2019 Top 100 People extra: Preparing for the future

As part of this year’s Top 100 Most Influential People survey, Accounting Today asked, “What one thing would you recommend accountants do to prepare for the future?”

The full responses of all the candidates are below.

It can be too easy to get caught up in the hectic nature of everyday work-life, but it’s critical to take the time to listen to your clients, mentors and peers and to take every opportunity to learn from them along the way. Remember to stop, listen and learn.

Regardless of your profession, remember that a career is a journey, not a destination. Commit to becoming a life-long learner and place a high value on building positive relationships with a diverse group of people. As technology enables us to work from anywhere, it is easy to lose site of the value of human interaction. It’s all about balance. Professionals who take advantage of the modern way of working can also learn from the more tenured professionals who can share best practices on a range of topics.

Firms need to embrace technology, not for technology’s sake, but to drive progress, growth and to better serve their clients.
— Karen Abramson, CEO, Wolters Kluwer, Tax & Accounting Global Division

All accountants should invest the time in tech-savvy skills so they can build upon their foundational skillset of accounting and auditing with skills that allow them to better understand the technologies being deployed by their clients as well as the impact technology is, or could have, on their clients’ business models. It will also allow them to increase their ability to leverage technology and large data sets in the execution of an audit, apply critical thinking to analyze large data sets across clients and industries, and provide the ability to clearly articulate their findings.
— Lara Abrash, Chairman and CEO, Deloitte & Touche LLP

In one word: Innovate. You have to be a continuous learner throughout your career, you must embrace technology, and you need to be forward-looking and agile to succeed in today’s marketplace.
— Joe Adams, Managing Partner and CEO, RSM US

Don’t let manual processes suck you dry. Technology is now able to do many simple tasks in accounting and, increasingly, it’s able to take on increasingly complex tasks. Focus on the strategic initiatives that will differentiate you as automation and artificial intelligence continue to play a bigger role in accounting.
—Chen Amit, CEO, Tipalti

Become technology sponges. Embrace technology and explore avenues that can positively impact what accountants do on a daily basis to help their clients — whether they are internal clients for those in industry or their firm’s clients if in public accounting. Look at technology as a way to unburden the profession from those things that were uninspiring anyway, that can free up time to use our higher-level skills, knowledge and talents.
— Alan Anderson, President and founder, Accountability Plus

Listen to a podcast on AI and transformative technologies, subscribe to newsletters such as Abundance360 to see what’s at the edge of Industry 4.0, and be curious about business model transformation.
— Solon Angel, Founder, MindBridge AI

For younger (new accountants) I would recommend that they go for an MBA in order to meet the challenges of the future. For established accountants, continue to learn and stay current with market dynamics and read business books every year.
— August Aquila, CEO, Aquila Global Advisors

Aside from investing in technologies to improve efficiencies, accountants should prepare for the future by becoming consultants. Making connections with clients and providing thoughtful counsel is something that technology cannot do (yet), so it’s important to become a well-rounded consultant that can provide the expertise to clients that they are looking for.
— Tony Argiz, CEO and Chairman, MBAF

To prepare for the future ,which requires great adaptability, I would recommend focusing on the development of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. The development of new skills and new approaches will be the key driver of future success, and a growth mindset is a critical enabling component.
— Erik Asgeirsson, President and CEO, CPA.com

Invest in and cultivate a new generation of employees (read: young). Hands down, the biggest drawback to the shift in technology is the learning curve of employees who have “always done it this way.” By embracing change and creating a culture where digital natives are prized versus patronized, firms can fast-track that adoption by leaps & bounds.
— Kim Austin, Business Development Manager, Intuit

As a profession, we need to shift our mindset on technology — it’s not a threat, it’s an enabler. We also need to empower emerging talent who bring new skills and perspective to the profession. The average age in LeaseQuery is 29, and almost 40 percent of us are accountants.
— George Azih, Founder and CEO, LeaseQuery LLC

Never stop learning. Leaders are readers. Read outside of your profession, and don’t be afraid to challenge the orthodoxies of your profession. And to the young accountants, I would emphasize that below the age of 40-45 are your peak innovation years, as Charles Murray documented in his stunning book, “Human Accomplishment.” I like what Francis Bacon wrote in “Of Youth and Age,” in 1625:

“Young men are fitter to invent, than to judge; and fitter for new projects than for settled business. Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.”
— Ron Baker, Founder, VeraSage Institute

CPAs must understand the changing nature of the profession as it becomes increasingly technology-oriented. Leaning harder into data analytics in all its practice areas can build the partners businesses need in the 21st century. Strategizing what comes next is vital, as technology will dominate the profession in ways we don’t yet see.

Further, as the profession becomes increasingly open to traditionally marginalized populations such as women and people of color, firms would do well to focus on diversity in their own staff, not as a simple compliance exercise but as a way to deliver genuine value to their clients.

Finally, as demands for corporate responsibility grow in multiple dimensions, CPAs should be more willing to deliver hard truths to their clients regarding the impact of their practices and what they can do to improve.
— Joanne Barry, Executive Director and CEO, New York State Society of CPAs

They need to let go of every vestige of the past. Everything we do, from hiring to training to services delivery to the client experience, has to change … rapidly.
— Tom Barry, Managing Partner, Green Hasson Janks

Stay informed of new technology and upgrade your technology accordingly. Learn from the next generation and prepare to pass along your practice to them.
—David Bergstein, Digital Evangelist, Intuit and BergsteinCPA

Be a lifelong learner and teacher. Be willing to get up every morning, open and willing to share something new with your colleagues or learn a new process or idea that will make you more valuable in your profession.
— Michael Bernard, Chief Tax Officer — Transaction Tax, Vertex Inc.

In a profession that’s evolving quickly, start to have a more critical-thinking mindset. Be curious and embrace what the future holds for the industry. Building and maintaining relationships both inside and outside of your organization will always be a valued skill. This is truly the epitome of the professional services industry no matter how progressive the future is. Focus on developing your leadership skills and both your emotional and digital quotients to be a trusted advisor to your clients.
— Wayne Berson, CEO, BDO USA

Take back control over client accounting and your client relationships.
— Chandra Bhansali, CEO and Co-Founder, AccountantsWorld

Remember that any organization is only as good as the capacity of the employees to learn and apply.
— Sharada Bhansali, President and Co-Founder, AccountantsWorld

Current and future certified accountants will require a robust knowledge and understanding of information technology and data analytics, particularly as applied in the attest practice space. The increased reliance on data-driven audit and attest procedures will require signers to know what happens in the “black box.”
— Ken Bishop, President and CEO, NASBA

Stop the fear talk that technology and AI is going to take our jobs away.
— Jason Blumer, CEO, Blumer CPAs and Thriveal CPA Network

Read and join a peer group for access to expertise, accountability and exponential thinking. Get outside your firm in order to think-plan-grow.
— L. Gary Boomer, Visionary & Strategist, Boomer Consulting Inc.

