Approaching a Professional Crossroads

by Amanda O'Rourke, CPA | Jul 16, 2019

This summer will mark my 6th year on the board but the 114th anniversary of the WSCPA. It is an honor to serve our profession and to help position us for the next 100+ years.

Accounting Today published an article earlier this year that explained: “…CPAs make up only around 20% of client service staff at the Top 100 [Accounting] Firms.” ( This means that 80% of client service staff at the Top 100 Accounting Firms include technologists, analysts, and industry experts like government and healthcare professionals.

The article went on to challenge us: “CPAs and the broader accounting profession are approaching something of a crossroads, where they will be able to change their own definition of themselves.” We must work together to redefine what it means to be a CPA and ensure the sustainability for our profession for the next 114 years.


Many of us became CPAs for similar reasons. We wanted a profession that would be recession-proof and a career that would support our families and community. I grew up the youngest of seven kids—the majority of whom followed in my father’s footsteps in the plumbing trade. When I went away to college I wrestled with choosing a major that would leave me with a similarly marketable skill once my four years were up. Accounting was and remains one of the best degrees to not just get a job, but also start a career.

The WSCPA is the biggest advocate for our future. And for generations of CPAs to come. The value of WSCPA membership may be different for each of us, but whether you are a sole proprietor, a firm of 20 or the largest regional firm in the PNW, many, if not most, of our struggles are the same.


In addition to connecting and educating members, the WSCPA plays a critical role in our profession by advocating for our future.

As part of my role on the board, I recently returned from Washington, DC, where I attended the AICPA Spring Meeting of Council. During the quick four-day trip we made personal visits with elected officials on Capitol Hill. I visited the offices of Congressman Rick Larsen, Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

Our agenda included discussion of the IRS taxpayer services division. We shared what it was like to work with the IRS and told war stories of how many times the service has hung up on us. We talked about the inefficiencies of the IRS computer system, which was designed in the 1960s (!). Our visits also included discussions on improving disaster relief for impacted taxpayers and the importance of the House and Senate Budget Committees reviewing our own government’s audited financial statements.

In addition to the work on a national level, the WSCPA remains hard at work right here in Olympia. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to testify in support of House Bill 1208 to remove the requirement for a firm license for those firms not performing attest and or compilation services. A firm license will still be necessary to qualify for firm mobility, but this deregulation relieves the administrative burden of many small firms not offering specified assurance services. This bill was sponsored by the Washington State Board of Accountancy and signed by the Governor on April 19th.

Our Future

My seven-year-old daughter currently believes that I sit at a desk and help my clients physically count their money. All. Day. Long. I suppose it’s reasonable that she isn’t yet telling her friends she wants to be a CPA. But I will give her a few years before I clarify that as a CPA, I am, and we are, trusted advisors in risk management, process development, compliance, and the most relevant advisors planning for the future.

Amanda O'Rourke headshotAmanda O’Rourke, CPA, is Partner with Greenwood Ohlund LLP CPAs in Seattle and chair of the WSCPA Board of Directors. You can contact her at

This article appeared in the summer 2019 issue of the WashingtonCPA Magazine. Read more here.

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