Talking change at AICPA Engage 2019

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I spent the past week at the American Institute of CPAs' Engage 2019 conference in Las Vegas gambling, relaxing by the pool and singing karaoke. Oh! And I spent a whole day hosting a live podcast, interviewing more than 20 accounting professionals, firm owners, technology vendors and thought leaders.

My guests spoke on a range of topics, from implementing new technology in CPA firms, to why CPAs are feeling optimistic about the future of accounting.

Here’s a recap!

  • I kicked off the podcast by talking with Jim Bourke, a technology thought leader and partner at Top 100 Firm Withum, and Enrico Palmerino, the CEO of BotKeeper, about the abundance of technology available for CPAs to use in this digital era. Bourke and I reminisced about the past 10 years we’ve spent trying to encourage firms to modernize, but agreed there’s still so much to be done, especially when it comes to implementing new technology, like artificial intelligence. “It’s hard to change, but if a firm wants to remain relevant way into the future, they need to embrace bots, AI, all the changes that are coming down the chain and impacting our profession,” Bourke said.
  • I talked to Patti Newcomer, from Intuit, about how the company creates new products for its customers by observing them in their natural work habitats. By using observation, instead of relying on surveys, Intuit is able to pinpoint pain points that professionals may not even be able to identify themselves!
  • Next up was Rick Telberg, the creator of CPATrendlines, who told me why next year is going to be the “best accounting year ever!” He told me that we’re approaching the end of the talent shortage our profession has been facing due to automation and outsourcing becoming more commonplace, as well as new talent coming up the pipeline. He said most accountants are just as optimistic about the future as he is. “The mood here is really upbeat,” Telberg said. “Generally, what we’re finding in the profession at large is that most people are generally optimistic.”

  • Last, but definitely not least, Ryan Lazanis talked to me about how important it is to try and inspire other accountants to evolve because he’s noticed that the profession is pretty far behind. Being a firm owner can be extremely lonely, so interacting with each other at conferences like Engage and online is essential in understanding new ways of approaching common problems, he said. Lazanis explained that firms are past the education stage and understand they need to move into the future to actually start to implement new ideas!
  • The AICPA always puts on a good show. Next year, think about attending Engage, where you can hear all these thought leaders and more in June 2020!

    To listen to all the guests (and lots more) click here.

    For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
    Change management Technology Artificial intelligence AICPA