This is the third installment in our three-part series introducing our new book, “Changing the Face of Accounting: Forward-thinking conversations about reinventing the CPA field” by HaydenRock partner Ian Welham.
Scheduled to be released next week, “Changing the Face of Accounting” features 15 accounting experts, including five of Accounting Today’s 100 Most Influential People.
Today we’re sharing an excerpt from Ian’s interview with Jim Bourke, the partner in charge of internal technology at WithumSmith+Brown, and also the firm’s technology-niche practice leader.
Jim is an enthusiastic technology advocate – one reason CPA Technology Advisor named him a top thought leader in public accounting technology. He has also served as president of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants and on the AICPA’s board of directors and council.
During their conversation, Ian asks Jim about the disruption and changes happening in the accounting profession. Here are some of Jim’s takes:
“I believe change is good. I want to take [Withum] to the next level. The key to our success is the management team that runs the firm. There are nine of us on the management committee. That group, including our managing partner, Bill Hageman, all view technology as a strategic asset.
“If a firm is viewing technology as an expense, as a cost of doing business, a big nut that continues to grow and becomes bigger as the firm grows; If you look at it that way, you’re not going to be successful because you’re always going to try to cut technology.
“I tell legacy baby boomers in our profession, ‘You need to embrace [technology]. You need to embrace those kids that are sitting around in the cubicles with the one ear bud in their ear, streaming music, instant messaging clients or their friends, getting their work done. Understand how they use technology to get through their day and don’t block it. Embrace it because that’s the future of our profession.
“I’m also managing director for the advisory services group. Withum is all about audit, tax and advisory. That’s our tagline: Withum, audit, tax and advisory. Our managing partner is a huge believer that our advisory services group is the key to our firm’s future growth and success. I will tell you hands down, knowing what I know about the industry, knowing what I know about audit and tax, I honestly believe the days of double-digit growth in a pure audit practice are over.
“You’re not going to see growth in an audit practice in double digits into the future. It’s sad to say, but the audit is becoming very much a commodity.
“CPAs need to come to the realization their world is changing. They need to change quickly, start re-positioning themselves, because I will tell you: Every CPA today has the tools that they need to be involved in advisory services. Think about it. Their skill sets, their background perfectly positions them to help CEOs to take the company to the next level.
“It’s not about producing financials. I know that’s what we went to school for. I know that’s what we’re licensed for in every single state here in the United States. We get a certificate that says we are great at it. That’s part of it, but that’s not what it’s going to be in the future. That’s not what a young entrepreneur getting out of college will experience unless they’re very active in advisory services.”