Presidentially Speaking “The Secret of Our Success”

Marca Gibson, CPA

Marca Gibson, MSCPA Board President 2020-2021

Your MSCPA board just held our annual retreat as a live-virtual combination event over two days in Helena. Not only did we have rich, productive discussions, but it was so refreshing to meet in person during this long season of isolation! Our MSCPA staff did a superb job of ensuring the safety of the meeting amidst the pandemic with masks, hand sanitizer in abundance, infrared thermometer, and distance seating. We reminisced about past fire pits, pub crawls and karaoke – obviously out of the question this year – but we look forward to a future time when we can resume the revelry!

First, I would like to thank Julie Kostelecky for her capable and uplifting leadership last year, and Annette Hill for agreeing to provide wise and gracious counsel as my Ex Officio this year. These two exemplary professionals continue to inspire me, and I appreciate their generous service to our organization.

Now for news from the retreat. As we met, many of us mentioned how fulfilling and inspiring it has been to be involved with MSCPA, as members, volunteers, staff and board members. The question arose, “what is the secret of this success?” From a board perspective, I think the answer boils down to the fact that we continuously strive to be better and stay ahead of trending curves. What are the members’ needs now and well down the road? What future do we envision? With that in mind, we updated our strategic plan and sketched out some actions to keep our organization relevant, outward-facing, and forward-thinking. Notably spelling M-S-C-P-A, the five pillars of our strategic plan are:

Membership – We are the Treasure state’s network of CPAs who set the bar for professional excellence. MSCPA membership tells the world that you strive to earn the trust and confidence placed in your care, whether you are a CPA in public practice, private industry, nonprofit, government, education, or another important facet of our profession.

Sustainability – We keep our finger on the pulse of what it means to be a CPA as needs, roles, and demographics change in our information-driven world. MSCPA advances support to the ever-present and ever-changing needs of CPAs.

Connection – Feed your professional soul. MSCPA is the hub for members to find resources when they need them. MSCPA nurtures opportunities to interact with peers from all walks of CPA life.

Professional Excellence – Challenge yourself to be a better CPA. MSCPA offers a wealth of in-person and virtual learning opportunities to inspire and empower. MSCPA works with governing bodies to keep our credential strong and to uphold our high ethical standards.

Advocacy – Together we make an impact. Voice your ideas and concerns: MSCPA amplifies the voice of Montana CPAs to protect the profession and create the best possible regulatory environment for our members and the people we serve.

Within each of these pillars we maintain specific attributes and metrics to keep delivering value to our members. The full strategic plan is available at www.mscpa.org under Mission/Vision/Strategy, and I encourage you to read it. Based on our retreat discussions, we identified five calls to action, upon which we will work in the coming months:

1. Reserve & Investment Policies – we have assembled a task force to develop a reserve policy and investment policy and expect a draft to be presented at our January board meeting.

2. Diversity and Inclusion – we will be exploring how the Society might reach out to Native American students and other minority groups as to the mutual benefit of attracting them to our profession.

3. Career Expectations – the pandemic has shone a bright spotlight on the fact that work can be accomplished in creative, flexible ways, and that younger employees place a high value on work-life balance. We want to support members as they adapt to new employment models, and to help support a new set of expectations, so that younger workers can advance in their careers successfully.

4. Pre-Retirement Checklist – a large segment of our membership will be retiring within the next five to ten years. Several members have asked us if we have a checklist to help members transition from work life into retirement. We love checklists! And we will be reaching out to members thinking about retirement or actively engaged in the transition to develop this tool.

5. Rural Member Needs – According to Census.gov, one in five Americans live in rural areas. After talking with peers at the AICPA Fall Council and to members of our Rural Montana Chapter, serving the needs of rural CPAs has bubbled up as a topic of interest.  Are there special needs of rural CPAs that the Society could facilitate or fulfill at the state and national levels? We will be exploring this topic – what would the product look like, how might we monetize such a service (akin to how some states are specializing in providing peer review administration), and is it viable from economic and resource perspectives?

As you can see, this is going to be a busy year! Your participation and support are greatly appreciated. If one of these projects particularly inspires you, please feel free to call or email our wonderful staff. They will listen to your ideas and get you connected. I am so excited for my year as your president. If I can do anything to enhance your experience with MSCPA or resolve concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime. It is my sincere honor and privilege to serve as your president during this unforgettable year!

Cheers to you all!

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