We spoke to Mark Koziel, President of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants to get his overview of what AICPA is doing on an international scale and his perspective on the profession.
Could you tell us your name and job title?
Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, Executive Vice President, Public Accounting
Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
How long have you worked with the AICPA?
What is the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) doing internationally?
In June, 2016, the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) asked members to consider the creation of a new international association in which both organizations would join together to further the profession. That vote overwhelmingly passed and 1 January 2017, the Association of International Professional Accountants came to be.
The Association builds on the strengths of both organizations and is focused on driving a dynamic accounting profession globally. It represents 650,000 members and students in 179 countries, and provides the network and influence for the profession to have an even broader reach in international advocacy.
There has been a lot of discussion around the need of ensuring new talent enters the profession. What has been your experience of options available for students searching for the best route into the profession once they graduate? What is the AICPA doing to help students?
The AICPA has a long history of working with universities to ensure there is a robust pipeline of accounting talent entering the profession. According to a recently released report from the AICPA, there are more students enrolled in U.S. undergraduate accounting programs than ever before. There is a lot of competition for accounting jobs and students have more options than ever before as the profession continues to expand and redefine its scope.
We want to make sure accounting students understand the ever-expanding options available to them after graduation. The AICPA’s ThisWayToCPA.com website provides them with resources and guidance as they enter the profession. This helps the AICPA meet our goal or ensuring qualified accounting graduates are earning their CPA license after graduation. We firmly believe that having ‘CPA’ after their name is the best way for recent graduates to differentiate themselves to their employers– regardless of whether they’re in public accounting or management accounting. And updates to the CPA Exam have focused on expanded testing of the higher order skills like analytic ability and problem solving to ensure that newly licensed CPAs have the skill set that firms and employers are looking for.
And on the firm side we’re working on a number or programs that help firms provide recent hires with the resources and support they need to pursue their CPA license.
What are your views on the perceived differences between networks and associations?
It depends on who’s asking. I get many calls from U.S. firms searching for a change or searching for their first ever international network or association. In these conversations, firms struggle with their perception of how much risk and reward are shared in a network. It’s important for networks to properly explain the extent to which stakeholders share risk at the international level. If a network member in one country gets sued, is my firm at risk? That’s a question the network has to appropriately answer to help differentiate.
If international clients are asking about the difference, it’s all about perceived quality. Letting a client know the rigorous process the network goes through in selecting member firms and assuring quality is the key differentiator.
What do you believe are the biggest challenges of the profession in the USA?
I don’t think challenges in the USA are much different than that of other parts of the world. Relevance is the critical factor, and if we don’t look at disrupting our services, the profession as a whole could became irrelevant. It’s not like the profession hasn’t gone through disruption before and reacted quite well. The issue this time is the speed of disruption. Past disruption happened over decades. Today disruption is happening much more rapidly. Case in point. The iphone is only 10 years old. A few years later, Apple launches the first ever tablet. Initial reviews said the iPad was a neat toy but would never have any business application. I challenge you to go into any shopping center and not find a tablet within a stone’s throw. Technologies coming at us at hyperspeed today include bot technology, artificial intelligence, blockchain and others. Are we ready? The challenge will be not only implementing these technologies, but keeping standards and services up to date to make sure the profession serves what the market is looking for.
The Association has been busy keeping up with these issues by developing new assurance services for cybersecurity, and sustainability, providing a new delivery system for financial statements with Rivio.com, looking at new tools in audit and assurance services and deepening thinking around integrated personal services, with more work in integrating tax with wealth preservation and financial planning. Finally, on the management accounting front, we’re challenging ourselves on the future of finance, and what that will look like for organizations, and we’re creating a framework for members to use to rethink organizational business models. The issue here is our profession is not alone. Many organizations that employ our members, and are clients of your network, need to rethink their business model to serve customers into the future.