Every year, the American Accounting Association (AAA) hosts the Accounting Programs Leadership Group (APLG) and the Federation of Schools of Accountancy (FSA) joint seminar. Here, many esteemed stakeholders in the industry, such as recruiting teams from the nation’s largest firms and accounting department leaders from a variety of universities, gather to stimulate excellence in accounting education, as well as ensure that the next generation of accounting grads continue to strengthen and evolve the profession.
We look forward to attending APLG every year, but this year were honored as Roger Philipp, CPA, CGMA was featured as a keynote speaker presenter on teaching, motivating, and engaging the next generation of accounting graduates. We wish you could have all attended with us; there were many great takeaways! So here are our top 10 and why we should all be paying attention (hint: change is a good thing!)  

1. Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of recruiting. 

There has never been a time when we’ve heard more about the importance of diversity and inclusion being at the heart of recruiting. The profession as a whole benefits when we all work toward attracting and retaining talent with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and thinking in order to build high performance teams and maintain strong client relationships. 

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a good thing. 

As automation continues to evolve, many people think this will put accountants out of jobs. But it’s time to change our perspective, because what if the opposite is true? Speaker after speaker shared that AI will likely perform the tedious tasks that many don’t even like to do, thereby allowing us all to focus on improving client services and showcasing stronger critical thinking skills from day one on the job.  

3. Generation Z is changing firm benefits. 

Firms are revisiting their benefits policies in order to accommodate incoming Generation Z needs—a necessity that needs to happen in order to attract and retain this era’s top talent. 

4. Certification badges are gaining popularity. 

More and more firms and companies are creating and distributing virtual badges to their staff to show skill growth and proficiency in various areas of their jobs. These badges can then be showcased on resumes or online portfolios to demonstrate achievements in training programs on different topics. 

5. LinkedIn is still the industry go-to social media site. 

LinkedIn continues to be a top tool used by employers and employees in firms to network, hire, research, and learn about the industry and profession. Therefore, having a profile isn’t only necessary, but critical leverage in the professional networking space. 

6. Soft skills are more important now than ever. 

The need for advanced soft skills remains. Firms are emphasizing that these skills are invaluable when it comes to interacting with colleagues and clients. From interview etiquette to delivering presentations, soft skills are equally important to an impressive resume. 

7. Data Analytics Skills are still top of discussion. 

With the evolution of technology also comes the ability to capture and record mounds of data. Professors are encouraged to offer data analytics courses in accounting as employers look to fill these relatively new positions in their organizations. In addition, analytics are also beginning to make their way to the CPA Exam—another important reason for CPA Exam candidates to get a good grasp on how to interpret data. 

8. Change is still a good thing! 

Business models are always changing. Organizations are constantly orienting themselves to be future ready in order to maximize revenue and stay relevant. This means transforming their business models frequently to not only meet current consumer needs, but also predicting trends and adapting to them to meet future consumer needs. 

9. The CPA pipeline is showing improvement. 

The gap between new accounting graduates and those sitting for the CPA Exam is beginning to narrow.  

10. When we work together, we get the best results. 

The accounting profession is made up of many different aspects, from students to professors and recruiters to firms, to name a few. It was inspiring to see so many who are dedicated and working passionately toward demanding excellence in themselves, their organizations, and more—all to ensure that the profession remains strong and relevant. It just goes to show that we can all constantly learn, evolve, and change for the better when we all interact with one another.