Vital. Visible. Visionary. The Profession Today, Tomorrow and Beyond

Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, reflects on the success of 2017 while keeping a focused eye on the opportunities of 2018 and beyond.

1. If you could sum up 2017 in one word, what would it be?


This year has been defined by technological advances, political shifts and a new generation of digital natives entering the workforce. The widespread disruption happening is not caused by one of these individually; rather, it’s that all these things are happening at once and at an unprecedented pace. In fact, the research firm McKinsey & Company suggests change is happening 10 times faster and at 300 times the scale – or roughly 3,000 times the impact – of the first Industrial Revolution. It’s transforming the industries, governments and firms we work for along with the lives of clients we serve. So if this change is affecting them, that means it’s affecting us, too. And it’s not enough for us to simply accept change. We have to help the world navigate through these extraordinary times. We must be change agents and change managers.

2. The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants was formed almost a year ago to better address these challenging times and support members. How is it going?

That’s right. The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants – or “the Association” as we call it for short – leverages the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to drive a dynamic profession worldwide. And I think that’s an important point. The Association doesn’t replace the membership bodies of AICPA or CIMA. Rather, it exists to make them even stronger, providing the scope and scale to support public and management accounting in more ways.

The Association better positions us to address the challenges of today while also anticipating the market demands of tomorrow. We’ve already made great progress this first year.

  • We’ve provided guidance in new and critical service areas such as the launch of our Cybersecurity Risk Management Reporting Framework, which I discussed in a recent webcast with cybersecurity expert and Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec.
  • We consulted with the global business community to gain feedback on the CGMA Business Model Framework, which is designed to guide board discussion and decision-making on crucial value creating aspects of their organizations. In 2018, we will use our findings to launch a new framework, along with business model-focused tools and resources.
  • We’ve focused on making sure current and future professionals have the competencies employers increasingly demand. In April, the AICPA updated the Uniform CPA exam to test higher-order cognitive skills, and in June we held the first AICPA ENGAGE conference bringing seven conferences together under one roof. We are also enhancing learning through the launch of the CGMA Store and the new Human Intelligence learning series.
  • We’ve expanded access to CGMA and increased our connectivity with employers around the world. We’ve rolled out new resources like CGMA Advantage, a daily briefing on issues of importance to finance professionals, and a new responsive website for the highly recognized FM Magazine to help management accountants stay on top of their game.
  • We’ve amplified efforts to promote the CGMA and CPA and the indispensable services you provide. CIMA has elevated awareness of CGMA at events such as the inaugural CGMA Africa Conference, CGMA Shanghai Conference, and CGMA 100 in Hong Kong, Meanwhile, the AICPA has worked with firms and state societies in the U.S. to broaden the reach of the CPAPOWERED campaign through cable tv advertisements and social media, and we’ve had promotional campaigns dedicated to promoting the value of CPAs in both tax and personal financial planning which will continue into the new year.

And we’re only just beginning. 

3. What else can we expect from the Association in 2018?

In 2018, you’ll begin to see more coming out of the work we’re doing to evolve our core service areas of finance, audit and tax for the future.

In the field of finance, we’ve spent this year interviewing more than 300 professionals in 14 countries to determine what lies ahead. Our findings will be used in the coming year to further develop the CGMA Competency Framework and Syllabus as well as new professional development tools and resources.

We’ve made great progress in improving audit quality through the Enhancing Audit Quality initiative, and this work will continue into 2018. We’ve also worked extensively with CPAs and firm leaders around how auditing services must evolve to capitalize in a world of seemingly unlimited data. The key is harnessing these data and insights to provide higher quality audits. This year, we released Audit Data Standards and an Audit Data Analytics Guide, and you can expect more tools and resources to come out next year.

And we will continue to look at how we can protect and grow our tax practitioners’ client relationships by expanding their offerings to more fully address the integrated financial needs of their clients. As more clients seek a single point of contact to serve all their financial needs – from tax to investments to retirement and estate planning and everything in between – we have to make that shift to maintain our trusted advisor relationship.

4. Any final thoughts?

Throughout 2017 we reinforced the extraordinary nature of the times we're in. An era of innovation and acceleration that challenges us as stewards of the global accounting profession to not only imagine the possibilities but to reimagine the profession. I don’t expect the pace of 2018 to be any different. We can’t ignore it, and we can’t stop it. Instead, we have to embrace it and seize the opportunities it affords. Our profession looks very different than it did 100 years ago. But we are still strong, relevant and trusted because we’ve continued to evolve to meet the needs of a changing world. I’m proud to be a CPA and CGMA, and I truly believe that we are part of the greatest profession. And together, we will move this great profession into the future. As we head into 2018, let’s continue to go beyond expectations – those of our clients, our firms, our businesses, even our own.