What lies just around the corner? What skills do you need to be successful tomorrow?

My crystal ball isn’t any less fuzzy than yours, so I turned to the AICPA report, CPA Horizons 2025, which provides excellent advice about current and forecasted trends that will impact the profession. While the report is focused on the CPA profession (it’s based on the comments of more than 5,600 CPAs), much of the subject matter can be applied to keeping your finance department strategic and relevant to your business.

Here are two of the top themes for me.

1. New technology opens doors—and adds to risk.

Changes in technology offer incredible advantages and efficiencies, but they also introduce risks in new areas. The prevalence of mobile technology and the ability to access applications from just about anywhere have increased our expectations for the availability of information and we expect financial reports much faster. (Gone are the days of having to drive to the office to make a journal entry or run a report, thank goodness!) Not only does this quicken the pace at which the accounting team must do its work, but it also opens the door to potential errors and fraud. Electronic documents can be altered in an instant. The security and privacy of information is at risk.

The finance organization has to stay on top of changes in technology to drive efficiencies in the business. Stay alert, assess the technology, ensure your internal controls evolve to mitigate new potential risks and keep a sharper eye on potential fraud—it may be harder to detect.

2. Lifelong learning is a clear advantage.

According to the report, education will remain a cornerstone of preparation for certification and of ongoing activity throughout a CPA’s career. Strong technical accounting knowledge will continue to be a foundational requirement, but it won’t be sufficient on its own.

The AICPA report suggests that we need to devote more time to staying current with regulations and standards, both domestically and globally. At the same time, accountants must have a broad knowledge of business and soft skills and not simply focus on technical accounting.

I think this presents some challenges. How are you planning to keep up with technical accounting and rules and regulations that are evolving at a fast pace? At RoseRyan and other professional accounting organizations I have worked for, we set a goal for a certain number of training hours for the year. If your organization doesn’t provide this type of motivation, try setting a personal goal for continuing education.

What about soft skills? I see accountants placing inordinate value on technical accounting knowledge and ignoring soft skills such as communication. Yet, in my experience, the finance pros with the best-developed soft skills are the ones with the most success. They have an easier time obtaining information and working with others; and they are better able to influence people and have more highly developed leadership skills. All of that is critical in moving your organization forward.

Want to know more about strategic thinking and key finance initiatives to keep you ahead of the curve? Check out our latest Intelligence report, Strategic Finance in Action.