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How Robots Can Help You Thrive

RobotTechnology is creating opportunities for the accounting profession, but the human factor is still key– that was the message at IdeaAcct, a session at the AICPA Engage Conference highlighting thought leadership and innovation in the profession.

Practical & Immediate Opportunities for CPAs in Artificial Intelligence - Dan Giffiths, CPA, CGMA

Because accounting is highly structured, it lends itself nicely to machine learning. Therefore, many people think that accounting and tax services are likely to be automated. Software already exists that can populate tax-ready financial documents just from an individual’s bank login information, and such services are available for as little as $100 a month. However, clients are willing to pay far more for advisory services drawn from that information. The value, Griffiths says, lies in the relationships and the advice that CPAs can provide. To take advantage of the opportunities, CPAs need to become friends with their tech colleagues. Good friends.

Robots Can’t Own Their Personal Brand - Byron K Patrick, CPA, CITP, CGMA, CCA MCSE

Many iconic, fictional robots have dynamic personalities. The Jetsons’ Rosie. Knight Rider’s K.I.T.T. Short Circuit’s Johnny 5. Star Wars’ R2-D2 and C-3PO. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your perspective), robots today aren’t so dynamic. Humans have a warmth and personality that robots lack. As long as that remains true, the accounting profession is going to be just fine. How can CPAs best leverage this advantage?

  1. Be interesting. Have a story. Have a personal brand.
  2. Be interested. Ask questions.
  3. Be sincere. Mean what you say.

Fixing Employee Engagement Is Easy - Rebecca Brown, CPA

There are three types of employees: engaged, disengaged, and actively disengaged. Gallup estimates that only about one-third of employees are engaged. For millennials, that estimate is even lower. On the other end of the spectrum are the 16 to 17 percent of U.S. employees who are actively disengaged. Not only are these workers miserable, they seek to make everyone around them miserable, too. The remaining employees are disengaged--just sleepwalking through the day. Thus, at any organization, approximately 67 percent of employees are either about to walk out the door or – worse – stay and create such toxic environments that good employees leave.

With these facts in mind, how do business leaders keep people engaged and recharged? Brown recommends mapping out individuals’ strengths to figure out where people do their best work, and then let them excel in those areas. Two great programs for this are StrengthsFinder and the VIA Character survey.

Why We All Benefit from Whistle-Blowers - Kelly Pope, PhD, CPA, CGMA

Forty-two percent of fraud is discovered by whistle-blowers. Unfortunately, such individuals are often attacked for coming forward. They are singled out and their motives are questioned. Nevertheless, the public and the profession frequently benefit from whistle-blowers. For example, Kathe Swanson, a city clerk in Dixon, Illinois, helped uncover $53 million in theft from the city – or about $3,300 for every citizen in the small town. Thus, CPAs should remember their duty to protect the public interest and report suspicious information that could indicate fraud or theft.

Agility, Adaptability, Action: Accounting at the Speed of Change - Kimberly Ellison Taylor, CPA, CGMA

The accounting profession is facing unprecedented change, and CPAs need to be ready. Is the path they are on the path that will make them better tomorrow than they are today? CPAs have a responsibility to leave the profession better for the next generation than they found it.

Technology presents opportunities for CPAs to do just that. Whether it’s a firm looking to boost efficiency and accuracy with new software and hardware or a business trying to choose technologies that will increase margins and boost productivity, CPAs are on the forefront of hard analysis and decision-making. The result? Clients and customers who are better served and more engaged.

To hear more from these speakers, check out the full IdeaAcct session on Facebook live – Part 1 and Part 2.  

Lindsay N. Patterson, CAE, Senior Manager-Communications and Public Relations, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

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