This is my first column of the New Year. I am not big on a New Year's celebration. In fact, my wife and I usually stay at home on New Year's Eve, and although she'll watch Dick Clark ring in the New Year at midnight, I am already asleep. My favorite time is actually the next morning.

I look upon every January 1st as a new beginning. It is a time to capitalize on all that I learned over the last year and start anew applying my recently acquired knowledge to the 365 days ahead.

In many ways, I see accountants in public practice doing the exact same thing. What are they capitalizing on? I believe these CPAs have learned that they must be much more forward looking, both for their clients and their firms. They have also become more comfortable with the need to be agile such as entering alliances with other accounting firms and professionals when appropriate.

With regard to technology, they are receptive to taking advantage of the increased efficiencies that the newest products offer.

Most interestingly, CPAs have learned that the Big Four do not have the significance and influence that they previously had. Many younger CPAs are actually saying that they would rather work for smaller firms.

Then there is what we have learned about the AICPA. It has gained wisdom from its experiences. The days of the push for a global credential and talking about a vision for the future that doesn't include traditional service are pretty much over. Now there is a concentration on audit quality, prevention and detection of fraud, and working with the best of the breed without the appearance of conditioning it on commercial gain. Throw in the fact that many of the volunteer leadership within the Institute are those at the top of the most successful regional firms.

So why have CPAs learned so much over the past years? They are not quick learners, but rather and quite simply, were forced to. Marketplace changes presented a challenge. What traditionally was successful for accounting firms for so many years no longer works. Today's world bears no resemblance to the one that many accountants encountered when they graduated from college.

Like me I hope CPAs look at all that happened as an invaluable learning experience providing a solid foundation for a bright future. This is a new beginning for the profession.

Happy New Year!

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