Will the CPA of the future look like George Jetson?

by Allen Lloyd, Executive Director at the Montana Society of CPAs

We keep hearing about automation coming to revolutionize the accounting profession and which will in turn, make many accounting jobs disappear.   This made me think about an old friend, George Jetson.  While many episodes revolved around the troubles at Spacely Space Sprockets, George typically only worked an hour a day twice a week.  I don’t think any of us would complain about that schedule.  His main responsibility was to turn the Referential Universal Digital Indexer (R.U.D.I.) on and off.

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When can we expect to live in this wonderful new world?  Unfortunately, not before tax season and probably not before many of us retire.  This doesn’t mean we won’t get to reap some of the benefits of automation.  The Big 4 firms have technology that can do most of the work a typical entry level person does today, this will filter down to all firms probably in the next 5 years.  Similar technology is being developed to automate much of the work accountants do in business and industry, government, and non-profit.

Initially automation is going to make our lives easier as our workloads shift from routine tasks to higher level work.  The bank reconciliation may be automated, but someone still needs to translate the financial statements to help make business decisions.  We will also have to monitor the automations to make sure they are working correctly.  The days of software not doing things the way it should are far from over.

At a recent accounting educators meeting professors from across Montana talked about the importance of learning the fundamentals of accounting.  These skills will be just as valuable in the future as they are today.  It will continue to be critical for CPAs to understanding how activity impacts financial statements.

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One of the issues with automating entry level work is figuring out how we develop recent college graduates into experienced staff?  When computers can do all but the most complicated tax returns how will people learn to complete these returns?

Automation won’t do everything we will still need to manage people, hopefully better than Mr. Spacely.

Change is coming and MSCPA wants to work with you to help shape the future.  Leave a comment below or email me your thoughts about the future.  We are here to facilitate your conversation and help you adapt to working one hour a day twice a week… someday.stat1stat2

Meet Molly!

I’m Molly Holahan, the new Communications Director!

I was born and raised in East Helena, MT.  I left Montana for 2 years to attend UNLV and transferred back to Montana and graduated from the University of Montana (GO GRIZ) with a BS in Communication Studies!  I found this degree to have the best mixture of technology, business, marketing and interaction with people!

For the past seven years, I worked at Anderson ZurMuehlen/Employee Benefit Resources.  I worked in our corporate office and helped with trainings and technology.  More recently, I transitioned to our sister company and worked in EBR as a plan administrator in training.

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Molly, Bill, Teva & Chewie

A little background on my life outside of work.  I met my husband, Bill, on a blind date! He had recently moved here from New Jersey to be closer to family.  He works as a tax attorney for the State at the Retirement Administration.  This year is full of excitement as Bill and I are welcoming our first child in October!

My first introduction to the MSCPA was working on a video project with Margaret. She was so passionate and creative- it was such a great experience.  I met Jean while working on a webinar and often bugged her with CPE questions and she was always unbelievably helpful and resourceful.  I enjoyed working with the Society any chance I got!

I am so thankful for this opportunity and am thrilled to work with Allen, Jean, Carol, Heidi, our board of directors, AND our amazing members (including so many of my previous coworkers from Anderson ZurMuehlen)!

I am so excited to be part of the MSCPA and look forward to meeting you at upcoming events and trainings!

Please contact me if you have any questions or just to say hi!

A Student Perspective

by Michelle McDowell, MSU Bozeman | MSCPA Student Representative Board of Directors 2016/2017

McDowellMichelle2015I will always remember completing my application for the student representative board member of the Montana Society of CPAs (MSCPA). At 4 PM on the due date of the application I found myself alone in my usual study room the professors joking referred to as my office. I re-wrote my application essay four times and repeatedly read it aloud. Getting my thoughts on paper can be messy because my mind often moves faster than my fingers. This blog post may even elude to this timing difference. What was my reason for applying? I care. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to contribute. And, I wanted to stay in Montana following graduation. My time spent as the MSCPA’s student representative has been an amazing opportunity to support the links between the students and the MSCPA. I feel very privileged to have been given this time to be part of something bigger.

