Five key trends worth watching
Demand for the services of CPAs is likely to intensify in the coming years.
But in attempting to meet that demand, CPAs and the businesses they
serve appear destined to face challenges in recruiting and retaining talent.
These were some of the developments in a forecast for the accounting
profession presented Monday at the AICPA spring Council meeting in
Scottsdale, Arizona, by Lawson Carmichael, AICPA senior vice
president–Strategy, People & Innovation.
Carmichael explained how external factors are likely to affect the
profession in the coming years and sought feedback from Council
members on the risks and opportunities those factors present. Here are
five key developments that members of the CPA profession need to be
prepared for in the coming years:
1. Demand for services
The number of U.S. accounting jobs is projected to grow 13% from 2012
to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Core accounting services such as audit and tax are expected to remain
a central focus, but firms also are focusing on advisory and specialty
areas for growth. Firms also will shift their focus from cost cutting
and collections to growth and talent management, according to AICPA research.
In business and industry, the finance role continues to evolve into a
more strategic role, with business planning, strategy, and risk
management at the forefront along with the traditional financial
accounting and reporting duties.
2. Talent challenges
Businesses as a whole are expected to find it increasingly difficult
to attract, retain, and develop high-quality talent.
Not-for-profits may be hit particularly hard, as difficulty paying
competitive salaries, heavy workloads, and inability to promote staff
have been cited as top retention challenges in that sector. And
employment “branding” will become more strategic than ever as company
cultures and brands become more accessible through social media,
giving candidates more information as they decide where they want to work.
Succession planning will be critical within firms as Baby Boomers
retire. Meanwhile, recruiting and development of female and minority
accounting professionals will be an important objective for the
accounting profession, which continues to make enhancing diversity in
its workforce a key priority.
3. Globalization and growth led by emerging markets
The overall economy is expected to be one of modest growth, as the
Conference Board projects a worldwide GDP growth rate of just over 3%
from 2014 to 2019. Emerging economies are projected for higher growth
at slightly above 4% during that period, while mature economies are
expected to grow a bit less than 2%.
By 2025, emerging regions are expected to be home to 46% of companies
with $1 billion or more in yearly revenue, and will generate over
4,700 new large companies, according to research by McKinsey & Co.
In addition, small and medium-sized businesses are expected to join
the largest companies in aggressively pursuing global opportunities.
4. Technological disruption
Emerging technologies are expected to disrupt business and make an
impact on the accounting profession, but at the same time will create
new revenue and cost-savings opportunities.
Cloud computing, Big Data, 3-D printing, and predictive analytics
were highlighted as example key trends. New cognitive analytics will
help bridge the gap between data and practical decision-making, and
gamification in learning will motivate and engage learners and reward
5. Increasing regulatory complexity
The quantity of financial regulation across the globe is expected to
increase, and rising compliance and enforcement costs are expected as
Costs for Americans to comply with all federal regulations exceeded
$1.8 trillion in 2013, according to a report by the Competitive
Enterprise Institute. Many of the financial regulations in the United
States are a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer
Protection Act, P.L. 111-203.
Ken Tysiac (
) is a JofA senior editor.
Research & References of Five key trends worth watching|A&C Accounting And Tax Services