As we gear up for the MACPA’s annual CPA Summit on June 23, we thought this would be a perfect time to have a conversation about the future with some of the Summit’s most forward-thinking sponsorship partners.

We asked each of them to give us their thoughts on the trends that are impacting the profession, the changing role of CPAs, and how their relationships with CPAs might be changing as a result. We’ll be featuring their answers here over the next few days.

Joining the conversation today is Shari Dodgen, director of Strategic Relationships and Professional Marketing, Tax and Accounting US, CCH Software at Wolters Kluwer.

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1. We all know the trends that are impacting the profession today – social, mobile, the cloud. What are the next big trends that CPAs need to pay attention to?  
When we surveyed the profession recently, we found a trend toward technology integration, going beyond the traditional integration that we often talk about in the profession. It’s not enough to have tax information flow in from workpapers and source documents and then be able to publish the final product to a document management system and portal. These are now table stakes. Technology integration now means that your systems are open and extensible. Well-prepared firms are building technology hubs that can be tapped into as needed by multiple apps and systems.

We’re helping firms build these types of systems by providing our Open Integration Platform. Basically, we can provide many of your tax and workflow tools and significantly streamline your process utilizing our core common database with CCH Axcess, but you can also leverage other software vendors with specialty niche products that can integrate into that technology hub. We even have some firms building those integrations themselves.

2. How will the role that CPAs play change as time moves forward?
We’ve been talking for a while now about CPAs being the “trusted advisor.” I think that role will continue to evolve. What we’re seeing is that as clients become more savvy with technology, they are looking for more opportunities to be proactive about their own needs. So while many clients are still looking for an advisor, many others are actually looking for a partner. They want to be as involved as possible at different stages of an engagement, and they are looking for more opportunities to help themselves, or at least have access to the data and reports as they need them.

3. Is your relationship to the profession changing as a result?
We are developing new types of collaboration and self-service tools with a focus not just on the firm’s user experiences, but with added attention to the experiences of a firm’s clients. It’s equally important, or possibly even MORE important, for a client to be able to easily upload or download a document as it is for the accountant or CPA. We’ve introduced a new client-facing app called CCH Client Axcess that helps clients collaborate with their accounting professionals, and CCH eSign is another example of client-facing tools that are bringing accountants and clients closer together.

4. What’s the most important thing CPA Summit attendees need to know about your business?
We know that a lot of our customers are too busy meeting their clients’ needs to really focus on the future needs of their own firms. That’s why we at Wolters Kluwer do the hard work of looking at these trends and delivering solutions that will help them prepare for the future while still excelling in the present. This is a profession in which accuracy is critical, so our goal is to provide tools and resources, like CCH Axcess and CCH IntelliConnect, that help professionals focus on their clients while minimizing administrative and technical distractions.

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