“You can’t teach a person to be ethical, but you show through life experiences, examples of good and bad ethical behavior and hope the person gets it”.

Jim Woy, George D Anderson Distinguished Service Award Recipient, 2021

“My filter is getting better at 63!” Those who’ve had the honor of meeting Jim Woy know he is a straight shooter, passionate about his profession and beliefs, he hates to lose, and he doesn’t hold grudges. Jim is also confident enough to change his mind when confronted with more input on a particular debate issue. These are the perfect combination for a CPA who has dedicated his career to teaching ethics to students and CPAs across the country.

Jim is nationally known for his work in peer review and teaching CPE courses and has been twice awarded the AICPA Outstanding Instructor award.   Jim has continued to teach at the local level at MT Tech in Butte since 1988. If you’re a Montana CPA, it’s likely you received your ethics credits through a local chapter event that Jim presented a time or two in the past. In addition to teaching at MT Tech, Jim, in partnership with Terri Herron, wrote and presented a one credit course at the University of Montana that combined Regulatory ethics and peer review. He taught this class for four years and sees this as a highlight of his career.

Born and raised in Butte, Jim was one of eight children. His father was a CPA and his guiding light. He wanted to follow in his footsteps and looking back, Jim recognizes what a big influence his father was in his career path. His father, Frank, was the first CPA at Montana Power, what is now NorthWestern Energy. Jim graduated from Butte Central in ’76 and went on to graduate from University of Montana. During this time, he married the love of his life, Kate. 

Jim took his first job in Anchorage Alaska after seeing beluga whales in the inlet. Jim worked there from 1981 until 1984 when he returned to Montana and started working at Anderson ZurMuehlen.  He and his family returned to Alaska and his previous CPA Firm in 1986. They stayed there until 1988, when they decided to move back to Montana after a home robbery that shook his young family. Jim returned to Anderson ZurMuehlen and never left!  He did stay involved with his firm in Alaska and in fact still does their peer review!

Jim credits much of his learning from his experiences volunteering at nonprofits. He has been involved with many local and national causes, including, past president of the Butte YMCA, Butte Exchange Club,  past president of the Montana Society of CPAs (MSCPA) and is currently the Chair of Harrison Avenue Urban Revitalization District (URD) to foster improvements locally in Butte. Additionally, he serves on the Oversight Task Force, a national peer review task force with the AICPA and previously served on the PCPS Technical Issues Committee (TIC) where he learned you need to be very tan and smart to serve on standard setting bodies like FASB, GASB and the ASB. Jim just couldn’t get that tan going!

Jim’s involvement with the MSCPA started when he was asked to put his name in the hat for a director role on the board by a Gary Staudinger, a local CPA  . The president at the time, Marilyn Bartlett, gave him a glimpse at how a president operates and inspired Jim. In his words, it was an impressive group, Jim Galipeau, Tony DiLello, Dave Sather and Rick Reisig, to name a few. He wanted to go through the ranks and was passionate about it. Jane Egan, the MSCPA Executive Director at the time, bled the values and made him want to be involved. Reflecting back, Jim felt “it was such a fun loving group and then their was Jim, the conservative auditor, the staunch CPA!”   When his time as president was up, the board knew Jim’s weakness was remembering names. During his Annual Conference where he was passing the baton, they switched their name tags around to see if he’d notice! He did, thinking back on the memory made him chuckle.

The George D Anderson Distinguished Service award is prestigious, and in Jim’s case brings his career full circle.  George signed Jim’s AICPA certificate in 1981. George was President at AZ and Jim still has the welcome letter he received from George when he started his career there. “George was a very good man”, Jim thought back to how the focus of the firm was community and the profession under George’s leadership, it was never about the profit or bottom line.  Although Jim does add that the Bottom line is pretty important and should always be a focus in any business.

An avid runner, Jim has completed 13 marathons. 4 Boston, 4 Portland, 4 Montana Governors Cups, and 1 NYC Marathon for the local Butte nonprofit Mariah’s Challenge. These are amazing feats, however, the most memorable run for Jim, was a half marathon in Phoenix, Rock-n-Roll Marathon with his daughters, as he lovingly called “his girls”, Ashley and Alyssa in January 2020.

