The future belongs to CPAs who embrace change

Written on May 11, 2016

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

The accounting profession is rapidly changing, and the CPAs who come out on top will be the ones willing to look toward the future. That was the consensus from the panel discussion on business growth potential, led by Gary Hunt, OSCPA senior content editor.

The panel included Peter Donato, CPA, CFO of Assurex Health, Katie Tolin, growth & profitability consultant for CPA Growth Guides and Rita Keller, president of Keller Advisors. The trio discussed everything from generational differences to social media to the expanding CFO role. Donato spoke on how the role of CFO has evolved from mostly technical expertise to now being pulled to many different projects in all departments.

“Knowing accounting and tax and being able to close the books, that’s expected. It better be right and it better be fast,” said Donato. “The other areas where we get to play in now are amazing. It could be international accounting, benefits or cybersecurity. We’re being asked to wear many hats every day.”

One of those hats extends to leadership, and developing a career path for young employees. Keller mentioned the importance of companies creating plans that show incoming talent their possible career paths within the organization, and not just paying lip service to the idea.

“Many young people come into accounting with their own goals already. The number one questions are where do I go, how do I get there, how fast do I get there,” Keller said.

This kind of effort can also increase retention, and solve the problem of who will step up to the plate during succession planning. Keller said succession planning boils down to hiring, training and retaining good people.

Tolin talked about the shift toward concentrating marketing efforts on areas with ROI.
“What you’re seeing is the higher growth firms aren’t spending more money, they’re spending it on very specific things to drive the revenue to the organization,” Tolin said. “Spending money where we can make money.”

Overall, the group agreed that Ohio is a great area for the accounting profession, and that helps in drawing new talent to come to and stay in state.

“We have a lot to offer as far as quality of life, especially from a family perspective and academic institutions,” Donato said. “All of those things that Ohio has are a little unique and a little better.

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