Representing Montana at the AICPA

By Jane Egan, Executive Director

Jane Egan

Jane Egan
Executive Director

Every year our members are represented at three AICPA Council meetings:

  • Regional Council in March
  • Spring Council in May, and
  • Fall Council in October.

You are represented by your Elected Council Member (Ron Yates), your Designated Council Member (President Paul Nisbet) and by me, as your executive director.

Ron, Paul and I attended the one-day Regional Council meeting in Los Angeles on March 21st.  Regional Council is a much smaller group of attendees–AICPA leadership, western states’ Council members and state society executive directors–so it allows for great discussions and a deeper dive into the issues.

So what are the current issues?

The AICPA Chair, Bill Balhoff, opened the meeting with thoughts about the importance of quality in the CPA profession and he outlined how the AICPA’s initiatives will promote and enhance quality.

AICPA President, Barry Melancon is well-known for his outstanding professional issues update.  Many of you saw this first-hand at the 100th Anniversary meeting last June. At Regional Council Barry focused on areas that directly impact our profession’s ability to grow, compete and succeed, highlighting:

  • the CPA brand,
  • federal advocacy,
  • financial reporting,
  • market place issues,
  • practicing monitoring of the future,
  • the audit environment and
  • the future of learning.

A town-hall styled meeting on the Raising of the Profession’s Quality Factor was led by Bill Balhoff and AICPA VP of Public Practice and Global Alliances, Sue Coffey. The discussion centered on changes to peer review and practice monitoring. We discussed the current trends and expected challenges facing the profession from a regulatory perspective and long- and short-term quality enhancement plans.

We attended a session focused on the Future of Learning: Forging New Learning Requirements for the Profession. We participated in discussion groups and were given this request:

Given the Future of Learning key themes and related implications outlined today, the task force believes that the profession’s continued vitality requires evolving the way we engage, develop, deliver, and measure learning and development of CPAs. We are seeking Council members’ input on the following:

    1. What are the opportunities and challenges of evolving to a competency-based output CPE model?
    2.  How could the AICPA evolve its current CPE requirements for membership to include different types of learning?
      Consider the 70/20/10 model
      70% = Experiential (eg, on the job); 20% = Informal (eg, mentoring); 10% = Formal (eg, group study)
    3.  What other input would you provide the Board as it considers a broader interpretation of AICPA’s CPE requirements?

We’ll continue to explore these issues at Spring Council in May. Stay tuned for more updates from Council Meetings. Until then, please contact me (jane@mscpa.org) if you have questions and/or want more in-depth information on any of these items.

Watch for your calendar

The 2014 Professional Development calendars have been sent to all our members in public practice as April 1st (no foolin’). Our BING members received their calendars in February.  This year’s calendar features 60 classes, five conferences and the beautiful photographs by member, Linsay Carlson (AZ Helena) and society staff Jean Rieden.

Gopher

Gopher at Glacier by Jean Rieden

In addition to live classes, 2,462 webcasts are available for you in 2014. You can find them on our website and if there is something specific you are looking for talk to Jean.

With all these choices we challenge you to take at least one class that excites you; one class that is more than CPE; something that really interests you.  As you look through the course offerings we hope you’ll see opportunity as well as education, and know that it was all selected with your professional development needs in mind.

If you don’t see your calendar in the mail within the next few days give us a shout (800.272.0307) and we’ll be sure to send one your way. As always, all MSCPA classes can be seen online at mscpa.org.

Sunset

Sunset at Bernice by Linsay Carlson

3 Ways to Find More Value in Your Membership

by Margaret Herriges, Communications Director

Question: How do you find organizations who need audits and conversely, how do you get an RFP for an audit into the hands of the right professionals?Image

Answer: You use MSCPA’s RFP Center! It’s relatively new, but it’s a spectacular idea if we do say so ourselves!

The idea behind it is to create more value for our members—both for those who do audits and those who need them. How does it do that? Let us count the ways . . .

  1. FIND YOUR NEXT AUDIT JOB—If you provide audits, check out the RFP Center (under Member Resources) on a regular basis. Whenever we post RFPs here we shout it out on our Social Media feeds and in eConnect. Only members can see this section of the website so you will need to log-in.
  2. IF YOU NEED AN AUDIT—Contact Margaret Herriges if you want to post your audit RFP to the Center. It’s free and we’ll make sure lots of people see it. We understand how hard it can be to get an audit RFP in the hands of the right people.
  3. TELL YOUR CLIENTS ABOUT IT—If you have clients who need an audit (and you can’t perform it for them) tell them about the Audit RFP Center and have them contact Margaret. Any organization can POST an RFP on this site for FREE—nonprofits, for profits, governments–we accept them all.  We do encourage them to post it as early as possible giving our members some lead time to prepare an excellent submission.

