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Window into Wipfli

Farming is fascinating (really) — and accounting can be too

By Zac Charnecki 

Our industry is undergoing major change. We’re witnessing considerable disruption as we evaluate and gradually adopt new technologies that impact how we operate every day. Going digital and using the cloud is necessary, as is changing how we think and approach our jobs.

At the same time, we’re facing recruiting challenges given the decline in the rate of new CPAs. Both are related — and both offer opportunities for growth as we innovate and meet the future.

Across the board, many professional services firms still operate behind the times from a process standpoint, with bloated procedures and poor leverage models, pushing senseless amounts of paper. As an industry, we’ve historically told ourselves this is a respectable, honest way to make a living and we offer careers that are relatively stable. Companies and professionals need our services regardless of the state of the economy.

In other words, we sold our profession as being “safe.” Earn your stripes, build your book and reap your rewards year over year. That approach worked for a long time. It wasn’t such a bad thing. But it sounds a little like farming: Follow the time-tested methods that work and harvest a modest return each year.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no issues with the farming profession. Rather, I’m using it to make a point because there are incredibly fascinating things happening in farming.

Robotics and automation, data and intelligence, drone technology and sustainability efforts are all changing how farmers go about their business. Farming has an innovative side.

It’s genuinely exciting to think about the future of agriculture and the opportunities that will come from these technologies. As the world’s population grows and we continue to lose land for crop cultivation, innovation is key to ensuring our food supply.

So, the farming industry is adapting to change and taking steps to stay ahead of the curve. What about accounting? Are we selling the accounting profession as the equivalent of farming in the 1800s? Plow and grind and we’ll show you how to use the tools of the trade: two oxen and a pitchfork. Of course, this no longer works.

The good news is that the tide is turning. We’re progressing in making our profession more appealing to younger generations that don’t want to simply plow the dirt. They want to work smarter, not harder — and they’re right. We have to continue on the path to updating our profession by transforming from within — making the work more attractive by incorporating new technologies to augment human effort.

We’re doing this at Wipfli through a concerted plan that is gaining ground and allowing our teams to go deeper in serving our clients. As we automate administrative functions and continue to move workflows to digital platforms, we’re opening up more time for the consulting side of the profession. This is making our work more engaging, requiring more problem-solving, collaboration and integration with other professions.

The more we do this, the more success we’ll have in attracting the right job candidates who will drive our profession into the future.

I’m fortunate to have the support of Wipfli in leading change and exploring all that our profession can be.

Zac Charnecki

Zac Charnecki
Director, Innovation and Transformation

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