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Boomer Consulting provides consulting services to CPA firms. The company has developed a model that guides accounting firms to increase performance and profitability. The company is located in Overland Park, Kansas.
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Dec 29, 2022
December 29, 2022, 8:59 a.m. EST 53 Min Read REGISTER NOW As part of this year's Top 100 Most Influential People survey, Accounting Today asked, "What is one thing you would like to change about the accounting profession?" The full responses of all the candidates are below. The full T100 list is available here. I would of course like to see the profession further accelerate its conversion to cloud and digital tools. But truthfully, I love our clients, I would not change a thing. I learn from them, grow with them, and together over the last 10 years as the profession has adopted cloud software, we've shifted the industry together. — Karen Abramson, CEO, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting The one thing I'd most like to change is the perception of the profession as deliverers of a single product – the tax return. The role professionals play in their clients' lives, especially in the three years since 2020 and all that it dealt, is much more than that, starting with real business advisory. Accountants are stepping up as trusted advisors to serve as true consultant to clients, adding meaningful value, and partnering for success. — Sona Akmakjian, global head of strategic accounting partnerships, Avalara We need to find ways to make accounting more relevant and get out of the compliance mindset. That starts with identifying and rethinking the roadblocks to relevance. What are the things in our profession that contradict being relevant? One example is peer review, which has become mainly a box-checking exercise to see how many forms were filled out, instead of an opportunity to really think about the work being done. In my mind, peer review should be just a few questions: If you were a line partner in this audit firm, would you have signed this audit report? What did this firm do to drive relevance and to help the client get better? What would you do to improve this audit? We need to get out of the compliance mindset. The checks and balances in our systems are an impediment to getting out of that mindset. All those rules won't stop someone who's bent on breaking them, but they tend to get in the way of driving relevance because we get so focused on the rules that we forget to look up to see the big picture. Some say that auditors can't provide any advisory work without impairing their independence. But what we always forget is that independence is a just way to measure objectivity and integrity, the pillars to our ethics as CPAs. An auditor can be as "independent" as possible, but still not be objective. For example, if a client tells the auditor that they don't want to record a particular lease, then an "independent" auditor could acquiesce to that request but fail in being objective. We have been placing our focus on the wrong thing by focusing solely on independence. There will always be CPAs who are willing to turn a blind eye to problems, and there's not a rule anywhere that will make them change. Society is not perfect, and rules will never be sufficient. If we remember those pillars of objectivity and integrity, and make decisions from that viewpoint, we'll be fine. Auditors can offer ideas and suggestions to a client, but the client has to be the one who makes the management decisions. The client's decision makers are the ones who must select the options and implement those options. Auditors can't choose and they can't implement. We can use our professional standards to guide us and help us push back when a client asks us to overlook something. — Alan Anderson, founder and president, Accountability Plus The one thing I'd most want to change is actually resistance to change. This is evident in many ways across the profession, but here are a few examples: The demographics of executive leadership at firms are getting older and older because there is resistance to succession planning. This holds firms back due to the (typical) resistance of adopting new technologies. At times it feels like the world has evolved around the accounting community and moved to a smart-phone environment while accountants are still standing here with flip phones (or in some cases, land lines). Whether it be shifting from on-premises software to cloud technology, or moving from hourly billing, the acronym "SALY" (Same as Last Year) has always rung true in our profession. Once again, this resistance to the idea that there could be a better (more profitable) way can really slow down progress of a firm who is trying to be cutting edge (much less bleeding edge). There is so much talk about advisory work vs. compliance, but I don't feel there has been a full breakthrough understanding that automation is possible for both. It's been extremely enlightening to me to learn how Big 4 firms are still doing so many compliance tasks completely manually. In a world where talent is so hard to come by, this could be a game-changer for firms who can actually execute on the ability to automate the work that's more of a commodity, and focus on the true value they can bring to their clients. — Kim Austin, director, global strategic accounting partnerships, Avalara Besides losing our monopoly on the audit, the most important change the profession needs to make is to innovate its business model. The old "We sell time" model is dead, but many firms refuse to hold the funeral. Making knowledge workers account for every six minutes of their day is abuse, and is another reason top talent either doesn't enter the profession, or remain in it. Other industries deploy business models that allow for exponential growth, not tied to what gets recorded on a timesheet. CPA firms deploy a linear growth model, where the only way to increase revenue is to increase head count—talent expenses grow at the same rate as increases in revenue. Simply compare any firm's revenue per employee to, say, Apple's, which is $2.6 million. The traditional firm model is built up based on costs, whereas Apple's is based on value. Why do we continue to operate in a business model that limits our growth, profit, research and development, innovation, and overall dynamism? Because we believe the only thing we have to sell is a warehouse full of hours, rather than intellectual capital, access, convenience, peace of mind, and transformations. The change will happen, like with most revolutions, from the bottom-up. — Ron Baker, founder, VeraSage Institute The accounting profession as a whole is lacking diversity. Firms without any diverse leadership struggle to retain diverse employees. Firms need to not only seek diverse candidates, but also ensure their office environment is inclusive and open to multiple perspectives. Being open to new ideas is not only important for employee satisfaction but the survival of your firm. — Elizabeth Beastrom, president of tax & accounting professionals, Thomson Reuters I would like for the accounting profession to continue to make strides toward enhancing diversity and inclusion. While RSM and the profession, as a whole, have made some good progress, much remains to be done. As Derrick Johnson, CEO of the NAACP, recently stated in Fortune, "It is not only a business imperative to keep society moving, but it is also a business opportunity…" We need to seize the opportunity to enhance inclusion. Not only is it the right thing to do but we know that the diversity of thinking that comes when people with different backgrounds come together leads to enhanced innovation and better outcomes – for our clients, for our people, for our firm and for our profession. — Brian Becker, managing partner and CEO, RSM US I believe there is work underway with the accounting professional service