The Audit RFP Center was created to help you. We hope you will use it and encourage others to use it as well. MSCPA’s Vision is to be the most valued professional resource for our members. We hope the RFP Center goes a long way towards achieving this.

How to Connect if You Are the Only CPA in Your Office

Are you the only CPA in your office? We hear that a lot from our BING (business, industry, NFP, gov’t) members. And sometimes do you wish you had someone to run an idea past, or ask an accounting question? You need that someone who understands what you are talking about, Imagesomeone who can think out loud with you.

These are the types of conversations we hear each year at the Industry Conference, this exchange of ideas. We walk through the crowds at break time and sit with you at lunches and we hear issues being discussed, great conversations blooming and solutions being debated.

MSCPA President Paul Nisbet is a BING member himself and he says,

“The biggest benefit of the [Industry] conference is the connections and friendships that are created.  I often leverage these connections by reaching out to the Industry CPAS that I have met at the conference throughout the year. The ability to collaborate on issues and topics and learn from the experiences of these experts is invaluable.”

So while we promise you outstanding speakers about cutting edge topics each year, the Industry Conference itself is about more than the CPE. It’s about the connections you make.

We hear people say, “You know we had that same problem and this is how we handled it . . .” and “How are these new standards affecting you?” and best of all, “Thank you! I’m so glad I got to talk to you about this issue.” The Industry Conference is a safe ground for participants to ask questions of instructors, staff and most importantly each other.

If you come to this year’s Industry Conference you’ll get 16 hours of professional development but you just might get a whole lot more. This year’s conference is March 19 & 20 at the Great Northern in Helena. Contact Jean if you have any questions: 800.272.0307 or jean@mscpa.org

Finding Value (and Referrals) With Find-A-CPA

by Margaret Herriges, MSCPA Communications Director

Did you know MSCPA helps the public find CPAs? Our Find-A-CPA feature on our website is all about helping potential clients, and even other CPAs, find a person with the right expertise. And as a member of MSCPA you can post your profile for free.

Helena member Marca Gibson has had some success through Find-A-CPA, “I love Find-A-CPA as a member benefit. It provides an easy-to-use resource for potential clients, as well as for use by colleagues. I refer to it when I’ve met someone new at a local chapter meeting or CPE event, or if I don’t provide specific services that a prospective client needs.”

So what makes a good CPA profile?

  1. ADD YOUR PICTURE! Think of it like Ebay or Craigslist; would you buy anything from either of those sites that didn’t have a picture? So add a nice, professional, friendly picture to your Find-A-CPA profile. Great example: Marca Gibson (Helena)
  2. AREAS OF EXPERTISE. Pick four or five areas in which you are an industry expert. One of the best parts of Find-A-CPA is that people can search by area of expertise. Great example: Baiba Eastlick (Missoula)
  3. TELL YOUR STORY. This isn’t the place for your resume. You are trying to make people like you enough to contact you.  Make it interesting and friendly. Would you hire yourself after reading your Find-A-CPA profile? Great example: Kim Foard (Billings)
  4. HAVE SOME NARRATIVE. This ties in strongly with #2 and #3 in this list but the point is don’t JUST list your areas of expertise—make them your story!  You are a business expert! This is a really good place to tell people. Great example: Dave Gilmer (Missoula)

While it’s easy to see the value of Find-A-CPA for public practice members, it’s actually a very good resource for our BING (business, industry, NFP and gov’t) members, too.  For example, if you are a CFO for a manufacturer in Billings and you run up against an issue about inventory that you don’t know how to solve, you could go to Find-A-CPA and run a search for a peer with an expertise in this area. This member only feature has value for all.

Does the public really use Find-A-CPA?  It received almost 850 views last year and that number doubled from 2012. And what’s really critical is how long people are staying on this webpage. On average they stay over a minute, reading profiles to find the accounting professional they need. In web-speak, a minute is a pretty long time. So far in 2014 those numbers have nearly doubled again and visitors are spending over two minutes on the page. From this we can pretty safely say that yep, folks are using Find-A-CPA which makes it more imperative than ever for you to be listed with a GOOD profile.

It’s important to note that MSCPA members are not automatically added to Find-A-CPA. This is a profile that YOU must build. It is an important member benefit but it takes initiative from you to make it shine. It’s also critical to know that if you already have a profile you can edit it at any time. Simply log-in and click the Members Tab. From there you click on Find-A-CPA from your Member Dashboard. And as with all MSCPA benefits and services, we are here to help you. If you have questions regarding Find-A-CPA please don’t hesitate to contact me, 800.272.0307 or Margaret@mscpa.org.

