Are you ready to make an impact?

by Jane Egan

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Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

The 2017 Legislative Session begins January 2nd and promises to be just as busy and exciting as past ones.

Our current Governor, Steve Bullock (Democrat), was re-elected and Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and House.

The Governor has released his budget proposal which includes (among many other things):

  • a new tax bracket of 7.9 for people who make over $500,000 a year
  • increase in tax credits for new and expanding businesses
  • 6% tax on medical marijuana
  • Elimination of state capital gains credit for gains topping one million annually
  • A state earned-income tax credit for the working poor

Two of our committees—Legislation & Governmental Affairs and State Taxation—have been working on our legislative agenda for a number of months and are close to finalizing the details. We do know we will be initiating legislation to:

  • establish a corresponding deduction/subtraction on the Montana return for a credit on the Federal return that has an add back to income and
  • allow for CPA firm mobility

We have a Board-approved Legislative Policy and we are delighted to have Helena attorney, Holly Franz, on board as our lobbyist again this session.

Your MSCPA committees and staff work the legislative session for you—we want and need your participation and input. Contact me (800.272.0307) with your ideas and watch for notices by email and in eConnect on the many ways you can make sure the CPA voice is heard in this session.

We’ve set a goal!

by Ron Yates, Eide Bailly, MSCPA President 2010-2011, AICPA Board of Directors

We’ve set a big goal! And I’m asking for your help.

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Ron Yates, Legacy Foundation Council Chair

During my term as MSCPA board president in 2010, we boldly launched the Legacy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity, with the purpose of promoting and impacting the accounting profession in Montana. It’s important that all our members know that every dollar counts! This foundation isn’t only about big contributions. Like the AICPA Feed the Pig campaign says, “Small change adds up.”

Can we count on you? We have set a challenge goal to receive a $25 donation from half of our Montana membership between now and June 30th. This means at least 644 members, donating $25 each, helping us to raise $16,000! Won’t you please help by making your $25 donation to the MSCPA Legacy Foundation today? Many employers even match these donations to double the benefit.

I’m now serving my final year as Chair of the Legacy Foundation Council. I’m very proud of what the foundation has accomplished, thanks to the on-going support and dedication of my fellow Council members, the MSCPA board and staff, the Managing Partner and Past President groups, and our terrific MSCPA members – YOU! In the past two years we have offered 20 scholarships to students to attend the MSPCA Annual Conference. We keep hearing that these students are deciding to pursue their careers in Montana because of this experience! In 2017, we are going to offer another 20 scholarships for the 104th Annual Conference PLUS five additional accounting educator scholarships. Additionally, the Legacy Foundation had the privilege of sending Austin Schuerg to the 2016 AICPA Leadership Academy. You can read about Austin’s experience in a recent blog on MontanaCPAs.org.

If you respond to this $25 challenge, we will be able to increase the impact we make across the state. Of course, if you’d like to make a bigger donation, we would be pleased to accept it. But we truly want all our members—new CPAs, retired CPAs, CPAs in public practice, industry, education and government—to help support this campaign with $25 knowing that every donation matters.

Please learn more about our recent success stories in the foundation’s 2016 Annual Report.

Thank you so much for your support — past, present and future! You can make your donation online or you can mail a check to
MSCPA Legacy Foundation
1534 Ninth Avenue
Helena, MT 59601.

If you are interested in making a multi-year pledge, would like to consider naming the foundation in your estate, or want to start a Tribute Plaque in honor of someone important to you or the profession, please contact me at ryates@eidebailly.com or Jane Egan at jane@mscpa.org , telephone # 1.800.272.0307.

My Experience at the AICPA Leadership Academy

schuerg-austin-2015by Austin Schuerg

In October I had the honor of representing Montana at the AICPA’s Leadership Academy (LA), thanks to the MSCPA Legacy Foundation.  This four-day intensive program was designed to engage young professionals in a self-examination of leadership, what that means and how that impacts their personal life and career path.  The facilitators of this Academy, Tom Hood (CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs) and Gretchen Pisano (CEO of p.Link Coaching Center) were truly amazing.  If you’ve ever met Tom or Gretchen, you know they are both passionate and energizing people, key to a successful program.

