Part II: Accounting is This, Not That: Opportunities for Non-CPAs

By: Brandon Smith, CPA
Managing Partner, Anglin Reichmann Armstrong, P.C.

Today’s accounting world is not just accounting; it encompasses the whole aspect of running an effective business or a personal estate.

The questions that we get at our CPA and advisory firm run the gamut. Clients want to know about operations management efficiency, what type of equipment to buy, what type of employees to hire, how to invest profits, whether to open a new location and whether or not to start a new service line. They want to know how to measure investments and how to get a healthy return.

These questions cross disciplines of accounting, of course, but also regulatory standards, tax law, data analytics, IT and human resources, to name a few.

With ever-changing laws, standards and regulations, we need people who specialize in many areas. That’s why the accounting world offers great career opportunities for non-CPAs as well as for people who pursue their CPAs.

For example, you may enjoy the legal aspects of business, but you aren’t sure about being a full-time lawyer. I can tell you that we already have a professional with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree on staff and we will probably hire a second professional. This is due to the ever-changing legal and regulatory standards natural to business as well as personal estates. Those laws drive accounting and audit processes and how much tax a company, family or individual will pay. A strong legal mind could specialize in any of these areas.

In addition, our industry has an entirely new service line in client accounting and advisory services (CAAS). This service line includes CPAs, certainly, but it also requires the talents of paraprofessionals and accounting experts who become the accounting department for a variety of small business owners. Maintaining timely and accurate accounting leads to opportunities for stronger lending relationships, better tax planning and data-driven business and individual investing decisions. As clients grow, these professionals have the skills to scale up to support more sophisticated business needs at the CFO level, for example.

Accounting Opportunities Are Expanding

If the accounting industry resisted change and remained compliance focused, it would soon be extinct due to technological innovations. We had to change to survive. I am confident that we are on the verge of a whole new industry.

In my previous article, I touched upon the fact that I started my career in IT. Our industry relies on IT and cybersecurity professionals to recommend, implement and train clients on new software and operational solutions. And more accounting firms offers those services to clients in-house. Maintaining systems and secure data is critical to our industry for data privacy as professional accountability.

I have not even expanded on opportunities in human resources and staff development, communications, marketing, business development, wealth management or environmental stewardship. That last opportunity is a new frontier that is requiring public companies (for now) to demonstrate the impact of environmental, social or governance (ESG) decisions on their bottom line financial outlook. In the future, companies will be valued (in part) on their ethical use and sustainability of natural resources, social structures and internal process oversight. We will need humanities and audit professionals who know the laws, will test ESG and report on their findings. If you have an interest in making sure that companies do what they promise to care for the earth, people and resources, then the new and improved accounting industry may be the place for you.

We are looking for professionals with innovative ideas. As part of professional development plans, we encourage our staff to develop a niche for themselves. You may come into accounting with the idea that you will work on taxes or perform audits. But an accounting firm may be just the place that challenges you to think bigger. Where do you see an unmet need? How can you solve it? Accounting is entrepreneurial. You can have the autonomy to create your career.

Contact me if you are a driven dreamer who wants to pursue better solutions for business, society and wealth equality. I want to talk to you.