industry and accounting governance boards to start thinking of relaxing the 150-hour requirement to sit for the CPA exam. That might attract more students to the profession, thus partially alleviating the shortage. —Michael Bernard, vice president of tax content strategy and chief tax officer, Vertex Inc. I touched on this earlier, but we need to attract more students and minorities into the profession. I can't think of another industry that offers as many opportunities to learn and grow. You learn how a business operates right from the beginning of your career. Part of our work is to do a better job of communicating that to students as we compete for the best talent. It's also essential that we make the profession more diverse. Diversity makes your organization stronger, more innovative, and more competitive. Another thing I'd like to change is our willingness to embrace change. I want to see our people take the lead on incorporating ESG and sustainability into the way we work with clients – from helping them map their ESG journeys to helping clients stay accountable to their ESG goals in their financial reporting. There is ample opportunity for leadership within this space if we are willing to embrace new ways of thinking around our work. — Wayne Berson, CEO, BDO USA The profession is going to have to address and remedy the perception (and reality) of improving opportunities for work/life balance. In the world of social media, potential candidates can read of the experiences of recent hires, and it is often not positive. — Ken Bishop, president and CEO, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy I encourage those in the accounting profession to embrace change. Additionally, I look forward to the accounting profession becoming more diverse and inclusive to reflect a broader range of perspectives and ideas — Joel Black, chair, Governmental Accounting Standards Board Building on what I shared above, there's a misconception that the audit profession does not allow for innovation. That's just not accurate. We need to change that to attract the best and brightest. Many of our people wear both auditor and technologist hats; they are innovating, creating, and pursuing new approaches for high-quality audits by using data-rich insights and cutting-edge digital platforms. We compete with the world's biggest, most inventive companies for talent – that's the depth of digital and tech expertise that we bring to the accounting profession. At EY, we define the auditor of the future with a bold new vision for the audit profession which incorporates the power of technology and tailored programs that foster growth along non-traditional and flexible career paths. Providing access to these growth opportunities is part of our larger effort to shape the future of the profession. Looking ahead, we understand that our business and our profession need to adapt to support our clients as they face new challenges from regulation, technology acceleration and market complexity. This means we're embracing the changing landscape, and we believe we can build multidisciplinary businesses that redefine the future of our profession in a variety of ways that include: Strengthening audit quality Increasing choice for clients — Julie Boland, U.S. chair and managing partner and Americas managing partner, Ernst & Young The profession needs to improve how they define, document and communicate a variety of career pathways that are available as a CPA. This will help evolve the brand of the profession and attract top talent. — Jim Boomer, CEO, Boomer Consulting Inc. Eliminate the use of the acronymsCAS andCAAS. It is confusing to the market as well as current and future members of the profession. — L. Gary Boomer, founder, visionary & strategist, Boomer Consulting Inc. The perception that accountants are all boring. Ok, maybe some are, but many of us break that mold every single day. I strive to show young professionals the other side of the profession. I tell them to differentiate themselves (how they look, how they act, their work ethic, their area of focus, etc…) from everyone else. I try to show them how they can totally enjoy and have fun in their career and their home life. — Jim Bourke, managing director, advisory services, WithumSmith+Brown The accounting profession is much more than just counting numbers – it's a multifaceted profession utilizing unique skill sets across teams to produce actionable and reliable strategic advice. What I love about the accounting profession is its multidisciplinary approach. I'm continually challenged to learn new skills and also lean into the unique skill sets across the firm, ranging from data scientists to forensics specialists to pull together insights. By no means are accountants siloed with their heads down focused on one task. Instead, accounting is grounded in teamwork. Everyone's unique skill sets are tapped into and leveraged to deliver value and quality guidance to businesses. Here at PwC, we're giving our people access to technology and cross-disciplinary opportunities where they can develop and pursue their professional interests to create a more talented and engaged workforce that can better serve our clients. Additionally, PwC's new people model and our strategy, The New Equation, allows us to bring in specialists from other parts of the firm with highly specialized skill sets to help drive quality work even while audits are becoming more complex. Accountants are much more than just number crunchers shifting through paperwork, and I want to make sure this professional field is seen as so much more! PwC's investments are helping to make the accounting industry known as a multidisciplinary field and seen as a network of teams each utilizing their unique skills to solve some of the most important problems. — Wes Bricker, vice chair, Trust Solutions co-leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers I would like to change how people approach their businesses. I want to help other professionals focus on their practices, streamline their workflows and increase productivity by investing time in attracting better clients. I also think it is imperative to minimize distractions and to encourage people to ask for help because there is a tendency to just "suck it up" and suffer in isolation when the solution is really to reach out more to others for support and for us to offer each other support, too. — Dawn Brolin, founder, The Designated Motivator, and CEO, Powerful Accounting I would like our profession to be known for the value we provide and the way we care for people - internally and externally, customers/clients and our own teams. I think these two things are sometimes seen as oppositional. Where we are known for great value or expertise and we are also known for high pressure, long hour environments. I don't believe this has to be true and I desire to see our profession embrace creative solutions (technology solutions, effective DEI and staffing initiatives, etc.) in order to develop true, people first cultures that in turn provide great value to those they serve. — Rebekah Brown, CEO Maryland Association of CPAs Our diversity, particularly at leadership levels. Diversity drives creativity, innovation, and will help solve the challenging and complex issues facing clients and the evolving public interest. — Jennifer Burns, chief auditor, AICPA I would love to change its brand! I'm continually blown away by the impact that accounting professionals have on their clients far beyond the financial aspects of the work: coach, mentor, business consultant, and even therapist. Aligning the brand to the impact would go a long way to resetting why this community is so fundamental to small businesses' success for small business owners. — Ted Callahan, director, Intuit QuickBooks partner segment We need to address the hours problem if we're going to attract and retain new talent. Most people who leave the profession aren't going elsewhere because they dislike