The first board meeting I attended was in Missoula. I intentionally wore a burgundy colored blouse in the event any comments came up regarding the university I attended. And indeed a few comments were made but all in good fun.

Student board members have very minimal requirements. At some point during this time I recall asking the board if I could attend all the board meetings during my time as the student representative. I did not exactly bring the room to silence but the response was along of the lines of “What?”, “Really?”, “That would be great!”. This meant a lot to me because I truly wanted to contribute what I could were appropriate.

The next semester was incredible for me and I was fortunate to have the support of both accounting faculty and students. In particular I had two pillars of knowledge and experience to guide me. First is the MSU-Bozeman Accounting Club Faculty Advisor, Steve Ault, and our recent and loved MSCPA Communications Director Margaret Herriges. My efforts would not have been as successful without these two individuals.

During my term, I did not cast my net as wide as I had hoped. For students and members who I met in person, I do hope to have left a positive lasting impression regarding the MSCPA. And I hope to have help put the MSCPA on the map for students. Unfortunately, I played a less active role during the first part of my time as a graduate student. However, I am staying in Montana following my graduation so I have plenty of years ahead of me to make up for it. It has been an honor to serve the MSCPA during my time as a student and I look forward to continuing my service as a professional.

Thank you,

Michelle

I’m so glad we had this time together

By Margaret Herriges, CAE, IOM

When I was a kid, the Carol Burnett show was in its heyday and my family watched it together and we laughed until we cried. Oh, it’s a good memory! That’s where the title of carol-burnett-show-2013this blog comes from, the closing song at the end of Ms. Burnett’s variety show. Some of you will remember it; those who are younger than 40 will think the Carol Burnett Show is just a late-night infomercial for a video.

This song has been running through my head a lot lately because it’s time for me to say “so long.” After 17 fun, exciting, wonderful years with MSCPA, I have given my resignation. My last day in the office will be June 29th.

When I started with the Society in 2000, I didn’t appreciate the real value of a CPA. I didn’t know how vital you are to the business world and to people’s personal finances. I know your importance now and I am, and will continue to be, a strong advocate for CPAs, especially my friends in Montana.

I’ve been fortunate to work closely with so many of you and the friendships we’ve made are priceless.  The things we’ve accomplished through the years, the Board meetings, the Annual Conferences and the many volunteers whom I’ve had the privilege to work with, these are the memories I will be taking with me, along with too many laughs and smiles to count. I’d hate to lose touch so you can find me on Facebook and you can reach me at mc2@bresnan.net.

I’ve been lucky to grow through my job as your Communications Director. My job has morphed from one of hard copy communications to electronic newsletters and social media and so much more. I’ve earned my IOM (Institute of Organization Management) and CAE (Certified Association Executive) credentials along the way and my appetite for knowledge and more experience has grown with these accomplishments.

I’m grateful to Jane for the opportunities I was given along the way. She made it possible to have a job AND a family. I was 31 when I started at MSCPA, I had been married not quite four years and I didn’t have a child. I laugh when I look back and remember that the board had to write a maternity policy for me!  I was the first staff to ever have a baby while working at MSCPA. That baby is now 16 years old and moving on to his own adventures. This office has been his home as well.

I’m grateful to the rest of the staff I’ve worked with throughout the years: Jean, Carol and Heidi who are still here, but also to Kay Roos, Susan Lively and the interns we used to hire each legislative session.  It’s been a good gig.  Allen Lloyd, you are going to LOVE it here! I wish you all the best.

Thank you for your support through the years, your friendship. I have long maintained that CPAs are the best people to work for; I’m guessing I always will. So I want to leave you with the song I mentioned in the opening of this blog, because I am so very glad for the time we had together, https://youtu.be/PjQuZCTLAv4, please consider it my thank you gift to you.  We had a laugh (many) and yes, we even shared a song or two. But, it’s time to say so long.

