2021-2022 PICPA President Finds Opportunities Among Challenges

2021-2022 PICPA President Finds Opportunities Among Challenges

by Franki A. Aitken, CPA | May 27, 2021

I am the biggest fan, cheerleader, and promoter of the accounting profession, which is why I am so delighted to represent PICPA’s 20,000 members. I am extremely honored and proud to serve as PICPA president for the 2021-2022 year. Though my presidency will kick off remotely, I hope to meet many of you face-to-face at some point during the year. The PICPA is the second-oldest CPA organization in the nation and among one of the largest, and during my term the PICPA will celebrate its 125th anniversary. Stay tuned for opportunities to recognize this milestone.

As I start my term as president, I am committed to ensuring the PICPA has the resources you need for a post-COVID accounting profession. In some ways, the pandemic accelerated changes in our industry that were becoming inevitable. Now, it is up to all of us to embrace those changes and continue with the positive ones for the good of the profession.

I am a believer that you have to find the good that comes from the bad; otherwise, you might miss an opportunity. As the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel grows stronger, I can confidently say that the old adage, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes,” is outdated. The new adage should be, “Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and change.”

The accounting profession in a post-COVID world will look different. Pre-COVID business models have been challenged. Team members who found they worked more efficiently at home may want to remain working from home. Clients may have found the efficiency of meeting with their CPA via Zoom is something they don’t want to give up. Virtual audits worked; why change them back to in-person? I plan to work with our members and the PICPA team to ensure that our programs, products, and services help all of us successfully implement these changing models.

The multiple, and changing, generations in our workforce require us to be vigilant in helping members navigate the evolving workplace dynamic. For example, as our millennial members grow into their CPA careers and we begin to hire Generation Z accountants, different work styles and expectations will be at the forefront of hiring and retention conversations.

I would like to take a moment here to shine a light on the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in accounting to fill the pipeline of accounting majors and future CPAs. We learn a lot from our conversations with college and high school students. They want to work for firms and organizations that will challenge them intellectually, offer growth opportunities, provide a work environment that makes them feel comfortable and welcome, respect their desire to work hard but play hard, and present flexible work arrangements. The key is for all of us to make sure these students have innovative places of employment so we can keep them within the profession.

These are reasonable expectations, after all. As a profession, we should be able to work together to meet them. The Foundation has programs for all levels of students. For example, even in a pandemic year, innovative remote efforts allowed the Foundation to introduce a record 9,000 students to the accounting profession. Plus, the PICPA has numerous resources available to help employers be everything that younger CPAs desire. If we are willing to adapt, we will thrive in a post-COVID world.

Thank you all for allowing me to serve as your president and giving your continued support to the PICPA. Please feel free to reach out to me with any thoughts or comments. I welcome the feedback.

Franki A. Aitken, CPA, is chief operating officer of Berks County Community Foundation in Reading and 2021-2022 PICPA president. She can be reached at franki2@bccf.org.

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