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!

 

 

It’s a win/win for you AND your clients!

by Jean Rieden, MSCPA Professional Development & Membership Director

ATTENTION BING MEMBERS:industryconf2017
Why YOU Should Attend the Industry Conference

We hear it all the time. Montana CFOs frequently have to do it all: AR, AP, finance, inventory, payroll, HR, grant compliance, contracts and more! The Industry Conference provides the information you need to know to be an effective finance professional. Whether you are the CFO, the CEO or the staff accountant, you will benefit from the engaging presentations on relevant and timely topics. The education and networking opportunities you will access are invaluable to your role in your organization.

ATTENTION PUBLIC PRACTICE MEMBERS:
Why YOUR Business Clients Should Know About the Industry Conference

Education and networking can reduce the risk of errors and cut down on fraud. The Industry Conference provides the education and networking opportunities that will help your clients make better decisions in their work, improve their accounting and financial processes and help them provide better information to management which makes them a stronger member of the accounting team. It’s a win/win for you AND your client!

Click here to register and find more information or feel free to contact me, jean@mscpa.org, 800.272.0307.

I hope I see you, or your clients, in Helena March 22 & 23!

Watch your email Feb 1st

from Jean Reiden, MSCPA Membership & Professional Development Director

feb-1It’s that time again! The beginning of our membership year starts on February 1st. We’ll be sending out your dues statements—for most of you via email.

The dues schedule this year will be:

  • Public Practice $300
  • BING $270
  • Associate $240
  • Out-of-State $240
  • Non-CPA Public Practice $300
  • Non-CPA BING $270
  • Associate/Certified Out-of-Country $355
  • Inactive $25
  • Retired $50

You can pay your dues online at https://www.mscpa.org/members/dues (you’ll need to log in), by check or call us with a credit card (800.272.0307).

We are grateful for your continued membership and strive daily to create as much value as possible to help our members succeed.

If you have any questions regarding your dues, need to update your membership type or contact information, please reach out to me at 800.272.0307 or jean@mscpa.org.

Thank you for your continued membership.

Sing Along! It’s Harvest Time!

Margaret Herriges, MSCPA Communications Director

By Margaret Herriges, CAE, IOM |  Communications Director

I’m a farmer’s daughter and since I started working for MSCPA nearly 17 years ago, I’ve equated tax season with harvest: there’s a lot of work to be done and you only have so much time to do it.

Growing up, we’d take my dad a treat around 4:00 pm; something to sustain him and motivate him to keep working. It was that “pause that refreshes”. Similarly, each tax season we try to do something a little offbeat and fun for our members. It’s our way of supporting you and motivating you through this busy season. In the past we’ve done Tax Season Mixology and last year we found some pretty outrageous tax season memes. This year we’re going to help you burn that midnight oil with some groovy tunes. Welcome to our Tax Season Playlist!

We recruited MSCPA Board members to help us with this and each day at 4:00 we’ll be sharing a song, complete with the YouTube link, on our Facebook page.  We’d love to hear from you! Be sure to comment if you like the song, and tell us your favorites and we’ll add those to our play list, too. Occasionally there may even be a dedication from the MSCPA staff to our hard-working members!

You don’t have to be a CPA in tax to enjoy this. We dedicate these sound bytes to ALL our members!

So work hard and may your harvest be plentiful! We’ll be here for you to help in any way we can. And if you find yourself with one of our Tax Season Playlist songs stuck in your head . . . you are welcome!

In honor of the first day of tax season 2017, January 23rd, Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing by Stevie Wonder, dedicated by President-Elect Josh Herbold.

A note from Sara

By Sara Smith, ALPS Corporation, Missoula, MSCPA Industry Conference Task Force Leader

Smith Sara 2017.jpgBeing a glutton for punishment, I signed up for the Butte 50, a mountain bike race along the Continental Divide trail. If you have done it or know someone that has, you know that this race can only be described as a “suffer fest.” About 45 miles into the race, there is one last final grind to the top. Imagine my surprise when I encountered Tyler Hamilton, our 2017 Industry Conference Keynote Speaker, right before the end of the climb passing out Coca-Cola. He was like a beacon of light in the depths of the pain cave. He gave me the sweet syrupy liquid to drink, a slight push, and told me I was almost there. I can’t even explain what a boost that was to my deflated and exhausted spirit.

