CPAs Cite AI, Machine Learning, Cognitive Computing as Profession’s Top Tech Trends

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive computing in audit and tax are the top trends that will impact the accounting and finance world over the next three years, according to research conducted by the Maryland Association of CPAs, the Business Learning Institute and world-renowned futurist Daniel Burrus.

Daniel Burrus

Daniel Burrus

The research began with Burrus’s “Top 20 Technology-Driven Hard Trends Shaping 2018 and Beyond.” Using Burrus’s annual list as a starting point, MACPA Executive Director Tom Hood asked more than 1,000 CPAs and finance and accounting professionals which of those trends will have the greatest impact on the profession over the next three years. Their answers in rank order are as follows:

  1. AI, machine learning and cognitive computing in audit and tax
  2. Big Data and high-speed data analytics
  3. Adaptive and predictive cybersecurity
  4. Virtualization and automation of processes and services
  5. Mobile apps for business process innovation
  6. Blockchains and cryptocurrency
  7. Advanced cloud computing
  8. Smarter smartphones and tablets drive mobile process automation
  9. Virtualization of desktops, storage, applications and networking
  10. Social business applications

“These trends highlight enormous, game-changing opportunities in a broad array of applications and industries,” says Burrus. “As you read through them, look for opportunities for you to leverage them and become a positive disruptor.”

“One more word of advice,” says Hood. “Don’t stop at the trends impacting your firm or company. Stop and think about how these trends are impacting your clients and customers, both internally and externally. Think about the hard trends facing your industry and your customers’ industries. Read the entire list and think about robotics and 3-D printing, augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of Things, location-based services, drones and wearables.”

These seemingly individual technologies are joining forces to disrupt the accounting and finance profession exponentially. The impact of AI is huge, but when combined with blockchain, for instance, its impact increases tenfold … at least. This “10x mindset” will be vital going forward, Hood said.

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Georgia CPAs Unite at State Capitol for 7th Annual CPA Day

More than 100 members of The Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants (GSCPA) met at the state Capitol to share their thoughts on important issues facing the accounting profession with their elected officials.

“CPA Day makes a real connection between our members and their elected officials. This is a unique year now that federal tax reform has been signed into law. CPAs are exceptionally qualified to act as a resource and offer insights on the issues around reform that are facing the profession and those important to the business world,” says GSCPA CEO Boyd Search.

GSCPA is currently monitoring bills and discussions on tax reform and on the professional licensing boards, specifically regarding the Georgia State Board of Accountancy. Due to the recent passage of federal tax reform, GSCPA is working to serve as a resource in this conversation. In addition, GSCPA has assembled a group of our members who are experts in the area of income tax (individual, pass-throughs, corporate, credits, and compliance and processing) to closely monitor any developments and provide input as needed.

Two Staff Promotions at Indiana CPA Society

The Indiana CPA Society has promoted two staff members.

Courtney Kincaid has been promoted to vice president of strategic initiatives. Kincaid joined the society in 2006 as a communications specialist and has since served as the membership manager, membership and volunteer manager, senior manager of member services, and director of membership and engagement.

Stacey Wilson will be vice president of member services. Wilson joined the society in 2006 as a professional development manager and has since served as a senior manager of professional development, and director of learning and collaboration.

Indiana CPA Society Names New President and CEO

Jennifer Briggs

Jennifer Briggs

Jennifer Briggs has been named as president and CEO of the Indiana CPA Society. She is the fifth CEO in the organization’s 103-year history.

Briggs joined the society staff in 2002 as the special projects manager and subsequently served as marketing manager, marketing director, director of member services, vice president – member services, senior vice president and chief operating officer.

“Jennifer is well prepared to take on this role,” says INCPAS chair-elect, Doug York. “She brings talent in many areas, not least of which is her ability to connect with all our members, regardless what field or stage of their career they’re in.”

KyCPA CEO Gold Retires

Penelope Gold

Penelope Gold

Penelope Gold has announced her retirement from Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants (KyCPA), after 14 years of service.

Under Gold’s leadership, KyCPA worked with policymakers at both the state and national level to strengthen accounting education and public protection policies. She also expanded the society’s educational scholarships, adding a variety of new publications and programs.

The KyCPA Board of Directors has named Darlene Zibart as the new CEO of the society. Zibart served the previous 14 years as the organization’s CFO and COO. Prior to joining KyCPA, she served as a finance professional in the manufacturing sector.

In addition, Charles George has been promoted to vice president of government affairs and general counsel of KyCPA.

Two CPAs Honored as Maryland’s ‘Women to Watch’ for 2017

Lisa Blackmore

Lisa Blackmore

Two outstanding business leaders have been honored by the Maryland Association of CPAs as Maryland’s “Women to Watch” for 2017.

Lisa Blackmore, a partner with Squire Lemkin + Company (FY16 net revenue of $6.3 million) of Rockville, Md., has been honored in the “Emerging Leader” category, while Faye Miller, a partner with Chicago-based RSM US (FY17 net revenue of $2 billion), has been honored in the “Experienced Leader” category.

Launched in 2014 by the AICPA, the awards highlight the accomplishments and contributions of women in the CPA profession and demonstrate to emerging female leaders that success is not out of reach.

“(Women) are leaders in our communities, homes and in business,” says Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, chair of the AICPA’s board of directors. “As leaders, we work hard every day to improve our credibility, capability and our commitment to excellence. Our nominees are an indication of that excellence. As women, we bring a rich perspective and mastery of success skills that are essential to every organization.”

