I have had the distinct honor to be on CPA Practice Advisor’s 40 Under 40 list for 6 years now. This year, the magazine organized their first roundtable of honorees. Over the past two days, we met and shared ideas at the Rootworks Learning Center in Indianapolis, IN.

Who is in the 40 Under 40 Group?

The group was diverse. We had people from big firms, medium firms, and small firms. There were attendees that represented the tax field, audit, bookkeeping, education, industry and more. Our group was made up of both men and women. But, while we are all different, our drive and passion for the accounting industry brought us together.

The Impact the Discussion Had on Me

My thoughts on the accounting industry were challenged and supported. I can’t explain how engaging it was to be with so many people striving to make the accounting industry the best it can be like myself. And, there is no way to grow ourselves or our industry without understanding each other. I am so grateful to have been part of the discussion.

What Should Thought Leaders Be Thinking About

As thought leaders, I don’t think our role is to necessarily present the solutions for the industry, but to ask the questions to make the rest of us think about where we are and where we are going. Here is a listing of the top questions that I think the accounting industry is facing and has to figure out how to deal with in our future.

  1. How do we support women that want both a career and family? In what ways can we show women that we don’t have to put life on pause and we aren’t less than just because we decide to be a working mom.
  2. How is the definition of the accounting firm changing? What has it been in the past and what will the marketplace consider it in the future?
  3. Are the older generations holding the younger generations back from innovation and change? Or, is there something that the younger generation has yet to gain from the experience that the older generations have.
  4. How do we ease the onboarding process with clients? Why does it have to be such a huge pain point for us and our clients?
  5. How do you create an amazing customer experience for your clients and continue to exceed expectations?
  6. How can we exceed expectations with our internal customer – our employees?
  7. How do we get more students interested in the audit and tax fields in colleges?
  8. How will our industry respond to a cashless future?
  9. How do we let technology disrupt our industry for the better and make sure we don’t lose the personal touch with our clients?
  10. How can mentor/mentee relationships be developed and grown within our community?
  11. Are the state CPA societies dead? How can they stay relevant to the younger generations?
  12. How can we improve accounting conferences and continuing education to be more relevant to all generations?
  13. How will we respond to our future competition not looking like us (traditional CPAs versus bookkeepers, consultants, and more).
  14. How do we engage younger generations to take a stake in their firms and want to grow into the leadership of the firms?
  15. What are you going to do (or are doing now) to make a difference in our industry?

I’ve had the privilege to see several sides of the accounting industry. I started out in public accounting, working as both a forensic accountant and auditor. I’ve worked for a huge business understanding how to create effective management reporting for executives all while understanding how life is really different for big business versus small business. And, finally, I’ve had my own small business for the last 7 years, dealing with all the same struggles that so many small business owners have – hiring, growing revenue, cash flow, and more. Each step has widen my view of the accounting industry. We are all different but at the same time, we are all the same.

What Are You Going To Do?

So, do all these question provoke something inside of you? What other questions should we be worrying about in the accounting industry? How do we work with each other to keep moving the industry forward while maintaining a high-level of quality work and service?