Technology is a double-edged sword made of better processes and a steep learning curve. Time constraints make prioritization more important than ever. Training takes valuable resources, but the future of the industry demands future-ready skills. CPAs have a lot more on their plate than crunching numbers, and success requires an evolution of tech, skills and internal processes.
Here are four major pain points in the industry and how top performers are making a difference.
#1: Top Talent Equals a Secondary Skill Set
Time was, a great CPA had stellar accounting and organizational skills. Now, the definition of top CPA talent includes a secondary set of skills that revolve around technology.
The Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) explains that “major developments” in accounting technology are shaking up the industry. They’re creating an environment where new issues such as cyber security, Big Data and cognitive computing accompany education, organization and more traditional qualifications as must-haves.
All levels within the firm need ongoing tech training. If new talent doesn’t arrive with tech skills, they need appropriate training to bring them up to speed.
#2: A Wave of Retirees Makes Talent Retention a Top Concern
For the past several years, Baby Boomers have retired at an ever-increasing rate. Because the Boomer generation is so large, the trend will continue for years to come. That creates a shortage of CPA talent, which means retention is more important than ever.
Hinge Marketing calls it a “generational change and cyclical labor shortage.” The more Boomers retire, the more firms need to hire and retain the next generation of leaders. That’s according to their recent survey of 530 firms.
Firm branding, they explain, “plays a crucial role” in attracting top talent and retaining them. An overhaul of internal leadership strategies, including the cultivation of widely-known industry experts, will likely play a strong role in the next evolution in accounting firms.
#3: CPAs are Busier and Technology Can Help
There are never enough hours in a day to do what must be done. Although technology is intended to make life simpler, accounting professionals still find themselves with more tasks and less time to accomplish them.
Perhaps ironically, technology is predicted to offer more solutions that iron out existing problems, says MACPA. Communication, collaboration, workflow and cloud computing help streamline processes to save more time.
CPAs need the technology to adapt to emerging trends as well as the skills to use them. MACPA promotes partnerships with industry-specific technology movers and shakers to help guide the industry into the next generation.
#4: Client Expectations are Growing Increasingly Precise
Client satisfaction is a harder fish to catch than it once was. Not every CPA has the skills to provide the level of care and service that every client needs, so Hinge Marketing says success relies on a good client/accountant match.
The Hinge Marketing survey revealed that nearly 30 percent of respondents cite increasing client demands and expectations as a major pain point. “Clients are expecting stellar service,” they explain. Moreover, they expect their CPA to be not just accountants, but problem solvers.
The managerial level can help balance client demands and satisfaction. Connecting the right client with the right CPA helps alleviate job burnout for accountants and keeps all types of clients happier.
The CPA industry is growing and changing. Each new wave of professionals and clients brings new challenges. Fortunately, new technology and an evolving mindset about what matters to clients give CPAs improved tools for better time management, workflow and service.
Part of meeting both CPA firm and client expectations is the ongoing pursuit of CPA continuing education. When your next credit hours are due, check out our CPA approved courses at PDH Academy. We’re hassle-free, even when the industry is experiencing a few growing pains.