We are well into the New Year.  It is 2014.  At the Society we spend a lot of time during these early months of every year thinking about the future, both our staff and volunteer leadership.  As a result, we talk a lot about what the future might hold for our CPAs here in Indiana and the profession across the United States and around the globe.  Some of this is a result of updating the Indiana CPA Society Strategic Plan.  That task is behind us.  Our plan has not only been updated, it has been streamlined.  That is a must do in an increasingly complex world.  Our plan is designed to be adaptive as circumstances change.  And we all know that they will.

SkillsSo, we have this great plan.  A strategy for the future.  But what does the future really hold for the CPA profession and for organizations that serve the profession? Like the Indiana CPA Society.  Like the AICPA.

First … what skill sets will the profession require of new hires 10 years from now?  If you are a CFO or a partner, that is something that you really need to learn about.  There are plenty of blogs and scholarly articles on the topic.  There is also the CPA Horizons 2025 report that gives us the profession’s core competencies, core values and core services.

And what will the profession do to maintain competency in these new skill set areas.  Will CPE as we know it be effective?  That is doubtful.  Together we must find a new system – a better system – to enhance the professional competence of CPAs no matter what level of experience or area of expertise.  Doesn’t it make more sense to base your professional development on competency advancement rather than the number of hours sitting in a classroom?

You need to think about that skill set question in the context of what the role of the accounting function will be in businesses.  What role will the public accounting firm play in serving clients in the year 2025? What about the accounting department of a company in communicating with investors and stakeholders?  It is highly unlikely that they will be the same as today.  There are too many changes occurring in our environment.  Increased expectations surrounding transparency and expanded business reporting.  You’ve heard of it.  Maybe it’s in the form of an integrated report.  This isn’t something for other CPAs … this is about your future.  And it’s something the CPA profession can and should take the lead on.

Of course “big data” and “data analytics” will play into this notion of expanded reporting for business.  CPAs will be increasingly central to the business.  CPAs will need to be expert in all things related to success.  Leadership, communications, critical thinking and problem solving.  Knowledge management comes into play here and the profession will need to truly understand knowledge management concepts including the need to be adaptive, agile and dynamic, and the importance of it in all things related to business success.

If the profession wants to preserve the well-earned role and reputation of being an objective trusted advisor, CPAs will need to pursue those opportunities that are most central to the success of the business to remain relevant in the future.   No other profession is as qualified to step up to the challenges of the future.  How do you plan to remain relevant as the world in which we live continues to change at an ever-increasing pace?