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Evolving tech could mean evolving the CPA license

Shutterstock_1023191287Throughout 2018, you heard a lot about the changing accounting profession. The biggest driver behind all this change? Technology—what it can do for us (or to us), how to use it and the opportunities and challenges it presents.

We’re using emerging technologies to deliver our core services more effectively and efficiently, and we’re evolving the services we offer to better meet the public’s, our clients’ and our employers’ needs in a technology-driven marketplace.

And so, a couple of questions arise: Are the public, our clients and our employers better served if the CPA license and licensure process evolve to better reflect the changing marketplace? If yes, what does that look like? The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the AICPA have joined forces with state regulators, state societies, practitioners and other stakeholders to figure it out.

The new CPA Evolution initiative

Last year, NASBA and the AICPA launched the CPA Evolution initiative to explore ways to evolve CPA licensure to integrate technological and analytical expertise. Our goal: Continue to protect the public interest in an evolving marketplace that recognizes the importance and increasing use of technology and analytical skills in our core CPA services.

We began consulting with a variety of stakeholders asking questions about whether:

  • Current college curricula adequately prepare CPA talent for required expectations within firms and businesses.
  • The Uniform CPA Exam is testing the right competencies and skills.
  • Current experience requirements are reflective of quality services.

After initial stakeholder discussion and feedback, NASBA and the AICPA formed a working group to consider the feedback received and advise on a path forward. The working group consisted of representatives from across the profession: state boards of accountancy, CPA firms of all sizes from states of all sizes, state CPA societies, academia, the business community and NASBA and AICPA volunteer committees, to name a few. We put this diverse group together because we know that, to get this right, we need to consider and include many different perspectives. We want everyone’s voice to be heard and everyone to be involved in creating the solution.

That includes you.

Your input will be invaluable as we explore how to address the issue and consider solutions. Stay tuned throughout the year.

Some points to consider as you think about our efforts

  • Forbes Insights’ and KPMG’s “Audit 2025: The Future Is Now” report says that the top three skills finance executives are looking for in auditors are technology skills, communication skills and critical thinking skills.
  • In the same Audit 2025 report, 78 percent of respondents said auditors should use more sophisticated technologies for data gathering and analysis.
  • Deloitte’s “Audit of the Future” survey of financial statement preparers, audit committee members and financial statement users found that most respondents believed auditors should use advanced technologies more extensively. All respondent groups agreed that auditors should provide assurance on information beyond traditional financial statements.
  • Simon Bittlestone, Metapraxis CEO, predicts that by 2020, the new model for finance professionals will increasingly focus on data analysis, financial modeling and communications expertise.
  • Accenture envisions that robots could automate or eliminate up to 40 percent of basic accounting work by 2020.

If you have initial thoughts, I’d love to hear them. Please contact me at susan.coffey@aicpa-cima.com.

We have a huge opportunity to shape our future: who we are, how we work and the value we can provide to the public, clients and employers. I’m excited to see how we come together to keep the CPA profession strong.

Susan S. Coffey, CPA, CGMA, EVP - Public Practice, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants 

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