One hundred years ago, a group of visionary leaders of the nascent CPA profession launched the Journal of Accountancy, a publication dedicated then as now to the advancement of the profession. The JofA is now celebrating its centennial, which is a testament to the fact that many people—editors, writers, designers, advisers—must have been doing many things right along the way. Their success serves as a reminder to us that doing the right thing is the key to thriving into the future. In the JofA ’s case, doing the right thing has meant offering real substance to its readership and continuing to change along with the profession so that it has remained relevant and valuable.
And the profession certainly has changed a great deal during the past 100 years. In 1905, financial reporting was largely unregulated and often haphazard, the CPA credential was just beginning to gain recognition and the most popular workplace tools were a pencil and columnar pad. In the ensuing years, the corporate and individual income tax laws were passed, the securities acts made the audit mandatory for public companies and professional standards were introduced and greatly expanded. Enhanced education and increasingly sophisticated technology allowed CPAs to supplement the bookkeeping tasks many performed in 1905 with management advice using instantly available data. The CPA credential was transformed from a visionary idea into a symbol of integrity, competence and objectivity. The profession itself changed, too, from overwhelmingly white and male to one in which women equal or outnumber men in university accounting programs. Minorities also are making up an increasing percentage of our profession in part due to outreach and scholarship programs. At the same time, the number of AICPA members in business and industry has grown from a small percentage to a majority.
Both the profession and the JofA had to change in order to accommodate this evolving landscape, and they both have done so admirably. The burgeoning complexity of the business world has meant not only a greater appreciation of CPAs’ skills but also increasing expectations of them. Every time there is an advancement in business or technology, CPAs have been called on to offer new and more critical services. And the JofA has moved along with the profession on the leading edge of change, providing news and practical insights to help CPAs understand and take advantage of new opportunities.
The JofA ’s greatest contributions during its first century have been to illuminate these new developments and to document CPAs’ commitment to professionalism and public service. It has provided a record of our predecessors’ contributions to the profession and the business world. That legacy is something to be proud of, and a foundation we can use to build a better future for ourselves and our successors. And as we do so, the JofA will be there to advise us and record our steps.
Our congratulations to the JofA on its first hundred years.
— Robert L. Bunting and Leslie Murphy