Profiles: Jim Woy

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


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.


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.

Yates 2007

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 (, 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 L. Byrnes, CPA
Past President 2015-2016

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






Profiles: Linda Harris, AFWA National President

Note: This is the fourth in a series of blogs highlighting the dedication of Montana CPAs and their service nationally to the accounting profession.

AFWA (Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance) was founded in 1938 to increase the opportunities for women in all fields of accounting and finance. My involvement began when I was a student.  I went to an accounting club meeting and a member of AFWA was presenting.  I was impressed that she decided to open her own accounting firm because of her connection to this organization.  A year later I had another opportunity to attend their student night and decided to join.

Harris Linda 2015On May 19th this year, I had the honor of being installed as the 2016-2017 President at the National Conference hosted by AFWA’s Billings Chapter.  I am honored to lead this organization and the great women who serve on the Board.

AFWA supports our members and provides them with the skills to be successful professionally. We help our members develop relationships, be creative, have higher emotional intelligence, relate to clients and customers, present and speak well, become better listeners and much more!

The President and Board are very involved in setting the course of the organization.  Along with our staff, we develop a strategic plan, work with chapters and members to communicate that plan and support the membership on a national level.  As President, I will oversee the vice presidents who chair our committees to ensure that the goals we have set for the year will be implemented and the projects completed.  I will work closely with our Executive Director on any issues that affect the organization from a national perspective and I will represent the organization wherever, whenever needed.

My involvement in this organization has been instrumental in providing me with leadership skills that have helped me advance not only within AFWA, but in other organizations, including the Montana Board of Public Accountants, and my own practice in Absarokee as well. It has been a safe environment to hone public speaking skills, to share professional knowledge and grow my network of colleagues and friends.

Being involved at a national level has allowed me to be exposed to topics that I might not encounter Montana.  I feel like I have a broad base of knowledge AND a whole network of colleagues that I can call upon. My membership certificate still says “student member”.  I never imagined that one day I would be the National President of AFWA.


Profiles: Gordy Thompson

Note: This is the third is a series of blogs highlighting the dedication of Montana CPAs and their service nationally to the accounting profession.

Gordy Thompson, Anderson ZurMuehlen, Havre

ThompsonGordy2016Presently, I am the elected AICPA Council member representing the state of Montana.  The AICPA Council is the governing body of the AICPA with representation from all fifty states and territories based upon membership.

I am just beginning a three year term in which we normally have meetings three times a year at various locations around the country.  We meet at least every other year in Washington DC where are main focus is advocacy for CPAs.  We meet with all of our state Senators and Representatives to discuss and promote (or not promote) bills and legislative agendas that have an impact on our profession.

The AICPA is the organization that promotes, as well as offers guidance and tools to practice, as well as enforces the standards that we as professionals must maintain.  Being on Council provides me the opportunity to meet other professionals from around the country to discuss the issues effecting all of us. It also allows you to network with some of the brightest minds in business.   What I enjoy the most is listening to what all the experts have to say about what the profession will look like in the  future and how do we prepare for that.

I am very proud to be able to represent the great state of Montana and to provide input from the Big Sky Country and would strongly encourage anyone to get involved at the state or national level.  Being a CPA is not just how I make living.  It is who I am!!

Profiles: Maria Christiaens

Note: This is the second in a series of blogs highlighting the great work Montana CPAs are doing on the national level through volunteer service. 

Maria J. Christiaens, Eide Bailly LLP

Maria Christiaens 2016Currently, I serve on the Executive Committee of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center (EBPAQC). The EBPAQC was established to assist CPAs with meeting the challenges of performing quality audits in this unique and complex area.

With the recent U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) scrutiny of plan audits, the EBPAQC has been very active with enhancing quality within the membership. I am in the second year of a three-year term on the Executive Committee, and in that time I have been involved in the following:

  • EBPAQC Training
    o Speaker – AICPA EBP National Conference (May 2015)
    o Moderator –AICPA Multiemployer Plans Webinar (January 2016)
    o Speaker – AICPA EBP National Conference (May 2016)
    o Subject Matter Expert –Audit Competency Exam for Health & Welfare (May 2016)
  • EBPAQC Quality Initiatives
    o AICPA Task Force on Improving Audit Quality
    o AICPA Task Force on Reporting and Assurance Models (Chair)
  • EBPAQC Resources
    o Fatal Flaw Reviewer for Primers and Audit Tools
    o Development Team for Audit Aids

My experience with the AICPA Quality Center staff has been invaluable. They are a group of smart and dedicated professionals who sincerely wish to serve the AICPA membership. The EBPAQC keeps the lines of communication open between the practitioner and the regulators (DOL, IRS, PCAOB) in order to find the balance in serving the client and protecting the public. By participating in meetings with the EBPAQC and the regulators, I am now acquainted with people who will serve as excellent resources beyond my term of service.

