Earlier this month, we held our annual AICPA/CPA.com Executive Roundtable, a gathering of accounting technology executives, thought leaders and CPA firm partners. More than three dozen vendors packed our boardroom to talk about their software and solutions, and how these innovations can serve accountants and their clients.
It was a very impressive group, one that provided a good indicator of the change coming to the profession. As AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon said during his presentation, you probably won’t recognize what accounting firms will be doing within a decade.
Some themes emerged during the two-day event. Here’s a few of my takeaways:
- The cloud is transforming the practice of accounting, but we still need to push more firms to adopt. One positive, according to an observer, is that firms are clearly realizing that the cloud is more secure than their local environments. With that said, we still need to remove other roadblocks. Which leads me to the next point...
- There is still a lot of work to be done in technology integration and product differentiation. CPAs and their clients clearly want help making informed buying decisions around technology and integrated ecosystems. Who is responsible for providing this help? Vendors, the trade media, a peer community? The answer is likely “all of the above,” but I also believe CPA.com will continue to play a critical role toward this end within the profession.
- Blockchain is on the radar and there was lots of spirited discussion on how it will impact business and firms in the future with capabilities such as smart contracts, immutable records, and shared ledgers. Most roundtable participants expect Blockchain to bring great change, but few attendees are actively investing in Blockchain initiatives yet.
- Virtual CFO & client accounting services have undergone a significant transformation over the past seven years, but automation and the cloud are bringing increasing changes to tax and audit practices, too. What’s clear is advisory revenue is ascendant, while many compliance-related fees are likely to come under pressure going forward.
- Finally, relationships and people are the key to driving change and innovation. There is no doubt that technology is the key enabler. But it’s people who have to make sure that business transformation succeeds. That’s why events such as the roundtable are so important in forging those bonds.
What are your thoughts? I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation at AICPA ENGAGE, our Digital CPA Conference and other events this year.