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Emerging Niche Practices in Public Accounting

The business world is constantly evolving and so is public accounting. Accounting firms are now more diversified in their service offerings. Indeed, accounting firms are no longer only focused on audit and taxation services. If you want to be successful in public accounting, it is very important that you stay up to date with the growing trends in the profession. The chief purpose of this blog is to provide relevant information to aspiring CPAs so they can better design their career path as they enter public accounting. Without further delay, let me give you a quick overview of some of the emerging specialties in public accounting.

  • Forensic Accounting: Forensic accounting is a specialty practice focused on providing investigative services designed to uncover fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, the concealment of debts, the concealment of assets or other fraudulent activities, or even financial crimes. Forensic accountants are often used as expert witnesses in civil and criminal trials. All of the larger accounting firms, as well as many medium-sized and boutique firms, provide forensic accounting services.
  • Information Technology Services: More and more CPA firms are now creating an Information Technology practice to assist their clients in aligning their IT infrastructure with their corporate strategies. Examples of services offered are Information Technology planning and strategy, Business Software¬† selection and development (i.e Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM)), and content management and storage.
  • Environmental Accounting: Many companies are now interested in being green, as more and more consumers and investors are placing a high value on environmental responsibility. Indeed, the occurrence of an environmental scandal can significantly deteriorate the image of a business and in some instances it can go as far as destroy shareholder value. To help companies mitigate the potential environmental risks that are inherent to the nature of their business, CPA firms offer a variety of services including but not limited to: compliance audits with regard to environmental regulations, systems audits aimed at assessing a company’s environmental risks management practices, and audits to appraise the manufacturing process to ensure that products meet specific standards.
  • International Accounting: As the phenomenon of globalization has led the world’s economies to be more interconnected, CPA firms are providing advisory services in the areas of international commerce rules and regulations, international tax laws, consolidation / translation of foreign financial statements, and transoceanic mergers and acquisitions. As a matter of fact, there have been discussions here in the US to adopt International Financial Reporting standards (IFRS), which is the equivalent of the US GAAP in other parts of the world.
  • Assurance Services: Assurance services have been defined by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) as “Independent Professional Services that improve information quality or its context”.¬† The main purpose of Assurance services is to dispense independent and professional opinions that improve the quality of information to management as well as other decision makers within a given firm. Examples of assurances services include but are not limited to: business risk assessment, information systems security review, and internal auditing outsourcing.
  • Consulting Services: Accounting firms with a consulting practice may provide any number of specialty services for a company, including performance management , cost control and containment, buy-sell agreements, business valuations, and strategic planning.
  • Personal and Financial Planning: Representing one third of the US population, the baby boomers will gradually be retiring from the workforce over the next decade or so. As a consequence, CPA firms are experiencing tremendous growth in their financial planning practice. Some of the services more sought after include but are not limited to: wealth management, retirement services, insurance and risk management services, tax planning, estate planning, and investment planning.

As you might have noticed, the public accounting industry offers more exiting career paths today than ever before. Although you might be subject to working in either the tax or audit department your first three years inside an accounting firm, you will ultimately enjoy a full range of options when you are ready to specialize in a specific line of practice.


  1. Comment by Georgia Rigger:

    Hi there! I simply would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have got here on this post. I shall be coming again to your blog for more soon.

  2. Comment by Karen C.:

    Very true, the accounting industry can lead to career paths like auditing, consulting, general accounting or mergers.

  3. Comment by Financial Management:

    Great post! Thanks for the information

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