Does the CPA Need to Evolve?

A couple weeks ago, the Journal of Accountancy published an article which stated in part:

“The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the AICPA are seeking feedback from the profession and its stakeholders as they consider ways to evolve the model for initial CPA licensure to support a growing need for new skills amid rapid technological advancement.” “…CPAs need skills and knowledge in…business intelligence, data management, analysis, and reporting, predictive analytics, cybersecurity risk management, IT risks, controls, and assurance, information security governance.”

I know the world is moving fast but is anything missing from the above? Here are the areas that have been critically important to my career as a CPA, none of which were covered on the CPA exam.

Managing Humans
It’s as if the CPA gods think we’re all going to be sitting in rooms by ourselves. This couldn’t be further from the truth as human interaction will become even more important to clarify new and complex technologies. There’s nothing on the CPA exam about managing, let alone leading. And yet this is what separates those who succeed in business and life from those who don’t. To manage humans, you better get really good at…

Eye contact, speaking, reacting on the fly, smiling, creating chemistry, writing, making people laugh, and getting a small army to move in the same direction. Does this come natural to those with an inclination toward the CPA? Nope. Is it essential? Absolutely. Because if you can’t do this, you certainly won’t be doing this…

Even with all the advanced technologies at our fingertips and those to come, nobody has come up with an effective non-human way to create good customer marketing. Good marketing has been described as everything that happens to a potential customer from beginning to end and at any point along the way. With great marketing, sales can be a chip shot. Do CPA firms plan to be successful in the future without good marketing implemented by those selling their services? Good luck with that. 

The Bottom Line
Yes, the CPA needs to evolve. It needs to evolve to solve the issues that keep us from leading others, communicating with impact, and creating powerful messages that resonate with our customers. Some will say, “what do these skills have to do with being a CPA?” Everything…but only if success is your barometer. 

For what it’s worth, my recommendation would be to build on the fundamental accounting skills, abstract problem solving, and critical thinking the CPA is known for. Then, let’s consider sprinkling in these areas that will truly move the CPA professional to a new level at the outset of their career. New age technical skills can…and should…be learned on the job. 


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Can I Help You?
Hi, I’m Josh Horn, CPA/ABV, CVA of Horn Valuation. I help with business valuations in friendly or unfriendly situations. I also help owners build valuable companies. My clients are business owners and attorneys. If you’d like more information, check out my website, email me at [email protected], or call me at 217-649-8794.

Josh Horn CPA

I’m a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and double-credentialed in business valuation (CVA & ABV). I’ve been a tax and business consultant in a top 100 CPA firm and a controller in a large international company. I’ve also valued and been the primary adviser to multi-million dollar and small companies in various industries.

“If you’re not working on business value, who is?” Josh Horn, CPA, Certified Valuation Analyst and Accredited in Business Valuation