In the past year (2019) have you noticed any trends in practice at your firm/organization? For example, changing workloads; challenges in recruitment and retention, training, or promotion; outsourcing of accounting services; staff shortages; or tapping into retirees?

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

Throughout the 2019 busy season, I exerted more time and energy into completing the same tax returns than I did in the prior year. It was particularly challenging with the numerous changes and corresponding new forms that were implemented from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Having a full understanding of these changes and their impact on businesses and individuals alike was a priority for me. The tax software companies, who continually issued many revisions to adjust for these changes, further complicated the process. I decided to hold the more complicated returns closer to the April deadline just to be sure all was in good order. Although this slowdown was unwanted, it allowed my clients to receive the best possible outcome. Lastly, the month-long government shutdown added more anxiety to the filing season. Hopefully, the upcoming season will prove to be less taxing.

What concerns do you have about the professional marketplace? Do you think there has been a dilution of the value of the CPA license?

The value of the CPA license is still highly regarded; however, this could change going forward if younger generations do not recognize the value and benefits in working with a certified professional instead of asking Siri or Alexa for help. I’ve found that taxpayers age 40 and over still seek the advice of a trusted CPA before making any financial decisions. For taxpayers under age 40, it seems that they generally seek the advice of a CPA for complex financial matters or after something has gone wrong, such as receiving a letter from the IRS or state taxing authorities. With the ever-evolving changes in the tax world, CPAs will continue to be the trusted advisor for many.

How would you counsel high school or college students about careers in accounting?

I would advise students to attend accounting career events hosted by CPAs where they can ask questions and get feedback. As president of the NYSSCPA’s Staten Island Chapter, I am involved in two annual events that students can attend to discuss careers in accounting. This past October, the chapter hosted World of Accounting at St. John’s University’s Staten Island campus. It was a great success, as over 190 high school students attended and listened to many great presenters on the vast career opportunities that this profession has to offer. The goal was to encourage them to strongly consider majoring in accounting. At a similar event in November, the chapter hosted Education Night, where college students were briefed on the various careers in the accounting profession. Both events included presentations by representatives from the FBI, DEA, and the Big Four accounting firms. Speakers from St. John’s University and Wagner College, as well as sole proprietors from the chapter, also provided valuable insight.

Do you find your work satisfying? Valuable? Meaningful?

Providing valuable advice and tax services makes what I do very meaningful. The satisfaction comes when clients sincerely say, “Thank you.” The best compliment is when I receive referrals from satisfied clients.

Nicholas J. Guastella, CPA is a sole practitioner and president of the Staten Island Chapter of the NYSSCPA.