How Disrupted Are You?

by Michael D. Colgan, CAE | Nov 28, 2016

Pennsylvania CPA Journal PICPA President Lisa Myers and I recently had the pleasure to meet with many PICPA members during our 2016 Professional Issues Update (PIU) tour around the state. This series of meetings allows us to share thoughts and strategies related to current, as well as future, issues that impact our members, and to better understand how we can assist you in meeting those issues head-on. Whether it is serving as an early identifier of future trends, connecting you with innovators within the profession, developing training on how to anticipate and adapt, or simply engaging members to help them envision their future, the information shared helps PICPA Council and the PICPA team refine our strategic direction.

There is one overarching point that has come through loud and clear: change is all around us. But these disruptions to “the way we have always done it” are actually opportunities – opportunities to grow and to elevate the stature of the CPA credential and the profession. We, as an organization, recognize the need to adapt. Our new governance model, for example, established a strategy-based Council, a group of members dedicated to providing thought leadership on strategic priorities for the PICPA. Topics discussed during the PIU program tie directly to PICPA’s strategic plan, and it was enlightening to hear from members on the impact several of the issues discussed are having on their practices or businesses.

The acquisition and holding of talent is the No. 1 issue concerning the profession, and the PICPA is addressing the talent issue through our Pipeline Task Force. Only 14 percent of U.S. workers believe they have the perfect job, and more than half want to change their careers. When you boil that down further, 80 percent of workers in their 20s say they want to change careers. This is the reality among a generation very unlike their parents, who likely identified a path early and stuck to it for the rest of their careers.

The “war for talent,” as it has been dubbed, is real and it is always evolving. Firms and businesses need to adapt, but it is not happening quickly enough. Case in point: you may still be getting your head around millennials, but what about Generation Z, the generation currently graduating from college and entering the workforce? Have you changed your talent strategy to attract and retain this generation of workers who does not know the world without the Internet? Are you using social media to attract them, to tell your story? That is where you will find them. The traditional strategies will not work. They were born in the 1990s and have never known a world that wasn’t infused with technology. They carry it with them, they are more comfortable using a mobile device than a laptop, and they can multitask with the best of them.

Some characteristics observed by human resources professionals suggest Generation Z is OK with working harder, as they grew up during a period of economic instability and they crave workplace and financial stability. Career opportunity is their No. 1 consideration in pursuing a job that aligns with their personal goals and belief systems, and they are more loyal than millennials. Has your organization adapted to Generation Z?

Another issue that generates quite a bit of discussion is digital disruption and the opportunities it presents in areas such as data analytics and cybersecurity.

The amount of data created each day is staggering. Successful professionals will be those with the analytical and critical thinking skills to understand how to use that data to grow their organizations. Data analytics will allow you to better gauge the future, anticipate trends, and adapt to generate success. As more traditional services are commoditized, it will be critical for members to adapt or risk being left behind with skill sets that will largely be handled through technology. The PICPA has created, and will continue to expand, our competency enhancement resources in data analytics.

Cybersecurity presents an outstanding growth opportunity too. One of the biggest threats is in the rise of machine-to-machine attacks. Information technology research firm Gartner predicts 6.8 billion connected devices in 2016, a 30 percent increase over 2015. By 2020, there will be more than 20 billion connected devices. CPAs have a long history with external reporting on many different topics, and CPAs in both practice and industry are well-positioned to build trust and confidence in the security of systems and information. The AICPA has several initiatives to develop criteria and guidance for reporting on cybersecurity risk management. In addition to an exposure draft on third-party cybersecurity attestation, there are plans to issue a guide on building a practice in this area and possible adjustments to SOC standards.

Lisa and I want to thank the many members who participated in the PIU programs and shared their thoughts and expertise on many issues. If you were unable to participate, you can watch one of the free-for-members presentations through PICPA On-Demand CPE.

Are there other disruptions you are facing? Please share, and we will use the collective thought leadership of the PICPA to address those issues.
What do you think about the professional disruptions you are facing?

Michael D. Colgan, CAE, is CEO and executive director of the PICPA. He can be reached at
Read It Your Way

digital edition

Read the latest edition of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal via the web, digital edition, or mobile app. 

Read Now
Member Benefit

The Pennsylvania CPA Journal is a PICPA member benefit.f Receive quarterly editions of the Journal delivered to your doorstep.