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!

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.

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.

Profiles: Ryan Screnar

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

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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!

Presidentially Speaking–A year in review from Brenda Byrnes

Byrnes Brenda 2016It’s a great time to be a CPA!  The past year as your President was incredible and it went fast.

Following the lead of Ann Deegan we (myself and your Board of Directors) continued to implement the strategic plan.  Our concentration was the introduction of an updated volunteer model.  A model that focuses on the time you as a volunteer can commit, what tasks inspire you to assist and when it fits your schedule.  The unveiling of the new Volunteer Center on the MSCPA website this month is the culmination of that process.  Now your new President Annette Hill and Board of Directors challenge you to find your spot to fill on the Volunteer Center or simply sign up for the “pool.”  The pool is for those of us who don’t see a spot that fits yet but definitely are up to a task, just waiting for it.

What else did the year entail?

  • Social media presence enhanced
  • University student outreach efforts increased
  • First virtual board meeting conducted online
  • Jane announced her retirement date of June 2017
    • ED Succession Strike Force created
  • CGMA designation opened for nonCPAs
  • Continued tax advocacy at the Federal & State levels
  • AICPA/CIMA joint venture vote
  • Jane is diagnosed with cancer, has treatment and is in remission all in one board year—She ROCKS!

What’s my biggest “take away” this year?

Our profession is a great one!  I mean it wholeheartedly.  We have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact each day in our respective careers: public, business, industry, not-for-profit, governmental, education and so many other areas.  The heart of what we learn as CPAs is valued and trusted throughout the world.  We are sought after for the value we have to offer but we do have to work hard to maintain this position.

That “take away” was driven home for me by the terrific members of your Board of Directors who served this past year.   Their commitment to our profession and the CPAs of Montana is outstanding.  Thanks to each of them for their nimbleness as we changed up meetings, activities and our volunteer structure.  The Directors provided thought provoking input and purposeful active participation which made this year successful.  It was truly a pleasure to serve with them.

However, none of these outcomes would have occurred without the team at MSCPA.  Jane, Margaret, Jean, Carol and Heidi provide tremendous support every step of the way.  We are so lucky to have them!

I was inspired at the beginning of my career by several Past-Presidents of the MSCPA to set a goal of becoming President.  The passion they showed for being a CPA and how they translated that passion into efforts aimed at keeping the MSCPA a relevant, supportive professional home for us throughout our careers was what motivated me.  This was an awesome opportunity to be a part of that legacy and I am grateful for it.  Thank you.

Brenda

Brenda L. Byrnes, CPA
Past President 2015-2016

PS  GO Annette!  You’re “it” to make an IMPACT .

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!!