With retirement on the horizon, Jim plans to spend time with Kate, his wife of 44 years. They are passionate Chicago Cubs fans and plan to attend spring training for 3 weeks, as they did pre COVID.  Jim loves his family and lights up when talking about his daughters and their families, including his six grandchildren and plans to spend his time attending little league games and being grandpa.

In closing, Jim’s advice to students and CPAs, new and seasoned, always remember, you will be confronted with an ethical dilemmas as a CPA, make sure to think through the consequences of your decision. Once your reputation is tarnished, it’s hard to get back.

What we know about Delta

Allen Lloyd, Executive Director

We have been closely following the Delta variant of COVID.  MSCPA does not employ an epidemiologist and we can’t tell you if attending in person events is the right decision for you.  As you make your decision, we wanted to share what we know.

Different variants of viruses are completely normal and to be expected, this is why there is a different flu vaccine each year.  What makes the Delta variant worrisome is how it has evolved from prior variants.  Delta replicates much faster.  One of the factors in how sick a person gets from COVID is how much of the virus is present.  Combine these and you can see how Delta could be dangerous. 

The vaccines help prepare your immune system to fight the virus.  You can think of the vaccine as a gameplan given to your body, it now knows how to beat the virus but only if it is able to implement the gameplan.  The term breakthrough case refers to a vaccinated person who gets COVID.  This is happening more due to the rapid replication of Delta.  Before your body can fight it off the virus is replicating enough to give you symptoms.  The good news is for most vaccinated people the symptoms are mild.  Research also shows that people who had COVID tend to fend off Delta better than those who were vaccinated, but never had COVID.  Again, we are all different and we can not predict how the virus would affect you personally.

The past 18 months have been challenging.  You and the profession have risen to the challenge and done amazing things.  We look forward to being together again to celebrate all the hard work that you put in to help your organizations and clients navigate these challenges.  We also understand the challenges are not all in the rear view mirror and we each need to make our own decisions as to what is right for ourselves. 

What is MSCPA asking of you as it relates to COVID? 

  1. If you are not feeling well stay home and get better.  Do NOT come to an in person event, it simply is not worth it. If you come to an event and wake up not feeling great, stay in your room and get room service.  We will refund your registration.
  2. If you are more comfortable wearing a mask, wear a mask.  We will assume there is a smile under your mask.
  3. If you are more comfortable staying home, stay home.  If you need CPE we can find classes for you that you can watch from your home or office.
  4. If you are planning to attend any of our events, please register early.  It really helps us make our plans and prepare for the events. 

Working with Marijuana

We have heard from many of you looking for information on working with or for businesses in the cannabis industry.  If you are currently employed in or serving any clients in this area, please let us know. 

The decision to work in this area, either as an accountant on staff or as a firm providing services, is one that requires careful consideration.  To get some ideas on what is involved I sat down with Jack Lawson and his team at Clearwater Credit Union in Missoula.  Clearwater’s Mission is: To be a force for good in banking, in the communities we serve, and in the lives of our members

In 2017, Clearwater staff noticed a transaction related to licensing a cannabis entity in Montana.  The initial reaction was to simply close the account.  As management considered the issue an interesting conversation happened.  Someone asked, what happens if no bank or credit union serves this industry?  The group agreed that these businesses would continue to operate in cash and that would result in greater risk of crime in the community.  They decided serving these businesses could be a force for good in the communities Clearwater serves.  Once the initial hurdle of if they should serve the industry was cleared, the next questions were how do they serve this industry. 

The first steps were to talk to other banks and credit unions serving the industry and engage legal council to find out what is needed to do the work.  Next, they educated their board and created a plan to learn the industry, grow the line very slowly, and be highly transparent with their regulators.  The plan included investments in legal, compliance, and dedicated staff.  They also decided to price their services to cover costs.

“We are going to cover cost and provide what we think is a community service.”

– Jack Lawson

Another critical aspect of their plan was a commitment to continued learning.  Part of this learning involves staying up to date on evolving rules and regulations.  As Montana introduces recreational marijuana and the federal government considers legalizing providing services to the industry, Clearwater continues to evaluate if and how they serve the industry.  They also continue to invest in their staff and processes to ensure they meet all the required regulations and provide the best possible service. 

What can we all learn from Clearwater Credit Union’s example?

