Some of the most influential people in accounting are voicing their opinions about what they consider the most important issues facing the industry. Accounting Today conducted asked 100 movers and shakers across the United States their opinions, and their answers range from thoughtful to controversial.
Like a number of other professions, the accounting industry has experienced significant shifts in recent years. In order to prove successful, firms and independent contractors alike must now adapt to increased regulations, workforce changes, as well as pressures in relation to fees and technology. All of these issues revolve around new ways to work for accountants, and those that think ahead and use technology to add value to clients should come out on top of the industry.
Many influential people within the accounting profession believe the baby-boomer succession crisis looms large for many firms as older employees and partners retire and younger workers take over. Firms merge and grow bigger in order to compete, and this trend may continue for the next several years. New partners should take over the industry in the next decade, leading to new leadership styles and new ways of doing things. Recruiting and keeping millennials remains a top priority at several firms. Younger employees who don't get their needs met by companies straight out of college often move to another firm, start their own practice or leave the profession altogether.
The regulatory climate in the United States drives many firms, especially since the busiest time for accountants centers on tax season during the first four months of each year. Communication with the IRS remains vital to accountants, especially since the tax agency has cut its services to taxpayers over the past several years.
Firms that embrace cloud computing technology move to the forefront of the accounting industry. Companies need to determine how best to approach cloud programs that use a subscription service and how much that service should cost beyond the normal ledger. Cloud computing gives accountants easy access to a company's financial files, but accountants must convince clients to get on board for such technology. Fees that go towards an actual accountant may pay for cloud technology instead, which saves firms time and money on mundane tasks.
All of these things tie to the capability of managers within the accounting profession. Management must deal with all factors that influence the firm, including client retention, worker succession, cloud technology, value-added services and making sure the firm moves in the right direction. Midlevel managers have the enviable task of making sure partners remain happy while onboarding millennials who may see their goals differently than top brass. Managers have to present solutions today before their firms lag behind.
Accountants stand at a crossroads with several important issues as tougher regulation of the industry combines with new technology to make accountants more valuable and more relevant in the contemporary business climate. Instead of number crunchers in the accounting profession, CPAs may need to become software consultants and amateur lawyers as they try to turn new laws into relevant practices.
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