Commit to life-long learning. Whether you read books, subscribe to podcasts or get outside your own four walls to participate in peer networking groups, you must continue to learn in order to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.
— Jim Boomer, CEO, Boomer Consulting Inc.

Change your hiring process and look to bring in team members that look and feel different than the historical hires. In the past you would check the box with an accounting degree. I don’t discount that accounting degree, but instead supplement it with dual majors like those with a focus in technology, artificial intelligence, engineering, etc. It is going to take many different skillsets to service the clients of the future. Firms need to be investing in talent today.
— Jim Bourke, Managing Director of Advisory Services, WithumSmith+Brown

Understand the algorithms and be the gatekeepers of information.
—Jennifer Briggs, President and CEO, Indiana Society of CPAs

It is important that as accountants, we prepare for the pros and cons of the increased use of technology in business as well as ensure that we are keeping ourselves updated on the current issues surrounding cyber crime. Accountants are simply targets. As the criminals become smarter and more technologies are being developed, we will only become more at risk if we don’t make changes to our own policies and procedures to protect ourselves and our clients from identity theft and all other areas of fraud.
— Dawn Brolin, EVP of Business Development and Compliance, Powerful Accounting powered by Out of the Box Technology

Get on the artificial intelligence train now
— Paul Caron, Dean, Pepperdine University School of Law

The future will require an innate understanding of technology and how it can impact and change organizations. It will take courage to embrace and adapt to technological change, but it is only by embracing technology that we will be prepared to meet the future. Indeed, as more and more technology is leveraged in the execution of our responsibilities, the ways we do our work will change dramatically. Becoming more data-driven and digitally enabled means that we must develop a transformational mindset. Engaging with experts and enhancing skills through technology-relevant training are just a couple of ways to aid in this pursuit. One thing is clear: We cannot afford to rely on processes that fail to account for how demands on the profession are changing.
— Richard Chambers, President and CEO, Institute of Internal Auditors

Accountants should realize that technology is no longer an option in their profession. Tech savviness is a necessity to retain existing clients and gain Gen Z clients growing up in the gig economy. To be a successful firm in the future, accounting firms need to act like a technology firm that happens to be in accounting field, rather than an accounting firm that wants to embrace technology.
— Shehan Chandrasekera, Head of Tax Strategy, CoinTracker

Embrace the latest technology and adopt a mindset of continuous learning. Change and adaptation are not optional — they are a daily necessity! Solid English/communication skills are a must as well!
— David Cieslak, EVP and Chief Cloud Officer, RKL eSolutions

Learn from other industries that have gone through change and embrace it. We are not the first once to face this amount of disruption, so what can we learn from transportation, lodging and other industries who faced new competition unlike anything they pictured?
— Lauren Clemmer, Executive Director, Association for Accounting Marketing

My advice for professionals looking to grow their career in the accounting industry is to understand what clients want and what accountants do. In my opinion, clients want a confidant, someone who can help them improve their business and help them achieve their personal financial goals. To do this, they need to spend time becoming reak consultants.
Our industry, unfortunately, provides information on a company’s performance (i.e., financial statements and tax returns) too many months after the fact, instead of in real time, when it could be utilized to improve the business. The nature of the accounting industry’s traditional reporting system puts most businesses at a disadvantage, especially for small and midsized, privately owned businesses. By learning a client’s industry and the ins and outs of their business, you can begin to offer valuable, timely advice on how to best meet their business and personal financial goals.
— Joel Cooperman, CEO, Citrin Cooperman & Co.

Bring technology front and center, at the very epicenter of their business strategy.
— Gale Crosley, President, Crosley+Co.

Develop a solid strategy and a written plan for change that addresses new technology and the next generation of people entering the workforce — both at their firms and on the client side. You would be amazed by how many firms don’t have any kind of formal, written plan to address this critical need.
— Kevin Cumley, Director — Sage Intacct Accountants Program, Sage Intacct

Without a doubt — embrace technology. The impacts of technology on business and government are rapid and profound. Our profession is no different. Disruption is here, and more is coming.

Cybersecurity and data in particular are the most promising areas for professional accountants to add value today.

Professional accountants can be particularly important in anticipating ransomware threats, measuring the potential costs of breaches and data theft, and setting policies for minimizing risks from breaches.

When it comes to data, accountants understand what makes information useful for decision-making. We are well-versed in core financial reporting principles of relevance, reliability, completeness, and accuracy. With a strong foundation in principles of what contributes to value, accountants can lead the way to ensure data is subject to a governance framework.

Accountants need to add value in way that we hadn’t imagined 10 years ago. Whether it’s in these disciplines or others, we need to embrace change and master new skills for the digital economy.
— Kevin Dancey, CEO, IFAC

Right now is the ideal time for those auditors who want to be at the forefront of their profession to learn the details of emerging technologies that will soon change their audit testing and programs — not only that, but they should also begin contributing to education and development. Because emerging technology will also eventually change requisite skills, this interdisciplinary new job description will be an opportunity for professionals to be both competent in auditing while also helping innovate the profession. My advice: Don’t ever become stagnant, even if you remain in the same industry, with the same company, or in the same job. It’s easy to become complacent, but because everything changes so quickly, you must be capable of reinventing yourself at least every 10 years to avoid becoming obsolete. Constantly challenging yourself helps.
— Avani Desai, President, Schellman & Co.