God bless!

 

Goodbye from Jane Egan

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Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

Quoting Winnie the Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

I am excited to be retired and have the time to explore new opportunities but also am sad to be leaving this organization that has been so good to me.

My career with the Society started when Jane Campbell recruited me to be the Society’s first communications person. I remember my first day. . .I didn’t know much about associations or CPAs. As I met you and worked with you, I quickly learned what remarkable people you are. 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. I appreciate the special partnership we have with you, our members and I am forever grateful to you for all you do and have done for me, the Society and the profession. I’ll always remember the fun we have had and the things we achieved together. Please continue to share your time and expertise to advance the profession – you do make a difference!

The Legacy Foundation is near and dear to my heart and I am honored and awestruck by your contributions in my name.

I want to pay tribute to my team for their support and hard work and always putting you, our members, first in everything they do. They have a total of 51 years of service on your behalf:

  • Margaret Herriges – 17 years
  • Carol Lopuch – 13 years
  • Jean Reiden – 10 years this go around with a total of 18 years
  • And Heidi Weis – our newbee at almost three years

IMG_0262Please make an opportunity to get to know your new executive director, Allen Lloyd. The future for the Society looks bright with Allen at the helm.

Thank you!

Accounting in Extraordinary Times

hill-annette-2016by President Annette Hill

We had record representation at the AICPA Council meeting held in Washington D.C. May 21 – 23. Representing Montana with me were Gordy Thompson (elected Council representative),  George Olsen (Legislation and Governmental Affairs Committee), Josh Herbold (incoming President of the MSCPA), Ryan Screnar (AICPA Awards Committee Chair), Ron Yates (AICPA Board member), Allen Lloyd as our incoming Executive Director and Jane Egan, our Executive Director.

The theme was “Accounting in Extraordinary Times.” It truly was an agenda of new concepts and complexities. Topics like cyber security, data analytics, rapid business model transformation and an introduction to Gen Z challenged all of us to brainstorm ideas for the AICPA’s next strategic plan and to chart the future of our profession. I’ll leave the details to Gordy and Ron to roll out in future blogs and at our upcoming 104th Annual Conference in Billings.

HomeLogowDatesIt is exciting to meet with our peers across the nation and hear about the leading edge issues in our profession. It is always comforting to come home to our own beautiful Montana and welcoming State Society, our professional home.  Are you joining us at our 104th Annual Conference in Billings next week? We have many things in store for you – honoring members who have served our profession and communities, welcoming a new President and a couple of new board members, saying goodbye to some board members and to me, introducing you to our new Executive Director, and celebrating the amazing career of our unforgettable Jane Egan. Will you be there? Here’s your last call. Registration closes on Friday, June 16thGet on line and sign up. We can’t wait to see you there.

What to do on Memorial Day!

By Walt Kero, CPA, ABV, CFF | Kero & Byington & Associates | Missoula

The follow blog was an article written by Walt for JCCS back in 2011. He was kind enough to let us reprint this inspiring piece. We hope you enjoy!

I had an unforgettable experience this past Memorial Day. The process started a few years ago when I started to put together a bucket list. The call to action became a reality last fall when I was talking motorcycles with our tax instructor Lynn Nichols.

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The conversation went like this. I asked Lynn if he had been to Rolling Thunder. He said yes and that he went in May. I immediately told him last October that if things worked out I would do my best to go. He said to come on out to Pennsylvania and we would go together to Washington DC.

Sure enough, we rode together from the Pittsburgh area through Pennsylvania and met up with Chris, Alecia and Damen from the Ohio Society of CPAs. Chris and Damen are the computer geeks for the Society and avid bikers. We had a nice ride through Maryland with one bike taking a dive at a rest area. Thankfully, it wasn’t mine!

