The accounting profession has undergone major changes in recent years. New technologies are redefining client expectations and therefore how the profession works. Now, with the pandemic, the need to adapt has accelerated.
The 2020 AICPA Leadership Academy gave 29 young CPAs from firms, businesses and academia across the nation the opportunity to refine and enhance the skills they will need to meet these challenges.
“I now not only have a better understanding of the importance of having a solid grasp on what is going on in my organization and the profession, but also understand how to look at the current state and plan for the future and be ready to adapt,” said 2020 academy graduate Jessica McClain, a CPA with Brand USA in Washington DC.
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How can you expand services to existing clients and attract new clients in the current environment? Here are tips from experts.
Choose the software that works best for you.
In searching for new ways to maintain ties to clients, Christine DeAngelis, CPA, tax master at 20-person High Rock Accounting has found that video conferencing makes the contact more personal, even when an email would also work.
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Remember “Take Your Child to Work Day”? For many of us, that’s become every day. The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down offices, leaving professionals to carve out workspaces in their homes while keeping children occupied or helping them with schoolwork at the kitchen table. We’ve compiled the following advice to help CPAs remain productive, including tips from members of the AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee:
Protect your space. With so many firms going remote without much notice, not everyone was set up to work from home. If you have an office or spare bedroom, consider designating that a no-interruption zone for when you have important meetings or projects. If your environment doesn’t allow for that, try using a signal to your kids — like an upside-down cup on the counter — that you need uninterrupted time.
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Reopening your office isn’t as simple as unlocking the office door. Consider several factors before jumping to any reopening decision, starting with a couple of questions:
- Are our employees still productive with the office closed?
- Are our clients’ needs being met?
If the answer to both is “yes,” then what’s the rush to reopen? Understandably, you and your employees may be a little stir-crazy being at home, or maybe you’re frustrated paying rent for unused office space. Neither are good reasons to rush to reopen and risk employee safety. Perhaps now is a better time to consider boosting employee morale or focus on a long-term virtual solution that keeps clients and employees safe and shows that you care. There’s a session at this year’s all-virtual ENGAGE2020 (July 20-24) on enabling remote workers and virtual office.
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There is little doubt that the accounting profession is undergoing major change. New technologies, like blockchain, data analytics and artificial intelligence, are altering how services are provided and redefining the types of services clients need.
To meet these new demands of capital markets, CPA firms must make sure their employees possess or learn the necessary technology skills. They also need to attract leaders capable of navigating the changing profession, and these leaders will ideally bring fresh talent along with them. That’s where the AICPA’s Leadership Academy comes in.
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With school back in session, hundreds of thousands of students are embarking on their college careers. It’s a date with destiny that will culminate in the answer to the question they’ve been asked a hundred times: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Where kids and young adults get their ideas for the occupation that will define their adult lives varies widely. Some follow the footsteps of parents or other family members. Some find themselves attracted to a profession through something they learned early in their education. Still others admire a public figure, CEO or fictional character who inspires their choices (if you’re having trouble believing that last one, check out this story).
But if you want to help set your student (or someone else’s) on a career path they’ll find rewarding, interesting and lucrative, accounting is a natural suggestion. And encouraging them to pursue the CPA will help keep them in demand well into the future.
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Olena Romanchuk, CPA, knows what it’s like to fall in love with tax at an early age. She was only fifteen the first time she pored over a stack of ledgers. After studying accounting in her home country of Ukraine, Olena came to the United States as an exchange student. She later attended Western Carolina University and fell for the tax profession all over again.
While Olena was developing her tax skills, Glenda Bowman was trying to figure out exactly what she wanted to do in college. As the first person to pursue a bachelor’s degree in her immediate family, just getting to college was a significant accomplishment. She said she was a typical college student who went straight into general business before she felt something click in her first accounting class that led her to embrace the profession and become a CPA.
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Often times, in-person conferences are the best time to get updates on industry news and to learn new things. The EDGE Experience, the premier career development event for young CPAs, focuses on building young professionals not only technically, but with soft skills as well.
Yesterday, Stacie Saunders, Senior Manager of Social Business at the AICPA, sat down with three CPAs to talk about how they began a professional strategy on social media. Saunders began the conversation by saying “most of us started on social media for personal reasons, but as you start to use it you can see how the benefits can cross over into a professional space.” So, how does one begin to use social media professionally?
As a special treat for AICPA Insights readers, we listened in and pulled tips and tricks for some of the most common questions surrounding social media.
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While workplaces have become increasingly less formal and more business transactions are taking place outside traditional office settings, the line that separates business from personal can blur. It is important to maintain a certain level of workplace decorum, whether you are in the office or out at an office mixer. Be sure to observe the following pointers, which address a variety of scenarios:
- In-person meetings. How you conduct yourself during an in-person meeting will leave a lasting impression on your boss and colleagues.
- Be considerate of others’ time and communicate the purpose, duration and the items for discussion in advance. Thank attendees for their participation, and demonstrate your appreciation by promptly circulating a recap or minutes that document their contribution.
- Don’t monopolize the conversation. Ensure that everyone has had a chance to speak their mind before ending the meeting.
- Never assign an action item to someone not present until you have had an opportunity to negotiate it with them.
- If you are attending another person's meeting, be respectful and resist the urge to multi-task. If you are waiting for an important phone call, turn your phone to vibrate or silent, and excuse yourself before answering. Otherwise, turn your devices off.
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In an ideal world, we would all be judged on merit, and managers, co-workers and clients would take the time to get to know us before formulating an opinion. Unfortunately, in the time-crunched real world, we don’t always have that luxury. People often make flash assessments based on limited interactions, or piece together opinions about our ability and professionalism from disparate impressions gleaned from superficial encounters. Alas, when it comes to others’ perceptions of us, the devil is in the details, providing us limitless opportunities to make a bad impression.
That’s where etiquette can help. Whether you are collaborating with co-workers, schmoozing potential clients or trying to impress the boss, relationships are critical to your career success. The diversity of the modern workplace and the hurried pace of business provides ample room for social missteps, but adhering to the basic tenants of business etiquette can insulate you from the most egregious offenses.
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It is probably understood, but here it is anyway: You should not post photos of yourself doing questionable activities to social media. This is just common sense when it comes to managing your online reputation, right? Yet, you would be surprised how many people forget their professional etiquette when posting. Sure, it is fun to share your weekend escapades with all your friends, but do not ignore the business aspects of your online presence as well.
Thanks to the Internet, you most likely developed an online reputation without even knowing it. Now it’s up to you to protect your good name—or do a little damage control. As Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
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