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CPA Horizons 2025: A Roadmap for the Profession’s Future

CPA Horizons 2025During this past year, the AICPA’s Immediate Past Chairman, Paul Stahlin led the call for our members to participate in CPA Horizons 2025, a grass-roots initiative aimed at examining the local and global trends that will have an effect on our profession over the next 15 years. Your response was tremendous. Nearly 6,000 CPAs voiced their opinions and generated more than 75,000 comments. I thank you for all your insights on how to shape our future.

CPA Horizons 2025 built on the knowledge we gained in the CPA Vision Project, a similar effort conducted in the late 1990s. Participants concluded that the core purpose for CPAs identified back in the 1990s—CPAs: Making sense of a changing and complex world—remains relevant now and for the future. The participants also believed that the core values and competencies identified in the CPA Vision Project are still valid, and were updated to reflect changing circumstances. While the CPA Vision Project also identified some core services, CPA Horizons 2025 determined that the knowledge, skill and competencies CPAs have to offer have become so varied and diverse that the concept of core services is no longer valid. 

Through all of this research, 10 key insights emerged into how we, as a profession, will conduct business, serve clients and employers, attract and retain employees and new business, and remain competitive in the marketplace throughout the next 15 years. These are:

  • Technology: Understanding and leveraging relevant technology in conjunction with core CPA competencies to deliver superior services.
  • Pre-certification and Lifelong Learning: Evolving the educational framework to keep pace with the changing dynamics of business, government and our profession.
  • Worldwide Profession: Positioning the CPA as a premier designation of the accounting and finance profession throughout the world.
  • Pride in the Profession: Encouraging pride among CPAs in the CPA profession and in the value CPAs create throughout society.
  • Trusted Attester: Preserving the role of the CPA as the trusted attester of financial and other information.
  • Trusted Advisor: Promoting the CPA as the trusted advisor who, in addition to providing core CPA services, develops solutions to complex problems by integrating knowledge, expertise and resources from multiple disciplines.
  • Market Permissions: Leveraging the strengths of the profession to take on new specializations and adapt to the needs of clients, employers and business.
  • Demographic Shifts: Continuing to offer opportunities that enhance the appeal of the profession and being proactive in addressing both U.S. and global demographic shifts.
  • Marketplace: Addressing continual changes in the marketplace, economy, businesses and regulations.
  • Value Proposition: Increasing the visibility of the profession’s value proposition by demonstrating the profession’s core values in multiple areas of business and society.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage all of you to read the CPA Horizons 2025 report and consider how the project’s findings can help you face new opportunities and challenges. Furthermore, CPAs who want to put the project’s results to work can download the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section’s CPA Horizons 2025 Toolkit, which includes a guide for conducting “Future Forums” with supporting worksheets and a backgrounder. The toolkit is open to all PCPS members.  

For those of you who have already read the final report, I’m interested to know what you think. What aspects of the findings are already impacting your business? How are you addressing these?

Barry C. Melancon, CPA, President and CEO, American Institute of CPAs.

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