The future of the profession

Tucson offices
Gabrielle Luoma By Gabrielle Luoma, CEO and Founder of the GMLCPA

31 May 2016

Gabrielle Luoma, CPA, CGMA is CEO and Founder of the GMLCPA firm located in Tucson, Arizona, and is one of the speakers at the ICAS Practitioners' Conference on 2 June. In this article, she examines some of the future trends in the profession.

As a profession, our future is bright. For every problem there is a solution but also an opportunity. Opportunity for growth, not only for profit but also in fulfillment as humans.

Here are several trends I see happening simultaneously. It feels like chaos to some and a breath of fresh air to others. Hold on to your seats…we are headed for a fun but bumpy ride. Here is why!

The accountancy profession is changing and seeing the value in multi-disciplinary services. The feelings around being an outsourced accountant have softened and clients as well as accountants are seeing mutual value being provided. We are becoming more relational as a profession. The value of traditional accounting will always be there but the additional layer of empathetic business practices is adding profits to everyone.

Another area of services being added are the financial and analytical professionals that in the past were not recruited or seen as valuable in traditional firms. Finance professionals are being seen as the next step to value add in businesses that normally receive outsourced accounting services. Strategic planning and cash forecasting information are no longer barriers to operating well. Fortune 500 companies utilized the benefits of this same knowledge base for decades. Small businesses will now be able to utilize the same resources at an affordable price with huge returns on this investment. I believe that we all can agree that this is a huge win for public accounting large or small sized firms.

Staffing is a major concern as firms are growing while the pool of qualified accounting professionals and retirees appear to be reducing in size. Creativity in how to provide exceptional service with less people will be a trend for the next 5-10 years. Utilizing part-time staff, flex schedule arrangements and locating staff regardless of their location will be a few of the tactics that will be used to reduce the staff crunch. Virtual firms will thrive in this environment as they already have the systems in place to provide arrangements where work can be done anywhere at any time. Firm cultures that embrace the autonomy of knowledge workers will also thrive. Work life balance is not just an added benefit but a requirement for the next generation of accountants.

The number one goal is relevancy. How do we as a profession keep up to meet the rising demands of consumers of financial data?

That’s something only you can answer. How will you do it?

Gabrielle and fellow AICPA member Jason Deshayes, Vice-President of Butler and Company, will be joining the ICAS Practitioners’ Conference on 2 June by video conference to discuss what the firm of the future looks like and how they navigated the changes.

Image: tishomir / Shutterstock.com

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