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Kevin O’Leary Says CPAs Can’t Be Replaced. Take That, Mark Cuban.

Kevin O'LearyKevin O’Leary, businessman and co-host of the TV show Shark Tank, says the CPA’s role as a trusted adviser in the marketplace cannot be replaced by technology. That stands in stark contrast to the comments his co-host Mark Cuban made earlier this year.

Score one for Mr. Wonderful.

O’Leary, a keynote speaker at the AICPA ENGAGE Conference on June 13, joined me for a Facebook Live session and spoke with me off camera about how technology is impacting the accounting profession. His comments were on point.

“Half of the work the CPA does is to deal with people, to have relationships with people, and to decide how to work with their desires, their direction, and their vision for their business. That is never going to be replaced by a machine,” O’Leary said.

Technology is evolving faster than ever before, but so too are the needs of businesses. For example, while big data means greater accessibility to information, it also creates a need for the analysis and interpretation of that information. While advances in robotics may change some business operations, companies still need advice on how to run those businesses.

“The truth is that we are going to need CPAs more than ever. Their role is to try to figure out and mitigate risk at every stage, and to say, ‘If we do it this way, here is the tax implication. If we do it this way, this is the cost implication.’ The profession is going to continue to flourish,” O’Leary said.

The role of trusted adviser is certainly one the profession takes seriously, and the AICPA has developed a whole toolbox to help members grow their practices in this area. As companies begin to operate across state and national borders, for example, CPAs help their clients with tax planning and compliance. When a business looks at acquisition or divestiture opportunities, CPAs offer insights into an organization’s health and stability. As clients think about expanding into new lines of service, CPAs help prepare and review business plans.

As I detailed in my blog post about my conversation with Mark Cuban, technology means that CPAs can provide these services more efficiently and effectively, and add value. Thus, I have to give this round to O’Leary.

To hear more of O’Leary’s views on business and management – and why he gets my vote for Most CPA-friendly Shark – check out my Facebook Live interview with him.

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


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