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!

 

 

Presidentially Speaking

 

Brenda Byrnes, President

Brenda Byrnes MSCPA President 2015 – 2016

It’s a GREAT day to be a CPA!  Now that is a catchy phrase but what does it mean to you?  To me it is the perfect phrase to capture my feelings about our profession.  As CPAs the opportunities available to us are really quite endless.  Our education, training and background enable us to provide our clients and employers with a unique problem solving perspective and strategic way of thinking.  It’s expected when they see CPA.

At the AICPA fall council meeting in October, I began to give serious thought to the meaning behind that designation as we tackled the topic of the future of our profession.  During the meeting the representatives of the AICPA membership voted to expand the potential holders of the CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant) credential to others outside of CPA designation holders.  These “others” are first required to pass the CGMA exam and then adhere to the experience, ethical and education requirements to maintain that credential outlined by the AICPA.  As nonCPA CGMAs, they would be non-voting associate members of the AICPA.  The current CPA, CGMAs would maintain their status with no changes.  Please note that the CGMA is only offered by the AICPA.  Other similar credentials exist with other organizations.

So how did this vote, affect you?  Honestly here in Montana I did not see a big impact.  From my discussions with many of you about it, I do not hear much concern.  Our members in BING often struggle with garnering support from employers for their CPA so the CGMA will likely be just as troublesome as a standalone certification.  We currently have 127 members of MSCPA who have chosen to adopt the CGMA.  Now others who are not CPAs will have the same opportunity.

This vote was not an end result of planning though.  It was a strategic step in a much bigger plan.  Why belabor a topic that seems pretty innocuous to Montana?  Well the next step is that the AICPA would like your vote for their proposal to create a new global accounting membership association called the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants in conjunction with CIMA.  CIMA is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, a global management accounting membership organization. (follow this link for more information http://www.cimaglobal.com/)  This new association, cleverly acronymed AICPA, would represent public and management accounting professionals worldwide.  Your membership in the American Institute of CPAs would automatically afford you membership in the new association AICPA with no additional dues.

Sort of makes one’s head spin, especially this time of year?

Again, this step causes me to pause and to ponder what does my CPA mean to me and others.  Your MSCPA board of directors discussed this issue at length.  We did pass a resolution in January supporting the AICPA in its efforts to put this new association venture to a vote of the members of the American Institute of CPAs.  We viewed this as an opportunity for the membership to voice their thoughts on the future of our profession.  Will we be known as CPAs or as either CPAs or CGMAs?

Coming up in the next blogs, board members Clint Morrison and Dr. Josh Herbold tackle the pros and cons of forming the new AICPA.  I certainly have conflicted thoughts about it and I am sure you will too.  Hopefully the two perspectives will assist you in your voting.  We welcome your comments either way.  In fact we would like to feature those in a follow up to the pro/con debate. You have the option to comment below or email your comments to jane@mscpa.org.

No matter what though, I still feel IT IS A GREAT DAY TO BE A CPA!

UPDATE March 25, 2016: The AICPA’s governing Council has authorized an electronic member ballot on a proposal by the AICPA and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to create a new association representing the entire accounting profession, while preserving the AICPA and CIMA membership bodies. The organizations will integrate operations to strengthen advocacy and have more agility in responding to evolving member needs.

The proposal will keep the profession strong amid technological, demographic and international trends that are rapidly reshaping the business environment. The AICPA will continue to promote, protect and grow the CPA profession, with AICPA members continuing to receive all current benefits. From this broader platform of more than 600,000 current and next-generation professionals, the AICPA will have a stronger voice against burdensome regulations that are not in the public interest. It will also enhance and expand resources across public and management accounting.

Since the AICPA first brought the proposal forward to members on Nov. 2, it has received support from 51 state CPA societies. The AICPA Board of Directors and governing Council have both recommended approval. In addition, resolutions of support have been passed by the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section Executive Committee, the Business & Industry Executive Committee, the Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee, and the Government Performance and Accountability Committee.

Watch for your personal and confidential electronic ballot credentials the week of April 18 from the third-party vote administrator under the name “AICPA Independent Tabulator.” To make sure you receive this email with your unique credentials, simply add the following email address as an approved sender: noreply@directvote.net. CIMA members will be asked to endorse the proposal on a similar timeline. For more information, visit www.aicpa.org/horizons

Presidentially Speaking

It seems like yesterday that we were still all smiles after a terrific annual conference in

Brenda Byrnes, President

Brenda Byrnes
MSCPA President
2015 – 2016

Kalispell and Ann Deegan wrote her last Presidentially Speaking as she left office.  However time marches on and we find ourselves deep into my term as your new president.  I’m honored to serve as President and equally thrilled to pick up where Ann and so many terrific leaders have left off.