Montana CPAs have a unique perspective that we can bring to the AICPA. In most cases we are directly in contact with the owners of small businesses and we are in a position to demonstrate how the practitioner can follow the audit and accounting standards in a cost-effective manner without compromising the quality of our work. Understanding this, I encourage everyone to seize the opportunity to serve our profession at the national level, as we all have the ability to make a positive impact.

Profiles: Rick Reisig

This blog is the first in a series featuring Montana’s national accounting leaders. For a state with our size population, we have a tremendous representation of leaders serving at the AICPA, NASBA, ASWA and more. In this series we will learn more about the work they do and why they feel it is important to volunteer. We are grateful for their service and the impact they make.

Rick Reisig, Anderson ZurMuehlen, Great Falls

Reisig Rick 2014Presently, I’m involved with two national groups – the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board.

NASBA’s mission is to enhance the effectiveness and advance the common interests of the various state boards of accountancy (including Montana, of course) that regulate all certified public accountants and their firms in the United States and its territories.

The AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board is the AICPA’s senior committee for auditing, attestation, and quality control standard-setting applicable to the performance and issuance of audit and attestation reports for non-issuers (non-public companies).

With NASBA, I’m in my third year on the Board of Directors, the first year as a Regional Director and the last two as an At-Large Director not tied to any particular region. For the AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board, I’m in the last year of my three-year term on the board.

While the missions of both groups are very different, my involvement, and my main take-a-way from serving, is very similar. For both, my service is focused on the strengthening of the profession, while protecting the public interest. To serve in that role, for the profession I love, is tremendously rewarding! That leads, of course, to my main take-a-way from serving – the opportunity for professional and personal growth that comes from working with the brightest, most committed, individuals in our profession. At each meeting, for each organization, I try to be a sponge absorbing all the knowledge I can for the time that I’m there. I’ve learned so much from my participation, and made so many wonderful life-long friends from all across the country that share my love of the profession.

I would definitely encourage any involvement on a national level, as you will then have a real “say” in the future of our profession along with meeting some fabulous individuals that feel as strongly about the profession as you do!

Fairmont – Over 100 years of hot water and good times


Aerial View Fairmont Hot Springs

We are excited to hold the 103rd Annual Conference at Fairmont and many members have asked why we made the decision to go to a resort this year after so many years in our more urban areas. The answer is simple: Fairmont built a beautiful new convention facility!

Our hotel block for the 103rd Annual Conference expires on May 23rd (that’s next Monday folks!) which means YOU MUST MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS BY MAY 23rd. We have the awesome rate of $119/night (plus tax) so you don’t want to miss this discounted hotel room rate.

To make your reservations go to: .
You will be asked for a group id number 17120 and password 486; from here you may enter your information.  if you have any issues please call Fairmont at 800.332.3272.

We also have spots reserved at the near-by Fairmont campground. But like the hotel reservations, the availability of these spots expires May 23rd. There are 30amp and 50 amp electrical sites available. Make your reservation by calling 406.797.3505 and be sure to tell them you are with the Montana Society of CPAs group. The campground is about 1/4 mile from the Resort and DOES NOT include swim passes to the hot springs.

After, Indoor Pool 2013You’re going to love the new convention facility and you will have so much fun in the hot springs! But we thought you’d enjoy a learning about Fairmont’s colorful history. Please enjoy this brief history lesson excerpted from Fairmont’s History brochure.

Long before the white man knew about the hot springs, Native American tribes such as the Flathead, Nez Perce and Shoshone set up tepees in the surrounding trees. The Native Americans called the 12 hot pools “Medicine Waters”.

In 1869, George and Eli Gregson acquired the hot springs from a squatter named Hulbert for $60. Can you imagine?! We pay twice that to stay one night and that’s with our discounted rate!

