Find the fun in everything

Bartlett Marilynn 2019It’s an absolute honor to announce our 2020 George D. Anderson Distinguished Service Award Winner, Marilyn Bartlett!  Marilyn has an incredible story and we are excited to share some of her accomplishments and the work she has done.  She is inspiring, dedicated to the profession and has an amazing sense of humor that draws everyone who meets her in.

Marilyn grew up in Nevada and watched her mother drive 90 miles a day in her 1952 Dodge with no air conditioning to get her teaching degree.  This set the stage for Marilyn and she followed in her mother’s footsteps. She has had an amazing career where she worked hard and pushed through obstacles to get to where she is today.  If Marilyn commits, she follows through and gets the job done.

Marilyn started her career in education and found that it wasn’t the right fit for her. She graduated from University of Reno in 1972 and then roughly ten years after that she started taking accounting classes at MSU- Billings. In 1986 she sat for the CPA Exam.  She still gets chills when she thinks about opening the letter and learning she had passed the exam!  Marilyn started her accounting career working for the Montana Power Company in Colstrip, as a staff accountant for the Colstrip power plants.   She then moved to Butte with  Montana Power, and continued working in  the mining industry for several years doing manufacturing cost accounting. Marilyn moved onto being a Controller at Anderson ZurMuehlen.  Her next step in her career was at BCBS and she was introduced to the healthcare and insurance/pharmacy industry. Marilyn then moved to EBMS, a third-party administrator for employer self-funded  health plans. At this point, she was eyeing retirement, but the State of Montana needed her more!  At 64, Marilyn started working at the State. The State’s healthcare plan was going to be bankrupt by the end of 2017. She was given 2 years to turn the plan around. Guess what? SHE DID IT!  She dug deep, followed the money and has become known nationally as a consultant to help other states do the same.  By the time she was finished cleaning up the mess, the state had $112 MILLION in reserves and was loaning money to the State’s general fund.

Marilyn is still actively working as a consultant part time from home. She has testified in Washington DC in front of senate committees. Marilyn has learned and watched the difficulties of the political games and how frustrating it is to see bills watered down or not pass at all. However, in true Marilyn fashion, she keeps pushing on and connecting the dots and providing data to help move things forward. One thing she remains humble about, is her recent recognition in Fortune Magazine as #13 of 50 of the World’s Greatest Leaders.

When reflecting about the CPA profession, Marilyn talked about how honorable of a profession it is and she has held her ethical responsibility so highly, that it even hurt her at times in her career. She’s proud of that too.

How dedicated can one be to the profession you might ask? Marilyn named her dog FASB! She, her husband Ed and FASB, enjoy hiking in Missoula and being with family and friends. Marilyn and Ed love taking their grandchildren on trips of their choosing. She laughed and recounted taking Libby to Disneyworld, Perry on a Disney Cruise in the Bahamas and Vinnie has shown interest in  a Steelers and Red Socks game.  Her greatest joy is her family and friends.

When you hear the song “It’s a Wonderful World”, smile and think of Marilyn.  She said this is one of her favorite songs and it seems so fitting. It’s people like Marilyn that make the world so wonderful by finding humor and lightness whenever possible and dedicating their life to their profession and others. Thank you so much Marilyn.  You are truly an inspiration and a deserving recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. Congratulations!

Please join us in Fairmont, at the 108th Annual Meeting, June 17-18, 2021 to honor Marilyn and the 2020 award recipients. 


Written by Allen Lloyd

As the state begins to re-open MSCPA will also be shifting to our new normal. Later this week the office will be cleaned and next week we will be back in the office again. We are lucky that our office space is conducive to social distancing, especially with only a few people regularly in the office.

We will be working with the state and event locations to determine how best to hold events moving forward. Our next in person classes are in late July, we have learned that a lot can happen in that span of time so stay tuned for more information as we get closer to those dates. While we look forward to being able to bring you together in person to learn from each other, we understand that each of you will make your own decision about when to attend an event again. Please do not hesitate to ask us about alternative ways to attend and be a part of MSCPA moving forward. We will navigate this together and try different things to connect you with each other and the resources you need.

As your organization looks to re-open it could be more difficult. New rules on group sizes and providing adequate space for your staff and customers could have you marking your floors like a football field to keep people 6 feet apart. Businesses are being asked to perform health assessments on all employees before each shift. I never thought I would recommend thermometers as staff gifts, but maybe that is where we are today. Please keep in mind that these precautions are here to prevent us from spreading the virus.