In 2013, Past President Paul Nisbet challenged us to consider our role for the next 100 years as an association for Montana CPAs.  The board began focusing on a continuity plan that invited our newer members of the profession to actively engage with the MSCPA and that allowed us to review what we do to provide benefits.  Then Past President Ann Deegan continued that endeavor as we developed the MSCPA strategic plan and implemented the first phase of strengthening the internal operations.

Now “no pressure” as we developed the course of action for the strategic plan to go forth this year… right?  Thankfully with the aid of our excellent staff, we saw where the path leads us.  This year is about involvement!  Involving you, our members, in making this strategic plan yours.

Before you mentally run away from the word involvement, hear me out.

Involvement in MSCPA has traditionally been through volunteering within our committee structure.  We read about other strategies and took a step back from this thinking.  You see, we completely understand how busy your schedule has been, is, and will be.   We respect that you have so many things vying for your attention and we know that the barriers that impact your involvement cannot typically be removed.  So we are proposing that we move away from meetings and conference calls that happen just because “it’s the second Tuesday of the month and we ALWAYS have a committee meeting on that day.” Instead let’s become more task oriented to accomplish the goals set forth in the strategic plan.  We are working to offer you additional, flexible alternatives to volunteering on a committee for a year or more.  We are asking you to contribute your time to a task or project with a known timeline, defined skills and targeted interests.

See here for a REAL example!  It is time to plan the 2016 CPE year.  The class selection and planning is a two-day commitment in Helena on Oct 1 and 2.  We are looking for additional volunteers to represent groups such as CPAs under age 35 who are willing to speak up about the types of training young professionals need, we are looking for input from auditors and government CPAs. Your involvement is for two days only.  No other commitment is required.  However, the impact of your involvement will be felt throughout the CPE year.

Over the course of this year we will be working with each of your current committees to inventory their ongoing projects and to see how many of their objectives could be accomplished in a new format.  This is by no means the death of committees.  In fact, I see this as a rebirth for some committees that will be free to chart their course for your benefit aided by the strategic plan.

While our Strategic Plan encompasses many projects and goals, the basic structure of it contains five main points under which our committees align:

  • Membership
    • Membership
    • Industry Group
    • Financial Reporting and Technical Standards (FRATS)
  • Sustainability
    • Future of Learning
    • Legacy Foundation
    • Audit Committee
    • Future of MSCPA
  • Connection
    • Local Chapters
    • Raising the BAR
  • Professional Excellence
    • Professional Development
    • Governmental Audit, Accounting and Financial Reporting
    • Annual Conference
    • Peer Review
    • Ethics
  • Advocacy
    • Federal Taxation
    • State Taxation
    • Legislative and Governmental Affairs

Each of our current committees fits under at least one of these strategic categories (as shown above).  Depending on the project, they may cross over into another area.

The Board, staff and I will be working with you over the course of the next year as we discuss this concept, listen to your ideas and concerns, and take inventory of what we all do.  Then our next step is to fine tune how we implement this new concept.  We’ll also be beefing up our website to accommodate a roster of volunteer opportunities and what time commitment is involved with each.   What the outcome of this phase looks like is yet to be determined but I am looking forward to working with you to create a new system that respects your capacity to volunteer, provides valuable volunteer opportunities and effectively enhances the value of your membership in MSCPA.

It’s an exciting time to be a CPA especially a MONTANA CPA. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President this year.

Presidentially Speaking

MSCPA President Ann Deegan

MSCPA President Ann Deegan

by Ann Deegan, MSCPA President

I recently attended my first “official” AICPA Council meeting as President of MSCPA, a great opportunity that comes with serving as your MSCPA President.

During the council meetings we heard a lot of updates from AICPA staff & task force leaders who are addressing some of the many issues & challenges facing our profession.

I want to touch on one of the issues that is currently at the forefront–“Raising the Profession’s Quality Factor”. Jane & I attended a breakout session on this issue.  These breakout sessions are a great way to talk with professionals from across the country and from firms of various sizes & areas of practice, in small round-table discussion format.

The Peer Review program has been around for over 30 years. It is currently facing some tough questions related to the effectiveness of the program, as our profession is being challenged on the quality of audits being performed.  Audit standard complexity is creating application challenges.  I think most of us agree, if we don’t do a good job of self-monitoring, we will ultimately be subject to more government monitoring.

Unfortunately, one of the toughest challenges comes from those who don’t accurately complete their engagement reporting form, thus they are not being reviewed on some of their high-risk engagements. The system doesn’t work if the participants are not playing by the rules.

A lot of discussions centered on various problems participants have been seeing. The ACIPA Task Force is now faced with proposing possible solutions to those problems.  One topic that came up repeatedly is the need for better communication between the Peer Reviewers & the State Boards of Accountants.

