Accounting | The Profession

Michael Kravshik: Younger CPAs can shape accounting’s future

The founder of Luminari is helping accelerate professional accountants’ careers. And he has a good idea of the skills they’ll need going forward.

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Michael Kravshuk speaking at a podium“Younger people tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves,“ says Michael Kravshik. “We think that if we make one wrong move, that will be it. Game over.“ (Image courtesy of Luminari)

As a millennial CPA, Michael Kravshik has a good sense of what makes his generation tick, career wise. But beyond the observations he has gathered through his own personal journey, he also has hard data to back up his insights.

Kravshik is the founder of Luminari, an online community he says is “dedicated to making CPAs’ lives easier and their careers progress faster.” The two-year-old platform, which now has more than 10,000 active users, connects CPAs with jobs and volunteer opportunities, education, mentorship, content, and more. Among other features, it boasts a salary guide that is based not on job title, but experiences and capabilities.

At the second set of round tables for CPA Canada Foresight: Reimagining the Profession in October, Kravshik explained the rationale behind Luminari, while also offering some observations about the millennial mindset. In an interview with CPA Canada, he elaborated on some of those thoughts and explained why younger CPAs should get involved in the Foresight project.

CPA Canada: What gave you the idea to found Luminari?
MK:
Originally, our idea was to build a product for CPAs who weren’t actively looking for jobs but wanted to be connected with the job market. We ended up having more than 500 one-on-one phone or in-person conversations with CPAs to really drill down on what they might want from a product like this—and to find out if they even wanted one. 

It’s through those sessions that we came up with the product we launched two years ago, which was focused on the “passive” job market. As we built our community of CPAs, we became much more aware of the pain points in CPAs’ careers, and we’re now tackling many more of them [through mentorship, education, events, and more].

CPA Canada: Is Luminari geared mainly for younger CPAs or all CPAs?
MK:
All CPAs. Of course, it has features that are designed for the way we work in 2018 but that doesn’t mean it’s targeted more toward younger people. Everyone wants services that are more convenient and more intuitive. Our mission is to make CPAs’ lives easier and to help their careers progress faster—and that includes all CPAs.

“…it’s the younger CPAs who are going to be deciding what this new CPA will be.”

CPA Canada: In your presentation, you spoke about younger CPAs being anxious. But are they anxious in the same way as other generations are about how their own careers are going to evolve?
MK:
I do think that younger generations, and I’ll include myself here, struggle with anxiety. We have grown up in a time of dramatic change and in 20 years the CPA profession is going to look a lot different than it does today. No one can say for sure what it will look like, so there is a lot of trepidation associated with that.

But there’s another aspect and I’m not sure whether it’s generational or not—I can’t speak to what the baby boomers were like at that age. But younger people tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves. We think that if we make one wrong move, that will be it. Game over.

Already in middle school, we have to start thinking about what kind of university degree we are going to pursue because for each step, there are certain prerequisites. And if we put a lot of effort into a goal and that goal changes, we can get very frustrated and anxious. We start thinking, ‘Why did I do what I did and what do I do next?’

CPA Canada: What skills do you think CPAs should be developing as we go forward?
MK:
We’ve done some surveys on this subject, especially as we’ve tried to develop new products and three areas of focus keep coming up: technology and emerging issues; so-called soft skills such as presentation skills, speaking skills and management skills; and leadership. 

I make a distinction between leadership and management, because management has to do with getting teams to execute on specific tasks on a daily basis, whereas leadership has a lot more to do with inspiring and motivating a team to work toward a shared goal.

CPA Canada: So you would see CPAs moving toward becoming strategic thinkers?
MK:
Yes, and I think that has always been an important part of being a CPA, even before technological change began to affect the way we do our jobs.

CPA Canada: Why do you think younger CPAs should participate in CPA Canada Foresight: Reimagining the Profession?
MK:
In many ways, it’s the younger CPAs who are going to be deciding what this new CPA will be, so we need to make sure they are involved. It’s about imagining a future for the profession they want to be part of. We all have a stake in this, and the reality is, if the younger generation isn’t a big part of the discussion, it would be easy to find ourselves making changes that don’t resonate with tomorrow’s CPAs.

BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION 

As CPA Canada Foresight: Reimagining the Profession enters its final stages, make sure to join the discussion online and have your say in shaping the future of accounting.