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Auditing in a Pandemic: What Will Stick in 2021?

Updated: Jan 19

College students spend years learning about the concepts and mechanics of accounting, business and statistics, but you cannot really learn how to be a CPA until you put it into practice which is why we have to work in the field before we can become a CPA, even if we have passed the CPA Exam.

In-person training and on-the-job experience are crucial to the success of our youngest accountants. As firms begin preparing this month for the busy season, we need to look back at what we have learned about hiring, training and working in a pandemic so we can prepare for the new normal. It is easy to not feel the brunt of it at first; in fact, productivity and efficiency have gone up in the short term.


It is great to see so many adapting to the work-from-home environment, and cuts or delayed hiring may have been necessary for the profession to manage through the first wave of the pandemic. There is a big challenge we face with new-hire training, and it will be hard for new hires to be as effective if they cannot work alongside their teams and learn in-person.


When COVID-19 changed the way we worked overnight, technology adoption was no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity. Gone were the days of relying on manual processes and side-by-side training, and the firms that were already technologically savvy have shined the most during this dark time. That is not to say technology can or will solve all our problems.


The firms that double down on a hybrid model of training half remote and half in-person, following government guidelines will be the most successful in this new normal. The virus will not magically disappear in the new year, so we need to further advance technology adoption that enhances CPA capabilities, such as utilizing remote learning and training capabilities, and shift from confirmation procedures that rely on mail or fax to electronic confirmations, which more effectively fit into the new normal of working from home.

We need to hire these young professionals and usher our firms into the "new normal," a world reliant on technology, combining in-person and online processes, and dedicated to the education and training of our youngest CPAs.


Credit: Brian Fox for accountingtoday.com (November, 2020)

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