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2019 Leadership Conference Focuses on CPA Evolution, Strategic Planning

Ruth Singleton
Published Date:
Sep 20, 2019

NYSSCPA President Ita M. Rahilly speaks to members of the Society’s Leadership Institute at its inaugural meeting during the Leadership Conference.

At its 2019 Leadership Conference, held on July 28–30 at the Resorts World Catskills Hotel & Casino in Monticello, N.Y., the NYSSCPA focused on major changes within the profession, strategic planning for the future of the Society and preparing young members for leadership roles.

Two representatives from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) spoke about the ongoing evolution of the accounting profession. On the opening night of the conference, Tracey Golden, the AICPA’s incoming chair, made a presentation about “CPA Evolution,” a joint project of the AICPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), that has as its stated goal seeking to “transform the CPA profession and its licensure model in recognition of the need for rapidly changing CPA skills and competencies necessitated by constantly escalating technological disruption.”  The next day, Susan S. Coffey, the AICPA’s executive vice president for public practice, led a discussion that offered a more detailed look at the subject.

The Society supports the CPA Evolution project, noting that rapid changes in technology will require the entire profession to transform. The CPA profession will need to integrate the use of robotics, artificial intelligence, data analytics and other forms of technology. The AICPA and NASBA also anticipate that CPAs will need to develop skills and knowledge in areas such as information technology risks and controls, business intelligence and cybersecurity risk management. Recognizing this changing landscape, these two organizations announced that they are “exploring how to adapt the CPA licensure model so it better aligns with the work CPAs do and continues to serve the public interest.”

During the conference, NYSSCPA leaders linked the Society’s strategic plan to the evolution of the accounting profession. NYSSCPA President Ita M. Rahilly framed the conversation. At a strategic planning overview session, she asked attendees to focus on the future of the Society, bearing in mind its need to move in tandem with the evolution of the profession. Attendees then broke into smaller groups to discuss strategic goals. Also with the evolution of the profession in mind, Rahilly launched an Innovation Challenge. She asked some attendees to offer their ideas about how the Society should look in 2025—in terms of membership, education, advocacy, career growth opportunities, technology and other areas—as well as to make one or two tangible innovation suggestions.

In addition, the conference provided a venue for the inaugural meeting of the Society’s Leadership Institute, an important new initiative that brings together promising young CPAs recommended by Society chapter presidents, committee chairs and other members, as well as accounting firm managing partners. There were 16 participants, all of whom attended sessions designed to prepare them for leadership roles in the Society, at their workplaces and in the community. Four of these participants volunteered  to join with Rahilly, President-elect Edward L. Arcara, NYSSCPA Executive Director Joanne S. Barry and NYSSCPA Vice President Renee Rampulla, in drafting a comment letter to the AICPA and NASBA, in response to a request for input about the CPA Evolution project. “They gave us invaluable input in terms of their view of the profession,” said Barry. The Society sent the comment letter on Aug. 8; it can be found at

Also during the conference, Kevin J. McCoy, chair of the Legislative Task Force, moderated a roundtable discussion of the Society’s legislative agenda that included lobbyists John D. McCarthy and Bill McCarthy of Bolton-St. Johns, LLC. In addition, New York State Assembly Member Thomas J. Abinanti (D) spoke at a dinner on the second night and covered the legislative landscape today. He currently chairs the Assembly Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigations.

Roughly 100 Society leaders were in attendance at the conference. Among them were members of the Society’s Board of Directors, the Foundation for Accounting Education (FAE) board of trustees, the Moynihan Scholarship Fund board of trustees and the Political Action Committee (PAC). During the conference, each of these bodies held its own meetings. In addition, new NYSSCPA Board members attended an orientation session, and chapter presidents-elect attended a training workshop.

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