Since the AICPA proposed that the next version of the CPA Exam would be shifting to test higher order skills in Q2 of 2017, there has been plenty of coverage about why these changes are occurring. However, the larger, and perhaps more interesting implications of these changes remain under the radar, particularly regarding how these changes will affect the accounting profession overall.
As the 2017 changes reflect the need for newly licensed CPAs to perform more advanced tasks earlier on in their careers, recruiters and partners within firms can expect to reap the benefits of having higher level CPAs who can positively change the way firms operate.
To get a more in-depth perspective on this, we sat down with Senior Editor of Roger CPA Review, Mark Dauberman, CPA, EMBA to get his take on the topic. Mark Dauberman has over 40 years of experience in the accounting profession. We are extremely fortunate to have Mark on our team (and so are our students!) as he has a strong foundation in CPA Review. He is very passionate about accounting education, and has spent many years providing technical staff training for CPA firms, private industry employers of accountants, and government organizations.
With the 2017 CPA Exam changes preparing candidates to have the knowledge and skills typically possessed by a person with two years of experience in the accounting industry, such newly licensed CPAs will be highly valuable when hired by firms. In their abilities to think more critically, analyze a variety of data from an evaluative standpoint, and have an elevated knowledge of concepts to apply to job responsibilities and tasks, the next generation of CPAs will be critical to firms’ growth and efficiency of services.
As newly licensed CPAs enter the profession at a higher level, firms will be able to use entry level/unlicensed staff to execute some of the work that newly licensed CPAs are currently undertaking. Dauberman states that as a result, a type of domino effect gets set into motion: “Newly licensed CPAs will be able to perform more advanced types of work on engagements. This will free experienced staff to deal with issues that require even more experience and sophisticated levels of understanding that come with it.”
Some of these issues include furthering the firm’s marketing practices and ensuring more services are efficiently performed. These are areas that many firms can continue to work on and improve; areas that can finally get the attention they deserve with this shift in staff and job delegation. Experienced staff will be able to focus their time and energy on enhancing relationships with current and prospective clients not only by building trust and rapport–but more importantly–getting to know how to service them better.
Examples of this include firms’ abilities to “see where they can provide potential savings for clients as well as increase realization rates. This will also enable firms to increase meaningful communication with clients to identify opportunities where they can further help their businesses grow and thrive,” Dauberman says. This will in turn help firms grow and thrive themselves as they elevate their reputation and increase revenue.
Another area that firms can expect to benefit from with the next generation of CPAs is the beginning of balancing an otherwise very seasonal profession. The accounting profession is well known for the chaos that is Tax Season, or Busy Season, aptly named for the long hours and days that accountants put in for months leading up to the April 15th deadline. By extension, there are times when firms are not as busy. Dauberman expresses that “with newly certified staff being able to do higher level work, firms can reduce the amount of work they’re doing during the Busy Season to better even out the work flow throughout the year.”
As the 2017 CPA Exam changes ensure that the next generation of CPAs bring more competency and experience to the table, there’s no doubt that these changes play a very significant role in helping firms expand their services and level out their workloads. What this means for recruiters and partners within firms is to keep a keen lookout for newly licensed CPAs in 2017 and beyond—they will not only change the way the accounting profession operates, but have a greater impact on the industry as a whole.