Changing the Accounting Curriculum: The Function of Marketing

By Malone, Fannie L.; Hyman, Ladelle M. | The National Public Accountant, October 2000 | Go to article overview

Changing the Accounting Curriculum: The Function of Marketing


Malone, Fannie L., Hyman, Ladelle M., The National Public Accountant


The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has made a step toward change by endorsing a new competency framework for accounting education. The framework evolved from the Vision Project. It supports a shift from a content-based curriculum to one that emphasizes personal, functional and broad business-perspective skills. Personal competencies are defined as those that pertain to attitude and behavior, including professional demeanor, decision making and communication. Functional competencies are technical and include risk analysis, reporting and measurement. Broad business-perspective competencies relate to the context in which accountants perform their services. Among these skills are strategic and critical thinking, resource management, and marketing and client focus.

The AICPA Special Committee on Assurance Services classified marketing and selling as a high-opportunity competency. Accountants must possess the ability to anticipate and meet the changing needs of clients, employers, customers, and markets better than competitors. This competency expands profit potential, requires living and coping with constant change, commitment to leadership, and the ability to recognize market needs as well as develop new markets.

More competition will require a more aggressive marketing orientation. Currently, accounting degree programs may not be providing the broad business-perspective competencies necessary to compete in the future business world. Many accounting programs include only one marketing course, "Principles of Marketing." To achieve the goals of the Vision Project, the curriculum of accounting degree programs needs to be revitalized.

Marketing Courses

The new professional accountant faces challenges that have never before been experienced by the accounting professional. The need for public accountants to only possess technical accounting skills has been drastically altered by changes in the competition faced by public accountants and their customers' demands for additional services. Traditional accounting firms are experiencing competition from non-traditional sources; e.g., American Express Tax & Business Services, Inc. Competition from nontraditional sources, along with changes in technology and client needs, have changed the way in which traditional accounting firms do business. In the May 1999 edition of the New Accountant, David Burros made the following comments regarding the 21st Century accountant: To survive and thrive in the 21st Century, traditional accountants will need to offer a full range of financial services and products in order to satisfy their busy clients' needs for simplicity and convenience. However, in order to get the message to th e public about the additional services that are being offered by the traditional accountant, requires the development of much needed marketing skills. The traditional accounting curriculum that requires one general marketing course is not enough. What the 21st Century accountant needs are courses that emphasize different aspects of marketing skills. Thus, the accounting students who are presently in school should take the following marketing courses, if available:

Product Innovation. This course should emphasize firm culture and its effect on new product development; understanding customer needs; developing and evaluating a marketing plan for a new product.

Internet Marketing. This course should provide an overview of the Internet and related technological developments; strategies for using the Internet for sustainable advantage; strategies for using the Internet for making marketing mix decisions.

Services Marketing. This course should examine the process through which financial and professional services are marketed with special attention to problems that the accountant should expect to encounter.

These courses, traditionally, are taught using an eclectic approach. That is, they are taught incorporating teaching aids such as case study, role playing, professional speakers, and group interaction projects that build the team concept. …

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