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Foresight the CPA Podcast episode 2

Episode 2: The big shift. What jobs will CPAs have in the future?

In the last two decades, changes within the accounting profession have necessitated new skills and the adoption of new ideas and technologies. This trend of constant change will only accelerate in the future.

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In 2021, we’re experiencing a new normal, brought on by an onslaught of change and disruption in 2020. However, change has always been an ever-expanding phenomenon – in the global economy, in our working worlds, in our physical environment and, of course, the accounting profession.

Tim Jackson is the chair of the Competency Map Task Force and is responsible for the creation of CPA Canada's new competency map. In this episode, he describes both the daunting challenges CPAs face, as well as the opportunities presented by the profession’s ever-changing landscape. The roles CPAs play in organizations are shifting—what will their future look like?

View transcript

In this episode

  • The most recent World Economic Forum Jobs Report was a wake-up call for the profession. It identified accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerks as third most likely to decrease. Accountants and auditors were number four (1:49)
  • An RBC report looked at what the job market would look like in the upcoming decade. It identified that 25 per cent of Canadian jobs will be disrupted by technology in the upcoming decade. Fully half will go through a significant overhaul of the skills required (3:33)
  • Three skills and competencies CPAs will need for the future: the core accounting skills needed to bring order to financial data at the foundation of accounting; the skills that define a profession versus non-profession, such as ethics, acting in the public interest, and adding value; human-centric skills or values that AI struggles to offer, like the need to ask questions, such as how does ESG fit into decision-making? (5:04)
  • The top concern for the profession is the automation of many of the practices CPAs have traditionally done. But there is opportunity for the profession in interpreting data. (9:06)
  • Future accountants will notice an increased focus on what doctors would call "bedside manner." The new competency map will allow non-accounting courses and non-accounting situations that develop communication skills or strengthen the ability to work in a group. (12:05)
  • To be successful in the future, CPAs will need to be curious about the world and embrace the constant need to learn. (14:03)

Key takeaways

  • Accounting, auditing, and bookkeeping jobs are becoming less relevant and will be in less demand. CPAs must change, adapt, and evolve. Jobs are increasing for data analysts and scientists followed by big data specialists. There is an opportunity for CPAs to play a role.
  • RBC identified that 25 per cent of Canadian jobs will disrupted by technology in the upcoming decade, and more than half will see an overhaul of the skills required.
  • The new competency map will drive how post-secondary institutions get students ready for the certification process in the accounting profession.
  • Students coming into the profession will need to be curious, to think about how to take a set of specific information and add value moving forward.
  • Technical knowledge is evolving and new CPAs will need to constantly up-skill.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect those of CPA Canada.