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Accounting News Roundup: Accountants Are Worried About the Future | 09.26.16

Accountants are worried about the future

One trope of business is to ask some variation of the question: "What keeps you up at night?" Lately, the answers from people in the accounting profession are nearly as cliche as the question. This Accounting Today article delivers the goods in that regard, noting "their answers this year might well have used the old acronym SALY." Stop me if you've heard these issues before.

The number one worry? Becoming irrelevant!

By far the most common concern involves the way technology and changes in business threaten to leave the profession behind, and the need for accountants to adapt. As in the past, VeraSage Institute founder Ron Baker sounded the charge: “Unless our profession continuously innovates and adds value, we deserve irrelevancy. What was the last innovation from the profession? We continue to avoid the tough issues, such as auditor independence.”

Talent worries? You bet!

After relevance, the most commonly cited issue facing the profession is, in the words of Koltin Consulting Group CEO Allan Koltin, “Talent, talent, talent. It used to be growth, growth, growth, but in today’s ongoing war for talent it has become quite apparent that those who can win the war, both in recruiting top talent and retaining top talent, have a major competitive edge over all other firms. All other issues are a distant second.” 

Shifty millennials? Of course!

“We are retiring (in record numbers) the most loyal members of our profession and hiring the least loyal,” said Upstream Academy director Sam Allred. “Fewer people enter the profession each year that want to be owners. Leaders of our client organizations are retiring in record numbers and younger individuals (who are often less loyal) are assuming leadership seats.”

Scary technology? Always!

The rate at which technology changes —and the slower rate at which accountants adapt to it — was a frequent worry. “It is difficult to keep up with the pace of innovation today,” said Antonio Argiz, chairman and CEO of Top 100 Firm MBAF. “More firms are moving towards cloud computing, which raises more cybersecurity issues than we have had to account for before. Also, staying up-to-date with the changes in technology and innovation in the audit field will be challenging, especially for smaller firms where upgrading can be cost prohibitive.”

If you ask me, it's all about attitude. The accounting profession seems to be clinging to the past which drives a lot of these worries. It's too reactionary. I'd be willing to bet if the question, "What gets you up in the morning?" was asked, at least a few people would say, "Didn't sleep. I was up all night worrying."

Related: A Deloitte study found that 1 in 3 people check their smartphones in the middle of the night.

The IRS has a kind word and a gun

Right or wrong, no one much likes the IRS this days. To help in that regard, the Service is attempting to remind people that it's not all bad. In fact, it does plenty of good! The most famous good that the Service has done is, arguably, bringing down Chicago mob boss Al Capone who was convicted of tax evasion. The Wall Street Journal has a story of how the IRS ended up with one of Capone's revolvers, a rare item, so the Service is taking advantage of the situation:

Tuesday at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas, Richard Weber, the IRS criminal-investigation chief, will introduce an artifact that recalls this signature achievement, a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson “Hand Ejector Military & Police Model” revolver with a pearl handle that Capone once carried and which the IRS is lending the museum.

“The Capone gun is really a connection between the criminal-investigation division’s past and our present-day mission,” says Mr. Weber. “We continue to follow the money trail.”

Hey, at least they're trying.

Has Donald Trump released his tax returns?

Nope! But Hillary Clinton has a new ad tying Trump's refusal to his business interests in Russia. Tonight's debate should be a hoot. 

Previously, on Going Concern…

In Open Items, someone's been recruited to start a new department at a Big 4 firm and is asking questions about title and salary.

In other news:

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