Owner, SOAR – A Better Way CPA
Hilton Head Island, SC
Data Driven Leadership Program
A profession in transition
I consider myself to be a data-focused accountant. I’ve taken data science classes throughout my career and I’ve always been interested in automation, data analytics and building dashboards. I certainly see the value in data collection and analysis, and where that can go in the future, including machine learning and other AI technologies.
As the CPA profession becomes more analytic and data-driven, I believe the corporate accounting group of the future will be 50% accountants, 25% data scientists and 25% programmers. So, when I saw the Data-Driven Leadership Program was being offered, I knew it was right up my alley.
From spreadsheets to dashboards
At SOAR, one of the value-adds for my clients is a dashboarding service, which is one of the major areas covered in the AICPA program and why it was especially pertinent to the direction of my business.
In particular, it covered exactly what kind of data needs to go into these dashboards, how we should be thinking about data collection and aggregation, and how to present that information to clients.
A lot of CPAs and clients still consider the dashboard to be like a spreadsheet, or what I would classify as a scorecard—showing stagnant metrics that are backwards-looking. But dashboards are predictive, with elements you can influence to move you towards your business model of tomorrow, as opposed to the business model you have today.
As the amount of data continues to grow, data collection will become more automated, and the CPA profession will need to find ways like this to provide value. One place we can provide that value is being able to analyze complex data, interpret it and communicate the story it tells to clients in a way that’s easy for them to digest.
The power of learning
Anytime you can show a client that you are being proactive about your education and the future, and that you can potentially apply that knowledge to their business to help them solve a problem, that’s absolutely helpful to building the relationship.
I find it fairly easy to get the professional development I need. I have an AICPA webcast pass, and we live in a world of dual monitors, so it’s simple to be working and listening as you work. When speakers like Tom Hood speak at an AICPA conference, they tend to reference books and whitepapers in their presentations, which I can then download and read on a Kindle while I’m waiting my kids to go to sleep. If you’re intellectually curious, professional development becomes second nature.
Teeing off for future learning
I’m excited about going to the next AICPA Leadership Academy, and I’ll definitely be at ENGAGE next year. One of the great things about AICPA conferences, is that they energize you about the profession, where you are and where you can go in the future.