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Promoting CPAs’ Enduring Value in Changing Times

International-meetingI recently read an article on disruptive innovation that made me consider how much the accounting profession has changed over the years. The article talked about how well some very traditional lines of business are performing, including Swiss watches, independent bookstores and pricey fountain pens, even in our volatile times. These products have enjoyed prolonged success because the business people behind them have emphasized the products’ unique and enduring value, something that the market recognizes even in the midst of continuous change. Swiss watches are seen as quality status products, independent bookstores have positioned themselves as personalized social destinations and fountain pens provide a classic writing experience with a smoother and more professional look than inexpensive and more readily available ballpoint pens.

I see some definite parallels to our profession, which remains both respected and relevant after more than 127 years. Our profession’s strength is a direct result of our unwavering commitment to core values and competencies, no matter what disruptions may be occurring throughout the business world. Companies, investors and other business stakeholders will always need the knowledgeable advice and perspective that CPAs offer. Today’s needs, however, are both multifaceted and fluid. We have maintained our profession’s continued relevance by constantly monitoring the marketplace and enhancing and expanding our abilities and services. Our strong foundation enables us to innovate and grow to meet evolving needs.

The article caught my eye because I’m preparing for the World Congress of Accountants 2014 and one of the many sessions circled on my agenda is titled “Businesses Thriving in Disruptive Times.” This year’s meeting will take place Nov. 10 to 13 in Rome. The World Congress of Accountants brings together thousands of accountants every four years, and the AICPA is excited to be taking a key role in this event. This year’s theme is “2020 Vision: Learning from the Past, Building the Future.” The CGMA designation, which is powered by AICPA and CIMA, is the Imperial Sponsor of this year’s event. This sponsorship will showcase the U.S. CPA and CGMA designation on the world stage and help in our efforts to retain and promote the profession’s strong reputation and relevance.

Our profession will have much to celebrate at WCOA, including an outstanding accomplishment by one of the AICPA’s own. I believe one of the many keys to the profession’s success is diversity and inclusion, and the AICPA has been active in that area for a long time. I’m particularly excited to share with you that during WCOA, former AICPA Chair Olivia Kirtley, CPA, CGMA, will become the first female president of the International Federation of Accountants. A respected business consultant, Olivia is no stranger to making history. In fact, she holds two very prestigious honors in AICPA history. In 1998, Olivia simultaneously became the first female AICPA Chair of the Board and the very first chair from business and industry. Please join me in congratulating Olivia on her tremendous achievement.   

In addition to highlighting the profession’s successes, WCOA offers accountants the chance to discuss the greatest challenges and opportunities facing us in a changing world and ensure our profession is ready for the next innovation, change or opportunity. Accountants from around the globe will gather to discuss ways to build a strong future in an increasingly global marketplace. Many of the sessions will speak to the very heart of what it means to be a CPA, and will touch upon core functions and services. Sessions will include “Enhancing Government Transparency,” “Improving Performance and Value Through Integrated Thinking,” “Digital Darwinism” and “Strengthening and Transforming the Accountancy Profession.” I hope you’ll consider attending or sending a representative to WCOA. I know that no matter how many disruptions we face, we can work together to find new ways to achieve success in disruptive times.

William E. Balhoff, CPA, CGMA, CFF, Chairman of the Board of Directors, American Institute of CPAs.

International meeting image via Shutterstock

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