Start by considering how working with this industry fits with your mission or values.  Ask yourself how you would explain working with this industry to current clients.  If you are considering working for a business in this industry, how could this impact your resume in the future?  If you decide working with this industry makes sense, the next step is to get up to speed on the risks involved and how to best work with the industry.

An important consideration for CPAs is how working with this industry would impact your license to practice.  The Montana Board of Public Accountants made the following motion as it relates to license holders:

Moved that staff is directed to administratively close complaints where the sole basis of the complaint is the licensee is providing services to a marijuana based business that is legal under state law, with the addition that the screening panel will consider any cases in which the licensee has been convicted of a crime.

The implication of this is your license would not be put at risk from a complaint, BUT (and this is a huge but) if the federal government found you guilty of breaking the law your license would be at risk.  Currently CPAs serving the cannabis industry could be found guilty of breaking federal laws.  The House passed H.R.1996 – SAFE Banking Act of 2021 on 4/19/2021.  If this bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by the President, it would allow service providers to provide service to legitimate cannabis businesses. 

Section 3 of the bill is particularly important to not only marijuana businesses but everyone who might do business with a marijuana-related company. This section would protect ancillary businesses like real estate owners, accountants, electricians, and vendors by clarifying that the proceeds from legitimate cannabis businesses are not illegal under Federal laws. This proceeds section is the key provision, allowing all cannabis-related businesses and their service providers to access the banking system without fear of reprisal.
– Representative Perlmutter

If you find that you are interested in working with the cannabis industry and are comfortable with the risks involved, the next step is to learn more and talk to others who are already serving the industry.  A great opportunity to do this is by attending the Bottles, Brews & Buds Conference presented by the Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington Societies of CPAs.  More information can be found here:

https://www.mscpa.org/professional_development/course/WBWBBB21/bottles_brews_buds_2021_virtual_conference

CPA Evolution

Rick Reisig, CPA – CEO of Anderson ZurMuehlen, past-president of MSCPA, past-chair of State Board of Public Accountants for Montana, current Treasurer and At-Large Director for NASBA Board of Directors.

For the past several months, a joint project of the AICPA and NASBA has been underway to redesign the CPA licensure model to better position the profession for our ever-changing business environment.  The CPA Evolution initiative was adopted to focus on the different skillsets, competencies, and knowledge, specifically those related to technology, newly licensed CPAs will need to possess to succeed in the marketplace of today and in the future.  The initiative targets two areas for change within our current licensure model – the structure of the Uniform CPA Examination and a CPA candidate’s educational background.

Regarding changes to the CPA Exam, technology topics will be introduced throughout all sections.  While the “new” Exam would continue to require the passage of four sections, the structure of the four sections would change.  The CPA Exam will require a candidate to demonstrate proficiency in each of three “core” areas of accounting, auditing, and tax, as well as one of three “disciplines” – tax compliance and planning (TCP), business analysis and reporting (BAR), and information systems and controls (ISC).  So, the four sections requiring passage will be each of the core sections along with just one of the discipline sections.

The core sections are to cover those foundational areas that all newly-licensed CPAs should know pertaining to accounting, auditing, and tax, while the discipline sections allow the candidate to display a more in-depth level of knowledge of the topics included within that discipline.

The TCP discipline is targeted to candidates interested in advanced individual tax compliance and planning, personal financial planning, and entity tax compliance and planning.

The BAR discipline is targeted to candidates interested in assurance or advisory services, financial statement analysis and reporting, technical accounting, and financial and operations management.

The ISC discipline is targeted to candidates interested in assurance or advisory services related to business processes, information systems, information security and governance, and the IT audit.

The first phase of the CPA Exam practice analysis has already begun, with subject matter experts providing insight into the skillsets and knowledge newly licensed CPAs will need to possess in the future.  Public comment will be sought when the exposure draft of the practice analysis is issued, so please be willing to provide feedback.  The AICPA points to a January 2024 launch date for the new Exam.

