June 9, 2023

Cap-And-Gown Season

Cap-And-Gown Season

It’s graduation season, and it always brings back great memories of my days as an undergraduate at Hofstra University when I see future accountants donning their caps and gowns.

It also fills me with optimism for the future of our profession. Although many other financially-driven fields are trying to attract newly minted CPAs, I’ve found that for many people in our field, there really is no other career choice: They love public accounting. They wouldn’t be as happy in investment banking, private equity, or banking.

And for those who choose to follow that passion, our field is unbeatable. Where else can you solve challenging problems every day; work alongside smart, dedicated colleagues; find constant opportunities for professional growth and development; and serve clients growing some of the most interesting businesses in America?

I believe it’s only going to get better. If you haven’t in a while, look at a college course catalogue, and you’ll see classes covering advanced Excel, cyber security, data analytics, data visualization, machine learning, and robotic process automation. Accounting is becoming more and more of a technology-driven field. With the revised CPA exam rolling out in 2024 with more emphasis on technology, my guess is it’s going to attract even more tech-savvy professionals who will help advance our field even further.

The accounting profession is also becoming far more diverse than ever—another trend that will likely continue. As many of you at Marcum know, our associate resource groups (ARGs) are very active, and our PRIDE ARG is among them. This month, we are proud to celebrate Pride Month and spotlight the contributions and challenges facing our LGBTQ+ colleagues and clients. Marcum has been a thought leader in our industry since we first established our Modern Family & LGBTQ Services Practice over a decade ago, and it is now a model for others in our field.

With all the opportunities ahead, I’m often asked what advice I would give someone entering our accounting profession today. Even in a field being transformed by technology, I’ve always believed there is no substitute for old-fashioned hard work—getting in early, doing more than is asked of you and actually showing up.

I’ve also been a big believer in lifelong learning. The more time you put into staying current at every stage of your life and career, the more interesting you will be, and the more you’ll be able to contribute.

This brings me to my number one piece of advice: Put service first. Accounting is, at its very heart, a people business. Ultimately, soft skills and “bedside manner” distinguish the best accountants from everyone else. No matter how brilliant you are at the numbers-driven side of our field, the true test of whether you are doing your job is if you can put clients at ease and communicate what they need to know so they can make the best possible decisions. An accountant should be a trusted advisor, and we need to earn that trust from our clients every day.

Looking back at my journey in accounting these past few decades, I’m glad I made the choice to enter this profession and stick with it. It’s truly been an adventure, and one that keeps on surprising me. I hope this year’s crop of new graduates can say the same at some point in the future.

On another note, as I wrote this column, New York City was enveloped by a giant cloud of smoke from Quebec’s wildfires—one of a number of cities on the East Coast that suffered dangerous air quality. Aviation officials were delaying and cancelling flights at a number of airports because of low visibility. It will likely take a few days for the smoke to dissipate, so if you live in one of the affected areas, please be safe.