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Despite Generational Differences, Accountants Should Brace for Major Tech-Led Shift

Oct 24th 2017
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Regardless of the generational gap in workplaces like at accounting firms, people need to adjust to the rapid changes in technology that will lead to a significant shift in the next decade, according to one social media specialist at a state CPA society. 

“We are on the cusp of transformational era for all of mankind,” said Bill Sheridan, chief communications officer, new and social media specialist at the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA). 

In his session, Leading Five Generations in the Workplace: The Generational Secret Nobody’s Talking About, he broke down the five generations of workers along these categories: Traditionalists (people born from 1925 to 1945), Boomers (1946-1964), Gen Xers (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1965), and Gen Z (1996-2012).

Each generation has its own stereotypes, from the hard-working Traditionalists and driven Boomers to the smarter-working Gen X-ers and the entrepreneurial Gen Z-ers.

Perceptions that the ambitious Millennials have destroyed every industry with their spending habits are wrong, he said at the CCH Users Conference 2017 on Monday.

People instead should be concerned about the rapid changes that are taking place and affecting everyone, he added. 

Sheridan cited the Strauss-Howe generational theory in which there is a major disruption in American history that takes places every 80 to 100 years: the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the Civil War (1861-1865); and the Great Depression/World War II (1929-1945).

 The next shift will take place in 2020-2030, and while it is not yet exactly known what that change is likely to be, it will involve the pace of technological change, he said.

“This profession is worried about artificial intelligence, machines coming in, doing all the jobs that you’ve been trained to do,” he said, in a reference to Moore’s law on technological change.

Younger generations are more attune to technological changes because they’ve been born into it, Sheridan said.

“This generational debate shouldn’t be about generations and stereotypes. It’s about stuff like that, and things like that, the fact that we’re about ready to hit a new transformational era and at the same time these young folks are about ready to take leadership positions,” he said.

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