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Blog » Evolving Role of CPAs: From Accountants to Strategic Advisors

Evolving Role of CPAs: From Accountants to Strategic Advisors

Last updated: 23 Jan, 2024 By | 6 Minutes Read

role of accountant

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) have traditionally provided specialized finance and accounting services to businesses across bookkeeping, period closure, financial statement analysis, auditing, and management consulting. Most CPAs also help with tax planning, taxation computation, and filing. CPAs are a business backbone, ensuring transparency, accountability, compliance, and financial integrity. They conduct audits, financial planning and optimize tax strategies, embodying the evolving role of accountant in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Today, the landscape and scope of the CPAs have expanded

With the evolving landscape, technological advancements and automation, complex business structures, and increasing regulations have become a challenge.

Staying ahead of financial statement audits and tax preparation, CPAs have become versatile professionals. They are capable of guiding businesses through dynamic financial and technological landscapes and supporting their sustained success. CPA firms are emerging as trusted partners and strategic advisors for businesses. They play a crucial role in financial planning, risk management, and decision-making processes.

  • Their deep understanding of regulatory environments enable them to assist organizations in navigating complex frameworks and ensuring compliance
  • Furthermore, CPAs’ proficiency in analyzing financial data equips them with the skills to provide valuable insights and assist in developing strategies to enhance operational efficiency and profitability
  • As businesses increasingly face challenges related to fraud and sustainability, CPAs have stepped into the realm of forensic accounting and sustainability reporting, offering their expertise in these critical areas
  • Additionally, CPAs’ knowledge of emerging technologies positions them to assist organizations in leveraging data analytics and implementing innovative solutions to drive business growth

What key skills and competencies do todays and future CPAs require?

  • Technical expertise in accounting and finance 
  • Proficiency in emerging technologies (e.g., AI, ML, Blockchain, Data analytics) 
  • Strong analytical and critical thinking abilities 
  • Effective communication and collaboration skills 
  • Business insight and industry knowledge 

How can the new generation of CPAs embrace continuous learning?

Never has the need for continuous learning been as important as it is today. Accounting standards and financial regulations are constantly evolving. Safeguarding clients’ interests is paramount at all times. Staying updated on market trends is vital for CPA firms to build relevance and resilience in their outsource accounting services. Unless CPAs invest in their continuous learning, they will fail to identify emerging opportunities and potential risks associated with market trends.

The following avenues ensure continuous learning for CPA firms:

  • Pursuing advanced certifications and specializations
  • Conferences, seminars, and specialized training by institutes and industry bodies
  • Industry publications, financial journals, and reputable news sources
  • Participation in professional associations and networking groups
  • Online learning platforms and resources for convenient access to courses and webinars
  • Open communication with clients and colleagues to gain insights into industry-specific trends
  • Subscription to updates from regulatory bodies

The changing CPA exam

“Today’s CPAs need deeper skill sets, more competencies, and greater knowledge of emerging technologies and their impact on tax, accounting, and audit. To prepare CPA candidates and accounting students for this new environment, the licensure model is evolving through the AICPA and National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) joint CPA Evolution initiative”. 

— American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) 

The press release by AICPA did January 4, 2023 lays down the following: 

Under the CPA Evolution licensure model, all candidates will be required to take three core sections: Financial Accounting and Reporting, Auditing and Attestation, and Taxation and Regulation. Then, each candidate will choose a Discipline in which to demonstrate additional knowledge: Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR), Information Systems and Controls (ISC) and Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP). Regardless of a candidate’s chosen Discipline, this model leads to full CPA licensure. 

In line with the importance of emerging technologies on the profession, there is an increased focus on data and technology concepts in all Core and Discipline Exam sections. 

Additional new content is primarily in the ISC and TCP Discipline Exam sections. IT infrastructure, platforms and services; security, confidentiality and privacy; and considerations for System and Organization Controls engagements are included in the ISC Discipline Exam section. Personal financial planning and tax planning are assessed in the TCP Discipline Exam section. 

The demand for CPAs is on the rise

It is a given that the CPAs of today need to offer much more than their traditional skill sets. They have to:

  • Provide well-rounded education that includes technical knowledge, critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills
  • Instill a mindset of adaptability, resilience, and a commitment to continuous learning to navigate rapid changes and disruptions
  • Equip CPAs with proficiency in technology tools, data analytics, and emerging technologies to streamline processes and extract insights from financial data
  • Cultivate effective communication, collaboration, leadership, and interpersonal skills to interact with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders
  • Promote ethical responsibilities, professional conduct, and confidentiality to maintain integrity in the accounting profession
  • Encourage diversity, inclusivity, and equal opportunities to foster innovative thinking and broader perspectives
  • Partner with accounting firms, professionals, and regulatory bodies to bridge the gap between academia and practice through internships, co-op programs, and industry insights

The evolving business environment presents both challenges and opportunities for CPAs

As the author, scholar, and philosopher Alan Watts had famously said, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

CPAs too must plunge into change and stay updated on market trends to provide relevant insights, navigate regulatory changes, identify new opportunities, mitigate risks, and be potential drivers of transformation. They have to be equipped with a strategic vision and a forward-thinking mindset to provide cutting-edge business advisory services. Only then will they be able to contribute to the success of businesses and organizations in the fast-evolving marketplace of today’s world.

Cogneesol offers comprehensive accounting services for CPAs

Cogneesol specializes in providing comprehensive CPA accounting services. Our team of experienced accounting professionals and our delivery capabilities with robust technology infrastructure bring a wide range of services. It includes financial statement preparation, accounts payable and receivable management, bank and credit card reconciliations, payroll processing, and tax preparation.

Partner with Cogneesol to streamline your back-office operations, reduce costs, and focus on delivering strategic advisory services to your clients. Get in touch with us at [email protected] / +1 833 313 3143

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