We made it to Washington DC on Saturday afternoon and stayed in a Maryland suburb. Sunday morning we were at the North Parking lot at the Pentagon- four motorcycles and five riders ready for action at 8:00 am. Some action- we sat around until noon before a bike moved. However, you end up in a sea of thousands of motorcycles and bikers most are veterans. The four hour wait was turned into a positive by walking to the Pentagon Memorial and seeing the reflecting pools on each of 184 benches. There is one bench for each person who died in the 911 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

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The motorcycles with their riders started leaving the lot at high noon. We were about 60% of the way through the lot and we started moving about an hour and half later. We went across the Arlington Memorial Bridge to Constitution Avenue past the White House and the Capitol Building to Independence Avenue and past the Washington Monument. We went past thousands of supporters who were yelling, cheering, thanking and giving high fives. You want to talk about a rush! It was so cool to be riding down the left side of the streets and high-fiving bystanders with my left hand and running the throttle with my right hand. I must have made contact with about 25 people in a row right before the turn onto Arlington Memorial Bridge.

The purpose of Rolling Thunder is to draw attention to POW’s and MIA’s from all wars and to say thank you and welcome home to veterans. The event offers the opportunity for all of us to proudly and loudly proclaim our gratitude for all of our freedoms and our love and honor for our veterans who have fought for us. Most of us from my vintage knew classmates who died in Vietnam. This event is the result of that war and is such a good thing for our country. I am very humbled and gratified to have been a part of it.

I have a call to action and that is to develop a bucket list and start checking those items off. Your life will be much better for doing so. Also, if you get a chance to be in Washington DC on Memorial Day participate in the Rolling Thunder events as they are remarkable.

 

 

A Day at the House of Lords

Today (04/04/17) I LIVED the term gobsmacked. It’s a strange word that so adequately describes the experiences I had today at the House of Lords. To enter through Westminster Hall which was built in 1097, a place that saw the conviction of William Wallace and speeches made by Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth, it was overwhelming in the best way. 

I want to share my speech that I made today, representing the Montana CPAs. Photos of the actual event and the people in attendance will have to wait for a later date as only the official photographer is permitted to take pictures in Parliament. What you will see are photos I took from the outside and, if you go to our Facebook page, you will see a short video I made outside Parliament right before we were admitted this morning. What an honor it truly was!

I was introduced by the Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensberry.


My Noble Lords, Members of Parliament, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have served as the Communications Director of the Montana Society of Certified Public Accountants for 17 of the organization’s 104 years. It is a pleasure to be at the House of Lords with you today. It is a tremendous honor, one a farmer’s daughter from rural Montana never would have had the courage to dream! A heartfelt thanks to Baroness Cox!

Montana is a beautiful state with dramatic mountain vistas and sweeping plains and of course the skies. Montana is called Big Sky Country for a reason.

Montanans are known for our strong work ethic. Our agricultural roots come through no matter what our chosen profession. Similarly, certified public accountants are known for their strong work ethic, high standards and strong morals. They are the foundation of the business world. We have a member in Montana who is known to say, “some people speak Spanish, Arabic or English. I speak accounting; the language of business.”*

For over 30 years, the Montana Society of CPAs and the Association of Certified Public Accountants International, have worked together to help our members succeed in the “language of business”. We are proud of this partnership that allows us to have an international presence, one that allows accounting professionals with the right credentials, to be members in the Montana Society of CPAs no matter what part of the Globe they live.

Throughout our 30-year history, world events have shaped our international membership numbers.  We’ve has as few as 17 international members as we began our partnership and we have boasted as many as 94 international members in 2008.  Today we hold steady in the mid-50’s, including 18 who reside in the UAE.

Regardless of the numbers, one thing has remained true and strong through the years; the leadership of Dr. Anthony Edwards. For many years, through different staff and leadership at MSCPA, Dr. Edwards has remained dedicated to the Association of CPAs International’s objective to advance the science of accountancy and financial management.

