Microsoft and American Institute of CPAs Help CPAs Expand Their Services

CHICAGO, Oct. 18, 1996 — The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Microsoft Corp. today announced a long-term strategic initiative to help CPAs expand their services and assume a greater role as advisors to small businesses. The alliance will be announced by Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft, during the keynote address at the AICPA Fall Meeting of Council/Annual Members Meeting on Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. in the Imperial Ballroom at the Chicago Fairmont Hotel.

The AICPA and Microsoft plan to work together over the coming months to develop a comprehensive technology and educational program that will help CPAs deliver expanded technical and business advice to their clients. The initiative will position CPAs as information professionals for more than 6 million small businesses nationwide.

“The Microsoft and AICPA initiative will provide CPAs the training and tools they need to expand their core competencies to provide technology consulting,”
Gates said.
“Undoubtedly, business systems consulting represents the next viable practice segment for accounting professionals, and the foundation of any successful consulting firm is the ability to understand and apply technology to solve business problems.”

“CPAs are committed to meeting increasing expectations from small businesses,”
said Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the AICPA.
“The AICPA already offers numerous services to CPAs to provide valuable technology and business advice, and we are committed to doing even more for them. The strategic alliance with Microsoft builds on our complementary strengths, ensuring greater recognition for our members as strategic business advisors and information resources to their clients and employers. This relationship is a clear indication that Microsoft and the AICPA view CPAs as an important channel of technology information to small businesses.”

Small Businesses Count on CPAs to Understand Their Needs

The accounting profession continues to undergo a profound change as CPAs build on their accounting, auditing and tax skills to reposition themselves as true independent business advisors.

Many CPAs have benefited from expanding their consulting services. From 1993 to 1995, revenue from consulting sources increased 33 percent for the top 100 accounting firms. Smaller firms, which represent nearly 95 percent of U.S. accounting firms, are well-positioned to benefit from the increased reliance on CPAs as independent and trusted business advisors.

“There is a tremendous market in business systems consulting for CPAs, and those firms that provide leadership in the technology area will be better prepared to consult with clients,”
said Gary Boomer, CPA with Varney & Associates.
“There will be an increasing and ongoing demand for those professionals who have the necessary skills and are willing to focus on technology consulting.”

Businesses with fewer than 100 employees are increasingly relying on smaller accounting firms for their auditing and tax needs. Now, these same companies have a large and growing need for technical and business systems advice.

“Small businesses are the growth engine of our economy because they are nimble and smart, but they can be even more successful if they better understand the advantage of having a trusted advisor who knows their business processes and can address their productivity needs,”
said Robert Elliott, chairman of the AICPA Strategic Planning Committee and a partner at KPMG Peat Marwick LLP.
“With this alliance, CPA firms that step up to the plate can give their clients the same quality of information enjoyed by the largest companies and experience a tremendous boost to their business, permitting them to thrive in today’s competitive environment.”

Microsoft, AICPA Team to Ensure Program Success

In the first half of 1997, Microsoft and the AICPA plan to sponsor a conference to further educate managing partners of CPA firms about business systems consulting. The conference will emphasize the benefits a small business can receive from a strategic advisor who has business acumen and technical competency. In addition to showing Microsoft and the AICPA’s commitment to empowering small CPA firms and state CPA societies, the conference will explain in detail how CPA firms can build a technology consulting practice for small businesses.

Alliance to Provide Benefits for CPAs, State CPA Societies

Already, Microsoft provides numerous products and services to the accounting community and has worked closely with state CPA societies to help them harness the World Wide Web as a medium for more efficient delivery of member benefits. The AICPA and Microsoft have developed an exclusive offer to help state CPA societies and their members build an Internet presence. To date, 29 state societies are taking advantage of, or have indicated their intent to take advantage of, this program.

State CPA societies will further benefit from the alliance because it will promote greater interest in their products and services. These offerings, such as continuing professional education programs, will also be easier for members to access.

“At Microsoft, we believe that small-business consulting will continue to be a major growth area for years to come,”
said Matt Davis, accounting industry marketing manager at Microsoft.
“Firms that take advantage of this opportunity will benefit greatly. We intend to do all we can to help smaller accounting firms thrive in this new, exciting area.”

The AICPA is the national professional organization of CPAs with more than 328,000 members in public practice, business and industry, government and education.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is either a registered trademark or a trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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