Three years ago, when the search committee interviewed me, we talked about all kinds of issues MSCPA would face in the future. Adapting to a global pandemic never came up, but many of the things we talked about accelerated as we all quickly adapted. We are here to help you navigate the good times and the bad as we work to inspire, empower and impact members to achieve professional excellence.

Join the conversation on Montana Roots –, and tell us how your office is planning to reopen safely.

How can I make a difference in this mess?

Allen Lloyd, MSCPA Executive Director

We are facing a two-sided catastrophe right now, a deadly virus and an economic meltdown.  Regardless of how you feel about how the catastrophe is being handled, we can all agree the impact will be felt for a very long time in the future.  If any of you are doctors, I would ask that you stop reading this and do what you can to prepare in case the Coronavirus does spread rapidly.  OK doctors gone now for the accountants, go out there and use your accounting superpowers to do whatever you can to help your organization and your clients.  Your skills are needed now more than ever, you have the opportunity to help save people’s financial lives.

If you are thinking “How can I make a difference in this mess?” Let me tell you:

Tax Accountants:  Study up and keep reading the changes in federal and state tax laws.  Hopefully by now the June 15th estimated payment will be clearly delayed till July 15th, but who knows.  Help your clients plan for a volatile future.  Once the virus is taken care of there will likely be all kinds of economic stimulus efforts, help you clients plan to take advantage of theses.

Attestation Accountants: Have your client’s financials ready as fast as possible.  The Small Business Administration has programs to help businesses, but the applications require accurate financial data.  Be ready to help your clients with fast access to that data and assistance in completing the forms.

Industry Accountants: Advice your organizations on their options. You know your organization’s finances better than anybody, what can be done to get through this?  If the economy is going to come back, how can you take advantage of that?  What can you do as an organization to be prepared to get back to normal?  What assistance is available? Here is a link to some options there:

Government Accountants: Think creatively! Tax revenues are likely to go down and stimulus is going to go up.  This doesn’t make it easy to balance the budget, especially at a time when more citizens are going to need your services.  Apply your knowledge to the issues your government is facing and try to think of ways to get the most out of the funds you do have.

Non-Profit: Pitch in wherever you can.  Much like government the demand for your services is likely to go up.  Your reserves probably took a hit and your donors are likely facing their own challenges.  Take a moment and read your mission and do whatever you can to help your organization achieve that goal.  Provide your leaders with realistic information and help them understand the financial impact of their decisions.

Educators: Inspire your students.  The need for accounting knowledge is greater now than ever.  Talk to your students about what accountants do in times of economic hardship.  Talk about risk and the new COSO Enterprise Risk Management process.

If I missed any groups, I apologize.  Get out there and do what you can to help us get through this! And don’t forget to use Montana Roots to connect to your peers, it is a great opportunity to find answers to your questions or just to find out if others are facing the same challenges you are facing.

We are in this together

Hello MSCPA Members,

If you are like me, you are working from home while trying to make sure your kids are learning something and wondering if you have enough toilet paper to last a month.  You are also questioning decisions you made last week and wondering if we all waited too long to sequester ourselves.

The truth is we don’t know, and hopefully we never will.  If we bunker down and nothing happens it will be easy to think that we overreacted, and this was just a hyped up story.  BUT the alternative is we act like nothing is happening and we turn into Italy.  As CPAs, you all understand risk management, if there is a risk that can be mitigated with relatively simple action you would take that action.  This is the situation we are in right now.

As you are involved in making these decisions for your organizations do so with an open mind.  In many situations it is important to be decisive and to make a decision and stick to it.  This is not one of those times, this is a time for keeping an open mind and being willing to adapt as the facts change.  Your organization needs your skills now more than ever.  Being able to provide realistic estimates of the financial impact of decisions is critical.

Most important of all, be safe and try your best to relax.  Health officials tell us that stress harms our immune system, stressing over this doesn’t help.  Learn what you can and take care of yourself.  We expect to hear later today that the IRS will extend the federal tax deadline up to 90 days and Montana already has an automatic extension.  That said if you enjoy tax work this would be a great time to dig in and complete a bunch of returns, so you don’t have to think about all the other craziness going on in the world.

As always if you need anything please do not hesitate to ask.  The MSCPA staff and other members are here to help!

Allen Lloyd

MSCPA Executive Director

What can we expect from 2020?

Written by Allen Lloyd, Executive Director Montana Society of CPAs

2020, it is hard to believe it is here already and we don’t have flying cars, but at least you can buy a robot to vacuum your house (or find ways to get it stuck and NOT vacuum your house.) So we didn’t get flying cars, but what can we expect from 2020?