The program itself consisted of 38 young CPAs from around the country with very diverse backgrounds.  An application process was required that consisted of two short essays documenting the applicant’s thoughts on what the future holds for a leader in the accounting function, whether private or public, as well as how each applicant feels they would benefit from such a program. Outside of the program itself, a key component of LA was the networking and socializing with the other CPAs.  This has already been super valuable in that we have formed a private Facebook group and have bounced questions and ideas around numerous times already.

Prior to the academy, the first step was identifying each of our own leadership strengths.  LA utilized the book Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath which was accompanied by a Clifton’s Stengthsfinder assessment.  I had always had an idea of where my leadership strengths lie, but this assessment really cemented that for me and pushed me to begin identifying how to leverage those in my daily professional and personal life.  After I returned from LA, I sat down with the leaders in my current company and walked through my strengths.  We have since redesigned my career path to one that will most benefit my strengths as well as the company.  Actual action, I love that.

During LA, the facilitators walked us through an intensive study of the i2a facilitation process.  The generalized concept here is to create buy in from team members to really help drive projects forward.  As a team, you attempt to really break down an issue to its most basic form and then create a plan to overcome this.  I plan to implement this process over q4 in my current role to identify ways to overcome some obstacles we are facing related to our interdepartmental relationships.  If you are unaware of the i2a facilitation process, feel free to reach out to me and I will gladly provide a run down.

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Barry Melancon | Austin Schuerg | Tim Christen

One of the highlights for me from the week was interacting with Barry Melancon, President of the AICPA, and Tim Christen, Board Member of the AICPA and Chair of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP.  During one of our “networking” nights, we had North Carolina barbecue and a bags (corn hole) tournament in which my team got knocked out in the semi-finals.  The last evening of LA, we had the opportunity to have a two-hour Q&A session with Barry Melancon in which we learned about his career path as well as where he sees the profession headed.  He is truly an inspiring leader and the insights he provided were amazing.

Overall, the three key takeaways for me from this program are self-awareness of my own strengths, awareness of what drives other’s motivation, and that leadership is facilitation.

Donna Salter and Erin Carson from the AICPA did a superb job in organizing this academy and I would highly recommend it to any young professional in the accounting industry who is looking to either take, or position themselves to take, that next step in their career.  A special thank you to the Legacy Foundation and the MSCPA for their support in my attendance to the LA.  I truly feel it was game-changer for me and I hope to assist and give back to the profession here in the state as much as I can.

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2016 AICPA Leadership Academy Graduates

Austin Schuerg is only the second Montanan to have the honor of attending the AICPA’s prestigious Leadership Academy, thanks to the support of the MSCPA Legacy Foundation. The first Montana attendee was Jeremiah Rouane (First Interstate Bank) back in 2010, so you can see that Austin’s attendance is landmark for Montana CPAs.

Austin works as a senior accountant with Simms Fishing Products in Bozeman. He serves as the Young Professional member on the MSCPA Board of Directors and is very active in all MSCPA initiatives to promote the success and involvement of our YPs.  

 

Breaking News!

Part 1–Jane’s Big Announcement

Greetings Members,

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Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from the Society on June 30, 2017.

On the one hand, I am excited to be retired and have the opportunity to explore new opportunities. On the other hand, I am not excited to be leaving this organization that has been so great to me. Few people start out with a goal to be an association manager. Many of my peers happened into this wonderful career the same way I did: the opportunity presented itself and I said I’ll give it a go. Best decision I ever made career-wise.

I have a lot to accomplish before I leave including assisting our State Taxation and Legislative and Governmental Affairs committee reach our goals in the upcoming legislative session and making sure the Society is in the best possible position for the future.