Faye Miller

Faye Miller

“We are incredibly proud of this year’s winners – indeed, of all the leaders who were nominated for this year’s awards,” says MACPA Executive Director Tom Hood. “They represent the best this profession has to offer, and they serve as role models not only for other women in the profession, but for every accounting and finance professional on the planet.”

Blackmore was named partner at Squire Lemkin + Company in January 2015 and has developed a tax practice that focuses on individual and high-net-worth individuals and professional service firms.

Miller has 30 years of experience in public accounting, including client service and office managing partner roles. As a partner in the national office of RSM, she is a lead subject matter expert on complex financial instruments and is charged with identifying and developing talent, publishing accounting guides and white papers, speaking as a firm expert at conferences and on webcasts, and developing and presenting internal training.

Outsourced CFO Community Gains Momentum

The Maryland Association of CPAs and its center for learning and innovation, the Business Learning Institute, has helped plant the seeds for a community of professionals who call themselves outsourced CFOs.

That community now includes the MACPA’s new Outsourced CFO Task Force, a group of MACPA members who are interested in promoting outsourced CFO services and sharing resources.

The task force officially went public recently by hosting the MACPA’s Outsourced CFO Community Forum, a gathering of MACPA executives as well as outsourced CFOs and those who use their services. The event was a platform for sharing issues that impact the outsourced CFO community, lessons learned from those who have made the journey, and insights from leaders of firms that offer outsourced CFO services.

“I see this community as the third branch the personalized business application of the private company CFO with the ability to oversee and advise multiple companies at once,” says Barrett Young, former member of the MACPA’s board of directors. “The group of firms seeking to add this service within their existing companies surpasses the group of sole practitioners and dedicated outsourced companies. This is not a niche idea any longer. Larger firms are paying attention. The time to move on this is now.”

“It might be the first time I’ve seen a niche service that spans the entire range of our profession,” says MACPA executive director Tom Hood.

“Outsourcing jobs to independent contractors can go in waves with businesses, but with the help of the MACPA I hope we can continue to educate the small to mid-size business community that the skills of a CFO are something every business needs – if only on a part-time basis,” says Kelly Jennings, founder and CEO of Quincy CFO and a former member of the MACPA Board of Directors. “For the sake of businesses at every stage out there, I hope outsourced CFOs become commonplace.”

View Tom Hood’s presentation from the event here, and the forum report here.

New E-Books Offer Steps Toward Future-Readiness for CPAs, Finance Professionals

The Maryland Association of CPAs and its learning and innovation center, the Business Learning Institute, have released a pair of e-books that will help accounting and finance professionals become more future-ready.

The e-books describe “five strategic and practical steps that anyone can do to become a future-ready CPA or finance professional,” says Tom Hood, CEO of the MACPA and the BLI. “The guidance applies to every role in any firm or organization. These five steps, applied through the lens of your particular expertise and experience, are what can help you anticipate change and prepare for it. It’s a new set of eyes and a new set of tools that only you can bring alive in your context of where you are professionally.”

Hood continues, “How will the disruptive forces of technology and automation affect your organization and career? This is the most important thing for CPAs and finance professionals to pay attention to right now. Forces of change aren’t something that we can or should fight. We’re not going to slow down change. We’re not going to make technology obsolete. What we can do is be ready for it. We can put ourselves in a place where the future helps us, not hurts us. That’s what being a future-ready finance professional is all about. Don’t fight change – leverage it, for the benefit of your career and organization.”

The e-books can be downloaded at no cost from the Business Learning Institute’s website. They are accompanied by an online quiz that will gauge readers’ future-readiness and provide access to additional resources that can help them become even more future-ready.

Indiana Becomes First State to Recognize New Learning Option for CPA Renewal

Indiana is now the first state in the nation to recognize competency-based education as a learning option for CPA license renewal.

The bill, effective July 1, was passed unanimously by the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Although Indiana began requiring continuing education for CPAs in 1979, there has been no substantive change that recognizes the evolution of learning and available technology, including computers, according to the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS). It started and remained an exclusively hours-based education model – until now.

This new competency-based education will ensure a certain level of the subject material is learned and at the pace that works best for each learner. In a 2016 survey of INCPAS members, 83% favored the additional learning option, up from 58% in 2012.

“This legislation will enable the Board of Accountancy to write rules that make learning personal and measure what matters,” says INCPAS president and CEO Gary Bolinger. “Further, it has the potential to expand beyond Indiana and even beyond CPAs by serving as an enhanced professional development model for other licensed practitioners.”

State Rep. Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne) introduced and supported the bill. “This legislation can improve the quality of learning and lessons during the renewal process, which is not only beneficial to professionals but also to their employers and clients,” Carbaugh says. “If it proves to be effective, it has the potential to carry over into other licensed professions in Indiana.”

The next steps include working with the Indiana Board of Accountancy to develop the reporting framework, create a learning plan template and promulgate a rule to implement the statute.

Lantz Tapped to Lead Idaho Society of CPAs

Laura Lantz

Laura Lantz

Laura Lantz has been named executive director of the Idaho Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Lantz joins the association after eight years with the Idaho Association of Highway Districts, the past four years serving as associate director.

In her previous role, Lantz was a legislative advocate for local highway and transportation issues. She was the liaison for 61 districts, advising members on budgets, management and policy. Her other responsibilities included member engagement and training.