The Accountant of the Future
by JOHN W. QUEENAN Partner, Executive Office
Presented before the National Association of Accountants, Memphis Chapter—December 1967
AN ACCOUNTANT may bear numerous titles in the financial world and
perform an equal number of functions. He may wear the hat of the financial VP, the treasurer, the controller, the internal auditor, the cost accountant, the tax specialist, the computer program specialist, the financial researcher, the management consultant, the commerce professor,
or the CPA. Basically, he is anyone who measures and communicates
financial data. He is the one I want to talk about tonight.
The accountant of the future—say, of the year 2000—is going to be a man (or woman) quite different from you or me. It might be interesting to speculate on just what kind of man he'll be; but for many of us, this would be just an exercise, for many of us may not be practicing
accountants in the year 2000. And for those of us who will be, our practical side is, instead, calling out for help today. There are enough changes bewildering us now without worrying about what will be happening 30 or 35 years from now. So let us discuss the accountant
of the future not in terms of the year 2000 but in terms of the next five years. That should be a short enough period to satisfy our practical instincts. And for those of us who are interested in the future, consider that this is not just five years, but a five-year piece of a much larger whole.
One thing seems very clear: There are going to be more of us. And it doesn't matter whether we call ourselves accountants, auditors, controllers, treasurers, or what have you, or whether we work in industry
or government, in costs or budgets, in auditing or taxes—we will all be accountants.
Suppose we experience the growth in the next few years that we have seen recently. Are there going to be enough jobs to sustain this growth? After all, accountants won't appear without there being jobs