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.

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