the work or don't like their coworkers or clients. They're leaving because of the long hours demanded by many firms.I'm excited to see many firms we work with making changes to lighten the load, including outsourcing, automation, process improvement and client filtering.These steps allow people to work efficiently rather than spending hours performing mundane,manual processes or dealing with clients who don't value their work. — Arianna Campbell, shareholder and consultant, Boomer Consulting Inc. Re-tool the profession to make it more attractive and relevant to the next generation of workers. There has never been a more exciting time to live at the intersection of accounting and technology - companies of all sizes can benefit from our combined expertise of a CPA Technologists as they help guide digital transformation initiatives across all process flows. — David Cieslak, EVP, chief cloud officer, RKL eSolutions LLC Its image. Our profession is exciting and dynamic. The work is interesting and fulfilling, and has a significant and positive impact on businesses, communities, environments and economies. We need to do a better job of telling that story. — Susan Coffey, CEO, public accounting, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants Per the AICPA's 2021 Trends report, 62% of non-CPA professional staff in public accounting firms is white and 77% of CPAs in public accounting firms are white. While in my role at the AICPA, I would like to see these numbers change. I want to help these numbers change. It's time for diverse people to stop being the only one in the room in this profession. In college my basketball coach use to say, "whatever you do, leave it better than you found it" and that's what I want to do when it comes to diversity in the profession. — Crystal Cooke, director, diversity and inclusion, AICPA We too often define our success based on money, particularly on billable hours. This creates an easy path to getting burned out. I would love for the profession to stop treating burnout as a badge of honor. By restructuring our engagements and billing methods we can reduce the number of hours worked, reduce the number of clients we work with, increase our productivity, be more beneficial to the clients we retain, and thus reduce stress/burnout. This will result in more individuals looking at accounting as their profession as more opportunities will exist. — Randy Crabtree, partner, co-founder, Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals Get rid of the partner model and adopt a corporate model. It's holding our profession back from what it needs to do to compete, such as invest more for the future and move quickly. — Gale Crosley, president and founder, Crosley+Company I would like to change how the accounting profession is perceived – to change the branding or the definition of a "professional accountant" -- and we are embarking on a number of initiatives to do that. We are a profession that has been known for over a hundred years for delivering transparent, meaningful information, and for those checks and balances I mentioned earlier. But we are much more than "number crunchers" today. Our profession is undergoing a huge revolution. For example, leveraging technology is becoming a larger part of our day-to-day job to perform work such as data synthesis and interrogation. At the same time, we are moving more deeply into areas such as ESG, to ensure that the same level of confidence in financial information can be applied to reported ESG information. I firmly believe 20-years from now a professional accountant's day-to-day job will look nothing like my own career, and probably not much like the career of the accountant starting out today – and for that I am very excited. — Kevin Dancey, CEO, International Federation of Accountants Two things: (1) The general stereotype that we are all compliance-focused, inside-the-box thinkers. (2) The reputation that in order to succeed in the profession you have to sacrifice personal interests beyond an acceptable level. — Katie Davis, partner, collegiate athletics practice leader, James Moore & Co. The accounting industry lacks diversity and this needs to change. A report published earlier this year by IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), CalCPA (California Society of CPAs), and IFAC (International Federation of Accountants) observed a 'diversity gap' between senior leadership of the profession and the whole of the accounting and finance workforce. I've seen firsthand how diversity in all its forms - including gender, ethnicity, age, experiences, skills, social background - can lead to high-performing teaming and exceptional leadership. I'm incredibly proud of EY's Global Executive, our highest EY leadership body, for signing a public statement to lead inclusively and elevate our focus and accountability around diversity, equity, and inclusiveness (DE&I) progress. This is also the third year we've used a Global DE&I Tracker, and we've seen continued compounding progress of results across the EY organization. — Carmine Di Sibio, global chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young Compensation: Both the partner model is broken and firms need to operate as business as well as hourly billing is holding firms back…there are SO many new revenue sources for firms – Digital Transformation, ESG, HR Consulting, Technology Consulting, Advisory, Outsourcing and the list goes on. — Deneen Dias, VP growth & strategic relationships, Botkeeper Fix the issue with the deadlines. There are too many people needing to file, too few people who can do it and a governing body that is understaffed. (Aka IRS). It's a never ending cycle. — Sarah Dobek, president and founder, Inovautus Consulting We need to model healthy leadership. No one should have to sacrifice themselves and their well-being to be successful in accounting. We need to show people how to live and lead as healthy humans. — Sarah Elliott, co-founder & principal, Intend2Lead LLC Thinking that the future is 3 to 5 years away. The Future is Now.. it was actually yesterday. We must continue to look around corners even when we are doing well. Succession plans, business growth, and competitive advantage are at stake if we are not continually innovating and thinking strategically. Doing well is a moving benchmark and is only as good as there are not other options. We can't take people or our future success for granted. — Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, founder and CEO, KET Solutions LLC I would like to transform perceptions of tax and accounting as a dry, mundane area to work. It's a dynamic area filled with challenges and opportunities and offers a great number of career options. I believe advances in technology will only make this profession more attractive and interesting as well as valuable to businesses, especially multinationals. — Lisa Fitzpatrick, president, Bloomberg Tax & Accounting The outdated business model too many firms continue to follow–being everything to everyone. It's the perfect recipe for losing your competitive edge at a time when reputations and visibility are declining. — Lee Frederiksen, managing partner, Hinge CPAs - the accounting profession - are the best in the world as the most trusted advisor to help others make a difference. I only ask that the accounting profession continue to focus on the importance of leadership -- by walking in the steps of others -- and help establish a culture and environment that fosters authenticity, that celebrates differences and stimulates honesty among people from different backgrounds and different experiences. Taking this strategic action encourages excellence and inspires everyone to be the best they can be. We have the greatest opportunity in front of our lives to make a difference - now - for the profession to help their clients as strategic advisors. And if I can offer my favorite quote --"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou. We