Most important for the profession we can expect the CPA Evolution project to move from a simple concept (see picture below) to a full plan.  AICPA and NASBA have been working together for a couple years on this project and MSCPA leaders have provided input along the way.  We will continue to share our thoughts to try and make the final as good as possible.  At a recent meeting Barry Meloncon shared that the final plan will likely retain the current number of hours for the CPA exam, the number of parts may change, but the amount of time involved will stay the same.  We can also expect a plan that provides flexibility in the future for additional ring sections to be added.  What else could join tax compliance and planning, Business reporting and analysis, and Information systems and controls?  One thought is that strategy or risk would be the next.

cpa evolution

Another thing that you can expect this year is the roll out of .cpa, much like .com and .org .cpa will be an internet extension.  AICPA has secured the rights to the domain and is working on the rules they will use to police who gets their  For firms you will need to be licenses by your state.  Initially these url’s will be available to only US firms, so do not wait to secure your firm name.  AICPA is also providing access to the domains early to state CPA societies, so look for MSCPA to have a .cpa address in the future.

At MSCPA we are just starting to plan for our 2020-2012 fiscal year.  Keep an eye out for your membership renewal in February.  We are finalizing the CPE schedule and hope you will come to a conference and cluster event this year.  Both membership and CPE have a history of small but frequent price increases.  Every year inflation increases costs and we try to make small changes each year so there is never a huge surprise.  CPE costs have been increasing quickly for us, our providers increased their fees, hotels continue to charge more and the travel cost for instructors have increased.  So this year we went from a $5 increase to a $15 increase for a ## hour class.  We hope this will not become the new normal.  Overall my approach to managing our finances is to respect our non-profit status.  We try to have modest gains or losses each year while maintaining an appropriate reserve fund.  MSCPA is your organization and we take very seriously how we manage the investment you make in us.

One final fringe idea to consider is in the future auditors could use software that monitors people’s body language to determine audit risk.  Much like the TSA is monitoring body language to see if people look nervous and require additional screening, CPAs could do their interviews with a computer keeping an eye on the subject to report back on things it detects.  Adding this data to a sampling could target work to transactions involving multiple people with low trust scores.

Give (an Endowment Gift) & Receive (a 40% MT Tax Credit)

Ann Deegan, Chair of the MSCPA Legacy Foundation, recently blogged that “It is Better to Give than to Receive.”  However, isn’t it truly best to give AND receive?  If you agree, keep reading!

Please give an endowment gift to the MSCPA Legacy Foundation by 12/31/2019 and receive a 40% MT tax credit on your individual tax return, as well as a net federal tax itemized deduction!  Depending upon your personal tax situation – including your taxable income, tax bracket, filing status, age, and whether you itemize your federal deductions – you could save between 40% and 60% of the charitable amount of the donation!  Isn’t this a darn good payback just for being charitable and giving a gift to support the Montana accounting profession in perpetuity?

After such a great year on Wall Street, if you happen to have appreciated securities in your personal portfolio, you should consider gifting appreciated securities to the MSCPA Legacy Foundation Endowment instead of cash and save additional tax on the appreciation avoided – up to an additional 28% of the capital gain avoided.

Thus, by making an endowment gift by 12/31/2019, you could save between close to 40% — and potentially up to over 80% — of the charitable amount gifted on your 2019 personal taxes.  Of course, the actual tax savings depends upon your personal tax situation.  Please consult your tax advisor – probably you – or let us know if we can run a planning scenario for you so that you can work with real numbers, as all CPAs love to do!

As you are preparing your year-end 2019 contributions, Ann previously asked you to consider helping the MSCPA Legacy Foundation through an affordable cash gift:

  • If you have been a member for 10 years or less—Consider a $25 Donation.
  • If you have been a member 10 years or more—Consider a $50 Donation or more.

 I’m asking you to also please consider an endowment gift of at least $500.  Remember – you’ve got to give to the endowment in order to receive the 40% MT Endowment Tax Credit.  By giving away $500, you can potentially save between $200 and $400 in combined Montana and federal personal income taxes for 2019.  Give today so that future generations of Montana accountants can receive all the opportunities and benefits offered by a CPA credential and a great accounting career.

Cheers & Happy New Year (and New Decade) to All!

The Legacy Foundation Council—Ron, George, Ann, Clem, Walt & Richard

Contact Allen Lloyd to learn more about giving an endowment gift.

It is Better to Give than to Receive

legacy foundation header.PNGAs you are preparing your year-end contributions, we hope you will consider helping the MSCPA Legacy Foundation with our Christmas Wish List—A Simple Request:

  • If you have been a member for 10 years or less—Consider a $25 Donation.
  • If you have been a member 10 years or more—Consider a $50 Donation or more.