Learn to be a more effective business advisor. Technology will shrink the amount of routine work many accountants do today, but there will always be a need for accountants who can provide business insights to their clients and help them make sense of the immense amount of data that is available today. Work to make your knowledge and advice indispensable to your clients. It’s the best way to remain relevant.
—Ted Dickman, CEO and Governing Board Chair, BKD CPAs & Advisors

Embrace technology, but use it to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with your clients, not just to augment staff.
— Sarah Dobek, President and Founder, Inovautus Consulting

My recommendation to auditors and accountants for the future is to embrace the fact that change is inevitable and rapid, and as such we need to be comfortable with constant re-skilling and re-inventing ourselves. Change is not comfortable but discomfort breads creativity and creativity and innovation will secure our valued role in our world.
— Bob Dohrer, Chief Auditor, AICPA

Commit to being lifelong learners and be open to diverse perspectives and thinking. One of the benefits of joining a firm like KPMG is that there are learning opportunities everywhere. Stay current on new technologies and effective ways to use data, changes in business models and the technology supporting those business models, how regulation affects the financial reporting landscape, how business and the markets are capitalizing on disruption, and so on. Continuous learning will ensure you’re always adding value to your organization, teams and clients.
— Lynne Doughtie, Chairman and CEO, KMPG

Review the various emerging technologies and choose one to develop advanced knowledge in, and a secondary one to have a little less depth, but be conversant across all of them. I would also recommend at least two hours each work on learning new competencies. It also helps to network with AICPA and state CPA Societies, attend conferences, webcasts, and join the various communities on social media.
— Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, Executive Director — Finance Thought Leadership, Oracle, Cloud Business Group

Develop the skills and credentials that enables an accountant to provide solutions to the challenges facing entrepreneurs and business owners.
— Domenick Esposito, CEO, Esposito CEO2CEO, LLC

Add flexibility and adaptability to your list of skillsets.
— Kim Fantaci, President, CPA Firm Management Association

Technological advancements are improving on a daily basis. As a profession, we need to embrace these changes and utilize them to take away some of the more mechanical aspects. This leaves us more time to do more analytics of the return, of the financials, to add more value to our clients.
— Neil Fishman. President, NCCPAP

Things are changing so quickly in our world — whether business, technology, geo-political — that I think the best thing accountants and auditors can do is train themselves to be open to change. Honing critical and analytic thinking will help us all prepare for whatever the future brings.
— Cindy Fornelli, Immediate Past Executive Director, Center for Audit Quality

Start doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Mergers are adding service lines, industries, and geographic reach — creating large, homogenous firms that are rapidly commoditizing the industry. Accounting leaders need to think smaller. While the giants broaden their service offerings, I recommend going deeper with fewer, specialized services.
— Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner, Hinge

I would recommend that accountants educate themselves to prepare for the day when the classic accountant skillset that they learned in school will be replaced by readily accessible technology. That day is almost here. This can be done by learning to offer ancillary services, including consulting and specialized offerings such as business valuation, business continuity planning, and tech stack consulting.
— Esther Friedberg Karp, President and CEO, EFK CompuBooks Inc.

Accountants need to make a list of skills they are strong in and hire people with the skills sets where they lack. They need to recruit and train their teams to help build the firm they want to become and not maintain the firm they have been. Accountants need to dream up their ideal firm and clients, and work each day to accomplish that dream. We all work better when we understand our “why” and know “who” we are doing the work for.
— Arthur Garcia, President and COO, ATAX

Learn how to have a finger on the pulse about what our customers’ needs are; their needs will always be evolving based on their industry, environmental factors, current available technologies, and personal goals. Learning the skill of reading between the lines of what the customers tell us what they need, and proactively innovating to serve customers this way, is the only way to prepare for any future at any point in time.
— Hector Garcia, CEO, Quick Bookkeeping & Accounting

Don’t try to conform to an antiquated accountant stereotype that isn’t true. So many of us allow professionalism to suffocate our personality because we’re trying to act like what we think an accountant should be. Except you are the accountant, so act like you. Recognize that you have expertise above and beyond your college degrees and certifications. Expertise gained through the unique perspectives each individual has because of their outside-of-work hobbies and passions can be a real asset to any firm or organization
— John Garrett, comedian, consultant and “Recovering Accountant”

Keep pace with changes in financial reporting technology — and never stop learning.
— Russell Golden, Chairman, FASB

View their work differently. View projects from the perspective of outcomes for customers instead of their myopic perspective: tasks, activities and inputs.
— Michelle Golden River, President, Fore

Embrace technology. Technology has changed how we do virtually everything in our lives, including accounting, and this will only increase in the future. By harnessing the power of tech innovations — whether that’s working in the cloud, taking advantage of automation or using third-party apps — accountants are able to eliminate time spent on tedious tasks, like manual data entry, giving them more time to act as strategic advisors to their clients. By embracing new ways of working and the opportunities that technology provides, accountants will be able to future-proof their businesses in an impactful way.
— Sasan Goodarzi, CEO, Intuit

Learn more about business and all of the operational areas and potential needs, stay on top of technology, embrace the unknown instead of fighting it. Surround yourself with smart people.
— Angie Grissom, President, The Rainmaker Companies

Read and view content from diverse perspectives, including those you disagree with.
— Thomas Groskopf, Technical Director, AICPA Center for Plain English Accounting

Develop skills to add value in a world in which data is increasingly available through alternative channels and in unstructured ways.
— Jeffrey Hales, Chairman, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board

With technology automating more of the routine accounting activities, accountants need to broaden their education and experience across more business functions. It’s also important to note that understanding, measuring, and planning performance is moving beyond financial measures. Organizations are embracing integrated reporting — broadening their view of value creation and including more stakeholders. The most successful accounting and finance leaders are experts in both their profession and in their markets.
— Aaron Harris, CTO, Sage

Learn more than just accounting and tax. For us to remain relevant we need to bring more skill and knowledge to the table than we thought we needed when we got into this profession. At a minimum we need to be more tech-savvy.
— Roger Harris, President and COO, Padgett Business Services

Stay in tune with the problems of your customers. No matter what things shift and move in the future, solving the problems of your customers will always bring value and keep you relevant. Our customers are more willing than ever to admit where they do not have knowledge/strength and want to fill those gaps. If we can stay in touch with the problems they face, and where our value connects with those issues, the relationship will thrive.
— William Hill, Product Manager, Tax Professionals Advisory, Thomson Reuters

L>C2. Period. In a world of rapid change and increasing competition, the winners will be those who can keep their rate of learning greater than the rate of change and greater than the competition. This is true for organizations as well as individuals.
— Tom Hood, CEO, Maryland Association of CPAs and Business Learning Institute

Accountants need to be prepared for continuous learning to be equipped to adapt to our ever-more-rapidly changing technological and cultural environment. I think this is of particular importance for accountants because by nature, most of us like to have concrete, definitive answers; we need to accept the grey and be willing and able to find a new path through it.
— Laurie Lambert Hopkins. Partner, UHY

Immerse yourself in the increasingly complex world of the digitization of tax and indirect tax determinations. Non-compliance is not an option for businesses, and they will need experts to offer consultation and strategy to avoid steep penalties.

