I recently flew to the AICPA’s headquarters in New York City to attend the annual New Horizon Group (NHG) think tank.
New Horizon Group (NHG) is comprised of a dozen top consultants and thought leaders who focus exclusively on the accounting profession. For more than 20 years, they’ve met annually to candidly discuss key accounting profession trends, debate the impacts they’ve made and provide direction and insights for the industry.
This annual meeting provides an opportunity for the AICPA to preview key initiatives that the AICPA will focus on in the year ahead. This year, Lisa Simpson, Vice President of Firm Services for the AICPA, presented five key trends and initiatives for CPAs to watch for:
- A second release of the Dynamic Audit Solution (DAS) rolls out this year.
- The evolution of client accounting and advisory services: CAAS 2.0.
- The future of accounting is supported by the CPA pipeline.
- The opportunity for CPAs to take the lead on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts.
- CPA.com’s Startup Accelerator promotes 10 deserving providers.
Keep reading to find out more information about each of these key trends and initiatives.
1. A second release of the Dynamic Audit Solution (DAS) rolls out this year.
The DAS initiative is the partnership between the AICPA, CPA.com and CaseWare International aimed to fill the need for a scalable and modern audit engagement application to help firms of all sizes.
The first DAS release is being tested by 30 firms (made up of about 400 users) that continue to provide feedback to include in the next release, expected by the end of 2022. One key differentiator to look out for in this next release is the ability to integrate audit efficiency applications, such as Validis, Inflo and Mindbridge. These integrations will create a robust solution to replace outdated and more traditional audit binder applications.
2. The evolution of client accounting and advisory services: CAAS 2.0.
AICPA is focused on providing educational opportunities to CPAs to help their firms start incorporating business insights to offer proactive—rather than reactive—services.
The CAAS 2.0 initiative will focus on four key pillars to building a modern advisory practice: Firm strategy and governance, practice development, center of excellence and—most important—technology solutions.
3. The future of accounting is supported by the CPA pipeline.
There’s a stigma around the accounting profession that’s outdated and needs to change. Members of the AICPA have confirmed that a significant number of accountants coming out of school initially have negative experiences working in the more traditional firms, with longer hours and lesser pay compared to peers in other professions.
Two main initiatives for building the future CPA pipeline are:
- Working to include accounting as part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum in high schools
- Evaluating the opportunity for career paths of non-CPAs within accounting firms
4. The opportunity for CPAs to take the lead on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts.
There’s an increased demand for businesses to make a statement on their ESG efforts (i.e., sustainability, greenhouse gases, carbon footprint) and an emerging body of knowledge and standards to measure various ESG aspects.
ESG reports don’t currently require a CPA signature, but the skills, standards and risk assessment requirements are ideally suited to be delivered by CPAs. The AICPA will prioritize resources to explore and promote involvement with ESG initiatives, including the certified issuance of ESG reports.
5. CPA.com’s Startup Accelerator promotes 10 deserving providers.
A few years ago, CPA.com began funding a Startup Accelerator program to encourage innovation and the use of technology in the accounting progression. This program is designed to help fast-track technologies and promote awareness in multiple areas, such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, business transformation and especially ESG.
Here are the 10 recipients for 2022:
- AuditMiner: Creation of standardized audit packages for 401(k) auditing.
- Fieldguide: Integrated tool to optimize SOC2 compliance and other risk engagements.
- Knuula: Automated engagement letter solution.
- LumiQ: Innovative podcast application to deliver qualifying CPE.
- Once Accounting: Middleware application integrating accounting information with accounting industry tax applications.
- ESG Trust: ESG data management, dynamic material analysis and stakeholder relationship management.
- Good Lab: ESG performance management and compliance application.
- Standard Carbon: Program utilizing Artificial Intelligence to accelerate ESG auditing.
- Caesar Sustainability: Application designed to simplify ESG data collection.
- Sustain.Life: Application to help companies adopt sustainable practices and manage carbon emissions.
Watch for announcements from the AICPA on these key initiatives and applications that could one day have a substantial impact on our profession and your firm!