Why We Give:

  • To provide scholarships for Students attending our annual MSCPA Conference—breathing new life into our organization providing a great chance to interact with our future CPA’s
  • To support educators through the Accounting Bridges program—reaching out to high school students encouraging them to consider majoring in Accounting as they explore possible career paths
  • To sponsor speakers that inspire us as professionals at the Annual MSCPA Conference and the Industry Conference
  • To sponsor Educators attending our Annual Conference—strengthening our link to the university accounting students encouraging them to establish accounting careers in Montana
  • To Host College Campus Events—Interacting with students at Montana Colleges & Universities offering degrees in Accounting
  • To sponsor Financial Literacy—educating future generations

If all our members will contribute in some way, all our donations will help ensure the Legacy of our Profession for generations.  

In the spirit of “The Season of Giving” we hope you will consider a gift to MSCPA Legacy Foundation.  To learn more about the Legacy Foundation and to donate, click here.

Best Wishes & Happy New Year to All!

The Legacy Foundation Council—George-Ron-Ann-Clem-Walt & Richard

MSCPA Rural Road Show: Four Days. 8 Cities. 1100 Miles.

MapMapAllen Lloyd, Executive Director and Molly Holahan, Communications Director, set out to meet with our rural members and get to know them and the communities they live in.  It was a quick trip, but each stop gave us a unique opportunity to sit down and visit places we might not otherwise get the chance to see.

We enjoyed listening to each of our members talk about what they’re facing in their rural communities. We also learned what they loved about their community. They shared their WHY with us. Why they chose to live there and what makes their town special and unique. The one thing these areas have in common is the strong ties to the community and the way they all support each other.  It was echoed in every visit; it’s the people.

Middle of Nowhere

Montana is a big state and our rural areas are struggling to not only find CPAs, but other professions as well. We heard this common theme throughout the trip.  While I wish we had easy solutions, we are aware of  the problem and trying to help.  We’ve launched an initiative with the MSCPA Young Professionals Group: Raising the BAR to find ways to introduce students to the opportunities in these communities.  The BAR group is visiting a minimum of 10 high schools this year and we’ve started to do career days in middle schools as well.  We know theMiles City earlier students are introduced to the profession, the more likely they are to have interest in it and try classes in high school and potentially select accounting as a major when they enroll in college. We are also exploring different technological avenues to see how remote access is working for firms with remote employees to serve rural communities.



While we may not make this trip for another two years, we’ve added several items to our to do list for next time (including the underground tour in Havre and somehow timing it to see a production at the Fort Peck Theater!).


We really enjoyed meeting those of you that were able to join us while we made stops in your town!  Look for additional information on future trips and visits to your hometown.





5 Questions with Julie Kostelecky, 2019-2020 MSCPA Board President

Julie Kostelecky - UpdatedAbout Julie:

Julie was born and raised in Sidney, Montana. She graduated from Montana State University with her Masters in Accounting in 2003.  Julie is a partner at Rudd & Co and her focus is individual and small business tax, governmental audits, and business valuations. She currently resides in Bozeman with her husband Jason, and their two daughters, Sarah and Sasha.

Did you always want to be a CPA? Or How were you introduced to the profession?

Julie: Yes, I’m one of those nerds that knew since High school what I wanted to do! My mom worked at an accounting office doing data entry and my dad was a banker so the numbers thing seemed to come naturally.  My very first job was actually working in my mom’s accounting office when I was in Middle School.  I would walk down to her office after school and the partners paid me to update their tax research books.  This was back before everything was paperless so it was loads of fun.

How were you introduced to the Montana Society of CPAs?

Julie: A former MSCPA president, Kyla Quintero, was active in the Society when I worked with her. She brought me along to an annual convention one year and I was introduced to all kinds of characters.  (I’m looking at you Jim Gallipeau and Gordy Thompson!)  It was so much fun, I came back with her the next year and then she encouraged me to get involved in a committee.  The more people I met, the more I wanted to be involved so I could see everyone again!

What advice would you give students and young professionals that might be interested in getting involved in the profession and MSCPA?

Julie: It’s the best career choice. There are so many different avenues you can take with an accounting degree.  If you do the really hard work and get the CPA exam passed, there is no limit to the different things you can do with it.  The MSCPA is also a great place to meet people and find someone who can tell you all about their career choice.  The more you get involved, the more amazing people you can get to know.  You never know when those connections will circle back around to help your career, get you set in a new direction or just find you some great friends.