must continue to achieve loyal community support, develop key coalitions and build essential relationships with a shared sense of purpose. — Denise LeDuc Froemming, president and CEO, California Society of CPAs I would like to reverse the stereotype of accountants being overworked, underpaid, bean counters. Part of the reason this stigma exists is because there was some truth to it. As a result, we have a shortage of students in accounting programs and others leaving the profession to search for higher paying jobs and more fulfilling careers. In my firm, we are reducing the amount of overtime that our staff is working by relying more on technology. We are also training our staff to become consultants that add value to our clients' businesses – being proactive instead of reactive. Finally, we offer financial incentives for their success in various categories which allows them to increase their compensation. We have found success with each of these initiatives. — Daniel Geltrude, CPA, founder & managing member, Geltrude & Co. The standard age of retirement. I think for the most part, most people are living longer and want to continue to work past the age of 62… — Julio Gonzalez, CEO, Engineered Tax Services Inc., The Growth Partnership, ABLE CRM for Accountants, Rosenberg Survey, Inside Public Accounting Compression of workload and burnout of people due to deadlines. Build firms with a mix of CPAs, consultants, MBAs, and data analysts. Then adapt the previous business model, so people have fulfilling careers, less burnout, and are happy. Clients will then get the holistic help they need from us. Then we show accounting students how they could fit into this model and that the sky is the limit in our profession. — Angie Grissom, owner, chief relationship officer, The Rainmaker Companies Once more, tell better stories of how great this profession is. And, of course, I'd want us to truly keep pushing for enhanced DEI in this profession. It's not just the right thing to do—it's good business. — Calvin Harris Jr., CEO, New York State Society of CPAs That more of us would accept the changes that are required for us to succeed in these times. — Roger Harris, president, Padgett Business Services The change I would make is to reduce the fear in firm leaders. Now, I get it – accountants need to be watching risks for their clients it is necessary for them to exercise caution with things that relate to legal interpretation. But, for far too many this cautionary approach bleeds into most areas of running the firm. You can tell those who have mastered this, and are more quick to try new things and experiment with various internal and external solutions. However, that group is small – and needs to get bigger. How great it would be if more firm leaders didn't lead areas of the firm from a defensive stance, but from an attack motion for the good of their team and clients. — Will Hill, owner, Will Hill Consults LLC I think there is a perception that we only account for things that have already happened in the past, but this is not the case. Accounting is about collecting, synthesizing and making sense of vast pools of data to tell compelling stories. I'd love to see the profession rebrand itself as data-driven storytellers. In doing so, we move away from being historians exclusively. Instead, we collect and audit both historical and forward-looking information that tells one cohesive story about the market value of an organization. — Maura Hodge, ESG audit leader, KPMG LLP I see it as what I would add to our Profession, not change and that is help our members, students and our organizations have a Vision and Purpose. I had the opportunity to participate in the CPA Vision Project in 1999 and facilitate the CPA Horizons 2025 Project in 2011. Simon Sinek would say, "start with why". I vividly remember a session we facilitated in Albuquerque, NM where a small practitioner, let's call her Margaret, welled up with tears as we asked the group to share their insights. After a brief pause, she shared that having been in the Profession for almost fifty years, she finally realized WHY she was in this Profession, not to do accounting per se but to "be that trusted professional (CPA & CGMA) who enable people and organizations to shape their future. Powered by insight, trust and integrity. " At AICPA-CIMA our purpose is to "empower the world's most highly-skilled accountants – CPAs and CGMA designation holders – with the knowledge, insight and foresight to meet today's demands and tomorrow's challenges. We drive a dynamic accounting profession that works every day to build trust, create opportunity and grow prosperity worldwide. " Imagine what we could accomplish by starting with our 'Why". — Tom Hood, EVP business engagement & growth, AICPA I wish the accounting profession would view everyone in a firm as "professional staff." The old mindset that only licensed CPAs are professional staff is no longer relevant for the future. Firms need a diverse mix of professional expertise to grow and thrive. — Jon Hubbard, shareholder and consultant, Boomer Consulting Inc. I'm fortunate in that I get to work with the tipping point, the progressive practitioners that are disrupting themselves. I wish we could get the majority to adopt new technologies faster and change those mindsets mentioned earlier. — Kacee Johnson, VP, strategy & innovation, CPA.com The accounting profession could improve more rapidly if professionals embrace innovation and change quickly. Sometimes we are limited by tools, but more frequently, we are limited by attitude. — Randy Johnston, CEO and founder, EVP, NMGI and K2 Enterprises I'd like to see us broaden the recognition of accounting as the expansive, dynamic, and essential profession it is in our capital markets. — Richard Jones, chair, Financial Accounting Standards Board CPAs are risk averse and afraid of change. That creates difficulties in attacking the challenges of everyday practice life. CPAs should become more risk tolerant and learn to embrace change. That will allow them to become more strategic thinkers and better control their future. — Edward Karl, VP, tax policy & advocacy, AICPA For public accounting firms, I would like to see a new business model. The partnership model based on "paying your dues" and you might make partner in ten or twelve years does not appeal to the new generation of workers. Having partners weigh-in on every decision just slows down progress. The most successful firms have already moved away from that but most have not. Plus, the partnership model allows too many partners to retire in place. — Rita Keller, president/CEO, Keller Advisors LLC I wish we could replace the milquetoast perception that many people have of accountants to better reflect the many cool and interesting things we really do, particularly in business advisory which would help attract students to the profession. — Roman Kepczyk, director of firm technology strategy, Right Networks Other than the aforementioned business model, I would like to see the audit monopoly ended and change who pays for the audit. For public companies, it should be the exchanges. The idea of independence should have been jettisoned based on WorldCom and Enron. — Ed Kless, meta consultant, Sage I'd like to see the accounting profession become more diverse and inclusive. For this reason, I launched Accelerate 2025 on July 1, 2020 – the first day of my tenure as Chair and CEO. This strategic initiative is focused on ensuring that more individuals from underrepresented groups choose KPMG as their employer of choice, build careers at KPMG, and advance to leadership positions within our firm and within the profession. — Paul Knopp, chair and CEO, KPMG LLP I would like to change the perception that accounting is boring and doesn't pay well. The reality is talent can make a great living and have a healthy balance between their business and personal life. That being said, not every firm is a destination place and talent