Study Predicts Greater Role for CPAs

Gina Deveney
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Accountants come in handy to ensure companies turn a profit and maintain their books properly. During the first four months of each year, the role of accountants becomes increasingly important in the United States thanks to income tax preparation. During the next 10 years, accountants believe they will become more important than ever.

A recent survey by polled accounting professionals at more than 400 firms. Nearly 80 percent of the respondents believe the role of accountants faces complex changes until 2025. Innovative technologies, robotics and more automation will force accountants to adapt to new ways of doing things. The study believes change happens at a "highly accelerated" rate. Alterations occur at a massive scale that affects the entire industry, so in order to adapt, CPAs must change quickly and think forward.

Most of the participants believe the role of accountants will change into consultants, advisors and risk managers. CPAs must use new technology to earn the trust of business owners and professionals as well as make smart choices for the overall bottom line of their companies. Everyone wins in this scenario because good accounting advice leads to more profits for clients, which leads to more business for accountants.

Ten years from now, CPAs will be less concerned with income tax models and be more concerned with day-to-day operations. Cloud computing, smart technology and computer programs for taxes will make April 15 less cumbersome. The role of accountants may change to that of a technology consultant for firms. Businesses can store much more of their accounting data, documentation, expense accounts and sales records in the cloud. Accountants, using their smart programs, can tap into this information instantaneously and figure taxes much more quickly. This way, CFOs and business owners can focus on earning money rather than paying taxes. Accountants can also help with changes in the tax code in coming years.

Less emphasis will be placed on taxes and more on adapting to technology that becomes even more pervasive in society than before. Getting clients ready for tax filing season will be even more automated thanks to online documents and programs. When the IRS automates and accepts more business returns and forms through the Internet, paper returns may become obsolete by 2025 if encryption technology advances.

The role of accountants as advisors means these professionals must prepare clients for future changes with the correct awareness and right adaptations. When technologies change in accounting software, accountants should show their clients what to expect and how to handle changes. Alterations in business models, populations and social interactions also present challenges for companies and accountants. The biggest concern of CPAs in the study involves rapidly changing technology and how to keep up with those trends.

The future role of accountants includes advanced knowledge of technology trends that help businesses earn profits. Accountants who adapt quickly become more valuable to clients, while those who do not lose business and wither away. Getting in the know sooner, rather than later, should be a priority for accounting firms.


Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver at



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