What’s your favorite Montana activity?

Julie: Definitely hiking. My girls and I love going on hikes to waterfalls so we’ve tried to find as many as we can.  We usually drag Jason along too, because someone has to carry the kids on their shoulders when they get tired on the way back out!

What tips do you have for balancing work, family and life in general?

Julie: The biggest thing I would say is that you have to set your own limits. Your priorities will shift and refocus depending on the time of year, the month or the day! It’s way too easy to let work and client demands dominate your life and I’ve learned that I will never be really outstanding at all of those things ALL the time, but if you give yourself a little empathy, set some limits and communicate those to your clients and co-workers, you can determine what matters most in this moment and then give your all to that. Work will always be there and thankfully I have an amazing group of people at my office that will cover for me or anyone else we work with when family and life in general need to take over for a little while. 

Q & A with Maddie Miller

maddie mille.jpg

Maddie Miller, CPA, Wipfli, Bozeman, MT

Maddie attended the 2018 AICPAs Prestigious Leadership Academy and we got the inside scoop.

Q: Did you always want to be a CPA?

A: No, I didn’t. I had originally attended college, at Montana State University, for creative design.  I was exposed to accounting as a career when I took my first accounting class. The class was challenging and when studying the hours would go by and I was sucked in. I knew this was a career path I wanted to pursue.

Q: What’s your favorite part of being a CPA?

A: My favorite part is when I get to operate in a creative space when meeting clients, talking to them and learning about their business. I really enjoy brainstorming ideas on how to grow clients’ businesses.

Q: How were you introduced to the AICPA Leadership Academy, and what was the application process like?

A: Four years ago, I helped put together a Young Professionals track for MSCPA and we hired Joseph Rugger as a speaker, an Academy Alumni.  After meeting him and helping with the logistics of his presentation on the Generation Gap, he reached out to the society for my contact information to refer me into the program. Honestly, I was really scared!  I didn’t know if I would make it in or if I should even try. He lit a fire and pushed me to try.  He helped me with the application process and talked to me about how to set myself up for success.

Q: What was the application process like?

A:  Lengthy. It took almost a year.  The application itself consisted of two essays, of which they had received over 120 applications with only 43 accepted into the program. It was a time commitment, but I’m am appreciative of the supfile-9.jpegport I received from the MSCPA and my firm, Wipfli, LLP.

Q: What are three things you can share about the Academy?

  1. The process really helps you self-reflect on how others perceive you. Before you leave for the Academy, a survey is filled out by yourself, your peers and your supervisors. You receive and review the results before you attend. This survey helped peel back layers and provide insightful perspectives. It also helped me attend the first day of the conference with an open mind ready and ready to learn.
  2. While at the conference we learned about our top 5 values and how they drive our decision making. My Top 5 are – Creativity, Fairness, Bravery, A Love of Learning and An Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. We learned that we all place our values in a different order and understanding how our values can be played as strengths or be limiting helps us lead with an outward mindset and work to achieve goals we didn’t even know we had.
  3. At the Academy we spent time discussing the rapid pace of change the accounting industry is currently experiencing and what it the means for the future of the industry and our young professionals. We learned how to have open conversations about change and how to face it in a proactive manner. I hope to keep this conversation going in my firm and in the MSCPA, and work to make it so that we can be a part of change rather than let change happen to us.

Q: What do you plan to do with the knowledge and experiences from the Leadership Academy?

A: When I came home from the academy what I wanted to do first was reflect on what I learned and find a way to use it a little bit every day. We learned so much, and to tackle it all at once would be un-manageable.  I want to use the self-reflection to help prioritize my career and make sure I focus on areas where I can provide value and can afford the opportunity to create. I hope to help young professionals grow and achieve their goals, and help our team at Wipfli, LLP work together toward common goals.

Q: Have you always considered yourself a future leader?

A: I wouldn’t say I considered myself or looked at myself as a leader. I didn’t know if I would have the opportunity to lead. The Academy taught me what it means to be a leader and helped me understand all the opportunities and different ways we can lead.

Q: Is there a leader who has positively influenced your career for the better, who would it be and why?

A: Sydni Tangaro whom I worked with earlier in my career.  There were times when balancing life and work were too hard and I wanted to quit.  She took the time to talk through the situation, provided solutions and called me out when I was wrong. She just leads by example.

Additionally, I understand more clearly the power of people coming together.  How lucky are we that we have the MSCPA and AICPA to help be a part of our success and a support system? Going through this process and reflecting on it has really helped me understand how valuable these societies are, and I want to continue to find ways to give back.