needs to do their due diligence in making sure that the firm they align with can provide all of these benefits. — Allan Koltin, CEO, Koltin Consulting Group We need to change the perception that it is boring! I have had more opportunities as an accountant to be innovative, meet unique individuals and travel than I ever thought possible. — Nicole Ksiazek, director, strategy and sales, Sage Intacct Accountants Program I think it's important for accountants to speak the language of their clients. Accounting is the language of business, but accounting is so much more than the nitty-gritty of the numbers. Accountants have an important role to play in telling the story behind the data, which drives additional value to their clients. — René Lacerte, CEO and founder, Bill I'd like to see more support provided to those in the profession about how to maintain a healthy work-life balance. — Ryan Lazanis, CPA, Future Firm Some of the overall perceptions that exist and to better educate the general public on how broad the scope of the profession truly is. — Michael Levy, senior vice chairman of the North American board of directors, Institute of Internal Auditors I would like to see the gap close between technical and advisory skills. While it important to deliver an accurate technical product most accountants are not good at really seeing the needs of the business beyond getting the return or audit done. Most clients really do not understand the technical solution, but they do understand and highly value advice that builds the value of their company. Unfortunately, so many accounting professionals do not know how to do this aspect of the job. — Bob Lewis, President, The Visionary Group Think outside of the box. For talent, this would include how we position the profession to the post-millennial generation and how we reach this generation. For practicing auditors, renewing the sense of purpose and public interest nature of public company auditing, all for the benefit of the long-term relevancy of the public company audit profession. — Julie Bell Lindsay, CEO, The Center for Audit Quality The mindset "that's how we've always done it" or "that's what worked for me" to avoid the changes that need to be made in firms to be a destination workplace for both talents and clients. — Tamera Loerzel, partner, ConvergenceCoaching LLC I want the profession to transform by offering clients more forward-looking solutions & advisory, where significant value can be realized. Additionally, with automation and disruptive technology, I would like to eliminate "time inputs" as units of revenue and continue to move the profession toward an outcome-based model that promotes value through problem solving and innovation. — Eric Majchrzak, CEO, BeachFleischman One aspect of the Accounting profession that I would like to change is the perception of all of the crazy hours that are worked. Yes, during tax season there are times when you need to work a little longer along with some weekends. However, that is the exception and NOT the rule. Once the tax season is over in April, that is the time we curtail hours and focus on the work without specific deadlines. There is also period with shorter work weeks, flex time and simply more of a laid back approach to working. — Stephen Mankowski, co-chair, National Tax Policy Committee, NCCPAP I would like us to be more client proactive, not reactive. I would like us to be the kind of advisors that are figuring out how to do things instead of telling our clients why they can't do things. — Gene Marks, president, The Marks Group PC I'm invigorated by the forward-thinking that is happening in the accounting profession, but the pace of technology adoption could and should be moving faster. The advantages of emerging technologies in tax, audit and firm management and their delivery through cloud solutions and their efficiencies are real, yet many firms have clung to the past. The collaboration and innovation happening in our industry is exciting and continues to make us all better. I think the more we can embrace the rapidly changing market landscape and leverage technology to solve intractable problems, the better positioned we will be as a profession to serve our clients. — Jason Marx, president & CEO, Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting, North America Our messaging! For too long we have acknowledged the notion that our profession is boring. We can no longer sit idle; we need to promote the exciting career we all have and change this perception of the profession. — Anoop Natwar Mehta, chief strategist, chair, AICPA; chair, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants How it is, or isn't, promoted to high school and college students. Another change which I see as totally improbable is a lessening of the image of the glamour of working for a Big 4 firm that is propagated by colleges who promote how many of their accounting graduates are hired by the Big 4. Another response to this question: There are likely four accounting professions and each needs to be changed or handled differently. 1. The Big 4. 2. The Next 500 firms. 3. The sole practitioners or practices with up to about 20 people. 4. Private industry. Each of these four need changes and a different focus. There is no one fix for all four. CPAs in private industry are also part of the profession but they have different needs and issues that have to be addressed. I believe there are 46,000 accounting firms in the U.S. with 15,000 of them sole practitioners (some work alone and some can have more than 20 staff). I also believe the 500th largest firm has about 30 people. That makes the other 45,500 firms all very small businesses. If we can agree that each firm can benefit from one change, I would proffer that the firms in these three groups all have the need for a different "one thing" changed. — Edward Mendlowitz, emeritus partner, WithumSmith+Brown, PC I'd like to see the public accounting practice transform their thinking on investing in the future. While they are very doing very well today, that level of success could increase exponentially by rethinking traditional approaches to managing books of business, developing firmwide go-to-market strategies, and investing in new business opportunities – and allowing those investments time to develop into profitable growth areas. — Kalil Merhib, VP, growth & professional services, CPA.com For accountants to be truly seen as business leaders. Clients want more from their accountant than traditional accounting services, and accountants need to grow their own businesses by providing more than just compliance. Focusing on Client Accounting & Advisory Services to maximise opportunities for their growth and their client's growth. — Elona Mortimer-Zhika, CEOIRIS Software Group I think that the work experience requirements for CPA candidates should be re-assessed. For instance, I don't agree that full-time accounting faculty who are CPA candidates should be able to satisfy their CPA work experience by teaching under the direction of a Department Chair who happens to be a CPA. — Tracey Niemotko, associate professor of accounting, Marist College The accounting profession needs to be able to attract the underrepresented ethnicities and become more accessible and inclusive. — Ash Noah, VP and MD management accounting & ESG, AICPA & CIMA Accountants deserve technology that leads them to more accurate financial statements, simplifies their work, and allows them to easily collaborate with experts. While LeaseCrunch looks to solve this problem for lease accounting, there are many areas of complexity that remain. We collectively need more transformative technology developed on our behalf. — Ane Ohm, co-founder and CEO, LeaseCrunch The accounting profession suffers from the small-mindedness of those in leadership positions. If I could, I would accelerate the demise of the partner model, which discourages innovation and diversity of thought. I would also take