While the future of accounting will certainly involve new technologies and ways of doing business, Mark Koziel believes the bedrock of the profession will remain largely unchanged.
“The client relationship is and will continue to be the underlying linchpin of everything we do,” the longtime EVP of firm services at the AICPA and new CEO of Allinial Global told host Ian Khan in a recent livestream discussion for “Future Ready in 60 Minutes.”
Spurred by attendee questions, a large portion of the conversation went down a rabbit hole of the ins and outs of blockchain, with Koziel noting that things like AI and blockchain ultimately only matter insofar as a firm can demonstrate to a client exactly how these technologies will help them better run their business. But between some of those more technical diversions, Koziel found time to weigh in on some broader ideas about where the profession is headed and what firms need to be focusing on, including:
COVID and Technology
Like other businesses across the economy, Koziel says that those firms that were already embracing technology and the cloud were better able to take the early punches of the pandemic – and will ultimately be the ones more likely to thrive going forward.
Accounting firms need to start thinking more like corporations when it comes to funding potential losses in order to spur future growth, Koziel notes. To illustrate this point, he used the example of a firm that might want to start a wealth management practice, but runs into trouble when partners in other areas don’t want to make sacrifices for something that may ultimately benefit the long-term future of the overall firm, but happen to be outside of their particular area.
Finding Transcendent Talent
Koziel lamented the fact that while firms may aspire to attract visionary future leaders to the profession, too many still rely on an outdated model that tends to box young staffers into technical roles that stifle their creativity and eventually chase off the big thinkers who see more open-minded opportunities elsewhere.
The Vanishing CPA
Despite the trend of fewer professionals pursuing their CPA licenses and more firms looking outside of accounting programs for new talent, Koziel remains a big proponent of the CPA going forward. “They can take away my CEO title, but I’ll always have that CPA – and that means something.”