That change won’t be easy, though. It will require accountants to both master the fundamentals of traditional accounting and learn new skills. To be successful, accountants will have to learn about the new technologies that will shape the profession — and expand their knowledge of the businesses they support so they can advise on the higher-order problems businesses now face.

It is only a matter of time before more governments around the world will catch up to their peers when it comes to calculating and collecting taxes in real-time. This shift toward continuous compliance is transforming business at every point in the supply chain. Rather than viewing these new tax compliance requirements as a burden, however, many companies are finding the increased visibility into their financial transactions worldwide grants them greater security against fraud and limits their exposure to audit risk.

Accountants who understand and practice safeguards and stay up to date on regulatory changes will be valuable assets to companies that can rest easier knowing they have a system to ease the burden of complex tax determination, digital tax reporting and e-invoicing compliance worldwide.
— Andy Hovancik, President and CEO, Sovos

I believe firms need to modify their overall strategy, partner roles, hiring practices, staff training and even succession activities to support the changing business model. Additionally, firms need to aggressively invest in technology to stay competitive, make their processes more efficient and provide team members with access to the information they need to properly service clients.
— Charles Hylan, Shareholder, The Growth Partnership

Listen to their clients more to build client-centric organizations.
— Kacee Johnson, Strategic Advisor, CPA.com

Block time in your weekly calendar to plan and learn something new.
— Randy Johnston CEO and founder / EVP, Network Management Group, Inc. / K2 Enterprises

Blue-sky thinking around transformation. Technology advancements that we have today, particularly around AI, can virtually redefine the finance processes and the accounting profession. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for accountants to define what it would be, so be a participant in it.
— Anant Kale, Co-Founder and CEO, AppZen

Understand you are a business leader, agnostic of title or role. (Do that by being a listener, and be curious rather than certain. Ask questions and take in what clients and your people are sharing.)
— Mari-Anne Kehler, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Green Hasson Janks

Focus on business information that your clients need to make decisions and learn to utilize the applications and tools to deliver that information to them timely and seamlessly.
— Roman Kepczyk, Director of Firm Technology Strategy, Right Networks

Be a talent magnet! ... And take advantage of all the digital tools available to increase the efficiency of the compliance work and figure out how you are going to rebrand as an advisory consultant and not a bean counter.
— Rita Keller, President and CEO, Keller Advisors

In a rapidly changing society like we have today, you have to be able to cope with upheaval and change. Try to focus on what’s new and complicated, and try to understand and master the new developments. Once you have developed a clear understanding and comprehensive knowledge, you can provide leadership and assume the role of expert. For example: Tony Nitti has become one of the nation’s top authorities through his mastery of and lucid articles about Section 199A.
— Sidney Kess, Senior Consultant, Citrin Cooperman

Change the model for CPE so that is actually about learning new stuff and demonstrating that knowledge. I find it absurd that attendees rate the instructors and that all attendees need to do is prove their butt was attached to a seat. They do not have to prove that they actually learned anything. That ain’t education!
— Ed Kless, Senior Director, Partner Development and Strategy, Sage

Don’t hide behind being too busy being busy not to consult and advise your clients on issues that matter. Simply stated, if you stay “too busy being busy,” your clients will find other service providers who will advise them on the things that matter.
— Allan Koltin, CEO, Koltin Consulting Group

CPAs need to up-skill with new trends. For example, if you are not familiar with AI, blockchain, crypto or cyber, learn it! No matter what your role, you’ll be able to contribute this knowledge to your organization. Today, organizations mandate their teams to sit through and sign off that they’ve done internal training on security and privacy and/or sexual harassment. Imagine if these organizations mandated that each person learn one new skill per year.
— Mark Koziel, EVP of Firm Services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

We are in a life-long-learning profession. That being said, it’s hard to learn what does not yet exist. Given the significant changes on the horizon, I think we need to do a better job of embracing change and disruption. This means taking calculated risks from time to time, and recognizing that failures along the way are not and will not be fatal.
— Art Kuesel, President, Kuesel Consulting

Keep learning. So much is changing in the profession, including technology, that accountants who continue to learn will always have an advantage. Adopt a new technology for your firm every year and incorporate it with all of your processes and clients before adopting the next.
— René Lacerte, CEO and Founder, Bill.com

Learn to evolve to every changing demands of clients and technology.
— Michael Law, Director of Tax Solutions, XY Planning Network

Constantly focus on what value you are creating for clients.
— David Leary, Co-Host, Cloud Accounting Podcast

How can one adequately “prepare” for the unknown of the future? I think by tapping into the curiosity which is innate in us as human beings. To take our firms into the future, we must not be afraid to change. The curiosity comes in where we can seek out new ways to lead firms and to break the mold using blue-ocean thinking. The accountants of the future will have to be technologists in addition to advisors. Knowing how the technology works and the impact it will have on their clients is crucial to be the indispensable advisor.
— Jen Lemanski, Senior Manager of Practice Growth, PKF Texas

I need to clarify the question. Is it young accountants or any accountant? Young accountants need to understand that while being a consultant is key, they need to invest time to understand how to build, interpret and explain basic financial statement construction. I would also advise young accountants to gain as much digital accounting experience as possible. Their future will require technological proficiency to be an accountant.

For a more mature accountant, specifically aging partners, they need to understand the profession has changed. The time and money they invested when they bought in were based on services that hold a different value today. If they want to exit at a fair price, they need to begin to teach their people how to sell and network and engage their staff in the growth process. Firm leaders claim it is because of a lack of people to do the compliance work, but the reality is they don’t know how to do advisory work themselves and continue to labor on lower-realization compliance work, instead of helping clients build the value of their companies.
— Bob Lewis, President, The Visionary Group

Stay aware. As technological advances reshape the profession, CPAs need more than ever to have one eye on the big picture and the other on what's right in front of them: the specific, day-to-day steps they can take now to position themselves for future success.
— Julie Bell Lindsay, Executive Director, Center for Audit Quality

Get comfortable with the unknown and using their expertise and trusted business advisor relationships with clients to help prepare for the future. This requires focusing on the relationship with their team members and clients to collaborate and develop solutions that will be the competitive differentiator.
— Tamera Loerzel, Partner, ConvergenceCoaching, LLC

Get as comfortable as possible with cloud-software and technology.
— Michael Ly, CEO, Reconciled

