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How CPAs Are Evolving Into Strategic Advisors

For a CPA, becoming a strategic advisor is a journey, not a destination. Here are some tips for CPAs looking to take that step.

By Dr. Sangeeta Chhabra

There is no question about how CPAs have evolved in their role over the past couple of decades, but what has really been behind it and, more importantly, how do you they get there?

As the business world sees a paradigm shift in the form of technological innovations, global operations, and government regulations, traditional roles and responsibilities of professionals are evolving for the better.

Traditionally, a CPA took the crucial responsibility of performing tasks like tax compliance, audit, and bookkeeping. However, in current times, the demand for CPAs do be more strategic in their roles is increasingly important to client needs and for their own competitive needs.

Aided by technology, businesses are now looking to unlock the full potential of CPAs—not just with the numbers but as an indispensable part of their future business planning. Moreover, CPAs are now being perceived as critical thinkers with a vision for business growth and expansion. Hence, as the role of CPAs evolves to strategic advisors, they cannot be limited to just maintaining the financial sanctity of businesses.

Below are just some examples how CPAs are transitioning into strategic advisors in more practical and effective ways.

Adoption of technology

The days of manual bookkeeping are fading away. CPAs have seen a significant transformation in the tools they use for core accounting needs. However, with the gwoth of automation in accounting tasks, CPAs are faced with more time to focus on essential processes for their clients.

Today, these accounting tools integrate machine learning and artificial intelligence to offer analytical insights, and CPAs are increasingly leveraging these tools to do predictive analysis and financial forecasting for organizations. These technological platforms allow CPAs to sit at the “big table” and look at the larger picture for the organizations they work with.

Client communication

In the earlier days, when CPA services were restricted to tax filings, bookkeeping, and audits, communicating with clients could have been limited to information sharing. However, with CPAs gradually evolving into strategic advisors, client communication has become paramount.

CPAs are now expected to keep a client-centric approach by discussing vital growth strategies, company vision, and risk management plans. They must build a strong relationship with clients and understand their requirements, vision, challenges, and objectives.

As we know, today’s CPAs are not limited to bookkeeping and record keeping, in general. They also possess strong communication and collaboration skills and need to lean more into them.     

Risk management

The current business landscape is volatile, depending on global markets and events. Hence, risk management is critical for every business to minimize financial losses and keep the company afloat even during economic meltdowns. 

In today’s world, CPAs are not only keeping track of financial health and offering advisory services but are also responsible for the organization’s risk and crisis management. CPAs are taking on the tasks of identifying potential crises, drafting mitigation strategies, creating risk management frameworks, and building response mechanisms.

As a strategic advisor, CPAs help companies navigate the dynamic financial landscape with minimum risks and maximum growth.

Compliance management

The finance-related regulatory compliance is continuously updated. Although technological tools nowadays can take care of compliance requirements, CPAs can take a more critical role in traversing through the compliance landscape to optimize revenue and ensure growth.

Tips for CPAs to evolve into strategic advisors

There have been seemingly endless conversations about why CPAs need to take on more advisory roles, but not as much on how. Here are some essential tips for CPAs looking to take the necessary steps toward being more of a strategic advisor:

1. Train and learn regularly: With the ever-evolving roles of CPAs, they must constantly adapt to the dynamic compliance frameworks, client requirements, global trends, and risk spectrum. The journey of a CPA to become a strategic advisor involves attending regular training sessions for the skills required, whether related to communication or technology.

2. Improve your communication skills: Compared to a CPA, a strategic advisor is required to communicate more with clients as they are involved in critical decision-making conversations. Hence, for a strategic advisor, coming up with good ideas is not enough; you must also communicate clearly with them.

3. Be technology-savvy: In today’s world, no accounting professional can ignore the impact of technology in their daily operations. However, for a CPA trying to transition into an advisory role, technology is imperative. Being abreast of the latest technological tools helps them automate mundane tasks so they can focus on more critical processes.   

4. Enhance analytical skills: The art of analyzing data is imperative for a strategic advisor. By being proficient in data analytics, a CPA can interpret financial trends and make future predictions, helping an organization set company objectives, identify upcoming crises, and create a success roadmap.

5. Understand client business: Every client business is unique. As being a strategic advisor involves offering deep insights into financial matters, you need to understand every client’s business as if you were a top-level executive. Only then will you be able to move beyond balance sheets and offer clients more value.

What’s next?

For a CPA, becoming a strategic advisor is a journey, not a destination. As the business landscape and technology keep changing, every CPA would have to evolve accordingly. In the future, organizations will expect CPAs to take on even more critical roles and leave the traditional responsibilities to technological solutions. 

Therefore, it is a good time to start upgrading yourself by talking to clients about their focus areas, adopting the latest technological tools, and becoming an expert in data analytics.


Dr. Sangeeta Chhabra, co-founder and director of Ace Cloud Hosting, is a leader and innovative entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in the IT sector. She has positioned the company as a leading global provider of IT and managed cloud services, celebrated for its QuickBooks hosting tailored for the accounting sector, as well as its Managed Security Services and Public Cloud offerings for SMBs and enterprises. Under her leadership, Ace Cloud was honored as the Best Outsourced Technology Provider at the CPA Practice Advisor Readers’ Choice Awards 2023, among other accolades. Beyond her professional successes, Dr. Chhabra is a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment and is committed to fostering an inclusive environment at Ace Cloud.