Art Flach can think of many reasons why people should seek a career as a CPA – and these reasons fall into 3 categories that happen to start with “C” “P” “A”: Challenge, Purpose and Achieve.
Flach is uniquely positioned to see the benefits – and challenges – of the CPA profession. He serves as chair of the State Board of Accountancy, which oversees the licensing and regulation of CPAs in Maryland. He is a past chair of the Maryland Association of CPAs and a former managing partner of Grant Thornton’s Baltimore office. Currently an adjunct professor of taxation at the University of Baltimore Merrick School of Business, Flach has frequent interaction with students who are considering becoming CPAs. Here is what he advises them, and others.
Why Become a CPA?
As a CPA, says Flach, you will be challenged in many different areas, with new challenges almost every single day. These include applying technical skills, but also applying soft skills like communication and leadership skills, whether in your interactions with clients, or within teams at your firm.
In addition, he says, “You will be challenged both morally and ethically to abide by our professional code of conduct and to embrace the responsibility of the profession bestowed upon us by the business community. You will be challenged to uphold the respect and reputation that has made the CPA the most trusted profession.”
Many studies imply that millennials want a sense of purpose in their career. Indeed, professionals from every generation thrive when they can connect a sense of greater purpose to their jobs.
Flach reflects on how being a CPA supports serving a sense of purpose. “As a CPA, you will be asked to participate in the community and lend your knowledge and skill set for the accomplishment of greater good.” Service to the larger community is achieved by CPAs through their on-the-job work, which strengthens businesses, their ability to raise funds, and offer products and services benefitting people, fueling economic growth and stability.
Additionally, CPAs are highly sought-after as board members of businesses and not-for-profits, to help guide those organizations and navigate business challenges.
Continual growth and achievement is another benefit to being a CPA, says Flach. “As a CPA, you will learn something new every single day, and will be intellectually stimulated to grasp new concepts and apply those concepts to “real world” situations.”
“You will interact daily with some of the brightest professionals in the business community and realize that this interaction is indeed a ‘gift.’ Last but not least,” Flach continues, “you will take pride in your CPA designation and realize that without you and your work as a CPA, the business community could not function. Accounting is the language of the business community and you are its linguist.”
Meeting Professional Practice Challenges
Flach has some additional advice for CPAs. “As the chairman of the State Board of Accountancy, I have the opportunity and the responsibility to interact with all of the regulatory agencies that govern the CPA profession and to regulate the profession in the State of Maryland,” he notes. In this role, he has observed that the CPA profession is under intense scrutiny from state and federal government agencies, “to ensure the public is protected and the trust in the profession is preserved.”
“This responsibility to protect the public interest,” he continues, “requires each and every CPA to “do the right thing” in the face of adversity that takes the form of economic, moral and personal challenges that call into question our ability to interpret complex pronouncements, our judgment and, indeed, even our character. “
According to Flach, the intensity of today’s regulatory environment has increased significantly, including in particular over the past 12 months, as the profession faces challenges from the DOL (on the quality of Employee Benefit Plan Audits), the SEC, the PCAOB, FINRA and the IRS among others.
Nonetheless, Flach believes that if CPAs focus on their sense of purpose, and maintain and grow their competence or achieve, they will be able to meet these challenges. When CPAs blend those three characteristics: challenge, purpose and achieve, he says, “I have great confidence in our profession to withstand these challenges and to embrace the necessary changes to continue to protect the public interest and preserve the public’s trust. “
Celebrate the Profession
Hear more from leaders like Flach and incoming AICPA Chair Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, and join with hundreds of your peers in celebrating the profession at the MACPA’s annual event, the Swearing-In Ceremony for Newly Licensed CPAs, taking place this year on October 20 at M&T Bank Stadium. The event, better known as “CPA Night,” is one of the most popular events of the year.
As described by MACPA CEO Tom Hood, the event is, “An evening for all CPAs and their families to honor our profession, celebrate our success, and welcome the future.” The highlight of the evening is when newly-licensed CPAs are sworn in by officials from the Maryland State Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). And what better location than M&T Bank Stadium, as the MACPA welcomes new CPAs to join our team – where you will not only ‘network’ but can make friends for a lifetime, and receive support as you grow in your career, by becoming a MACPA member!
CPA Night .. and Day
While we are on the subject of CPA Night, mark your calendars (even better, register now!) for another popular and meaningful event sponsored by the MACPA, CPA Day. Taking place this year on January 26, 2017, CPA Day is the annual gathering of CPAs at the State Capitol in Annapolis, to meet with elected officials and representatives from State Government, to discuss key issues of importance to CPAs. Learn more about CPA Day.