There has been a lot of speculation about the fate of the accountant lately. Some have predicted the demise of a career while others have been quick to lift up the profession as more vital now than ever. The one thing that is for sure is the industry is changing, new challenges are arising, and we are witnessing a generation rising to the occasion.
What we are seeing is history repeating itself. The profession of accounting has a tried, true, and steady place throughout history. Accounting has helped nations establish themselves, has seen computers become commonplace in the 80's, survived user friendly software programs, and will do fine in the age of automation as well. The profession has overseen many advances, and the new age of technology we are experiencing is just another notch on the timeline.
The reason why is the skillset of the people behind the process. Human's are wired to push and foresee solutions, thus also to create. Most people themselves don't identify themselves as creatives, especially those in the financial industry. Even less would consider creativity in the traditional aspect as part of the job. We aren't talking about artistic ability though. We are talking about the capacity to see a problem and adapt to the new reality. Since every advance is the result of creativity it is very clear there is more to this process than your high school art class. We aren't even saying good accountants have this skill - we are saying every accountant in some capacity needs and likely has the ability to create.
The AICPA came out with a new version of the CPA Exam precisely because they needed to guarantee accountants were able to do more than replicate work. Today's accountants need to be able to create solutions by applying situational knowledge that doesn't manifest in the form of an equation. They sometimes need to foresee problems with cyber security, spot flaws with old ways of thinking that no longer benefit a company, and be able to offer solutions to the modern office environment that wouldn't have worked even ten years ago but are vital now.
Who else will do it?
When a budget crisis hits it will be up to the accountant to put protocol into place while also considering the implications of cutting new technology? Who is going to break through the routines, ruts, and rituals of a company to try something new - try something different? Who is going to present a solution before the current solution breaks? Part of this weight should and will fall on the shoulders of accountants, especially when it comes to advances that require an analytical and detail oriented mind.
The pressure is real
Advancing before it is necessary is important to the longevity of any institution. We've seen companies fall behind and fade away because they haven't innovated in time. Failure to do whatever it takes to stay ahead will inevitably lead to falling behind. Late would be better than never, but in today's competitive environment "late" can spell out disaster.
Consider the fact that if you used study materials for the 2016 exam to take the 2017 exam? You would struggle to pass while everyone else moved on. You would fall behind. As an individual, you could see your mistake and move past it, but companies aren't always able to bounce back as failure to anticipate necessary changes that affect profitability can prove quickly fatal.
Innovation is an industry wide expectation
This is not something that is necessary for one branch of the profession but not another. From the smallest firms or businesses to the Big Four, no one is exempt from having to change. Everyone has to move in the direction to implement consulting, technology, and digital services into their long term plan. This is the reason why the AICPA has put in task based simulations and is now offering technology resources to help accountants"as technology evolves so must practices that are used to govern and maintain organizations."
All of this is also why we've included the newest set of AICPA blueprints into our AdaptaPASS technology. For the past year, we've been talking, preparing, and readying you for the changes to the current CPA Exam. We saw the change was coming and took the necessary steps to prepare the curriculum for you. Just like you will have to do for your clients, we had to anticipate and prepare for change before it ever happened. So while it may not be exactly what you think of right away when you think of your skills, you will need to make active steps towards having the mindset of a professional adaptor, innovator, and creator.