The Accounting Profession is Still Strong but is Not Without its Problems

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Certified Public Accountants enjoy a high demand for their services across the United States, but they have been faced with a number of challenges over the past several years. At the 2014 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference, keynote speaker and AICPA chairman Bill Balhoff spoke about a number of key issues facing CPAs including recent initiatives as well as developments by regulators and government officials that will have a significant impact on the future of the accounting field heading into the future.

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On the plus side, Balhoff reported that the profession’s solidly favorable reputation was still well intact and that clients across the country generally place a very high value on the service that accountants provide. According to survey data, 91 percent of the decision-makers in businesses in the United States were said to be “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the work performed by their employee CPAs. Upwards of 87 percent held the same satisfaction rating for the work performed by their non-employee CPAs.

This general expression of confidence by business owners and decision-makers is a boon to the profession but according to Balhoff is tempered somewhat by the challenges it faces such as the ongoing globalization of the CPA industry.

It is estimated, for example, that within the next three to five years around 80 percent of small and midsize businesses with be operating on a global scale. That is compared to only about 67 percent at the start of 2014.

Businesses that expand globally will expect their accountants to play a major role in that expansion in order to engage more aggressively in international corporate competition, which will put a strain on the profession as a whole.

CPAs are also increasingly becoming the target of patent trolls, a problem that is being addressed by the AICPA in conjunction with Congressional leaders, but that is still in need of a comprehensive solution.