Embrace technology.
— Taylor Macdonald, Senior VP, Channel, Sage Intacct

Abandon the belief that whatever worked in the past will work in the future. To prepare for the future, accountants need to be willing to flex and adapt rapidly to technological advances.
— Janice Maiman, EVP — PR, Communications and Content, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

You don’t have to know how to code, run .SQL queries, or design an API, but you should probably know enough about technology to understand its importance in modern tax compliance. Whether you serve a global manufacturer, national retailer or online business, tax compliance is growing more and more complicated every day. The rules and regulations shift frequently. Knowing the fundamentals of tax compliance will help accountants do their jobs better in a global, connected world.
— Chuck Maniace, Vice President of Regulatory Analysis & Design, Sovos

Like many industries, true leadership skills are generally absent from the profession. Accountants should not only focus on the technical skills of the profession, but also develop relationship skills that can be used to coach teams and position themselves as trusted leaders. Those leaders will soon be mentors to others that will develop and bring the necessary change that will be identified in future years. We must now move past the concept of “thought leadership” and graduate to clear vision, change management and support leadership ideas that are new to the industry.
— R. Sean Manning, CEO, Founder, Payroll Vault

Go beyond the numbers and learn to think critically and communicate effectively.
— Harold Martin, Partner-in-Charge, Valuation and Forensic Services, Keiter

Preparing for the future doesn’t happen all at once, so take the first step in incorporating new technology solutions into your firm’s workflow. The pace of that change will only continue to accelerate, and the firms that take action now will be better positioned to manage continuous change and pursue growth. Investments made today will pay off tomorrow with advanced capabilities such as AI and predictive analytics to provide clients with even more data-driven support and services.
— Jason Marx, CEO, Tax & Accounting North America, Wolters Kluwer

Accountants do not respond well to big changes, so I would recommend they start with one improvement at a time and work their way to automated technology. Beyond reading everything and staying apprised of the changes, the easiest and most accessible first step for everyone is with process; accountants need processes documented that do not rely on paper.
— Liz Mason, Founder and CEO, High Rock Accounting

I would never underestimate the value of keeping an open mind. The accounting profession looks drastically different from when I started working; the way in which people work, technology and regulatory environments are constantly moving. Approaching change with an open mind will help all generations work together cohesively and learn from each other.
— William Mayer, Partner, RitzHolman CPAs

Develop a strategic plan, starting with completing a TOWS Matrix (threats, opportunities, weaknesses, strengths).
— Chuck McCabe, CEO, The Income Tax School & Peoples Income Tax

It is essential to recognize and accept the accelerated pace of change taking place in the profession. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the future is arriving faster and more unpredictably today than ever before. It’s the new normal, and it represents untold opportunities for accounting professionals.

Accountants should make a commitment to gaining a baseline understanding of new technologies that will have the greatest impact on the profession, from cloud-based apps utilized in client accounting services, to blockchain and the ramifications for AI in the tax world. Only then can professionals truly begin to envision and plan for their place within this next phase of growth in the profession.
— Scott McFarlane, Co-founder & CEO, Avalara

Take the next step on the cloud/platform/automation/advanced technology journey … your competitors are.
— Jim McGinnis, EVP and General Manager, Professional Segment, Tax & Accounting North America, Wolters Kluwer

You can either let the changes in the profession lead you, or you can determine your destiny and lead your direction. I ask that you be open to exploration! Create time in your schedule for exploring new technologies, business practices, and marketing strategies. Invest in yourself and your business. You are so busy helping other businesses succeed, and you need to schedule in some of that time for yourself and your firm. How can you automate? How can you streamline processes? How can you adopt new technologies that will make you and your clients’ lives better? How can you grow deeper in your services and your offerings with your current client base versus working tirelessly to obtain additional clients?

If you don’t allow yourself time to dream about your own firm and future, it will take you longer to pivot, grow and create a path that brings you both joy and the success.
— Misty Megia, Global Head of ProAdvisor Program and Education, Intuit

Embrace technology and adopt a nimble mindset. The skillsets and competencies that bring you success today will need to be continually re-evaluated and updated.
— Barry Melancon, President and CEO, American Institute of CPAs; CEO, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Be aware of the changing business and social environment. Expand your circle of acquaintances, knowledge and inquisitiveness, read more — fiction and nonfiction books and all sorts of magazines, attend trade shows, look at the magazine racks in airports and book stores to spot nascent trends, and look for changes, i.e., differences, wherever and whenever you are doing whatever you normally do.
— Ed Mendlowitz, Partner, WithumSmith+Brown

Embrace technology for both security and automation. If we can minimize compliance time while being able to provide more value-added services for our clients or owners, we will all win. At the same time, protecting client information is imperative.
— Mark Mirsky, Managing Director, ROI Business Services

The No. 1 thing you can do to prepare is to understand the factors that might shape the future, and decide how you will adapt. The two biggest factors I see are:

1. Compliance automation through artificial intelligence.

2. Changing expectations clients have for highly skilled professional service delivery.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it also doesn’t happen without intention. Ask yourself how you’d like to operate in this “future” we’re all talking about. Then, tackle this problem the same way you’d coach your clients to tackle any problem. Chunk it into smaller pieces and start working on each.

QuickBooks has great tools to help you leverage automation to optimize the way you keep books clean and accurate, if I may say so myself. Hundreds of thousands of accountants have chosen to start there.
— Ariege Misherghi, Leader, Accountant Segment at Intuit, Intuit

Broaden their perspective on the role they play in helping clients succeed by developing holistic business acumen and consulting skills that enable them to facilitate collaborative conversations with clients to solve their key issues.
— D. Scott Moore, Shareholder and EVP, The Rainmaker Companies

As cheesy as it sounds … Find your passion. Find the niche or the industry or the work that makes you super-excited to get out of bed. Because knowledge simply isn’t enough anymore. Credibility isn’t enough to win and retain the best clients — they are really looking for trusted advisors who live, breathe and think their industry all day. And it’s hard to fake it. Encourage your young people — staff, seniors, etc. — to do the same. The earlier in a career that someone can find their “thing,” the more likely they are to pursue business that excites them which leads to retention as well.
— Adelaide Ness, EVP, The Rainmaker Companies

What I would recommend accountants do to prepare for the future would be to develop their IT skill sets. The world is becoming virtual. Millennials and Gen Z people are all digital natives. Gen X and Y must be able to communicate in the language, style and culture of their future clients and that will be digital. Accountants must perfect their soft skills. They must learn how to communicate with successors to their existing clients. Additionally, I’d suggest to my baby boomers they must learn how to retire gracefully and still remain relevant.
— Jay Nisberg, President, Jay Nisberg & Associates

