Skills, Skills, Skills

If there was a theme to the latest Professional Accountants in Business (PAIB) meeting, held March 29-30 in New York, I would have to say it was “skills.”

  • What skills do PAIBs have now?
  • What skills do employers want?
  • What skills will PAIBs need in the future?
  • What skills do PAIBs need to develop?

As a profession, we have already been seeing “entry level” accounting jobs replaced with automation, but now with cognitive computing capabilities, even “advanced” jobs may be subject to automation.  While the pace of change may be accelerating, the need to deal with change and learn new skills has been part of the profession from its beginning.  I think our core values will serve us well as we go in search of the new skills necessary to stay relevant (and employed) as old roles are automated.

One of those key core values includes continuous learning throughout your career.  If you have been in the profession over five years, I challenge you to think of all of the new skills you have already learned since joining the profession.  Our rules – tax, GAAP and audit – are under constant evolution, as are the tools we use to do our job.  Sure, thinking about having to learn new skills around big data, analytics, math and programming can seem daunting, but you don’t have to be an expert in all of these areas.

No CPA today is an expert in all things CPAs do – financial reporting, auditing, taxes, management accounting.  Some are gifted writers, others combine their financial skills with a legal background, while others have strong spreadsheet or database skills.  But like all of these existing areas, CPAs will be expected to have a basic understanding of many of these new areas and an in depth understanding on one or two.

The good news is that getting those 40 hours of CPE shouldn’t be a problem for any CPA wanting to keep up their skills!

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