Name: Loretta Doon
Association: California Society of CPAs (CalCPA)
Title: CEO of CalCPA and California CPA Education Foundation
- Leads the nation’s largest state accounting organization, representing 40,000 CPAs in 14 chapters across the state. Immediately prior to becoming CEO in 2006, she was the COO for both organizations.
- Served for 25 years as associate executive director for the California Teachers Association, one of the most well-known and influential unions in the country with a budget of $130 million. Doon is a former teacher.
- Named one of Accounting Today’s 2016 Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting, and has been named by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the most influential women in business.
- Served as the AICPA’s CPA State Executives Association chair 2014-2015.
Progressive firm leaders are focused on re-imagining their future to ensure they remain relevant to their clients. How does “remaining relevant” play a role in your strategic planning, and what are some examples from the past 12 months of new services / programs / approaches that you have instituted that addresses how the State Society will remain relevant to its members?
Remaining relevant means providing services to members that help them advance their careers, improve their skill sets and find new markets for their services. It is essential to help accounting students learn about various career paths, and help them improve their chances of landing good jobs when they graduate. Our Campus Ambassador Program is active in more than 30 California universities and colleges, and we are starting a pilot program in high schools. For members, we are undertaking a communities initiative pilot program to provide resources, including white papers and information banks, to help them improve client services. We also have instituted a managing partner forum to share best practices. Our Education Foundation is exploring new ways to deliver content and become more mobile friendly, including nano courses and developing event apps for conferences. You’ll also find that we are increasingly incorporating social media into our programs and events.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for the profession?
Increasingly, firms – even small ones – need to simultaneously generalize and specialize, including in such niche areas as valuation, wealth management and financial planning. Software and artificial intelligence are entering many accounting and auditing tasks. Most CPAs in the future will focus on consulting and advising rather than processing numbers. I believe that at some point in the future, the attest function will be broadened to include sustainability factors, including ethics, environmental conscientiousness and community contributions.
How do you see the role of the accountant changing over the next few years?
CPAs and firms will become more specialized, while at the same time expand their services and presence. They will focus more on particular kinds of services. As society becomes more complicated, accountants are going to have to focus on a particular segment, while being an overall business adviser, to be successful. Sounds like a dichotomy and it is. The professional needs to meet the needs of clients and the public –and these needs are not always one-dimensional.
Which aspect of technology should firms be paying closer attention to?
Mobile devices to capture and transmit information. Everything a firm does should be available on an app or two that clients can access on their phones. If a client has a question or needs some service immediately, the firm that can provide that service over a mobile phone within seconds. That added value will keep that client as a customer. If a firm can’t do that, then it likely won’t be around for long. Convenience and immediacy will be keys to success.
Innovation and entrepreneurship are big topics in the profession. Can you give me some examples of member firms that have done something innovative and proactive to help clients?
CalCPA represents many firms throughout California. An observation that I have is that major firms are creating community beyond their client base. These firms are using technology, as well as in-person events, to create community and facilitate the dissemination of knowledge and information to include more than just their clients. CalCPA, through its Education Foundation, provides its members and member firms with information and tools to also assist with improving business skills. The idea is to innovate and grow business by addressing and helping a broader community.
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