Always be looking for the intersection of what you are good at, what you love to do and how you can solve a problem/fill a need/help the world. This intersection is the sweet spot where you can do what you love, make a sustainable living and a positive contribution to the world. Never stop making that evaluation.
— Carol Spindler O’Hara, Consumer Products Industry Leader; Partner in Charge, North Bay, BPM LLP

Study the field of customer experience. In the past, I would have said that accountants should embrace technology, but I’ve learned since then that technology is but a means to an end. The end, at least as far as public accounting is concerned, should be an improved customer experience. Historically the customer experience of CPA firms is pretty terrible, so any accountant who learns how to create a good one will likely be successful.
— Blake Oliver, Co-Host, Cloud Accounting Podcast

Go back to school and take a data science for accounting or data analytics for accounting class. It’s a whole new exciting way to solve real-world business problems. One can find a professional to do “the math.” But until you do the math at least once, it’s hard to understand the power or application of data. It’s now a requirement for most accounting degree programs.
— Jody Padar, CEO and Principal, New Vision CPA Group

I would highly recommend accountants hire, contract, or partner with a tech-savvy individual or firm. Trying to learn a new field such as software development, API integrations, machine learning, or robotic process automation sounds great in theory but is unrealistic in practice. To think accountants will have not only the time to keep up with current demands of their profession but also simultaneously learn a new subject matter and then have the time to build, implement and/or deploy that software in their firm is highly unlikely. In contrast, firms that I have seen implement new software and technology most successfully and achieve the greatest results, have all had assistance from a tech-savvy employee, partner or consultant.
— Enrico Palmerino, CEO, Botkeeper

I believe personal development is essential in the areas of leadership and critical thinking. I believe accounting education and professional training has numerous gaps in these two learning areas, as they will be essential to support the automation and technology advancements happening right now.
— Erik Parrish, Fractional CFO Services Practice Leader, Kernutt Stokes LLP

Adoption of technology and cyber security
— Nicholas Pasquarosa, Founder and CEO, Bookkeeper360

Embrace change and not to be fearful. “Being comfortable with being uncomfortable” — we have a wonderful opportunity!!!
— Anant Patel, Partner and Head of Advisory Services, Green Hasson Janks

Recognize that you need to do only the work that technology cannot do. Use your hands less and less to process the work and more and more to create communications that deliver the impact of your expertise and insights to the benefit of your clients. Be great with words too, not just with numbers. Recognize that you have the powers not just to “report” but also to transform your clients’ businesses and hence, the lives of people.”
And to do so, it is critically important for accountants to not only leverage technological advances but also to deeply understand the core human needs and wants that drive the behaviors and practices of their clients and prospects. That will help you “connect the dots” for your clients to provide customized, relevant, timely and impactful advice and guidance to your clients.
— Hitendra Patil, Director of Practice Development, AccountantsWorld

Accountants need to focus. They must be diligent within their practice niche, to know and be ready to implement the latest trends, technology and changes impacting their clients and services lines. At the same time, they must leverage outside relationships with other firms to provide the best client service.
— Carl Peterson, Vice President of Small Firm Interests — Firm Services, AICPA

There are two things. First, the automation of everything. Millennials never use paper and expect to be able to do business on every device. Second, getting their clients to understand the business cycle so they are prepared for recessions when they occur and to capitalize on them when they end.
— Scott Peterson, Vice President of U.S. Tax Policy and Government Relations, Avalara Inc.

We own a blog that is read by 80 percent of millennial CPAs every month, so we spend a lot of time with young CPAs. If I had one wish for them it would be to invest in their own skills around selling, managing people, and being on teams. There is so much career opportunity for CPAs who have these skills.
— Jeff Phillips, CEO, Accountingfly

The one thing I recommend accountants do to prepare for the future is to be aware of what is happening in the profession and act upon macro trends like technology and upskilling. Read industry publications, attend progressive conferences, and add your voice to the discussions through committees and events. Develop interpersonal and presentation skills. The professionals who can communicate complicated ideas and lead teams are the ones who will continue to succeed and best adapt to change like technology advancements.
— Elizabeth Pittelkow Kittner, Head of Finance, International Legal Technology Association

We are living in extraordinary times where technology is revolutionizing the profession. Increasingly, technology will render traditional compliance-focused activities more automated, more commoditized and less valuable. I would advise accountants to look at and listen to their clients, evaluate the skills and expertise they can bring to those clients, and begin to pivot from compliance-focused activities to planning and advisory activities. The CPA’s role as the trusted advisor has more value today than ever before, and that will only keep growing as the profession evolves. Those are the jobs that robots can never replace.
— Amy Pitter, President and CEO, Massachusetts Society of CPAs

Accountants need to plan for how technological innovation will change the profession and the financial reporting environment, and how the profession can be proactive in responding to those changes.
— Terri Polley, Immediate Past President and CEO, Financial Accounting Foundation

Gain new competencies and applied knowledge of newer technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, advanced analytics, data science, and data visualizations so that they are equipped to compete in an increasingly complex market with significant non-CPA competition eroding the profession’s market share and market permission.
— Anthony Pugliese, CEO, California Society of CPAs

Firms need to make a choice: Will your firm adapt to the changes coming down the road or should you hitch your wagon to a firm better equipped for the future? In simple terms, you should be moving from dependence on compliance-based services to consulting and advisory services. Failure to do this could lead to a less lucrative future for your firm.
— Terry Putney, CEO, Transition Advisors

In our industry, we’ve been hearing a lot about advisory and how firms should get out of compliance. However, I don’t see it as one over the other because the reality is, the need for compliance services isn’t going anywhere — it’s the foundation of any firm.

To prepare for the future, I think practices should embrace the cloud and get their compliance online. By doing so, they’ll have more free time, become more efficient, and be able to connect with clients more regularly. Technology is making online compliance easier than ever and that’s really exciting. Now, tasks that previously may have taken several hours per week can now be completed in a fraction of that time.
— Ben Richmond, U.S. country manager, Xero

Focus on creating a client experience that improves their clients’ lives.
— Darren Root, CEO, Rootworks

Recognize that you are creating a firm, not a job. Firms have rules and processes that they should follow. The client is not the one in control, the owner of the company is.

