tough issues, such as auditor independence. … CPAs need to help their customers make history, not just report on it. — Ron Baker
  2. The ever-changing geopolitical landscape continues to give rise to a proliferation of new regulations and accounting standards worldwide. — Lynne Doughtie
  3. The most important issue facing the accounting profession today is the talent void we face in the next five to 10 years. … We have done a poor job changing with the times. The image of the CPA is stale and outdated. Millennials clearly do not want the life of the public accountant and who can blame them? — Sandy Johnson
  4. The CPA profession is doing well in all areas. But to me, the most pressing issue is to stay focused on the future: What are we doing now to make sure that five, 10 and 20 years down the line, we can still say we’re doing well? —Barry Melancon
  5. There are many important issues: succession, staffing, rapid pace of change, technology, etc. The “rapid pace of change” occurring in the accounting profession is the issue that I would put at the top of the list.  — Candace Wright
  6. The ability to change quickly. It seems the profession knows it has to change now, but is stuck in the “how.” — Jody Padar
  7. The profession is facing an encroachment on its markets by non-CPAs performing services that CPAs could perform. — Gale Crosley
  8. Technology disruption that is displacing much of the traditional work performed by accounting professionals is the most important issue. — Joe Woodard
  9. The most important issue facing the accounting profession involves its ability to maintain trust and confidence and follow fundamental core principles in light of a quickly changing environment of complex risks. — Jeanette Franzel
  10. The inability of many current leaders to recognize and confront complacency and false urgency. — Sandra Wiley
  11. For CPA firms, I think the most important issues are adapting to change and increasing the relevancy of services they provide to clients. Advisory services are becoming much more important as we move forward, and CPAs need to have strategic plans in place to make that transition. — Erik Asgeirsson
  12. The proliferation of technology— and how investors use technology to consume financial information. — Russell Golden
  13. The long-term globalization of accounting practices. Just as globalization has moved manufacturing jobs abroad, accountants face the risk of a shrinking pie for their core services. — Sharada Bhansali
  14. For smaller firms in particular, the growing competition performing tax preparation, accounting services and consulting by non-CPA firms. — Carl Peterson
  15. We have always reported on the past, last month, last quarter, or last year. However, in today’s world of instant information, we must adjust. — Roger Harris
  16. The most important issue facing the accounting profession is overregulation. It gives little wiggle room for firms to manage changing demographics in the accounting profession. — Ralph Thomas
  17. Staffing and succession, which are very much related to each other, since if we had a plethora of young talent we would have less of a succession issue. — Joel Sinkin
  18. How the profession embraces leadership and diversity is critical to its future success. — Olivia Kirtley
  19. Clients are requesting new services that CPAs are not trained to fulfill. — Randy Johnston
  20. I think the issue continues to be losing some of our best talent to corporate jobs. — Jeff Phillips
  21. I believe change management is the most important issue facing accounting firms today. … . The speed at which changes are occurring is nothing short of breathtaking. — Jon Baron
  22. Making earnings presentations relevant again. — Jack Ciesielski
  23. The profession is faced with the need to transform. Change is not enough. Mindsets, skillsets and toolsets must all change to meet the client’s wants and needs. — Gary Boomer
  24. I believe the biggest issue is that, more and more, non-licensed and non-degreed businesses are being loosely tied to the profession. It’s time for the “the profession” to clearly articulate our value and draw a clear distinction. If we lose this distinction, we run the risk of further commoditization. — Darren Root
  25. How we will effectively transition firms from the current Baby Boomer owners to the next generation of owners. — Jason Blumer
  26. Balancing the needs of clients with the needs of the staff that serves these clients. — Art Kuesel
  27. The proliferation of fraud and cyberattacks, … especially in the area of tax administration. — J. Russell George
  28. The need for firms to offer more advisory services is growing, and clients are expecting more support from their accountants. — Angie Grissom
  29. The issue of attracting and retaining women has become even a greater concern. — Rita Keller
  30. The transition from current firm leadership to the next generation — the largest changeover in the profession’s history. — Taylor Macdonald
  31. Maintaining an extensive understanding of the ever-changing and increasingly complex tax laws and compliance requirements has placed an incredible burden on accounting professionals. — Jason Marx
  32. I see technological disruption as the most important issue. — Brian Peccarelli


These takeaways are from some of the most influential leaders in the accounting profession, whose ability to innovate, lead, educate, and inspire have gotten them to this list of the most influential individuals who are driving improvements to the accounting profession. Download the entire report, and to learn more about leading your own organizational transformation, contact us to learn more about the software, services, and insight you need to thrive in the coming years.



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