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Change is Coming, Are CPAs Listening?


At AICPA Engage, which was held in late July 2021 in Las Vegas, NV, there was one thing, above everything else, on the minds of the experts and atendees: Change. AccountingWEB Senior Editor Carrie Stemke was in attendance and reflects on the transformations occurring in the accounting profession.

Aug 3rd 2021
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Despite the myriad topics addressed at the recent AICPA Engage event, the most major theme was one CPAs have been hearing louder each year, of late: change is upon the accounting profession.

Whether accountants have been preparing for it or not, the last year and a half, at the very least, has impacted the profession in a major way. The COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, spurred a number of changes. For instance, it’s been the driving force behind the massive shift that saw people commuting from offices every day of the week to working remotely. It’s also been responsible for the so-called “Great Resignation,” in which workplaces have been seeing a large trend of people leaving their jobs entirely.

This talent gap is a big concern for the profession, and it’s something AICPA President Barry Melacon and President and CEO Erik Asgeirsson touched upon repeatedly during their speeches during the event. In summation, it’s no longer enough for accounting professionals to reach out to college students who are midway through university to discuss what it is to become a CPA. Not only are the clients that accountants are serving changing, as well as their needs, but students are also being encouraged to select career paths earlier. As such, accountants need to start recruiting as early as high school.

Then there’s the upcoming legislative changes accounting professionals need to contend with. The 2020 tax season was thrown into disarray thanks to COVID-19, and as a result of both the pandemic and the change in White House administration, 2021 is shaping up to be a year of potentially significant alterations to the tax code on the federal level (state-level changes will hold off until 2022, since states have already finished working on their budgets for the 2021-2022 fiscal year). No one’s quite sure what to expect just yet, but Barry, Erik and other professionals say the next few months will be incredibly telling, and accountants need to be paying close attention. 

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