The biggest piece of education that is never taught is how to have confidence in yourself, your processes, your pricing and your business. Confidence above all else is what I help people and firms find.
— Richard Roppa-Roberts, The ProAdvisor Advisor, Quasar Cowboy

My recommendation is to stop focusing on the billable hours and become focused specifically on client goals, objectives and what matters most to clients. Once the CPA has identified what is important to the clients, CPAs can design their services to revolve around their clients' priorities. Once they master this, they can become fully planning-intensive versus transactional.
— Louie Rosalez, President, HK Financial Services

First, understand that interpersonal and communication skills will always be more important than technical skills in determining career advancement and success, regardless if it’s in public accounting or other businesses. Caveat: Do not misinterpret this statement as meaning that technical and technology skills are unimportant. People must develop technical skills in the CPA firm world because they are more like ante to get into the game.

Second, become as proficient as possible with all the new areas of technology like Blockchain, data analytics, machine learning and other areas that I am not smart enough to name. In my mentoring of accounting majors at universities, I am seeing many of them double-majoring in accounting and data analytics. The world will be their oyster for these students.
— Marc Rosenberg, President, The Rosenberg Associates

Get yourself and others comfortable with change. The ability to navigate change and uncertainty, while helping others to do the same and drive results — will be the difference between whether or not businesses survive.
— Clar Rosso, EVP, Engagement and Learning Innovation, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

Embrace change — that involves adopting a learning mindset to commit yourself to perpetually developing new skills and creating better ways to serve and anticipate your clients’ needs.
— Charlotte Rushton, President, Tax & Accounting Professionals, Thomson Reuters

Success is dependent upon adding value. That’s true whether you are talking about nations, corporations, firms, or individual professionals. Find an area or specialization that you passionately enjoy and work to become the best in the world at it. You’ll create great value for your clients and have fun doing it.
— G. Brint Ryan, Chairman and CEO, Ryan, LLC

Accountants of all levels should work to learn more about how digital technology can help them do bigger, better things in their work — and they should do what they can do digitally upskill themselves. And if their organizations don’t provide the tools and technology for upskilling, they should push their leaders to do so!
— Tim Ryan, U.S. Chair and Senior Partner, PwC US

I recommend that accountants allow themselves designated “tinker-time” to explore technology and apps. Focus on understanding the flow of data and learn a bit of coding or find someone who codes to become friends with. Also, break stuff (preferably in a controlled environment). It is the best way to learn how to fix things and tap into your creative brain.
— Heather Satterley, Owner/Founder, Satterley Training & Consulting and QB ‘Appy Hour Enterprises

We are in an era where there is tremendous attention being paid to the client experience. I think it’s really the same for any professional services industry discipline — if you are going to stay ahead of the curve, connect with clients, and position yourself as a leader in the field, you need to constantly be both self-reflective and aspirational. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where are there opportunities to better serve your clients? Where are there outside threats (via competitors, technology, etc.) that might derail your practice? Over-confidence is a killer in any professional services profession. One must constantly take realistic stock of their position in the industry and their relationship with clients and strive to improve.
— Russell Shapiro, Partner, Executive Committee Member, Transactional Department Chair, Levenfeld Pearlstein

I can’t limit it to one thing. My three are: Read, read and read some more; be intellectually curious; and be open to and embrace change.
— Todd Shapiro, President and CEO, Illinois CPA Society

Build some capacity to do future-focused work. “We’re so busy doing our jobs,” Seth Godin wrote recently, “that we can’t get any work done.” In my mind, the “work” Godin refers to is the critically important task of becoming future-ready. Many in our profession will tell you they don’t have time for that kind of work, but that’s not true. We make time for the things that are important to us, and I believe few things are as important today as becoming more future-ready. We must find time for that work.

I tell anyone who will listen to adopt futurist Daniel Burrus’s solution for building capacity: Make a one-hour appointment with yourself sometime this week — one hour to do something future-related. Read a book or whitepaper. Learn a bit about a new technology. Register for a program that will teach you a critical future-ready skill. Just one hour this week. Then, make it a recurring appointment on your calendar, so that it becomes a weekly one-hour appointment. Make the time to become future-ready.
— Bill Sheridan, Chief Communications Officer, MACPA and Business Learning Institute

Stop avoiding looking at the future and take the time to understand the changes that are possible. Change will be occurring more quickly in the next couple of years and you need to start preparing now.
— Donny Shimamoto, Managing director, IntrapriseTechKnowlogies

Continually invest in learning and training.
— Joel Sinkin, President, Transition Advisors

Learn accounting apps — and become a champion at a select few that interest them.
— Heather Smith, Anise Consulting

To embrace technology and be proactive in seeking out every learning and development opportunity possible, no matter how challenging it might seem at first.
— Sean Stein Smith, Assistant Professor, City University of New York, Lehman College

With my background in the corporate outsourced accounting space, I was able to work with a variety of different companies, revenue sizes and accounting software. By having the experience of working in the trenches with different business clients, I was able to take this accounting approach to high-net-worth families who have a complex financial life, similar to a corporate entity.

When you’re starting out, it’s great to get experience handling a variety of accounting tasks, industries and software. This is when you find out your strengths and interests to manifest your skillset to match your perfect career for the future.
— Anneke Stender, Co-Founder of TAG Bill Pay

Continuously increase their knowledge of technology advances in the profession including AI, to better advise their clients on managing their businesses and spending less time with compliance services.
— Joseph Tarasco, CEO and Senior Consultant, Accountants Advisory Group

The future is now. The time for preparation has run out. You either get moving or get out of the way.
— Rick Telberg, Founder and CEO, CPA Trendlines

Accountants need to unlearn the old ways of preparing for a career in accounting and relearn new ways to thrive in the profession going forward. Younger professionals need to advance their knowledge of Excel/data analytics and their communication skills to ensure a smooth transition to CPAs becoming trusted advisors. Excel needs to be included as part of accounting students’ core curriculum.
— Ralph Thomas, CEO and Executive Director, New Jersey Society of CPAs

Invest in the right technological products that will help you serve your clients better. Unfortunately, there are not enough options in the market currently for the auditing sector and hopefully that will change and we will see more technological products that firms can choose from.
— Sibi Thomas, Partner, MarksPaneth

Keep learning and growing. Inspire others. Build followership. Understand that “accounting” has been redefined to = accounting + finance + operations + strategy + leadership + technology + data science + ?????
— Jeff Thomson, President and CEO, Institute of Management Accountants

Every accountant should investigate the benefits of technology. We see a tide of excitement among accountants at companies of all sizes about the potential to leverage technology to have professions that they love. They are asking questions, researching technology, and recognizing that the old batch approach to processing is obsolete.
— Therese Tucker, Founder and CEO, BlackLine

Eat, sleep, and breathe innovation and adopt a continuous-learning mindset. There is so much change happening in the profession, from AI to machine learning, technology is constantly evolving, and pushing us to evolve, too. Gone are the days when accountants were doing things manually — this means we must strive to always be students by upgrading our skillsets and gaining a better understanding of how emerging technology can be used to enhance our work. You can stand out among the crowd if you are ahead of the curve on innovation and technology.

