Mark Cuban remarked that he wouldn’t want to be a CPA right now because advances in technology mean it isn’t a profession that will be valid in the future. One CPA had the opportunity to confront Mr. Cuban when he happened to be in her office building one day. Kevin Thompson, CPA said “I wish that CPA would have been me. First I would have told him that the Dallas Mavericks suck. Second, Shark Tank is a Great scripted reality show. Third, I’d get to the issue at hand … Don’t criticize someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Mr. Cuban knows a lot about a lot of things but one of them is not the accounting profession.”
She introduced herself to him as he was standing in the lobby and mentioned that she had read his remarks and was concerned about them. She told him it was causing her to lose sleep. Thompson says “I can see where this might be disconcerting to young professionals. A wise man like Cuban might be onto something. And if this is your career of choice, you might have to sweat thinking about it.”
He laughed and they had a short 10-minute conversation to clear things up. She shared some of the ways that CPA’s have embraced technology to create new ways of servicing clients and that the technology itself allows them to provide better service. It also frees up entry level and junior staff to focus on other responsibilities to serve their customers.
Andrew Chamberlain, the chief economist for GlassDoor, remarked last year that “Even as technology has helped to automate some aspects of the tax and insurance markets, the remaining jobs in those fields require lots of human judgment and creativity that is very difficult to automate.” Thompson says, “this is what I tell my Associates and clients all the time. My 40 years of acumen and experience can enhance technology just as much as technology enhances me.”
This is true in many other industries and professions. Applying expertise as a job function is less likely to be automated than data collection and processing. CPA’s provide individual advice and can analyze data is a much more sophisticated and customized way than ever than before.
One thing a CPA can do is become a key ally in cybersecurity threats. In fact, the AICPA will be releasing a new reporting framework that a company can use to assess the effectiveness of their risk of cyber-attack and the effectiveness of their systems. The reporting framework provides the first common language in the marketplace and aligns with the many ways companies are designing cybersecurity risk management programs.
CPA’s will also be able to aid in some non-financial areas such as vendor/supply chain and sustainability. This includes energy goals, emission requirements, environmental safety, and water recycling.
These services require specialized knowledge and skills and assure that the accounting profession will still be viable and needed in the future. The demand for these skills is being implemented in the Uniform CPA Exam to reflect competencies that newly licensed CPA’s will need. These are the same skills that Mr. Cuban says are necessary for a profession to go on thriving in the age of advanced technology.
The AICPA, CPA firms, and other stakeholders are always looking for better ways to incorporate technological practical understanding into accounting and auditing services. The AICPA feels that the audit, “the core of the profession”, may transform in the next 5-10 years because of technology and other factors. Thompson says “I believe in technology and I believe that technology will be smart enough to perform more of the audit function.”
CPA’s themselves are working to affect change. Many use technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and drones to increase efficiency and become more effective. They no longer must compute information manually and can see and collaborate with companies in real time.
So, Mr. Cuban, you are wrong in assuming the accounting profession is dead. It is very much alive and innovating.