This week’s blog posting is from the third episode of my podcast, Improv Is No Joke with my guest Tom Hood, the CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs. Our conversation is about forward thinking. If you would like to listen to the entire episode, you can click here, or you can download the episode on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play. Here are the show notes:
Tom Hood was a wonderful guest on today’s show. He’s a great forward-thinking leader in the CPA world and delivered great value to the audience with his insights into technologies and trends for the future.
Tom just returned from a spring council meeting for members of the American Institute of CPAs. A big takeaway from the meeting is the sense that people are beginning to understand the impact of the exponential pace of technology. Big changes like continuous auditing of 100% of transactions are right around the corner, as well as automation within the financial world. Big ticket items will still remain with professionals, but the entry level tasks will be moved to machines soon. “We’re going to need new skills and need them faster probably than we think and we’re going to need to focus on things that computers can’t do.” The trust and relationship side of accounting are aspects that we need to leverage: we need to get better at doing what computers can’t do.
Tom has been able to predict many of the things that others are just now starting to see. It’s not any type of clairvoyance on his part, though. He attributes his future seeing abilities to something that Isaac Newton had said, “The reason I can see farther is because I stand on the shoulder of giants.” Tom’s business relationships and training has helped him see upcoming trends.
With this vision, Tom knows that it won’t be enough to just know the nuts and bolts of accounting. CPA’s will need to begin developing strategic thinking within the companies they work for. This is understanding data and having the ability to analyze it within the context of the company and the world surrounding it. “Wisdom is looking at patterns and connecting dots.”
The number one reason why people leave their CPA’s is because they tend to be reactionary and not proactive. Accountants are logical and we look for facts to understand and tell us about the business. This can lead to a focus on the rear view mirror, without ever looking out through the windshield. CPA’s need to make time for the future and must be taught to look forward.
A change in curriculum like this isn’t something that higher education is capable of just yet. That’s a huge ship to turn around, and we all know they don’t turn quickly. Because of this, it’s up to us as employers to teach our people the skills necessary to be more adaptable and to make a greater impact. Don’t worry about the costs, do this so your people are better prepared to help the organization. The old idea of “if we train them they’ll leave” needs to take a back seat to the more critical message of “what if we don’t train them and they stay?”
Tom gave some incredible food for thought in today’s episode. We all need to make a concerted effort to be more forward thinking in our approach to our chosen profession. I’m really glad he had the time to speak with us today.