Olena Romanchuk, CPA, knows what it’s like to fall in love with tax at an early age. She was only fifteen the first time she pored over a stack of ledgers. After studying accounting in her home country of Ukraine, Olena came to the United States as an exchange student. She later attended Western Carolina University and fell for the tax profession all over again.
While Olena was developing her tax skills, Glenda Bowman was trying to figure out exactly what she wanted to do in college. As the first person to pursue a bachelor’s degree in her immediate family, just getting to college was a significant accomplishment. She said she was a typical college student who went straight into general business before she felt something click in her first accounting class that led her to embrace the profession and become a CPA.
College life was a different experience for Thomas Presley. He said he knew precisely what he wanted to do, and that wasn’t accounting. The son of an IRS agent, Thomas wanted to be an engineer. But a physics class made him think twice, and a childhood interest in the tax profession took hold as he followed through to earn his CPA.
Despite having different backgrounds and following different paths, Romanchuk, Bowman and Presley each have one thing in common. They are part of the new wave of tax practitioners poised to drive the profession into the future.
These three CPAs joined staff of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants in June for an honest conversation about the tax profession. They tackled topics ranging from tax reform to technological changes to what the profession will look like in the future. Here’s what they had to say.
Technological advancements and the tax profession
A sole practitioner in Wake Forest, N.C., Presley said young tax professionals are not afraid to try out new technologies or embrace the changes that come with the job. For him, it’s about reevaluating his clients’ needs to take them to their next financial level. This means rolling with the punches as they come his way.
“It boils down to the fact that we cannot be stagnant,” he said. “We need to move forward with the industry and new tax laws with new computer programs, new software, and new technologies across the board.”
It’s CPAs like Romanchuk who are helping to drive these technological changes. As a tax analyst at Drake Software, Romanchuk’s job is to interpret tax law and help make software that enables tax practitioners to do their jobs better. She equates this tax technology to life — it’s always changing. That’s what she most loves about tax.
“It’s something that I enjoy doing. I like to navigate through a small portion of tax law, then step back and look at it as a whole to solve the puzzle,” she said. “We just need to adapt to it, to use technology. It helps us do meaningful work.”
“In almost every way, the tax profession of tomorrow will look very different than it looks today,” Bowman said. “Every day, I learn of a new tax service, a new tax technology, and a new tax challenge facing our clients. As long as our clients’ business environment and demands continue to change, the tax profession will continue to change almost on a daily basis.”
Legislative changes and the role of the CPA in clients’ lives
Presley said that he loves tax reform because it gives him a new problem to solve. He admits that it can be frustrating to wait for the IRS to iron out all the details, but that it simply adds to the overall excitement and feeling that he is on the cusp of a very exciting time for the profession.
He wasn’t alone in that sentiment.
“I think there are challenges and advantages,” Romanchuk said. “The advantage is that young CPAs who don’t have a lot of experience are now on the same playing field as seasoned CPAs. It is an opportunity in learning and exploring.”
Bowman, who works as a tax manager at Ernst & Young (EY), finds that the changing nature of tax legislation feeds her passion for the profession. And she said it’s her job to keep up, particularly when clients are looking for answers.
“The tax profession is always changing, and my clients see me as their advocate and not just a service provider,” she said.
“Having reform, whether it be small or large, gives me the opportunity to provide a value-added service to any and all of my clients,” Presley said. “Tax reform gives me a new problem to solve. So, I say ‘bring it on.’”
This generation’s take on what’s next for tax
Bowman lives and breathes tax. Outside of travel, Bowman admits she doesn’t have a lot of hobbies, but that’s because her career directly touches on what’s at her core — her community.
“Tax is more than just a daily job. We are here to contribute to our communities, contribute to the economy, and contribute to the businesses of our clients,” she said. “If you enjoy the highly technical nature of tax, are interested in the way tax and business strategies impact our local and global economies and want to be part of a truly innovative environment, you should join the tax profession.”
Romanchuk thinks the nature of the tax profession is what makes it so exciting. She describes tax as a series of flavors — a wide set of options for curious minds.
“I have not met a tax professional who would say that their job is boring or not challenging enough,” she said. “If you like challenges, analytical work and problem solving, then the tax profession is for you.”
“This new generation of CPAs in the tax profession, I believe, is going to reform the CPA firm,” Presley said. “The accounting profession must continue moving forward. Because if you are not moving forward, you are getting left behind. And that’s just not the way this generation works.”
Romanchuk and Presley joined Tax Policy & Advocacy Senior Manager Amy Wang, CPA, and Tax Practice & Ethics Senior Manager Susan Allen, CPA, CGMA, for a live panel discussion tackling these issues. A rebroadcast of the panel can be found here.
The Young CPA Network provides a place where new and emerging professionals can forge valuable relationships and find the information and resources they need to help enrich and support their careers. And to find out how you can take on a career in tax, visit aicpa.org/taxcareers to learn about exciting new ways to take your passion to the next level.
Allison Carter Fanney, Communications Manager – Tax, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
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Originally published by AICPA.org