I have faith our leadership serving on the Search Strike Force will hire a new director who will help guide the Society into an exciting future. And remember, you still have Margaret, Jean, Carol and Heidi who always have your best interests in mind and do the most amazing work on your behalf!

I have learned you are the most remarkable people. You are smart, generous, giving and dedicated. You taught me how to be a better person and I thank you for letting me work with you all these years.

Jane

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Part 2–So now what . . .

With Jane’s retirement announcement last year, the Board of Directors created a Succession Strike Force. The purpose of the Strike Force was to create a plan and timeline  for naming Jane’s successor. The Succession Strike Force then morphed into the current Search Strike Force. The members are as follows:

• President Annette Hill
• President-Elect Dr. Josh Herbold
• Secretary Treasurer John Steinhoff
• Board Member Merna Lechman
• Past President Brenda Byrnes
• Past President Ann Deegan

Over the years nothing has struck more fear in the hearts of members of the Board of Directors than Jane’s retirement date! True to her word, Jane has given us ample notice and continued support in these early stages of the process. Her love for this organization and its members runs deep. We are sad to see that this time has finally come but we understand that it is an awesome time for her to retire, spending more time with family and her interests.

Many other CPA societies are undertaking this process right now or have just concluded a interestblueblurb
search. From these peers we have learned that the Executive Director position is a sought after one. We are optimistic that our first class organization, active membership and beautiful state will attract a solid pool of candidates.

From the timeline, you can see that our search process is straightforward. Our job posting will appear on various outlets including the MSCPA website on December 1, 2016. We will close the posting on January 15, 2017. From that point we shift gears into the full interview and hiring mode. We look forward to introducing our new Executive Director at the 2017 Annual Conference in Billings!

If you have any questions about the search process, please contact the strike force at searchstrikeforce@mscpa.org or reach out to one of us individually. We are all aware of the importance of this task and take it very seriously. After all this is our FUTURE! The MSCPA has only had two long-time directors in its 104 year history.

Profiles: Jim Woy

Profiles is MSCPA’s blog series highlighting the impact Montana CPAs are having on the national level.

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Jim Woy, Shareholder, Anderson ZurMuehlen, Butte

I have served on the Education and Communications Task Force (ECTF) of the AICPA Peer Review Committee since 2013. The Committee is comprised of members from around the country who are peer reviewers, technical reviewers, Report Acceptance Bodies (RAB) and administrators of state peer review committees.  The task force  provides input to the AICPA Peer Review Committee and AICPA peer review staff. The task force has been instrumental in addressing and providing input regarding many of the recent changes in the AICPA peer review program. The task force also sets forth the agenda for the annual national peer review conference.

Volunteering as a task force or committee member on the national level allows me to meet and discuss some of top issues of the day with individuals who are in the moment,  on new and soon to effective standards. These individuals become friends you can call upon when questions occur and the breadth of knowledge shared in committee meetings is excellent. It helps me understand the “what’s behind” many of the changes occurring in our great profession.

I really enjoy the opportunity to provide feedback on issues impacting the peer review process. The AICPA Peer Review Committee and AICPA peer review staff do listen to our feedback and welcomes it, and in many instances,  changes get made due to this feedback. It is very rewarding.

Profiles: Ryan Screnar

This article is the next in our series “Profiles” highlighting the impact Montana CPAs are having on the national level.

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Ryan Screnar, Glacier Bancorp, Helena

When I became involved with MSCPA I had no idea the doors it was going to open for me. I joined the MSCPA Board in 2004 and served as President in 2008-2009. It was in that role as President that I began going to AICPA meetings as the AICPA Designated Council member. And that’s where I started meeting people that have helped me charter a national course of volunteer experience.

When you meet people at the AICPA Council meetings, you have this automatic exposure to 500 people who value the CPA so you instantly have that in common. It’s a fraternity of people who share this common bond and you grow it from there.