3 Ways to Find Value in Your Membership

by Margaret Herriges, Communications Director

The first week of February means dues time at MSCPA. Dues statements were emailed to most of our members on February 3rd. Did you notice something? Your dues are the same as they were last year. And in the words made famous by television infomercials: But wait . . . there’s more!

  1. No dues increases.
    Dues are the same price as 2013
  2. No increases to the cost of classes.
    Member prices remain:
    $135 for a four-hour class
    $270 for an eight-hour class
    $540 for a 16-hour class
    And you’ll save even more if you purchase FLEX Credits before June 30th.
  3. No increase to Annual Meeting registration. (June 19-20 in Helena)
    In fact the pricing is the same as it was in 2011: $349 early bird

Our focus at MSCPA is VALUE! We want you to find the value in membership not only in the money you save each year but in the programs and skills you get from participating.  We offer so many services/benefits to help you succeed so contact us, become involved in the issues, attend the events we plan with you and your needs in mind.  You’ll soon find way more than three ways to see the value in MSCPA membership.

We’re here for you. Your Success. Our Business.

Raising the Bar

By Hillary Rens, Chair

Greetings in this fresh new year! Your MSCPA Raising the BAR team is progressing nicely toward completion of our first year goals.

In our previous article Megan Walsh described our commitment to add younger voices to the MSCPA Board. We have accomplished this mission electing a non-voting, student advisory member. Please join us in congratulating Allison Berry of the University of Montana as she embarks on this new journey. Allison is a stellar representative of the future generation of CPAs. She intends to remain a Montana CPA and has internships scheduled with both JCCS and Eide Bailly. We are excited to have Allison’s voice on the MSCPA Board and know that she will make our team proud.

Our team has also successfully included members under age 35 on to the Annual Planning Committee. Sarah Day of Bozeman and Dan Keslin of Bozeman are the newest representatives to lend our young perspective to the committee. Thanks to Galusha, Higgins, & Galusha for allowing your staff to make this valuable commitment. Committee participation opportunities we currently are recruiting for include:

  • Federal Taxation, and
  • Government Audit Accounting Financial Reporting Committees.

If you are interested in learning more about these committees, please contact MSCPA at 800.272.0307.

Another BAR team initiative you may be interested in is the Leadership Development Program, created and championed by Anna Stitt of Anderson ZurMuehlen (Helena). A tentative kick-off of the program is planned for summer 2014. If you have a bright star in your organization this is the program to help develop them! It’s being designed specifically for CPAs on the path to long-term career growth and success. We will be recruiting participants in the near future.

If you have any questions or thoughts for the Raising the BAR committee, please feel free to contact me at hrens@stockmanbank.com or 406.234.8511. We look forward to your participation and continued support.

Important Numbers to Share

by Jean Rieden, MSCPA Professional Development Director

Our Board of Directors always tells us, “Give us numbers; we love numbers!”  So that said, we’ve got some phenomenal numbers we want to share with YOU . . .  and the Board. 

Vern Hoven and Ron Roberson are doing a Federal Tax Update for MSCPA in Missoula this week.  It’s the last class of our 2013/2014 Professional Development season.  So we thought it was a great time to share our Professional Development numbers from this season with you.

  • 1,430 participants joined us for classes in 2013/2014
  • MSCPA held 48 classes in 2013/2014. These 48 classes accounting for 54 days of learning—nearly 11 work weeks!
  • MSCPA issued 13,280 credits in 2013/2014

And all this is just from our LIVE classes.

So let’s discuss our online education opportunities.

  • 104 participants participated in MSCPA sponsored online learning over the past year.
  • 526 CPE credits were issued to those participants.

What’s next on the education horizon? Tons of great things to enhance your professionalism.

  • We start the 2014/2015 season with literally hundreds of online course offerings. If you need something specific let me know.
  • The 5th Annual Industry Conference will be our first LIVE class of 2014/2015, held March 19 & 20 in Helena.
  • We’re adding a second farm and ranch course this year in June in Yellowstone. We’ve partnered with the Washington, Idaho and Wyoming Societies to bring you this event.
  • In August, the always popular Pat Gaverick will teach a healthcare reform class in Billings.
  • And we’re bringing back the Tech Conference August 7 & 8 but this time it’s going to be held in Cody, WY, in conjunction with the Idaho and Wyoming Societies. It’s a great time of the year to make a vacation out of this one.

All the 2014/2015 classes are available on our Professional Development page on the website—check them out when the spirit moves you or you simply need a break!

