January 21, 2019

What Will Be the Greatest Issue to Impact the Accounting Profession in 2019?

Zoltar

Around this time of year, we all inevitably start thinking about the year behind and the year ahead. Maybe we swear to do better come January, maybe we say fuck it and don’t change a thing. Whatever your approach to the stroke of midnight, it’s tempting to think about what issues might affect the profession in 2019.

We’re working on tapping the collective brainpower of the profession’s top minds to get their thoughts on what 2019 might hold, but in the meantime thought we might do a little wild speculating as to the big issues that might lie ahead.

Sexual harassment tops the list as the issue most likely to keep partners up at night, especially partners who have been known to tie one on at company events and make inappropriate statements to female staff. EY was hit particularly hard with allegations of inappropriate conduct, but they certainly weren’t the only firm caught up in #metoo fallout. Our prediction for 2019 is that the worst is yet to come as far as revelations of alleged sexual harassment are concerned however we expect (almost) everyone to be on their best behavior not because it’s the right thing to do but because they’re scared shitless they’ll be next.

2018 saw a couple major accounting firm CEO departures, at least one of which was a total surprise, and while the possibility of more C-suite shuffling is always there, we don’t expect this to be as big come next year. Who knows, we could be wrong and a Top Ten accounting firm CEO could announce retirement in the wake of a puppy-kicking scandal. That’s the great thing about accounting, it’s always full of surprises.

Another hot button this year was audit quality, though most of the chatter was coming from our friends across the pond, or more specifically, regulators across the pond who are sick of audit firms’ bullshit. This has and will remain an important issue, and one that isn’t always done justice by being constantly made fun of here. Will we get an Enron in 2019 that will bring the audit profession down on its knees? Unlikely. Y’all saw what happened in 2008 when the economy crumbled. Sure people got sued and banks went down and regulators got mildly irked but at the end of the day (or maybe more appropriately, at the end of the year) everything was pretty much SALY.

Piggy-backing off audit quality, we believe the Big 4 oligopoly will see even more interest from journalists, regulators, and assorted pissed-off Internet commentators who are sick of being held down by The Man or something. We’ve already seen Big 4 firms push to become the Walmart Supercenter of professional services, and we don’t expect this to change any time soon, what we do think might change is public interest in the topic. Hopefully it will keep people distracted from politics maybe just for ten minutes.

Here’s one straight from the rumor mill: CPE audits. Now, this is strictly rumor (our currency of choice around these parts!) but we’ve been hearing increased buzz about CPE audits. Not just some small podunk firm in Nebraska getting half the office audited (although we did hear that, too) but others have expressed surprise that large numbers of CPAs in their offices have gotten letters in regards to CPE. Is this a thing? Is it going to be a thing next year? Who knows. All we know is you better make sure your certificates are in order just in case.

Lastly, no lazy list of predictions for the year ahead on this site would be complete without a mention on our thoughts for the CPA exam next year. So here you go: REG will have the worst pass rates out of the four parts for the first and second quarters, candidate numbers will continue to drop but only slightly, and candidates will continue to complain. There you go.

Oh and there’s what whole issue of whether robots will be taking your job next year but who the hell knows? Might as well just keep billing those hours and be glad Alexa is a long way from being able to provide exceptional client service, at least if my Echo Spot that can’t even favorite Spotify tracks is any indication.

 

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