As CEO of Deloitte, I am personally focused on creating an inclusive environment of continuous learning, where our professionals are equipped with the resources and mindset to take on these new opportunities and drive innovation in our profession.
— Joe Ucuzoglu, CEO, Deloitte US

To be prepared for the future in this exciting profession, embrace learning all you can about technology. Stay abreast to technology trends impacting accounting — continually look for ways to expand your knowledge and understanding. Be the first to volunteer for opportunities in your work to be involved in new technology — it will be a career-enhancing move.

Technology will impact the accounting profession more than anything in recent times. The degree to which you immerse yourself in technology opportunities will positively impact your future in the accounting profession.
— David Vaudt, Chairman, GASB

One thing they should do to prepare is to educate themselves and their teams about innovations like artificial intelligence. AI is a rapidly maturing area of technology that is helping organizations capture top-line opportunities, save cost, and streamline the process. AI is helping finance teams transform operations and make decisions in a variety of areas, including quoting, billing, revenue recognition, receivables, payables, procurement, FP&A, cash management, treasury, and more. Of course, streamlining all of these areas at once is a non-starter, but the learning process will help finance and accounting leaders prioritize and sequence projects in a way that sets their teams up for success, balances quick wins with hairier projects and makes their organizations more resilient to the changes that are on the horizon.
— Kunal Verma, Co-Founder and CTO, AppZen

Stay agile and open to change. We no longer can put processes and technology in place and walk away for 20 years before we need to review it again. It’s important that we are always open to learning, no matter what stage of our career we are in. Be curious, find delight in the process of innovation, and create a culture that allows for people to try new things without anyone being branded long-term if a research initiative doesn’t work out. If you create a culture that allows for everyone to equally contribute and provide ideas, it will create a workplace that everyone wants to be a part of, and a positive client experience that can’t be matched.
— Amy Vetter, CEO, The B3 Method Institute

Invest in themselves every day to grow the knowledge they have. They are responsible for their own future and they need to take control of it. This means soaking up all types of knowledge, not just technical knowledge. As we transition into our new roles as advisors, we need to expand our knowledge base.
— Garrett Wagner, CEO/Founder, C3 Evolution Group, C3 Advisory, C3 Financial

I can imagine a time where accounting firms are operating almost like managed service providers — they’ll be looking after a stack of software for businesses, charging a monthly fee and doing advisory on top of that. That’s where I see the future. If you’re an accountant or bookkeeper, you’ll have to determine how you can become a business coach and bring yourself out of the basics of accounting. We know that accountants and bookkeepers are the most trusted source of advice for small businesses. They play a critical role in being a sounding board for business owners, help them make well-considered financial decisions, and feel in control of their cash flow.
— Tony Ward, President, Xero Americas, Xero

Accounting students should take every technology and critical thinking class they can manage to fit into their schedules. It is the future. Current accounting professionals need to choose an industry vertical to focus on and then get very, very good at it. The days of being a generalist are over. Having deep expertise in the nuances of a specific industry, staying relevant on current developments and trends, and understanding the dynamics of a particular marketplace will make you indispensable to clients in that industry and increase your value many times over.
— Jeffrey Weiner, Chairman and CEO, Marcum

Ask more questions and get out of the office. Spend more time on site with clients really understanding the challenges they face and go to conferences (or find other ways to learn about all of the amazing changes that are providing new opportunities for our profession.)
— Geni Whitehouse, Countess of Communication, Brotemarkle, Davis & Co. LLP, Even a Nerd Can be Heard, Solve Services

You must consistently teach yourself new skills to remain relevant in the industry and be a motivated learner. For example, I would immediately learn how to become an ERP systems administrator — preferably NetSuite, as these solutions are critical for accessing the information accountants need to complete essential tasks such as closing the monthly books.
— Mike Whitmire, Co-Founder and CEO, FloQast

Develop alignment among the leaders first, and then share with the others in the firm. A vision alignment at the firm level is absolutely necessary to prepare for the future.

Additionally, make sure you have the best information to build the vision and plan. Get educated!
— Sandra Wiley, President, Boomer Consulting

Study the trends and really understand what is coming. Read from a wide variety of sources inside and outside the CPA profession to learn about the changes that NextGen talent and clients will bring to all businesses — not just CPA firms and finance departments. Understand both the threats and the incredible opportunities these talent, technology and client shifts will bring. Then, prioritize your strategies to prepare for the future.
— Jennifer Wilson, Co-Founder and Partner, ConvergenceCoaching

Incorporate advisory services into their practices with the goal of making advisory their primary model in both brand and value proposition. Accounting practices can, and should, continue offering compliance, record-keeping and attestation services, but with advisory as the primary brand they differentiate the firm’s brand within a crowded industry and insulate the firm from competition-driven pricing pressures.
— Joe Woodard, CEO, Woodard Events

Accountants are going to have to be re-skilled to be more tech-savvy. We all need to know more about technology — not only to use it for the benefit of our firms and our clients, but also to understand and assess the risks of data and technology systems.
— Candy Wright, Chair, Private Company Council

Accounting is about data and being able to analyze it and tell its story. Accountants need to understand how to talk about numbers in a way to explain the importance of the data, the impact it has on business and how to use the data to help business grow and improve. Being able to just run the numbers is no longer what accountants are expected to be able to do.
— Diane Yetter, President and Founder, Yetter Consulting Services and Sales Tax Institute

The more interested and engaged accountants are in expanding opportunities in our profession, the stronger, more relevant and more influential our profession becomes. It is up to us as accounting professionals to understand the field enough that we can identify where there is room to grow, innovate, and expand our reach. This includes development of new ideas and content, and being responsive to the current financial landscape. There are multiple niches within the profession, and it is important that we continue to build those out, as well as identify new opportunities.
— Scott Zarret, President, CPAacademy.org

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