Those of you that don’t know who Tyler is, the short version is that he raced along Lance Armstrong with the US Postal Service team during the Tour de France. Now, I think we all know what hhamiltontyler150appened to Lance, but not everyone is familiar with Tyler’s contribution to the story. In Tyler’s book “The Secret Race”, the full story provides some context that describes the pressure of being an elite athlete. The toll that lying takes on your family. The way relationships and friendships break down when you are not being fully honest with yourself. In many ways, it mirrors some of the same themes Andrew Fastow, the former CFO of Enron, spoke about at the 2016 Industry Conference.

If you didn’t get to hear Mr. Fastow speak, you missed what I can only describe as a controversial presentation, the kind that sticks with you. To literally silence a whole room of CPAs takes a powerful story, one that touches the foundations of each of us. Having heard Tyler speak before, I promise you that this presentation will cause at the very minimum reflection of your path, the choices you make under pressure, and how living a transparent life can be transformative. His approach is novel as well, with ample time to ask him literally anything you want to know about Tyler Perhaps you want to know what it is like to win an Olympic medal or what it feels like to have that same medal stripped from you…Tyler can answer that question for you.

industryconf2017We have great speakers lined up for this event. We read every evaluation form and take all of the input to try to produce the best possible conference for our industry leaders. Our goal is to make sure you take something away that you can use personally and/or professionally. I think the 2017 Industry Conference is going to be one that you don’t soon forget so I encourage you to register.

Are you ready to make an impact?

by Jane Egan

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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.

My Experience at the AICPA Leadership Academy

schuerg-austin-2015by Austin Schuerg

In October I had the honor of representing Montana at the AICPA’s Leadership Academy (LA), thanks to the MSCPA Legacy Foundation.  This four-day intensive program was designed to engage young professionals in a self-examination of leadership, what that means and how that impacts their personal life and career path.  The facilitators of this Academy, Tom Hood (CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs) and Gretchen Pisano (CEO of p.Link Coaching Center) were truly amazing.  If you’ve ever met Tom or Gretchen, you know they are both passionate and energizing people, key to a successful program.

The program itself consisted of 38 young CPAs from around the country with very diverse backgrounds.  An application process was required that consisted of two short essays documenting the applicant’s thoughts on what the future holds for a leader in the accounting function, whether private or public, as well as how each applicant feels they would benefit from such a program. Outside of the program itself, a key component of LA was the networking and socializing with the other CPAs.  This has already been super valuable in that we have formed a private Facebook group and have bounced questions and ideas around numerous times already.

Prior to the academy, the first step was identifying each of our own leadership strengths.  LA utilized the book Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath which was accompanied by a Clifton’s Stengthsfinder assessment.  I had always had an idea of where my leadership strengths lie, but this assessment really cemented that for me and pushed me to begin identifying how to leverage those in my daily professional and personal life.  After I returned from LA, I sat down with the leaders in my current company and walked through my strengths.  We have since redesigned my career path to one that will most benefit my strengths as well as the company.  Actual action, I love that.

During LA, the facilitators walked us through an intensive study of the i2a facilitation process.  The generalized concept here is to create buy in from team members to really help drive projects forward.  As a team, you attempt to really break down an issue to its most basic form and then create a plan to overcome this.  I plan to implement this process over q4 in my current role to identify ways to overcome some obstacles we are facing related to our interdepartmental relationships.  If you are unaware of the i2a facilitation process, feel free to reach out to me and I will gladly provide a run down.

schuerg-leadership-graduation-2016

Barry Melancon | Austin Schuerg | Tim Christen

One of the highlights for me from the week was interacting with Barry Melancon, President of the AICPA, and Tim Christen, Board Member of the AICPA and Chair of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP.  During one of our “networking” nights, we had North Carolina barbecue and a bags (corn hole) tournament in which my team got knocked out in the semi-finals.  The last evening of LA, we had the opportunity to have a two-hour Q&A session with Barry Melancon in which we learned about his career path as well as where he sees the profession headed.  He is truly an inspiring leader and the insights he provided were amazing.

