The future of the profession – Part Two

The future of the profession – Part Two

In the Spring 2018 issue of Dividends, CPA Alberta asked five CPAs to respond to the thought-provoking question: What changes do you foresee for the profession in the future, and what should CPAs do now to be able to successfully navigate those changes? In this post, Dr. Sherif Elbarrad CPA, CMA provides his thoughts on the question.


Disruption could be a threat or an opportunity.

Dr. Sherif Elbarrad CPA, CMA Professor & Chair, Accounting & Finance, and Director, Centre for Applied Learning and Innovative Business Education and Resources (CALIBER), School of Business, MacEwan University

The business community is facing disruption on several fronts. Perhaps most notably, the rapid advancement in technology affects how businesses operate. This also affects how businesses keep track of their activities, which impacts the timing and type of information that management demands. The role of CPAs in supporting businesses is also changing, which means that the education of future CPAs should also change. Because of this dynamic environment, I believe resilience is one of the most important attributes of a CPA.

There are several technologies that are going to affect how businesses operate and how auditors and accountants work. For example, I believe that Canadian corporations will be soon required to submit their financial statements using XBRL or eXtensible Business Reporting Language. Another example is blockchain technology, which will invade the business world and disrupt the whole process of tracking and verifying the ownership of assets. It will also disrupt the banking system and international trade, as all transactions will be verified.

The role of the future CPA in fields such as auditing, management consulting, taxation, financial accounting, and planning will change substantially due to the implementation of these new technologies. The future CPA will be expected to be able to employ the necessary tools to meet management expectations. Therefore, data analytics, big data, and data visualizations are necessary skills for the future CPA. CPAs may also have to learn a programing language, such as “R,” and be able to use data mining software.

CPAs must start expanding their knowledge of these tools and technologies in order to ensure the disruption that is happening is an opportunity.

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