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Seizing Opportunity Like a Rapping Founding Father

HamiltonWhen hip hop music first became popular, very few people would have thought that the music could be a great way to tell the story of America’s Founding Fathers. Yet, the wildly popular Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which won 11 Tony Awards, merges the historical narrative of the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury with hip hop music and lyrics, and proves that it’s possible to successfully create something fresh by offering a new take on a familiar subject.

Alexander Hamilton, the man whose life inspired the musical, started his career as an accounting clerk in the West Indies, then went to colonial America, where he would eventually lay the groundwork for the United States financial system. The musical came to life because Lin-Manuel Miranda, its creator and the man who originated the role of Hamilton, saw an opportunity and seized it by utilizing his musical talents to tell a 240-year-old story and delight unsuspecting audiences.

What does that have to do with CPAs? A lot, actually. Every day, CPAs use their knowledge and talents to meet a wide spectrum of client needs, often in ways that weren’t initially envisioned 50 or 20 or even five years ago. If you’d like to set the stage for new options in your career or practice, here are several opportunities that mesh well with CPAs’ core competencies and experience.   

  • Cybersecurity services. Forty percent of information security professionals expect a major security breach this year, according to a Black Hat survey. As cybersecurity concerns and incidents rise, CPAs can provide assurance and advisory services that can help clients or employers address associated risks and reassure their stakeholders about their efforts.
  • Crowdfunding consulting. In light of new Securities and Exchange Commission rules on crowdfunding, CPAs can provide clients and employers with a valuable perspective on what this financing choice can mean to them and help them evaluate capitalization options. The AICPA’s Crowdfunding and Regulation A+ webpage offers members valuable background on the rules.
  • Private company reporting needs. The AICPA Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities (FRF for SMEs™)accounting framework allows practitioners to offer small business clients the customized information for their financial statement users in a format that is simplified, consistent and cost effective. When GAAP financial statements are not required, CPAs can differentiate themselves by providing the information that will fit small business clients’ unique needs.
  • New options for valuation skills. In response to regulatory concerns and market interest in fair value measurements for U.S. public company financial reporting, the AICPA recently introduced the Fair Value Measurement interest area to address the need for greater quality, consistency and transparency in this area. To reinforce and demonstrate CPAs’ knowledge, in the fall the Institute will roll out the Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations™ (CEIV™) credential. The CEIV credential will be available to AICPA and CIMA members and finance professionals who demonstrate competence in fair value measurements, related audit considerations, financial reporting standards and AICPA professional standards.
  • SOC reports. When clients provide outsourced services, CPAs offer valuable information that users can use to assess and address any risks associated with those services using Service Organization Control Reports®. In SOC engagements, CPAs examine and report on controls at a service organization that might affect user entities’ financial reporting or controls related to the service organization’s systems’ security, availability and processing integrity or the confidentiality and privacy of information processed for user entities’ customers.
  • Personal financial planning services. There’s never been a greater demand for personal financial planning services: tax, retirement, estate, charitable and life-transition planning, among others. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 27% growth in the need for personal financial planning advisers over the next six years and 30% over the next 10. “Personal financial planning” is the term consumers use to identify services they seek – services many CPAs already provide. It’s time to call yourself a CPA financial planner. The AICPA offers a wealth of valuable tools and resources for CPA financial planners, which are designed to help you build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with clients through all life-stages.

What’s Next for Your Firm?

CPA firms today have to be able to determine what trends and developments can be expected to affect them and how to address them. That sounds like a big job, but the PCPS Firm inMotion e-Toolkit can help streamline the process. Leveraging key insights from the Horizons 2025, the e-toolkit helps members jumpstart their planning in firm structure and strategy; staff development and culture; clients and relationship building; and use of technology.

Where can your education and experience take you? Be sure to check out these AICPA resources that can help you explore new ways to enhance your career success and seize opportunities like a rapping founding father.   

Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMAVice President, Firm Services & Global Alliances-American Institute of CPAs.

Alexander Hamilton courtesy of Shutterstock.



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