Slideshow The latest buzz: What's trending in accounting

  • June 18 2018, 8:46pm EDT
27 Images Total


The American Institue of CPAs' weeklong Engage event, held June 10-16 in Las Vegas, brought together a vast collection of accountants, software vendors, thought leaders and more to discuss everything from technology and new service offerings to recruiting strategies and the latest in financial planning techniques, as well as the overall future of the profession.

It was also a hotbed of social media, with attendees sharing the wisdom they learned on a very active Twitter hashtag, #aicpaengage. Accounting Today's editors have picked out the brightest gems from this collection, and together they form a quick dive into what was on attendees' minds, and their favorite takeaways.

Go beyond ...

The theme of the week-long event was going beyond, and many speakers -- including AICPA chief Barry Melancon -- encouraged accountants and CPAs to transcend their usual roles and beliefs about the profession.

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Staying upright

Being proactive about the future -- and the need to change to face it -- was a constant refrain.

A major theme

Mere adaptation is not enough, attendees were frequently told -- the profession should aim to become a butterfly, not just a more advance caterpillar.

Must-have skills

This list of the traits accountants will need to master in the next few years was one of the most-tweeted things at Engage; it came from AICPA vice president Sue Coffey's update on audit and accounting trends.

Here's the full list: complex problem-solving; critical thinking; creativity; people management; coordinating with others; emotional intelligence; judgment and decision-making; service orientation; negotiation; and cognitive flexibility.

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Not done with the skills yet ..

Besides the soft skills Sue Coffey discussed, accountants were urged to consider developing competencies in cybersecurity, the audit of the future, blockchain, new business models, costing, data visualization, GDPR, data analytics, robotic process automation, and more.

A widespread issue

This McKinsey stat caught a lot of people's attention, and reinforced the need for accountants to be open to new skillsets like those in the previous slides.


"Learn -- unlearn -- relearn" became something of a mantra over the week of the event.

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What you're worth

In many areas, presenters and attendees agreed that old models of seniority, tenure and value are being swept away.

Crushing the conventional wisdom

This rebuttal of the common requirement that employees find answers to their own problems was popular among attendees.

Welling up

Requiring solutions is one thing -- recognizing and encouraging them when they come from your staff is another.

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The curse of SALY

One roadblock to encouraging innovation is requiring that it look familiar ...

Herding cats

The difficulties of change management were another hot topic at Engage.

The source of the problem

Recruiting and retention were much-discussed at Engage, with some calls for keen self-reflection.

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Hiring better

The war on talent notwithstanding, firms were urged to up their hiring game -- and their standards.

Feedback on feedback

Better, more thoughtful management was called for on a regular basis (not just in Kristen Rampe's sesson ...)

What CPAs can offer

That's Lyle Benson of L.K. Benson & Co. quoting Mitch Anthony of Advisor Insights to explain how CPA financial planners can help their clients with the most important retirement goals.

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Blockchain, Pt. 1

The virtual general ledger was a major subject of conversation, and this was how AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon summed up its impact in his keynote.

Blockchain, Pt. 2

A valuable primer for everyone who has struggled to describe this major new technology:

"A shared ledger and immutable database for transferring data very securely."

Tech marches on

A timely reminder that the next big thing is always on the way.

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More terrifying tech

Blockchain wasn't the only technology whose capacity for wreaking havoc on the profession was much-discussed at Engage.

And again ...

Automation was another major part of the conversation around how technology will disrupt the profession.

Lousy robots (grumble, grumble)

You can understand why more employers are looking at robots ...

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The positive side of technology

It's one thing to be afraid of what's coming; it's another not to make the most of what's already here, as tech expert Randy Johnston pointed out.

A koan on questions

Ed Kless posed this revealing question in his session on asking better questions.

The need for risk

That sitting still was not an option became very clear over the course of the event.

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A worldwide audience

And finally, a sign of the global reach of the profession.