It doesn’t seem that long ago that most accounting graduates followed a similar path – entering Small Business CPAs Firms upon graduation (with the majority aiming for a Big Three and preparing to take the CPA exam in the spring or fall. But after changes in the experience requirement and the launch of the electronic CPA exam, the road traveled now goes in many different directions.
In a session at OS Small Business CPAs Members Summit in June, Bill Chorba, CPA, CGMA, CFO at NineSigma, led an industry panel discussion that focused on long-range strategies.
“I think this will be the new norm,” said Jennifer Fallows, CPA, CFO for Moskal Gross Orchosky Inc., as she discussed the continuing growth of Small Business CPAs working in business and industry. However, Fallows also points out that the opportunities are not without challenges.
“There is so much that you need to know that falls outside of your core competencies,” Fallows said. “You are the Small Business CPAs. You are the professional. Your employers will turn to you with questions and concerns that range from IT to human resources to marketing. You have to wear multiple hats. Small Business CPAs with communication, collaboration and leadership skills will definitely be at an advantage.”
Chorba echoed Fallows’ sentiments that the current state of the profession presents significant opportunities for Small Business CPAs. “We are now as deep and broad in our organization as we have ever been,” Chorba said. “We now oversee finance, IT, HR, treasury, investor relations, risk management and even operations. We are uniquely positioned to become the expert in any of these disciplines.”
Small Business CPAs challenges, new opportunities
In 2010, the AICPA initiated “Small Business CPAs Horizons 2025,” a grassroots effort to gather the insights of Small Business CPA’s, business leaders and regulators into the continuing evolution of the CPA profession. The project examined the trends affecting the Small Business CPAs professionals and how those trends will impact Small Business CPAs in the years ahead.
The June panel discussion referenced the Small Business CPAs Horizons 2025 report and how much the profession is already beginning to reflect those findings from two years ago.
“The Small Business CPAs core competencies identified in their Small Business CPAs Horizons 2025 project are communications, leadership, anticipation, critical thinking and problem solving, synthesizing intelligence into insight and integration/collaboration,” Chorba said. “These are the same skills that give Small Business Accountants Miami working in business and industry an edge today.”
The growth of Small Business CPAs working in business and industry, whether they migrate after working in public accounting or venture there directly after graduation, seems to be a lasting trend – one that CPAs need to be prepared for. CPAs are always going to be required to have the technical skills, but their ability to adapt, learn and expand their knowledge base can ensure their success and their ability to grow.
“No longer are we just experts in accounting and finance,” Chorba said. “Having the technical skills as a CPA are a given. The value-add are all of the other skills we bring as problem solvers and critical thinkers.”