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I don’t know if you’ve all heard it, but we are living in the future now. Not the cool Ray Bradbury with laid back weekends to exotic Mars destinations and robots to do all the tedious things we’d rather not, but the future no less.

And here in this dystopian nightmare glorious future, technical skills are in high demand. Maybe for a previous generation of accountants “technical aptitude” meant being able to set the clock on your VCR and delete cookies from your own browser, but here in the future the rule of data analysis. This is no more obvious than in the ambitious CPA Evolution project, a revamp of the CPA exam like we haven’t seen since the exam was computerized 17 years ago. Scheduled to be launched in 2024, the “new” test model under CPA Evolution aims to better reflect the realities of practice, “requiring more in-depth proven knowledge in one of the three disciplines that are the pillars of profession ”.

So here is the problem. The place where future CPAs with bright eyes and bushy tails get their knowledge (college, obv) might not be doing its job and preparing said future CPAs untouched for the new reality. In other words, accounting students might miss out on the technology-driven education they’ll need to be competitive in the workplace.

Extract from an AICPA press release dated March 17:

According to a new report from the American Institute of CPA (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, there are major gaps in college accounting education today, with less than half of all programs teaching emerging topics, such as IT governance and cybersecurity. (NASBA).

The accounting program gap analysis report found mixed results for covering emerging and technology topics. While over 60% of college accounting programs teach subjects such as data analysis and IT auditing, fewer programs cover cybersecurity, predictive analytics, or system and organizational controls (SOC). Each of these topics could be covered in more depth during the CPA exam in 2024, pending the results of the exam’s current practice analysis.

“The accounting profession is increasingly dependent on the use of emerging technologies, information systems and data analysis. Companies are increasingly looking for technology-related services and advice and it is important that newly licensed CPAs master their knowledge, use and skills, ”said Sue Coffey, CPA, CGMA, CEO – Public Accounting, AICPA. “Accounting programs have a responsibility to ensure that their programs and course offerings prepare students for success in the profession. “

The news isn’t all bad, as you can see. Some schools keep pace, while others are type of follow but miss critical components needed to train well-rounded accountants.

From AICPA Are Colleges Preparing Future CPAs? Three key ideas:

These topics are often taught as part of one or two class sessions rather than as part of a dedicated course or unit of study. For example, systems and organization control (SOC) assignments are a rapidly growing area of ​​practice for CPA firms. But, among those surveyed, only 32% of accounting programs with more than 100 undergraduate accounting majors cover the subject in their curriculum. In smaller schools, the percentages are lower. Some future CPAs may not learn what they need to be competitive in the job market as companies’ services become more technology-driven.

What is the solution ? “The answer is clear,” says AICPA. “Small schools need to improve their offerings or consider other options that will give their students more exposure to these topics. Due to the demands of the profession, as well as the demands of the CPA exam, teachers in schools of all sizes must assess their abilities to teach these technologies and commit to evolving so that they can deliver education more effectively. that students need.

The AICPA plans to deliver a model curriculum this summer that will help accounting educators ensure their graduates are not only prepared for the CPA exam changes in three years, but also for the evolving profession. fast. I know the profession doesn’t have the best roadmap to proactively adapt, but let’s try to be optimistic here and wait and see how it all goes. Interesting moments, for sure.

While we’re on the subject of the future, I’ll just leave it here.

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