The widespread business disruption that is impacting companies everywhere makes this an especially pivotal moment for the future of accounting firms.
In my first several months as president of the Tax Professionals business at Thomson Reuters, I’ve often been asked during visits with employees, customers and industry partners, about why I’m excited to take on this new role. I can rattle off many reasons, to be sure, but one continues to resurface: the awareness that our accounting, tax and audit customers are entrusted to serve small and midsize businesses (SMBs) which, in turn, are a leading growth engine for economies around the world.
Furthermore, while their role of trusted business advisor to SMBs has long been vital to the health and sustainability of free and fair markets, the widespread business disruption that is impacting companies everywhere makes this an especially pivotal moment for the future of accounting firms.
And while their larger peers may have deeper pockets and more expansive resources to navigate in a fast-evolving marketplace, small and midsize firms with the requisite discipline and a willing mind-set also have strong potential to benefit from these seismic shifts. Whether the disruptors are technological, social or regulatory, these firms now find themselves in a position where they must contend with – and more importantly, find opportunity within – the aggregate change.
It’s with this recognition that we approached the content for the Fall 2018 edition of Answers. We asked Thomson Reuters subject-matter experts who presented at our annual Synergy users’ conference to raise some of the questions, trends and insights that they consider most compelling for accountants to consider in key areas including cybersecurity, innovation, business development and new federal tax regulations.
As the convergence of several broad trends promises to significantly impact the tax and accounting profession over the next few years, Jon Baron and Jordan Kleinsmith ask the question on everyone’s mind: What’s a CPA to do? They recommend how to cultivate strategic advisory services as a bigger piece of the product pie, with data analytics as key among them; and not to forget that tax returns are low-hanging fruit that contain the potential seeds for new business!
The changes unleashed by The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continue to reverberate throughout the economy, and Melissa Oaks suggests that tax professionals can sharpen their focus on the new tax rules by identifying what existing clients need and what kinds of clients they want to represent in the future.
Will Hill more discusses the importance of having a constructive attitude toward change. As he explains it, firms that implement a consistent model for adapting to change will often realize ancillary improvements, such as in process analysis, documentation and evaluations.
And last but certainly not least, just as you wouldn’t build a house without a strong foundation, so too a firm’s viability is becoming increasingly dependent on the security of its information systems. As Christina Wiseman and Trenda Hackett forewarn, no entity – however small – should underestimate its own data-security risk. They suggest low-cost practical tips and techniques to bolster safety, both in process and technology.
In closing, our goal for this issue is to provide valuable, actionable information while sparking the imagination about the myriad ways to evolve the accounting profession. We encourage taking pause to reflect on where you – and your organization – sit on the spectrum of readiness for a very different world. In acknowledging that what’s daunting can be equally invigorating, we hope to share our enthusiasm for the future!