Many members in the Montana Society of CPAs work as auditors. Their work is invaluable in the business world and they must strive to keep up with the constantly changing standards. This is not work for the faint of heart, but it is important work for the economies of the world. So with this in mind, we congratulate the United Arab Emirates on the passage of the Auditing Law we are celebrating today. A strict code of ethics is what makes true accounting professionals stand out and we applaud your regulatory efforts.

Being here with you today at the House of Lords is the opportunity of a lifetime for me and my husband. I am proud to represent the Montana Society of CPAs as we celebrate the UAE’s enhanced standards for this most honorable profession. And meeting representatives from around the globe makes the international business world seem a lot closer to Montana. On behalf of the Montana Society of CPAs, I wish the very best to all of you and to our members serving the accounting profession in the United Arab Emirates. Thank you, and thank you Baroness Cox for this honor.


After the speeches from all the guests, we dined together in the Attlee Room in the House of Lords. Afterwards, the Baroness, who is charming and so funny, gave us a private tour of the House of Lords, explaining how they vote by going out and standing in either the “Content” or “Not Content” hallways. Finally, we ended our day by helping the English economy with a healthy visit to the gift shop.

What an experience! What an adventure! The things I saw and learned, the people I met, including the Ambassador from the UAE. I truly am gobsmacked and thankful for a word the describes the enormity of this day.

*The member I am quoting is Walt Kero of Missoula. Thank you Walt for giving me such a good line that I find myself using it in nearly every speech I give on behalf of MSCPA.

7 Things You May Have Missed During Tax Season

Even if you aren’t in public practice, the new year gets so busy that sometimes we don’t come up for air until May! So here are a list of things you should be aware of that were announced during tax season, in roughly chronological order:

  1. Inaugural Community Service Award
    CommunityServiceAward150aMSCPA is pleased to announce our inaugural Community Service Award. This award is a celebration of the many contributions CPAs make to their communities. Nomination deadline is May 8th. Award details

  2. Governmental Conference & Roundtable
    2017GovernmentalConf200Our annual Governmental Conference will be in Bozeman on May 19th. As an added bonus, there will be a Governmental Roundtable Discussion in Bozeman on May 18th. This conference has been designed for auditors of local governments, representatives of city, county, town and district governing boards and accountants from city, county, town and school district business offices.
  3. Montana Salary Survey
    Every other year, MSCPA conducts a salary survey of our Montana members. We will launch this later in May–watch your email boxes. This is a salary for individuals and only those who complete the survey will get a copy of the results. It’s a great resource for Montana accounting professionals.  If you’d like input on the survey questions, contact Jean@mscpa.org right away.
  4. Jane’s Retirement Party
    Our beloved Executive Director, Jane Egan is retiring June 30th. Help us celebrate all that she has done for MSCPA at her retirement party, June 21, 4:00 – 7:00pm at the Big Horn Resort in Billings. Watch for e-invites in your mailbox soon. RSVP to Heidi@mscpa.org by June 15th.
  5. 104th Annual Conference, June 22& 23 in Billings
    HomeLogowDatesRegistration is open! This is going to be the most interactive conference we’ve ever had and it’s your opportunity to ask questions and learn about some of the most pressing issues in the profession. Check out our schedule of events and remember to make your hotel reservations early!
  6. Proposed Changes to MSCPA Bylaws
    MSCPA is proposing changes to our bylaws. The one significant change is to student membership. Our current bylaws state students must be “At least junior standing” (Article III, Section 1). We are proposing to change that to “At least sophomore standing”. As students are being recruited earlier in their academic career, we feel it is important to get them involved in the Society. The rest of the proposed changes this year are simply terminology updates. The proposed changes will be voted upon by the membership at the Business Meeting held at the 104th Annual Conference on June 22 at 3:30pm at the Big Horn Resort in Billings. View proposed bylaw changes (proposed changes are in red)
  7.  IRS Meeting One-On-One
    On August 1st, the IRS Tax Advocate Service (TAS) will hold a problem solving day at MSCPA’s new offices. The purpose of the event is to discuss unresolved IRS problems that you or your clients are facing. In order to participate you must have a valid F2848 or F8821. Appointments will be taken beginning in July; walk-ins will be helped as representatives are available. Watch for more information coming in
    June/July.

