Presidentially Speaking

By Annette Hill, MSCPA President 2016-2017

hill-annette-2016Hello fellow CPAs!  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I’m trusting you’ll take some time today to spend with your loved ones, especially your valentine!  Consider taking a breath to reflect on other areas in your life that cause you to feel grateful; home, health and relationships.

Many of you have asked us how it’s going with the search for a new executive director.  I’m happy to report that we are on schedule with the timeline set by our Strike Force leader, Brenda Byrnes. We are in the interview stage, having received numerous applications from qualified candidates and are on track to introduce you to a new executive director by our Annual Conference in June.

What about Jane?  Even more of you have inquired about Jane’s retirement and we assure you that you will have opportunities to celebrate with Jane, to congratulate and thank her for her many years of service to the Society.  Watch for details!

It is opportunity season for those of us in public accounting and no doubt many in industry, nonprofit, government and education are feeling the opportunity as well, wrapping up calendar year end activities and initiating 2017.  Our staff at the Society office have been closing the January 31, 2017 fiscal year and commencing the next one with issuance of dues statements.  Your statement hit your physical or virtual mail box on February 1st.

As you review the notice, you’ll see that our Society staff has done an outstanding job of detailing the five strategic pillars and the benefits your dues provide our members.

MEMBERSHIP tools and services, volunteer and leadership opportunities

SUSTAINABILITY and focus on being the most valuable resource for members

CONNECTION through Find-A-CPA, MontanaConnection.org, MSCPA.org, local and rural chapters, e-publications, social media and this blog

PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE with 52 live CPE courses, 4 conferences and thousands of webcasts

ADVOCACY with representation at the state Legislature, Department of Revenue, State Board of Accountants, IRS and AICPA.

What an inspiring and fitting list for our pillars! They guide our board of directors, staff, committees, task forces and all of our volunteers, charting the course for our mission.  That’s important and we need to keep it in front of us.  However, as you consider paying your dues this year, you might be asking yourself, “What’s really in it for me?”  I’ve spent a few moments considering the value my membership brings me.

In 20 years as a member, I’ve enjoyed benefits in all of the pillars and for that I’m grateful and have no doubt I have received much more than the cost of my membership dues.  One of my favorite benefits though, is really one captured in the MEMBERSHIP pillar.  “Tools and services” include our Society office and staff.  This is the benefit working for us every day that we may not even know is happening. Our Society office and staff are our best return on investment.

Have you called the Society office and been greeted with Heidi’s cheery and welcoming voice?  Have you experienced an issue with CPE and had Jean fix it for you?  Have you had Carol hold your hand as you worked through the paperwork to get your first peer review completed? Have you paused to giggle a little when you read the latest recipe for tax season mixology drinks on Facebook or learned what music Reidun cranks when she needs some inspiration? Attended a fun-filled, professional MSCPA conference? Reconnected with a CPA that left the state? (Thanks Margaret!) Finally, do you know the influence and the respect our illustrious executive director commands with our state legislators? Have you changed your job and in the stress of changing co-workers, locations and career goals, have you found some comfort in the familiarity of your MSCPA staff and office?  Have you remembered that these same people probably call you by name, recognize your spouse, know where you work and understand your passion for the accounting profession?

THIS is the value of membership.  I encourage you to renew (join if you are not currently a member) pay your dues and enjoy the benefits our greatest resource can bring you.  See you in Billings at the 104th Annual Conference!

 

 

Are you ready to make an impact?

by Jane Egan

Egan Jane color

Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

The 2017 Legislative Session begins January 2nd and promises to be just as busy and exciting as past ones.

Our current Governor, Steve Bullock (Democrat), was re-elected and Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and House.

The Governor has released his budget proposal which includes (among many other things):

  • a new tax bracket of 7.9 for people who make over $500,000 a year
  • increase in tax credits for new and expanding businesses
  • 6% tax on medical marijuana
  • Elimination of state capital gains credit for gains topping one million annually
  • A state earned-income tax credit for the working poor

Two of our committees—Legislation & Governmental Affairs and State Taxation—have been working on our legislative agenda for a number of months and are close to finalizing the details. We do know we will be initiating legislation to:

  • establish a corresponding deduction/subtraction on the Montana return for a credit on the Federal return that has an add back to income and
  • allow for CPA firm mobility

We have a Board-approved Legislative Policy and we are delighted to have Helena attorney, Holly Franz, on board as our lobbyist again this session.

Your MSCPA committees and staff work the legislative session for you—we want and need your participation and input. Contact me (800.272.0307) with your ideas and watch for notices by email and in eConnect on the many ways you can make sure the CPA voice is heard in this session.

Profiles: Jim Woy

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

woy-jim-2016

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.

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.

 

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.

AFWA Logo

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!

So Much Awesomeness! Introducing the MSCPA Book Club

Change is everywhere in the accounting profession and MSCPA’s opportunity is to harness change and turn into something truly valuable for YOU. As our Vision states, we want “to be the most valued professional resource for our members.” This year at the 103rd Annual Conference we are implementing a new feature that came about from discussions with members.

Johnston, Reidun 2014

Reidun Johnston

A year ago, right before the 2015 Industry and Annual Conferences, Missoula member and MSCPA Director Reidun Johnston conducted focus groups with a number of Montana female CPAs of all ages, representing every area of accounting. They discussed ways that would encourage women to participate in the profession, become engaged and build their confidence and skills. One of the things they come up with was an idea to have a book club at the Annual Conference.

