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?

As evident in numerous updates from the AICPA, NASBA (the CPA Evolution Initiative), and state CPA societies, there has been a significant shift in the profession, with a decline in data entry and repetitive tasks and an increase in advisory services including big data and higher-level analysis. Our workload has changed to meet the demands of our customers, and the profession will continue to be impacted by artificial intelligence, blockchain, and other innovative technologies.

The 2019 Rosenberg Survey found that the percentage of women partners continues to grow very slowly, especially at large firms. What have you experienced? What explains the challenges the profession faces in achieving greater gender parity?

I am not aware of any significant move upward. The AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee (WIEC) issues its CPA Firm Gender Study every two years, and I am looking forward to the 2019 report.

Can you weigh in on what you’ve seen in 2019 in terms of new practice areas, new regulation, legislation headaches, and new emerging technologies and practice growth areas?

In 2019, in addition to numerous accounting standards updates, certain aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 continue to present areas of growth. This includes navigating the different aspects of the qualified business income (QBI) deduction and the opportunity zone credits.

Another practice growth area is the cannabis industry, although marijuana is still an illegal substance under federal law, and the practice surrounding it involves gray areas. Despite its being an emerging industry, many CPAs are still being prudent and exercising caution.

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

I was pleased to learn during a recent NYSSCPA town hall meeting that the Society is now speaking up on the issue of occupational and professional licensing. While we do want folks to be able to earn a living, we must protect the profession. I am on board with differentiating the “barrier to earn a living” with two buckets of licenses—professional and occupational/vocational licenses. There are valid reasons to ease business entry barriers for physical therapy, food service establishments, or beauty salons, but the barriers for learned professions like accountancy, law, or medicine should not be removed. I would encourage the NYSSCPA to advocate legislative action sooner rather than later.

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

A career in accounting is solid, and accountants will always find work; however, if you want to go further in your career, take the CPA exam immediately after graduation. The impact of those three letters on an accountant’s career cannot be understated. It can open doors to opportunities that otherwise are closed to an accountant.

Do you find your work satisfying? Valuable? Meaningful?

My work is absolutely satisfying. I service a range of clients in different industries, so the work is never boring. It is both valuable and meaningful, as besides helping clients, I give back to the community at large by volunteering time and knowledge to various charities. My satisfaction also includes working as an adjunct professor of accounting at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. I am in a position where I can encourage everyone to get an education and motivate accounting students to become CPAs. This is a win-win profession.

Orumé Hays, CPA, CGMA is the managing director of Hays CPA LLC.