a sledgehammer to accounting standards, which, as I described above, have failed to keep up with a changing economy. If accounting wants to stay relevant, we need to reinvent ourselves. — Blake Oliver, founder & CEO, Earmark Sloth off the external perception that accountancy is a boring profession and accountants are boring people. Accountants are, on the whole, ethical professionals with an objective understanding of how an organization is creating, maintaining or eroding value for its shareholders and other stakeholders. They are the guardians of truth within an organization and help ensure that the information which organizations communicate externally is true. No other profession plays this role in maintaining the integrity of the global capital markets and no other profession can help steer entire industries towards the low-carbon economy which is needed if humanity is not to suffer the catastrophic effects of climate change. — Jeremy Osborn, global head of ESG, AICPA & CIMA From our three decades of experience and recent research, we have a clear understanding of auditors, and we can see that they are changing. Their needs are evolving beyond the functional level. They no longer simply want to complete engagements, they are eager to do more work that meets their transformational needs as professionals. Work that helps them to answer bigger questions and build deeper, more meaningful relationships with their clients. This change in perspective is already shaping what auditing will look like in two to three years. I know because we are leading it. I hope people gain more confidence and openness with advisory services and build more trust in technology. The growing demands for efficiency and flexibility mean we are now tasked with building tools that give our users the time and brain space to do more tasks that technology cannot. That's a huge focus for us as we update our existing solutions and build new ones. — David Osborne, CEO, Caseware First of all, there is definitely more than one thing! To start, I would like the current business (firm) owners to make a decision about their future. They need to decide to evolve, utilize new technology, create a solid work-life balance for their team, change their pricing structure, embrace remote work, and provide a better overall customer experience…or retire. There, I said it – RETIRE. The firm owners who aren't evolving are holding the profession as a whole back. If they don't want to evolve, they owe it to their firms, their staff and their clients to exit. — Jody Padar, VP of tax strategy & evangelism, April The perception of the profession. And that of the accounting professionals. The Pandemic proved that accountants were frontline people who saved businesses from closing down, helping millions keep their jobs. So, the profession needs to be rightly seen as a profession of "real-life heroes who do extraordinary stuff" to protect, nurture and enhance people's future. We need to create "celebrity accountants" – several of them. We must widely publicize and share real stories of unbelievable "life impacts" accountants are delivering to their clients. — Hitendra Patil, head of customer success, AccountantsWorld by IRIS The historical perception of accountants, both in public practice as CPAs or in management as CGMAs. Accountants are on the verge of leading business and organizations into successful use of the metaverse, leading them into capitalizing on technology, helping them interface with clients/customers in a digital economy. — Carl Peterson, vice president, small firm interests, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants I don't have anything I would like to change. The profession covers many different topics specialties. That is likely only going to increase over time and with it ever more demands. — Scott Peterson, VP of U.S. tax policy and government relations, Avalara I'd like the profession to become synonymous with diversity, equity, and inclusion, embracing people from all walks of life, so that diversity of thought is part of our skillset. There's also significant work to do to change accounting's image and the all-too-real experience of accounting organizations as 'work mills' where junior staff are driven into the ground and burned out. Internal audit has worked hard to be recognized for prioritizing work/life balance and quality of life, which makes for better auditors and better accountants. — Anthony Pugliese, president & CEO, Institute of Internal Auditors The profession continues to suffer from a reputation of requiring long hours. We spend too much time focused on input measures: how many hours our people work and how long it takes to complete a task. We do not devote enough attention to the output. What value was created, who was responsible for it, and what is the value created? — Terry Putney, managing director, Whitman Transition Advisors LLC Workload compression and hustle culture. It's unhealthy and another reason the profession is less attractive than other jobs. Let's reduce the amount of time we spend letting other people's lack of planning become an emergency on our end. — Kristen Rampe, managing partner, Rosenberg Associates As a profession, I believe we all have an opportunity to continue calling out what we can do better. We all need to continue to champion diversity and inclusion and elevate voices in our organizations and firms that can help inspire change. For firms who are early on in their diversity, equity and inclusion journey, it's important to understand that these values are not a checkbox process that you can move on from. The intent and approach needs to be authentic and woven into your company culture. I believe that culture is the personality and character of your organization — it's what makes your organization and it's the sum of all your values. And as leaders, we have a responsibility to bring these values to life across our organizations to show what we firmly believe in and create the workplaces that support everyone to do the best work of their lives. Diversity, equity and inclusion is becoming discussed more across firms, but at the ownership level, it's still lacking and predominantly white and male. The graduates coming out of school are coming from more diverse backgrounds. When you're trying to attract talent, employees want to see themselves when they are applying for jobs. Graduates want to see themselves at all levels at these firms, so it's up to leadership to help implement and drive changes to create diverse and inclusive environments. — Ben Richmond, U.S. country manager, Xero We've gotten better at this but keep looking far outside the profession for inspiration, examples, and role models at every level. Our profession's myopia keeps us mired in old ways. We epitomize SALY. Yet the speed of change makes SALY almost irrelevant and, frankly, quite dangerous for us. — Michelle Golden River, owner/president, Fore LLC I would address the dogma associated with the profession that for many will inhibit open-minded, adaptable thinking, and ultimately diminish the entrepreneurial spirit and the freedom to express creativity as a business owner. — Darren Root, chief strategist, Right Networks DEI, plain and simple. Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. — Richard Roppa-Roberts, the ProAdvisor Advisor, Quasar Cowboy and Roundtable Labs As stated above, the profession needs to do a full-court press on students, starting at middle school, educating them about the accounting profession. Think more long-term than short-term. Partners should come to the office today thinking: "What can I do today to position our firm to be successful tomorrow." We see way too much short-term thinking at CPA firms, mainly because partners' main focus is their client activities. One of the reasons that CPA firm partners make so much money is that they don't invest enough money of their earnings in the future of their firm. — Marc Rosenberg, managing partner and founder, Rosenberg Associates Our profession and firms of all sizes should do more to foster diversity of thought and experience. Having people from different educational, cultural and professional backgrounds can help create a diverse experience for accounting professionals and, importantly, our clients. At PwC, we strive to give our people opportunities to work on various projects and take on new roles in different areas so they gain unique skills and perspectives. We believe creating a multidisciplinary skill set is tremendously valuable—and the diversity of skills enhances quality and benefits clients and stakeholders. — Tim Ryan, U.S. chair and senior partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers The one thing I would change is the perception that accounting is boring and unexciting. Most young people believe that accountants are these stuffy number crunchers who wear glasses and the same color suit to work every day. This traditional perception is far from the truth and hinders the work to diversify the pipeline for colleges and universities, companies and the industry at large. NABAs Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP) is designed to shift this thinking, starting with high school students. ACAP is an immersive one-week program that includes career exploration opportunities for participants, allowing them to spend time with professionals across the accounting industry and in adjacent accounting careers. We aim to shift the perception of accounting careers and increase the number of students enrolling in accounting programs at community colleges and four-year institutions, particularly HBCUs. — Guylaine Saint Juste, president & CEO, NABA Inc. Our image. We need to continue to promote a better understanding of accounting's important role in the broader financial reporting environment, the "bird's-eye view" it provides of all essential business functions, and the diversity of experience it opens to those who enter our profession. — Hillary Salo, technical director, Financial Accounting Standards Board; chair, Emerging Issues Task Force The accounting profession has always been highly dynamic and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. This creates both tremendous opportunities as well as daunting challenges at times which is why I greatly enjoy practicing. This paradigm keeps me fully engaged and laser focused so I would not change a thing. — Peter Scalise, federal tax credits & incentives practice leader for the Americas, Prager Metis CPAs I would like to see the profession evolve in a way that either embraces non-CPAs as owners within an accounting firm or creates a new diverse category of CPAs that introduces a new dimension of ownership within a CPA firm; either way will pave a path for the ascension of a new type of dynamic leader to the MP role. — Peter Scavuzzo, CEO, Marcum Technology; principal/chief information & digital officer, Marcum LLP Too many followers and not enough leaders. — Gary Shamis, CEO, Winding River Consulting If I could change one thing about the accounting profession, it would be that practitioners of all sizes, disciplines and areas of practice, proactively embrace change driven by the business environment around us. That means constantly learning and embracing new ideas. There's an old saying, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it." I, and the Illinois CPA Society, embrace a different mentality, "If it isn't broke, you probably should break it." I also believe that "the best reason to change is because you haven't". Relevance is the number one issue facing the profession and embracing that will require us to think differently about everything we do. To not embrace the relevance challenge, risks the long-term sustainability of the profession. — Todd Shapiro, president & CEO, Illinois CPA Society I would like to see the profession embrace automation, outsourcing, and gig-work more. We're having a major people crisis right now, and the only way to solve that is by automating out the mundane work, outsourcing lower level work or utilizing gig-workers for non-core work, and then allowing our people to focus on the work that requires more professional judgment, deep thinking, or ethical decision making. — Donny Shimamoto, founder and managing director, IntrapriseTechKnowlogies LLC I would like to see an evolution of firm business models where culture and technology drive long-term value for the firms, their staff and their clients. — Eva Simpson, vice president – tax practice & financial planning, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants I'm seeing a change in the "that's the way we've always done it" mindset and more emphasis on providing professionals a great career that integrates into their life goals and commitments. I hope that continues. — Lisa Simpson, vice president – firm services, AICPA & CIMA The crunch of tax seasons/deadlines. There are things that can be done to make the pressure of tax filing due dates more manageable. I think this would also help with retention of young CPAs. — Joel Sinkin, managing director, Whitman Transition Advisors We need to rebrand ourselves and change how we are perceived in the market. We are not boring. The work we do is vital to the economy and is critical to the functioning of the capital markets – and yet we get no credit for that. The work that the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) is doing with the Accounting+ program is an example of a strategy to begin making that happen. Perhaps we also need a good TV show to tell our story! — Matt Snow, chairman of governing board, Forvis Greater education surrounding the countless different ways you can apply accounting skills. People and businesses of every type need a trusted advisor. No matter what your personal interests are, there are fascinating, entrepreneurial people out there changing the world that need an advisor that can do what you do. — Jason Staats, creator, Realize LLC I wish I could change the stigma that accounting firms don't like change. Nothing could be further from the truth. Change is hard, but many of the firms we work with are incredibly innovative and very focused on the future! — Marc Staut, shareholder, chief innovation & technology officer, Boomer Consulting Inc. While the profession has made tremendous strides in recent years, I still believe there's more opportunity for diversity and inclusion. As I mentioned above, we need to be more open to non-traditional skill sets and people from varied backgrounds that can only make CPA firms and the profession stronger. — Stan Sterna, vice president, Aon The profession is still way too "tax focused". We provide so much more value beyond just tax work. Unfortunately, we are in an environment where the tax law changes constantly and it does force us to spend a lot of time on tax work. As a profession, we still have a lot more work to do for the public, in general, to view us as true trusted advisors and not just "the person that does my tax return". In that vein, we need to weed out the bad actors in the profession, in particular in the tax preparation area. For example, you cannot go a day without hearing an advertisement for "free money, come to our firm and get a $26,000 Employee Retention Tax Credit per employee". The only way to weed out those bad actors is to regulate tax preparers. Currently, there are little to no requirements to preparing tax returns. Many who do so have a professional designation. If the tax return preparer has a professional designation and they are preparing tax returns that are incorrect or fraudulent, their clients have a means of redress by filing a complaint with a State authority in the case of a CPA or with the IRS in the case of an EA. However, many more do not have any of these designations or credentials. If the paid preparer has none of these designations, there is no authority to which the taxpayer may file a complaint or grievance. This causes