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CPAs Embrace Role as Technology Champions for Clients, AICPA Survey Finds

The overwhelming majority of CPAs say they have a role to play in technology adoption for their clients, and almost 40 percent see themselves as catalysts for innovation, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of CPAs.

Only 17 percent of CPAs say they play a minimal role or no part in helping clients embrace cloud, mobile and other emerging technologies that can improve business decision-making, according to the survey, released today at Digital CPA: 2012 CPA2Biz Cloud User Conference. The event – hosted by CPA2Biz, the technology subsidiary of the AICPA – showcases strategies for firms looking to deliver accounting services and back office operations through the cloud.

“We’re at a defining moment in the accounting profession,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA2Biz. “It’s now possible for small- and medium-sized businesses to tap powerful technologies that make them more productive and offer faster, better insight into financial decision-making. But most of these companies need a tech-savvy business advisor to help them take advantage of these opportunities, and that’s a role CPAs are uniquely qualified to fill.”

Some 11 percent of CPA firms already operate completely in the cloud, and so have a strong incentive for getting their clients to use digital technologies, too, according to the survey, which polled 624 AICPA members representing a mix of small to large public accounting firms from Sept. 12-28. Another third use professional grade cloud solutions - such as bill management, accounting or payroll applications, - in some parts of their practice.

The biggest barriers to cloud adoption remain security concerns, change management and skepticism about the technology’s value proposition, the survey found. Respondents were also asked to list the biggest benefits. In order, they are:

1) The ability to work virtually or expand beyond current geographic reach

2) No worries about software updates, maintenance or troubleshooting

3) Better assurance of business continuity and disaster recovery

4) Productivity improvements

5) The ability to offer new service lines to clients

6) Better visibility into CPA firm and client finances

The first day of the Digital CPA conference features a discussion of the economic outlook for small businesses by William Dunkelberg, chief economist of the National Federation of Independent Business, as well as post-election analysis by political commentator George Will. Tomorrow’s highlights include keynotes by Asgeirsson, AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, and Geoffrey A. Moore, business strategist and bestselling author of “Crossing the Chasm.” Moore will discuss original research he conducted on the cloud and client accounting services. For more information, visit digitalcpa.com.

About CPA2Biz

CPA2Biz, a subsidiary of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, provides best-in-class marketing and technology services to support accounting professionals throughout the U.S. Its Trusted Business Advisor solutions are web-based tools that enable small- and mid-size accounting firms to build more collaborative and strategic relationships with their business clients or employers. For more information, visit www.cpa2biz.com, the leading e-commerce site for the accounting profession.

About the AICPA

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, with nearly 386,000 members in 128 countries and a 125-year heritage of serving the public interest. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting.

The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for audits of private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination and offers specialty credentials for CPAs who concentrate on personal financial planning; fraud and forensics; business valuation; and information technology. Through a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), it has established the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation to elevate management accounting globally.

The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, and Ewing, NJ.

Media representatives are invited to visit the AICPA Press Center at aicpa.org/press.

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