Stay tuned—this issue is going to continue to be at the forefront of AICPA discussions as we all continue to Strive for Quality in the Profession. To quote one of our conference speakers, “There are risks & costs to action, but far less than the cost of comfortable inaction.”

Submit comments about the EAQ discussion paper by Nov 7th to EAQ@aicpa.org.

Presidentially Speaking–What does MSCPA do for YOU?

MSCPA President Ann Deegan

MSCPA President Ann Deegan

You ask–What does your MSCPA Organization do for you? 

Good Question! One the MSCPA Board of Directors asked itself recently.

When our Board of Directors met in May for our Annual Board Planning meeting,  we reviewed the Society’s Strategic Plan, because we want to be able to answer that very question when you ask.  We talked about how important continuity is to you as a member and how much each of us relies on the Society for the services provided.  In that process we reviewed and affirmed our Mission, Vision and Values.  We also reviewed and prioritized our Goals and Strategies.  We want to ensure the organization has a written plan that is well organized and documented as we transition board members each year and when the time for staff transition arises.  Here’s the plan, as we see it.

Mission:
Inspire, empower and impact members
to achieve professional excellence.

Vision:
MSCPA’s vision is to be the most valued
professional resource for our members

Values: 

  • We value our profession
  • We value ethical behavior
  • We value active members
  • We value visionary leaders
  • We value our professional staff
  • We value effective communication
     

Goals and Strategies for 2014 to 2017+

The board established five goals and within these goals everything we do is strategically aligned. As we review existing programs and look at new opportunities to enhance membership value, we will use these goals as our road map.

Circles

MEMBERSHIP—Your Professional Home
Facilitating member success from entry through retirement for all members, including business, industry, nonprofit, government, public practice and educators.

  • Engagement of Members
  • New focus of membership committee

SUSTAINABILITY
Maintain a dynamic organization and ensure we exist throughout the next 100 years

  • Align committees with Board goals
  • Business continuity and succession plan
  • Ensure financial viability
  • Leadership Development among staff and leadership
  • Legacy Foundation/Community Foundation
  • Governing documents

PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE
Delivering education and resources

  • Professional Development Opportunities
  • Collaborate and provide regional opportunities—create opportunities for our members to share discussions with professional from adjacent states
  • The Future of Learning Task Force—enhance our current professional development program to better address the needs of our members.
  • Study the feasibility of benchmarking and data sharing to enhance professional excellence

ADVOCACY
Advance and protect the profession and the people we serve while improving member awareness of the Society’s advocacy role.

  • Lobbying—maintain a strong representation of the interests of the profession
  • Political Action Committee (PAC)—maintain and grow a respected PAC through member awareness and participation
  • State Issues—monitor all the legislation that affects the profession at the state level legislation and recruit bill sponsors
  • Federal Issues—monitor all the issues that affect the profession at the federal level

OUTREACH & IMPACT
Connectivity and communications through chapters, community service and public relations

  • Chapter relations—working together
  • College relations—advance relationships with Montana schools
  • Student relations—create and communicate value
  • Public Relations—Respond to public and media—positioned as a resource to improve awareness
  • Social Media—Maximize use of social media to connect and promote
  • Pitch Project—show members how to use their membership to get the greatest value
  • Member visits by MSCPA Board—grassroots effort to listen to member concerns

 If you have questions about the Strategic Plan or the value membership in MSCPA can provide you please contact our staff at 800.272.0307.

Presidentially Speaking by Paul Nisbet

MSCPA President 2013-2014

MSCPA President 2013-2014

It is exciting to be blogging on behalf of the MSCPA! I want to express my thanks to Margaret for taking the initiative to start this blog, and I hope we all embrace it. The biggest risk with any blog is that the content can become stale. Let’s challenge ourselves to not let that happen.

I look forward to using this new communication tool to share the thoughts, activities and current priorities of the Board of Directors. I also am anxious to read similar posts from each of you as well. Members participating in our chapters and committees should definitely consider using the blog to keep us all informed of the great meetings, initiatives, and developments that are happening.

The Board set several primary initiatives for this year:
1) Working with local Chapters to help them become more vital.
2) Defining member value.
3) Working with the State Board through needed changes/updates.
3) Identifying new revenue sources to help MSCPA thrive through the next 100 years.

Earlier this year the Board recognized the importance of engaging the younger professionals in the Society. This recognition led to the creation of the BAR CPAs. I hope that each of you had a chance to read the article that BAR member Megan Walsh contributed to a recent issue of eConnect. Megan did a great job of describing the mission of the group, and providing an update on their progress on their three primary initiatives.

This blog provides a perfect forum to provide updates on the board initiatives. Watch for updates on the Board initiatives in the near future.