a lack of faith in the accounting profession and why our organization at NCCPAP is firmly in favor of tax preparer regulation. — Mark Stewart, immediate past president, National Conference of CPA Practitioners It's brand. We have a very old brand of being a specific type of person. We are no longer a man or woman sitting behind a desk with a green visor and a tape calculator pumping out tax returns. We are the financial health professionals that businesses and families need. We need to figure out first how to meet those needs in consistent, repeatable, and meaningful ways. As we do that, we need to partner with our educational institutions to help them create a better understanding of what our purpose really is beyond just keeping clients compliant with the law. We are so much more than that! — Jasen Stine, training and education leader for the tax and accounting profession, Intuit Pride. The profession holds a unique place of trust and responsibility in the world, unlike any other. I'm constantly inspired by "The CPA Credo," coined by the late, great Eli Mason, a professional of rare distinction, a person of impeccable character, and a beloved mentor. The CPA Credo: To serve my profession and contribute to its institutions To practice at the highest professional level To maintain an ethical posture characteristic of a learned profession To maintain my ethical skills so that the public is served with competence To maintain a state of independence at all times so that decisions are reached with objectivity To work with my colleagues—for the practice of a profession is an experience in human behavior and mutual respect. — Rick Telberg, CEO, CPA Trendlines Research, a service of Bay Street Group LLC A more inclusive environment is needed for today's accounting professionals to thrive. If people do not feel welcome and included in meetings or discussions, they will not stay. They will jump to that sales job or higher-paying finance job elsewhere. The impact on women in the profession, as primary care givers, needs to be taken into account as does hiring and promoting more diverse applicants. In addition, the hours that are required and facetime demands in the office need to be adjusted to keep employees wanting to return on Monday. — Ralph Thomas, CEO and executive director, New Jersey Society of CPAs I would like to see the accounting profession step up to the challenges it currently faces better by embracing greater agility. We need to be more flexible and attuned to rapidly changing events and requirements of the job in an evolving world. And, as I've said, we need to be better at telling our powerful and compelling story that accountants make a positive and lasting impact on our world. — Jeffrey Thomson, President & CEO, Institute of Management Accountants Busy season. — David Toth, chief growth strategist, Winding River Consulting I'm excited to say that some of the things I would change about the accounting profession are changing, likely in response to the great resignation. There is a real focus to treat people like people, not resources, to recognize that people have lives outside of work, and time off is a necessity and not a luxury. — Barbara Vanich, chief auditor and director of professional standards, PCAOB Auditors are really good at finding adjustments for their clients. But now, more than ever, our profession needs to change by booking its own audit adjustment. That audit adjustment should focus on disrupting our profession's business model to create better quality, not only in terms of assurance services, but also the experience for our profession's people. — Chris Vanover, founder & chief auditor, AuditClub I would like to change the stereotypical view of our profession. We are so much more than the "green eye-shade/pocket protector" caricature that many have of us. We serve a tremendous purpose in our economy and are viewed as trusted advisors by many. We must find a way to elevate our image outside the profession. And if we do, we will solve a great deal of our talent-pipeline challenges. — Tom Watson, CEO, Forvis — Charles Weinstein, CEO, Eisner Advisory Group LLC The focus on our own internal efficiency and liability rather than the needs of our clients and how we might serve them. And of course timesheets. It is time to stop using billable hours as our primary measure of success. — Geni Whitehouse, countess of communication, Even a Nerd Can be Heard, The Impactful Advisor, Solve Services, www.bdcocpa.com The fifth-year requirement for getting a CPA license. — Philip Whitman, CEO, Whitman Transition Advisors If I could, I would wave a magic wand and diversify the profession. It will take years to create a truly diverse profession with true inclusion at all levels. I have been in the profession for 27 years, and to be honest, while there has been some change it is still much like it was when I began. We know better –we should do better! — Sandra Wiley, president, Boomer Consulting Inc. I think there is a common misconception that accounting and auditing is boring, which couldn't be further from the truth. Quality audits protect people. When we talk about protecting investors, we are talking about people: from workers saving for retirement, to parents saving to put their kids through college, to anyone who depends on the soundness of our capital markets to invest and build their own version of the American Dream. All of those people depend on quality, accurate audits to make decisions that impact their futures. And there is nothing boring about that. — Erica Williams, chair, Public Company Accounting Oversight Board Right now, I'd put next generation leaders into firm leadership positions within their firms. I'd pay them more, give them responsibility for running their firms and empower them to make the business model changes necessary. They carry a great deal of risk being on the hook to pay firm buyouts in a very uncertain future and they have very little authority to make the business changes needed to ensure that they'll have the talent to sustain their firms into the future. It's time. — Jennifer Lee Wilson, co-founder and partner, ConvergenceCoaching LLC As mentioned above, I would change the nature (core nature) of the profession to one of advisory services, including advisory services that are outside the scope of financial reporting (e.g., coaching in the areas of management, marketing, technology, process, etc.) — Joe Woodard, CEO, Woodard I would like to modernize the image of accounting profession. The old "bean counter" characterization of our profession does not come close to what it represents today. We are trusted advisors for businesses and individuals, we provide assurance for the capital markets and for lenders and other investors and interpret data to help make better informed decisions. I believe this would help in attracting talent which is the single biggest challenge for the profession, for business and industry, and for CPA firms. We need to figure out how to get more people in the pipeline, as well as how to develop and retain professionals who want different things than their predecessors. I believe painting a more accurate picture of the possibilities that are present in our profession is the best way to do that! — Candace Wright, chair of the Private Company Council of the Financial Accounting Foundation Stop focusing on the "up or out" mentality. There is a need for technicians and viable paths for those who aren't interested in sales or management. Don't discourage these professionals, but celebrate them. Find new and creative career paths for these valuable contributors. — Diane Yetter, president and founder, Yetter Consulting Services & Sales Tax Institute Add more tracks around analysis and finance combined with accounting. Accounting is Grammar, Finance is Poetry. If we can bring these together then we can really make the numbers into an art. — Martin Zych, CEO, Jirav
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