“Accounting used to be a profession for men, but we’ve all seen the number of women who have joined this profession,” Johnston stated. “The MSCPA member numbers exemplify this change. In 2001 MSCPA records show almost double the number of men compared to women and today there’s only 48 more men than women in the membership. That’s why we needed to have this conversation.”  (see charts below)

Gender2001Gender2016

 

InPraiseofSlownessGraphic311

 

 

 

 

 

So as a result of these great discussions, we are excited to announce the first MSCPA Book Club featuring the book In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore.  The book club will be a way for men and women both to network and discuss an issue that affects all genders, all ages—the hurried pace we try to keep. The book covers research that explains how to create a slower, healthier pace of life and find time to enjoy and savor, instead of fast tracking with no time to do anything that helps us make a life, not just a living.

Reidun stepped up to the plate and offered to moderate this idea. “I think this session will be a lot of fun—the book sounds great!” shared Johnston. “And we are working to get the London-based author to join us remotely for the first 10 minutes or so of our discussion. He’s really interested so . . . schedules and time-zones permitting, we’ll get that opportunity.”

The MSCPA Book Club is an optional early morning session at the 103rd Annual Conference, Friday, June 24th at 7:00am. It’s worth an additional hour of CPE. Check out the purchasing options at your local book store, or buy it at AmazonSmile and make the MSCPA Legacy Foundation your charity of choice. You’ll not only get a great read but you’ll be supporting the future of the accounting profession in Montana!

Our thanks go out to the many women who participated in these focus groups—for your ideas and your openness. It’s part of what makes for so much awesomeness in the Montana Society of CPAs and at the 103rd Annual Conference!

Read So Much Awesomeness Part I and learn about the big schedule changes to the 103rd Annual Conference.

AICPA’s Proposed Joint Venture with CIMA–A Member’s Perspective CON

by Joshua Herbold, PhD. CPA, MSCPA Secretary/Treasurer

In this blog post, Josh will address the CON side of the proposed venture between the AICPA and CIMA. Scroll down to see previous posts on this issue from President Brenda Byrnes and MSCPA Director Clint Morrison.

Herbold Josh sitting 2014

Josh Herbold, MSCPA Secretary / Treasurer

The American Institute of CPAs has proposed a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (based in the UK). While there are some benefits to such an endeavor, I believe this proposal is, overall, not in the best interests of CPAs for the following reasons:

  1. It dilutes the “CPA” brand in pursuit of membership growth
  2. The AICPA is trying to be too many things to too many people
  3. The value of the CGMA designation has not yet been established in the marketplace
  4. Closer to home: For non-CPA members, the Montana Society of CPAs will be providing benefits (i.e., incurring expenses) with no control over the revenues from those members

The following paragraphs explain these points in more detail.

Those members who have been around for a while probably remember when the AICPA proposed to open AICPA membership to non-CPAs. These non-CPA members were to be called “Cognitors,” and the proposal went on to state that the term would also refer to CPAs. This proposal was soundly (and wisely) rejected by the AICPA membership. After all, what would be the point of becoming a CPA/Cognitor if others could qualify for the same designation without completing the “four Es” (education, experience, ethics, and the CPA exam)? How would a CPA signal to clients and employers the extra effort and dedication that they put forth to become more qualified? Obviously, it would be difficult for anyone outside of the profession (and even for some of those within the profession) to determine how a Cognitor had earned that credential, and AICPA members were rightly concerned about this brand dilution. The current proposal makes things even more confusing by using the same acronym for the new organization as the American Institute of CPAs: the Association of International CPAs. This proposal allows for both CPAs and non-CPAs to earn the CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant) credential and become members of this new organization, and thus has the same potential as the failed “Cognitor” designation to dilute the CPA brand.

Related to that point, one of the stated goals of the joint venture is to “further advance advocacy, achieve economies of scale and better support accounting professionals.” While I agree that all of these are worthwhile pursuits, I have to wonder which accounting professionals the AICPA has in mind. Not all accounting professionals are CPAs (even though I believe that the designation and the work required to achieve it would benefit most accounting professionals). Is it the job of the American Institute of CPAs to advocate for all accounting professionals? Or would our profession be better served by having the various professional groups (the AICPA, the IMA, the ACFE, and others) participate in a consortium of some sort? Furthermore, “advocacy” is a tricky issue even within a given jurisdiction; it gets trickier when an organization tries to represent multiple jurisdictions, which is exactly what the AICPA intends to do. The AICPA is trying to be everything to everybody—a strategy which usually ends up satisfying nobody.

And the fact is that the overwhelming majority of CPAs have opted against obtaining the CGMA designation. Prior to this year, current CPAs were grandfathered in and could obtain the CGMA designation simply by checking a box on their membership renewal and paying an extra fee. Even with no other effort required to obtain the designation, “90% of the AICPA’s members declined multiple invitations to become CGMAs.”[1] Also, when faced with the choice of which designation or designations to pursue, students have yet to see the value of the CGMA. (See http://ipassthecmaexam.com/cgma-designation/ for one blogger’s take on the decision between the CGMA and CMA designations.)

Finally, we get to some details of the joint venture that could have an impact on our state society. If the joint venture proceeds, CGMAs who are not also CPAs will become members of their respective state societies through their membership in the joint venture. On the surface, that’s great! But for those non-CPA members, dues will be set by and collected by the joint venture, then shared with the MSCPA. This means that we (the MSCPA) will be providing non-CPA CGMAs with all of the same benefits of membership that every member of the MSCPA receives, yet we will have no control over the dues that these members pay. While we expect the number of these non-CPA CGMAs in Montana to be small, incurring expenses when you have no control over your revenues seems like a risky strategy at best, and a losing proposition at worst.

 

[1] While the AICPA has noted that there are more than 150,000 CGMAs worldwide, only 40,000 of those are in the US. For more details, see: Miller, Paul B.W., and Paul R. Bahnson. “Transparency, integrity, prophecy and the AICPA merger.” Accounting Today 1 Jan. 2016: 22. Academic OneFile. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.