On Monday morning, Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the AICPA, gave his semi-annual Council report at the 2016 AICPA Spring Council in New Orleans.

Melancon, himself a resident of Southern La., welcomed members and focused primarily on the concept of necessary change in the profession during today's "very, very, fast-paced time of change and evolution."

Melancon noted that people look to the accounting profession as "one of the few beacons of trust in society," and with that, there should be a continued effort to work for that trust with the population by staying current.

"We have to ask ourselves [if] the complex financial information and how we portray it is how people want to look at things," he said.

He also noted three major trends impacting the profession today - growth of the informal sector, the further growth of startups, and the bifurcated economy - has increased consumers' desire for instant gratification, which in turn makes the profession more assignment-based. Melancon asked the audience that with time-centric consumers, how they as professionals would work to give back that time.

"How aligned are our core services to the consumer trends of today? Those are the types of things we need to continue to change," Melancon said. "All of these trends ask what skills are going to be needed in the future."

Concerning academia, Melancon urged that connecting with students, attracting them to the profession, and acting as mentors, is "everybody's job." He also touched on the new Uniform CPA Exam seeing an increase in "higher-order cognitive skills," stressing that the future of learning should be on proficiency.

"It's about competency enhancement, not the traditional ways we think of learning," he said. "The hours are not important; it's competency that's important."

"This is a very, very fast-paced time of change and evolution. Our willingness to change in these times is critical to our profession in the future," Melancon said. He also ended with a relevant quote from JFK: "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past are certain to miss the future."

For more on the 2016 AICPA Spring Council, follow the event on Twitter here.