Overall, the three key takeaways for me from this program are self-awareness of my own strengths, awareness of what drives other’s motivation, and that leadership is facilitation.

Donna Salter and Erin Carson from the AICPA did a superb job in organizing this academy and I would highly recommend it to any young professional in the accounting industry who is looking to either take, or position themselves to take, that next step in their career.  A special thank you to the Legacy Foundation and the MSCPA for their support in my attendance to the LA.  I truly feel it was game-changer for me and I hope to assist and give back to the profession here in the state as much as I can.

Schuerg Leadership Graduation 2016 a.jpg

2016 AICPA Leadership Academy Graduates

Austin Schuerg is only the second Montanan to have the honor of attending the AICPA’s prestigious Leadership Academy, thanks to the support of the MSCPA Legacy Foundation. The first Montana attendee was Jeremiah Rouane (First Interstate Bank) back in 2010, so you can see that Austin’s attendance is landmark for Montana CPAs.

Austin works as a senior accountant with Simms Fishing Products in Bozeman. He serves as the Young Professional member on the MSCPA Board of Directors and is very active in all MSCPA initiatives to promote the success and involvement of our YPs.  

 

Profiles: Ryan Screnar

This article is the next in our series “Profiles” highlighting the impact Montana CPAs are having on the national level.

screnar-2008

Ryan Screnar, Glacier Bancorp, Helena

When I became involved with MSCPA I had no idea the doors it was going to open for me. I joined the MSCPA Board in 2004 and served as President in 2008-2009. It was in that role as President that I began going to AICPA meetings as the AICPA Designated Council member. And that’s where I started meeting people that have helped me charter a national course of volunteer experience.

When you meet people at the AICPA Council meetings, you have this automatic exposure to 500 people who value the CPA so you instantly have that in common. It’s a fraternity of people who share this common bond and you grow it from there.

I was appointed to the AICPA Nominating Committee for a term from 2011-2013. This group chooses the AICPA Board members, the at-large Council reps and the next chair. I was asked to join the AICPA Awards Committee in 2013. From there I became a member of the AICPA Ethics Committee in 2009-2012. I was part of this group when we codified our ethics, restructuring the standards so that members and other can apply the rules and reach the correct conclusions more easily.  That volunteer gig turned into a new one on the Joint Trial Board (JTB) in 2015. When ethics complaints are investigated, the JTB is the body the CPAs can appeal to. It’s a tough gig. It’s about life stories and we hold their futures in our hands. It’s a heavy responsibility and not one I take lightly.

I’m lucky, my employer supports me completely in this national networking. I got into volunteering because I wanted to be involved in the profession: learning and seeing the issues from a national perspective. And I love it! It’s been a lot of fun. You are on the front line. With each new committee I’ve served, I’ve gotten to meet more people and that’s what has had the most impact, meeting the people from across the country and the lasting relationships you develop.

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.

 

New Accounting Opportunities with Next Generation of Farmers

The following post comes from the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition. They ask you to list “Farm & Ranch” as an area of expertise as it applies to you; make it easier for Montana’s farmers and ranchers to find you online!

Driving through our beautiful state, it’s difficult to miss that agriculture figures prominently in the landscape. While it continues to drive nearly a third of core economic activity in Montana, ag has gone through a lot of changes in recent decades. The change worth noting here is in the total number of farms: they’ve increased substantially (some 20%) since 1982. Surprised? Many of these operations are small at less than 50 acres in size. That is to say, CPAs: a growing number of farmers are in need of your services!

The Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) is a leading non-profit dedicated to FarmLink_Vertical_Whitesupporting Montana’s beginning farmers and ranchers. One of our initiatives, Farm Link Montana (farmlinkmontana.org), serves to connect farmers and ranchers with the tools necessary to successfully run their businesses. One such resource is a guide to finding and working with accountants and attorneys with farm-and-ranch-specific expertise.

That’s where you come in. We ask you to update your profiles on MSCPA’s Find-A-CPA online tool and list “Farm & Ranch” as an area of expertise, as applicable, so that Montana’s farmers and ranchers can find you more easily. Attract more business, and support your local farmers and ranchers!

If you’d like more information about the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition and how to get your name in front of farmers and ranchers please contact Annie Heuscher. Thank you for your time!