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Embracing Our Traditions while Thinking Beyond the Traditional

Calvin Harris, CPA (Md.)

Dear Fellow Members and Colleagues, As the CEO of the nation's first State CPA Society, founded in the birthplace of the Certified Public Accountant credential, I am always excited to share my insights on the evolving landscape of our great profession. Traditionally, accounting has been perceived as a field entrenched in financial statements, tax compliance, and audits. Indeed, this is our knowledge base, and admittedly how my own (then-) “Big Five” career began, as a staff auditor.

But the winds of change have long been upon us. We are in the midst of a transformation, if not a revolution, whereby the role of an “accountant” is no longer confined to ledgers and balance sheets, but extends to realms previously unimagined. This is part of why New York Governor Kathy Hochul's recent signing of “non-CPA ownership” into law is such a big deal. We will be representing your interests as we support the state in its implementation. Be on the lookout for more information on this transformative legislation.

In this very magazine, more than 30 years ago, an article was published making the case for non-CPA ownership (Andrew J. Capelli, “The Case for Non-CPA Owners in CPA Firms,” August 1993, http://archives.cpajournal.com/old/14469513.htm). Even before we routinely carried computers in our pockets (called “smartphones”), the Society recognized that transformation would be required to maintain the profession's relevance.

The present-day CPA can have a meaningful career without a focus on our traditional paths of audit or taxation. Mind you, there is nothing wrong at all with those paths—my observation is that we now have the great benefit of having more options available. Whether it is forensic accounting, information technology, data analytics, outsourced accounting services, ESG consulting, or any number of other industries, CPAs play vital roles in more places than ever before.

This is why I truly believe there is no better time to be a CPA. However, we need to keep the positive messages out there, exposing accountants and the general public to what a CPA can do, and what the accounting profession truly is.

It is with that focus in mind that I am excited about this latest issue of The CPA Journal.

This issue includes our Annual Rosenberg/NYSSCPA survey of practitioners. We highlight alternative firm structures, new growth practice areas, ownership/partnership issues, and non-traditional accounting firm organizations. With the recent passage of non-CPA ownership in New York, traditional CPA firms will soon be able to fully consider these new structures, with the possibility of offering ownership stakes to non-CPAs.

Yes, it is truly a transformative time for our great profession, but (as always) you can rely upon the Society, and the Journal, to keep you up to date and well informed.

“One State. One Society.”

Ever upward,

Calvin Harris, CPA (Md.). NYSSCPA CEO.

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