This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
UW-Eau Claire Accounting Professor
Leader in CPA Vision Project
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900

MAILED: Oct. 6, 1998

EAU CLAIRE — Lucretia Mattson has long encouraged university students to look ahead, to try to envision where they want to be in 15 years. After all, where they see themselves then will help determine what skills and competencies they should start developing now.
Now the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professor of accounting is taking that same message to her CPA colleagues. Mattson is a leader in the CPA Vision Project, an ongoing effort to get accountants nationwide to predict how their profession might change in the next 15 years and to begin planning accordingly.
"It's a profession-wide attempt to go through a visioning process — we want to fast forward the world 15 years," said Mattson, president of the Wisconsin Institute of CPAs. "We are the first profession to ever attempt something like this as a whole."
CPA Vision Project delegates — who represent all states and jurisdictions — are focusing on expected changes in the areas of politics, economics, social, technological, human resources and regulations.
"We tried to anticipate how those areas will change and create a world scenario for 15 years from now," Mattson said. "Then we determined what — given that world scenario — its affect will be on the United States and on the CPA profession in the United States."
There will be fundamental changes in the accounting field because of shifts in the areas mentioned above — changes that offer new opportunities for accountants but also change the traditional role of CPAs, Mattson said. For example, as technology allows businesses to become more global, CPAs must understand changes in tax law and accounting standards in the countries where their clients do business, understand how those laws and standards interact with those in the United States, and know how that affects the client, she said.
As a result, a reaffirmed commitment to continuing education and lifelong learning — including retraining and retooling, when necessary — topped the list of the CPA Vision Project delegates' list of top-five values, Mattson said. Other top values are competence, integrity, attunement with broad business issues and objectivity.
"We're going to have to change how we teach accounting," Mattson said. "We need to give students a broader background and make them more aware of the entire business environment. We need to broaden the base from which they operate."
Competencies that will be increasingly important in upcoming years are communication skills, strategic and critical thinking skills, focus on the client and market, interpretation of converging information and technological adeptness, Mattson said.
Through a series of forums held around the country, a number of issues were identified as those that will affect the profession in upcoming years. The top issues identified are:
  • The future success of the profession relies on public perceptions of the CPA's abilities and roles.
  • CPAs must be market driven, not dependent on regulations to keep them in business.
  • The market demands less auditing and accounting and more value-adding consulting services.
  • Specialization is critical for future survival of the CPA profession.
  • The marketplace demands that CPAs be conversant in global business practices and strategies.
Those involved with the CPA Vision Project are trying to prevent for their profession what happened in the medical field, Mattson said. "The medical field became so specialized that when the threat of managed care surfaced, they couldn't unite and counter it," she said. "As a result, they couldn't determine their own destiny and now they are trying to regain control."
Mattson said a significant challenge has been to respect the differences in the accounting profession while looking at the similarities. The group is committed to making sure the Vision Project remains a grassroots effort so that ordinary CPAs are the ones helping shape the profession's future, she said, noting that more than 3,000 CPAs nationwide participated in forums about the Vision Project.
"We have an obligation to leave behind a better and more viable profession for the next generation," Mattson said of her motivation for being involved in this project. "We were handed an excellent profession and we should do the same for the next generation of CPAs."

UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 218
(715) 836-4741

Updated: Oct. 7, 1998