I was appointed to the AICPA Nominating Committee for a term from 2011-2013. This group chooses the AICPA Board members, the at-large Council reps and the next chair. I was asked to join the AICPA Awards Committee in 2013. From there I became a member of the AICPA Ethics Committee in 2009-2012. I was part of this group when we codified our ethics, restructuring the standards so that members and other can apply the rules and reach the correct conclusions more easily.  That volunteer gig turned into a new one on the Joint Trial Board (JTB) in 2015. When ethics complaints are investigated, the JTB is the body the CPAs can appeal to. It’s a tough gig. It’s about life stories and we hold their futures in our hands. It’s a heavy responsibility and not one I take lightly.

I’m lucky, my employer supports me completely in this national networking. I got into volunteering because I wanted to be involved in the profession: learning and seeing the issues from a national perspective. And I love it! It’s been a lot of fun. You are on the front line. With each new committee I’ve served, I’ve gotten to meet more people and that’s what has had the most impact, meeting the people from across the country and the lasting relationships you develop.

Profile: Ron Yates

This blog post is part of our Profiles Series where we highlight the amazing accomplishments of Montana CPAs who volunteer nationally to make a difference for the accounting profession.

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Ron Yates, CPA, Eide Bailly LLP, Billings

I am very fortunate and proud to have had many opportunities as a Montana CPA to represent CPAs, the accounting profession, and the Treasure State at the national level.

Currently, I am starting the second year of a three-year term on the AICPA Tax Practice and Procedures Committee (TPPC).  This committee monitors developments in and changes to IRS procedural and administrative guidance.  Among other things, the TPPC keeps AICPA members informed of changes to tax procedure, tax administration, regulatory guidance, and IRS services, and develops guidance, information and resources for AICPA Tax Section members to help CPAs understand and comply with the complex rules of practice before the IRS.  We also serve as a resource to the IRS Advocacy & Relations Committee, as well as other technical resource panels and task forces, on matters of tax administration and procedure.  The TPPC is an oversight committee for the Tax Checklist Task Force (which is responsible for developing and maintaining the Annual Compliance Kit) and the Foreign National Task Force (which is responsible for creating various resources to help members with international tax issues). We participate in a monthly committee call and meet at least twice yearly in person.  Each committee member commits to writing one reviewed article for the AICPA’s Tax Adviser magazine annually.  If interested, you can read my article in the April 1, 2016, edition (“PATH Brings Changes to Federal Penalty Computations”).

Also, this spring I was officially nominated by the AICPA Nominations Committee to fill an open board seat for a three-year term on the AICPA Board of Directors. The official election of board members will occur in October 2016 at the AICPA Fall Council / Annual Members meeting. I’m very excited for this tremendous opportunity to represent all CPAs at the national level.

From October 2012 through October 2015 I had the privilege of serving as Montana’s elected AICPA Council Representative, succeeding Dan Vuckovich of Great FallsMontana is guaranteed one representative on the AICPA Council, which is the governing body of the AICPA and includes elected representatives from all U.S. states and territories.  In 2015 Gordy Thompson of Havre was elected as my successor as AICPA Council Representative.  Gordy is doing a fantastic job representing Montana CPAs at the national level.  Gordy discussed the importance of this role in his July 18 Montana CPA blog, a great read.

Finally, from 2011-2014, I served on the AICPA Life Insurance / Disability Plans Committee, including serving as the Product Development Task Force chair in 2013.  This committee’s purpose it to make available, through the AICPA Insurance Trust/AICPA Group Insurance Trust, a variety of self-supporting insurance products that are responsive to the needs of the membership and to provide oversight for plan administration and premium levels. This committee, which reports directly to the AICPA board of directors, handles millions of dollars of annual premiums providing hundreds of millions of insurance coverage to CPAs and their families.  It was a great personal and professional experience and I would highly encourage you to consider applying for future service to this committee.  Many of you may recall that Montana’s own Ellen Feaver chaired this committee about a decade ago.

These service opportunities have helped me to grow personally and professionally and I would highly encourage all MSCPA members to consider “raising your hand” when volunteer opportunities arise at the state or national level.

