Council members of the American Institute of CPAs spent a majority of their day on Monday listening to visionaries predict the future to prepare them for brainstorming about the next leg of the Institute’s strategic plan.

David Pearce Snyder, Dr. Perry van der Werff and Edward Gordon shared their insights and perspectives on how the future will look from an economic, technological, social and human resources perspective.

The program was intended to encourage governing council members to think more about the future of the AICPA. After each presentation, members were prompted by outgoing AICPA chairman Bob Harris with a series of questions. Answers will be compiled and used in the reworking of the Institute’s Vision Project, or strategic plan, which runs through 2011. The renewed plan will take the AICPA through 2025.

Harris polled the group and found that 21 percent of the audience members have been a CPA for 31 to 35 years, and only 4 percent have been CPAs for between two to five years. Sixty-seven percent of the audience was male.

When asked to vote on the greatest risk for the accounting profession, assuming economic deleveraging, 62 percent of council members named greater fee pressure. Thirty-eight percent pointed to creating advisory services as the greatest opportunity right now.

Asked which emerging industry presented the greatest opportunities, 37 percent voted for green industries. Fifty-eight percent of those present said legislative and regulatory changes will be the force that will have the most impact on their profession in the next decade.

The Vision Project will be spearheaded by incoming chair Paul Stahlin from New Jersey. After council members heard from the futurists, they gathered into small roundtables to discuss four questions:

•    What element of the political and regulatory trends will have the greatest impact on the CPA profession?
•    What element of the technology trends will have the greatest impact on the CPA profession?
•    What element of the economic trends will have the greatest impact on the CPA profession?
•    What element of the social and human trends will have the greatest impact of the CPA profession?

Answers will be collected and discussed with council members, and then worked into a vision for the strategic plan.

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