Gregson 1In the years to come, George and Eli turned their attention to the 12 pools of hot mineral water. They built a well-furnished and two-story hotel that could accommodate 50 -60 guest, a plunge bath and five large bathing rooms. Away from the main building a bar room and separate sleeping apartments were constructed. A covered flume was used to conduct the hot and cold water to the bath houses. The cold water was taken from a pure cold stream flowing about 700 yards south of the hotel.

The springs offered cures for rheumatism and other types of ailments. It was said a savory soup could be made by adding salt and pepper to the hot spring water. The soup was consumed in the hopes of curing various ailments.

In 1890 the Gregson Resort was leased to Miles French and a town site was plotted in 1892. On December 9, 1893, the Butte Miner carried a story about the dedication of the town site. It was also reported that the new B & P Depot has been built at Gregson. In 1901 the Resort was sole to Con Hays and James Breen.

Many organizations and clubs held their annual picnics and parties at the springs. On August 12, 1912, the Butte Miners held the most infamous; 14,000 people took part in the event! A brawl broke out between the Anaconda smeltermen and the Butte miners. Two men died in the disturbance but at the inquest the judge could not determine what really occurred so no one was prosecuted. We’re pretty sure MSCPA’s 103rd will be a lot calmer than this!

Tragedy struck on December 23, 1914 when the dance hall and adjoining buildings caught fire. A week and a day later, the hotel plunge caught fire and burned along with the remaining buildings. The fires were blamed on faulty wiring. At the time of the fires, ownership of the resort has passed on to the Montana Hot Springs Association.

George Forsythe bought the Gregson Resort in 1916 and rebuilt and expanded to accommodate tourists. George died in 1935 and his wife, Victoria, ran it until 1959 when she sold it to Treasure State Industries.

The resort closed in 1971 because it fell into such disrepair, but on August 29th that same year the Gregson Surveyor’s Picnic was held as the last chance to see the old hot springs before new construction began. The Montana Standard reported that federal funds would help build a complex including an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, picnic area, outdoor pool and 190 guest rooms. In 1972 the remaining buildings were demolished to make way for the new complex.

The new construction began in 1972 under the direction of new owner Lloyd Wilder of Fairmont Hot Springs British Columbia. It was designed with an indoor pool 80 x 120 feet and an even larger outdoor pool. A cabaret was once located on the second level which connected via an enclosed “bubble” walkway.

Mr. Wilder sold Fairmont to Leroy Mayes in 1981 but repurchased it again in 1990 after it had been taken over by two financial institutions. Wilder died in the last decade and left the ownership of the hotel in trust for his children.

Today, many owners and a stories later, Fairmont offers a new convention center in addition to the hot springs, golf, tennis and many outdoor recreation opportunities. The 168 degree water is cooled to comfortable temperatures that invite you to indulge in the pools and water slide. The hotel’s main restaurant was recently remodeled and you can enjoy a morning latte in the coffee shop.

Fairmont Fun Facts

  • Fairmont Golf Course’s 5th hole is “mile high, mile long” being a mile high in altitude and at 649 yards long the longest hole in Montana.
  • The large pools contain around 220,000 gallons of water. The smaller pools contain approximately 50,000 gallons of water.
  • 58 laps in the indoor pool is 1 mile. 45 laps in the outdoor pool is 1 mile. 
  • The hot water contains calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, silica, chloride, fluoride, lithium and other chemicals. Most “smelly” hot springs have a high sulfur content. The sulfur content of Fairmont’s hot springs is very low. 
  • The hot springs originally bubbled to the surface in twelve pools. There are three shingled huts near the Wildlife Zoo where the springs come to the surface near the current resort. Now, most of the hot water comes from a 600 ft. well because this source is cleaner and hotter than water that has been allowed to bubble to the surface.

We hope you’ll join us at Fairmont for the 103rd Annual Conference to make a little history of our own. This year’s Conference boasts:

  • Up to 13 hours of CPE
  • Young Professionals Track
  • Highest honors being awarded
  • Dueling Pianos
  • New book club event
  • Fantastic speakers
  • Crazy fun events
  • Ethics credits
  • Super connections with CPAs from across the state

Be sure to register before June 1st to take advantage of early bird pricing and don’t forget to make your hotel reservations by May 23rd.

FHSR outdoor pool 300dpi