If you have question about any of these events, please don’t hesitate to contact MSCPA:
     Mailing Address:  PO Box 138, Helena, MT 59624
     Physical Address: 46 N Last Chance Gulch Ste 2D
     Phone: 406.442.7301 or 800.272.0307
     email: staff first name@mscpa.org

 

 

MSCPA is Going to the House of Lords!

Herriges Margaret 2014

Margaret Herriges, MSCPA Communications Director

by Margaret Herriges, CAE, IOM | MSCPA Communications Director

What’s on your bucket list? Travel, adventure, fabulous experiences? Me, too, but I recently received an invitation that is beyond what I would have ever had the audacity to add to my bucket list: I’ve been invited to represent the Montana Society of CPAs at the House of Lords.

Did you go back and reread that last sentence? Yes! I said THE House of Lords! You know, Parliament . . .  in ENGLAND . . . how crazy is that?! Now that I have your attention, let me elaborate.

Houses-of-Parliament

You may know that MSCPA has international members. These are accounting professionals who want/need the recognition of what they do in countries that might not use the CPA designation but who do the same kind of work and have a similar designation from their own country. MSCPA has had a 30+- year relationship with the Association of CPAs International to help these accountants. When an international accounting professional applies for MSCPA membership, they apply through the CPAs International and this organization vets them on our behalf.

The head of this organization is Dr. Anthony Edwards. Dr. Edwards is amazing: a consummate professional with a zest for life and a kindness that comes across international phone lines. He’s an Honorary Life member of MSCPA and has long charmed the staff whenever he calls, sharing what life and work is like in the U.K.

A short time ago I received a call from Dr. Edwards (always a treat). He explained that an auditor regulation bill was recently signed into law in the United Arab Emirates. THIS is a very big deal. In a relatively young country—just 45 years old—this is a sophisticated and progressive step to being a country that recognizes the value of an audit. As he explained, I was thinking he must want me to publish this information in our newsletter, eConnect, about this momentous event—a great idea! But he went on to tell me that CPAs International was planning on celebrating this accomplishment with the help of their sponsor, the Baroness Caroline Cox, from the House of Lords and they would like ME to attend! Seriously! A farmer’s daughter from rural Montana, invited to be the guest of the Baroness and the Association at the House of Lords on May 4th!

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To say I was stunned doesn’t start to explain it! Thrilled, amazed, excited and so incredibly honored is a start. I’ll practice sounding British and say I am gob smacked by this opportunity! In addition to the invitation itself, I have also been asked to make a short speech at the event, explaining the relationship with the International Association and our 56 out-of-country members that make MSCPA a player in the global accounting market.

When I received this invitation my first thought was: I need a passport! I’ve never traveled outside the United States. My second thought: will the MSCPA Executive Committee give me permission to do this?  Luckily the passport process went quickly because the Executive Committee graciously said YES!

This will all happen on May 4th.  My husband, Chris, and I will leave Helena on May 1st for an adventure I would never have had the courage to even dream about. I will be sharing pictures and blogging about this experience on MontanaCPAs.org and I invite you to share the experience with me by subscribing to our blog, MontanaCPAs.org.

Members of the Montana Society of CPAs are an amazing group of people. I get to tell your story on a world stage and I am so incredibly honored for this privilege.

TEMP Queen ElizabethI’m now amending my bucket list. I think I need to be a little more courageous with my dreams moving forward. I mean, how am I going to top being a guest at the House of Lords? Perhaps my bucket list should include an audience with the Queen?

Cheerio!