Every year, the editors at Accounting Today put out their list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting. It’s not an award, rather it’s their effort to compile a clear-eyed assessment of the individuals who are having the biggest impact on the current state and the future direction of the profession.
We’re thrilled to announce that this year our very own President of the Americas, Keri Gohman, has been recognized! The editors at Accounting Today have described this year’s list as perhaps one of the most influential ever.
As they appropriately note, the changes currently underway in the profession are so significant that the decisions those on this year’s roster make now and in the coming years and months will have repercussions that will be felt for decades to come. We asked Keri to share her thoughts on the biggest issues facing the profession and her advice for those new to a career in accounting.
What is the most important issue currently facing the accounting profession?
There is a lot of excitement about new technology, and the positives and potential pitfalls it presents for our industry. The biggest issue we face is, among all the noise, forgetting that at the end of the day, our profession is about helping people.
In the US, only 32% of small business owners have an accountant. And we know that by leveraging the help of an accountant, small business owners can dramatically increase their odds of success.
Connecting more accountants to more small business owners will require a dramatic shift in the industry.
Do you think that the many changes facing the profession will be good for it overall, or bad for it? Why?
Advances in AI and automation do not have to be the doomsday scenario for the accounting industry that is commonly portrayed.
As a profession, we have the opportunity to embrace these changes to play an even bigger role in helping clients succeed. In fact, our research has found that, despite advances in technology, 72% of small business owners still want access to an accountant.
Instead of eliminating the role of the accountant, new technology can enhance the role. Technology makes it possible to evolve an accounting practice from a narrow focus on compliance services to broader advisory services – resulting in huge growth.
AI and machine learning will enable accountants to collaborate more closely with their small business clients by making it easier to share data, uncover insights, and plan for the future.
It is understandable that a period of change introduces fear, anxiety and doubt – but all of this noise distracts us from focusing on the massive opportunity in front of us. By embracing this new era, as a profession we can get at the head of the line defining where the industry goes from here, and re-write our own rules for success.
What is one thing would you tell a new accountant just starting their career?
My advice to any new accountant is, don’t be afraid to reshape the way the industry works. Think about how you can take advantage of technology to change the way accounting is delivered.
Your peers have built entirely new technology businesses focused on verticals that no one even considered or didn’t even exist five years ago. Technology unleashes a whole new era of what it means to be an accountant and you should be a part of that.