 

New Accounting Opportunities with Next Generation of Farmers

The following post comes from the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition. They ask you to list “Farm & Ranch” as an area of expertise as it applies to you; make it easier for Montana’s farmers and ranchers to find you online!

Driving through our beautiful state, it’s difficult to miss that agriculture figures prominently in the landscape. While it continues to drive nearly a third of core economic activity in Montana, ag has gone through a lot of changes in recent decades. The change worth noting here is in the total number of farms: they’ve increased substantially (some 20%) since 1982. Surprised? Many of these operations are small at less than 50 acres in size. That is to say, CPAs: a growing number of farmers are in need of your services!

The Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) is a leading non-profit dedicated to FarmLink_Vertical_Whitesupporting Montana’s beginning farmers and ranchers. One of our initiatives, Farm Link Montana (farmlinkmontana.org), serves to connect farmers and ranchers with the tools necessary to successfully run their businesses. One such resource is a guide to finding and working with accountants and attorneys with farm-and-ranch-specific expertise.

That’s where you come in. We ask you to update your profiles on MSCPA’s Find-A-CPA online tool and list “Farm & Ranch” as an area of expertise, as applicable, so that Montana’s farmers and ranchers can find you more easily. Attract more business, and support your local farmers and ranchers!

If you’d like more information about the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition and how to get your name in front of farmers and ranchers please contact Annie Heuscher. Thank you for your time!

Presidentially Speaking–A year in review from Brenda Byrnes

Byrnes Brenda 2016It’s a great time to be a CPA!  The past year as your President was incredible and it went fast.

Following the lead of Ann Deegan we (myself and your Board of Directors) continued to implement the strategic plan.  Our concentration was the introduction of an updated volunteer model.  A model that focuses on the time you as a volunteer can commit, what tasks inspire you to assist and when it fits your schedule.  The unveiling of the new Volunteer Center on the MSCPA website this month is the culmination of that process.  Now your new President Annette Hill and Board of Directors challenge you to find your spot to fill on the Volunteer Center or simply sign up for the “pool.”  The pool is for those of us who don’t see a spot that fits yet but definitely are up to a task, just waiting for it.

What else did the year entail?

  • Social media presence enhanced
  • University student outreach efforts increased
  • First virtual board meeting conducted online
  • Jane announced her retirement date of June 2017
    • ED Succession Strike Force created
  • CGMA designation opened for nonCPAs
  • Continued tax advocacy at the Federal & State levels
  • AICPA/CIMA joint venture vote
  • Jane is diagnosed with cancer, has treatment and is in remission all in one board year—She ROCKS!

What’s my biggest “take away” this year?

Our profession is a great one!  I mean it wholeheartedly.  We have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact each day in our respective careers: public, business, industry, not-for-profit, governmental, education and so many other areas.  The heart of what we learn as CPAs is valued and trusted throughout the world.  We are sought after for the value we have to offer but we do have to work hard to maintain this position.

That “take away” was driven home for me by the terrific members of your Board of Directors who served this past year.   Their commitment to our profession and the CPAs of Montana is outstanding.  Thanks to each of them for their nimbleness as we changed up meetings, activities and our volunteer structure.  The Directors provided thought provoking input and purposeful active participation which made this year successful.  It was truly a pleasure to serve with them.

However, none of these outcomes would have occurred without the team at MSCPA.  Jane, Margaret, Jean, Carol and Heidi provide tremendous support every step of the way.  We are so lucky to have them!

I was inspired at the beginning of my career by several Past-Presidents of the MSCPA to set a goal of becoming President.  The passion they showed for being a CPA and how they translated that passion into efforts aimed at keeping the MSCPA a relevant, supportive professional home for us throughout our careers was what motivated me.  This was an awesome opportunity to be a part of that legacy and I am grateful for it.  Thank you.

Brenda

Brenda L. Byrnes, CPA
Past President 2015-2016

PS  GO Annette!  You’re “it” to make an IMPACT .