The Professional Development Calendar will be mailed to our BING (Business, Industry, NFP, Gov’t) members in February and our Public Practice members right after tax season. Watch your mailboxes—you don’t want to miss it!

And if you have any CPE questions I’m always here to answer them for you: 800.272.0307 or jean@mscpa.org.

What a difference a year makes . . .

by Margaret Herriges, Communications Director

It’s hard to believe that 2013 is drawing to a close. I still remember anticipating what we’d be doing when it turned a new century! Little did I know at that time that I’d actually be starting an adventure with MSCPA within a few months. After nearly 14 years working on your behalf, I count my blessings daily!

But at this time last year there was a different tone to the season . . .

  • Jane was already hard at work with the State Taxation and Legislative Committees, revving up our advocacy engine so we could protect your interests during the legislative session.
  • I was on pins and needles, working with the super folks on the Century Celebration Committee, trying to make MSCPA’s 100th anniversary celebration an event you would always remember. 
  • Carol was keeping us all financially prudent and making Peer Review run smooth as silk. 
  • Jean was busy preparing for the 2013 CPE Season and working like mad to get the calendar published by the end of January for our members in industry. Okay, that hasn’t changed . . . this very week she’s putting the finishing touches on a calendar that will be so beautiful and a great resource as well. 
  • And at this time last year, the voice you heard when you called the office was Kay Roos.

Thankfully we’re coming into an even numbered year so that means no legislature, but Jane and the folks on the State Tax and Legislative Committees have already started working on legislation for the 2015 session. Our advocacy efforts have never been stronger and we are launching into 2014 with ideas about tax simplification that will make it easier for people to comply with our voluntary tax system. You’ll be hearing a lot of information about that in the coming months.

The 100th Anniversary Celebration was an event to be remembered and I’m so honored to have coordinated the efforts to make it special for you. It was an event I will always treasure. We will be announcing the line up of speakers soon but mark your calendars for June 19 and 20, 2014 in Helena for the 101st Annual Meeting. In the last few months we’ve incorporated some major changes to our social media presence in an effort to make communications with you more vital and in 2014 we will make some huge changes to our web presence that will make www.mscpa.org a better tool than ever.

The State Board Profession Monitoring Program morphed into the MSCPA Peer Review and that gives Carol the opportunity to help even more CPAs throughout the state become more proficient, more professional at their work. This has been a big change for many of you and Carol is here to walk you through it all.

Time has never been more critical for each of you and because of that, Jean and the Professional Development Committee have been working to offer more webcasts on more topics. Our education model is changing and Jean has not only kept MSCPA current with the changes, she helps the entire Society blaze new trails for education options.

And we said our farewells to Kay (she’s doing awesome by the way) and welcomed Shannon Murray to the office as our new Secretary. We can’t wait to bring her to conferences and the convention to meet you all.

There are so many big and little changes that happen in a membership organization throughout the year. The one constant is our respect and admiration of our members. We are proud to work on your behalf and excited to bring you new tools and resources, more advocacy efforts and incredible education offerings. VALUE is the word we focus on these days as we strive to make everything we do more valuable to your in your accounting career.

This holiday season and throughout 2014 we hope your blessings are many and your worries are few. And if we can help with some of those worries please remember we are a phone call or email away.

Merry Christmas! And a wonderful New Year!

Presidentially Speaking by Paul Nisbet

MSCPA President 2013-2014

MSCPA President 2013-2014

It is exciting to be blogging on behalf of the MSCPA! I want to express my thanks to Margaret for taking the initiative to start this blog, and I hope we all embrace it. The biggest risk with any blog is that the content can become stale. Let’s challenge ourselves to not let that happen.

I look forward to using this new communication tool to share the thoughts, activities and current priorities of the Board of Directors. I also am anxious to read similar posts from each of you as well. Members participating in our chapters and committees should definitely consider using the blog to keep us all informed of the great meetings, initiatives, and developments that are happening.

The Board set several primary initiatives for this year:
1) Working with local Chapters to help them become more vital.
2) Defining member value.
3) Working with the State Board through needed changes/updates.
3) Identifying new revenue sources to help MSCPA thrive through the next 100 years.

Earlier this year the Board recognized the importance of engaging the younger professionals in the Society. This recognition led to the creation of the BAR CPAs. I hope that each of you had a chance to read the article that BAR member Megan Walsh contributed to a recent issue of eConnect. Megan did a great job of describing the mission of the group, and providing an update on their progress on their three primary initiatives.

This blog provides a perfect forum to provide updates on the board initiatives. Watch for updates on the Board initiatives in the near future.