In concert with the changes suggested for the CPA Exam as described above, changes are also being suggested in the educational background of a CPA candidate in response to the identified skillsets, competencies, and knowledge expected to be required of the newly licensed CPA.  As part of the CPA Evolution initiative, a model accounting curriculum has been developed to assist colleges and universities in structuring course content geared towards preparing students for the changing demands of the profession.  Model curriculum task forces, consisting of practitioners, regulators, and college/university faculty, were established to focus on the Core and each of the three Discipline areas to develop education modules, topics, and learning objectives for faculty to consider in aligning their curriculum with the needs of practicing CPAs.  I feel privileged to have served as the co-chair of the Core curriculum task force.  Under the proposed model curriculum, core courses would consist of 18 credit hours, while the discipline curriculums would consist of 6 credit hours each.

The new CPA Evolution Model Accounting Curriculum will be introduced by the AICPA, NASBA, and the American Accounting Association (AAA) at a two-day launch event on June 15-16, providing attendees with a thorough overview of the model curriculum.  The event is open to all who are interested.  Task force members who developed the curriculum will give in-depth presentations, walking through emerging topics and learning objectives while also addressing how accounting programs might prepare students for the TCP, BAR, and ISC disciplines.

It’s an exciting time in the profession!  Please stay engaged, and continue supporting efforts to keep our wonderful profession relevant in this ever-changing business environment and the CPA as the most trusted, and most valuable, business advisor.

Happy New Year, Happy Housekeeping!

Marca Gibson, MSCPA Board President

This is a warm and heartfelt greeting to every member of MSCPA in this new year of 2021! I’m sure many of you have been busy gathering CPE attendance certificates and catching up the NASBA database. I keep my CPE folder very organized, but I never seem to log into NASBA until year-end. I guess real-time uploading should be one of my New Year’s resolutions! Thankfully, MSCPA offers the wonderful member benefit of uploading all MSCPA-sponsored CPE credits, so we don’t have to do it all! It’s only a matter of those random AICPA or other outside courses to catch up on one’s own.

Another great member benefit and part of our strategic effort of “Connection” is the Find-a-CPA database at http://www.MSCPA.org. Have you updated your profile lately? Have you uploaded a photo of yourself? I’ve been thinking a lot about feeling connected to colleagues and long-distance friends during this era of social distancing and remote learning. With new members joining every month, the Find-a-CPA database would be a great way to extend and refresh our ties, in addition to helping the public connect with qualified trusted advisors. Even if you are not in public practice, I encourage you to participate in Find-a-CPA. It can be mutually beneficial to reach out to a colleague! Will you take me up on this challenge? Log into your account, click on Find-a-CPA, search your own name, and click to “Edit it Now”. Not there? To create a new profile, click on Members, Update My Profile, and Enroll in Find-a-CPA.

Best wishes as we jump into year-end payroll and financial reporting cycles and another busy tax season! Happy Housekeeping

Presidentially Speaking “The Secret of Our Success”

Marca Gibson, CPA

Marca Gibson, MSCPA Board President 2020-2021

Your MSCPA board just held our annual retreat as a live-virtual combination event over two days in Helena. Not only did we have rich, productive discussions, but it was so refreshing to meet in person during this long season of isolation! Our MSCPA staff did a superb job of ensuring the safety of the meeting amidst the pandemic with masks, hand sanitizer in abundance, infrared thermometer, and distance seating. We reminisced about past fire pits, pub crawls and karaoke – obviously out of the question this year – but we look forward to a future time when we can resume the revelry!

First, I would like to thank Julie Kostelecky for her capable and uplifting leadership last year, and Annette Hill for agreeing to provide wise and gracious counsel as my Ex Officio this year. These two exemplary professionals continue to inspire me, and I appreciate their generous service to our organization.

Now for news from the retreat. As we met, many of us mentioned how fulfilling and inspiring it has been to be involved with MSCPA, as members, volunteers, staff and board members. The question arose, “what is the secret of this success?” From a board perspective, I think the answer boils down to the fact that we continuously strive to be better and stay ahead of trending curves. What are the members’ needs now and well down the road? What future do we envision? With that in mind, we updated our strategic plan and sketched out some actions to keep our organization relevant, outward-facing, and forward-thinking. Notably spelling M-S-C-P-A, the five pillars of our strategic plan are:

Membership – We are the Treasure state’s network of CPAs who set the bar for professional excellence. MSCPA membership tells the world that you strive to earn the trust and confidence placed in your care, whether you are a CPA in public practice, private industry, nonprofit, government, education, or another important facet of our profession.

Sustainability – We keep our finger on the pulse of what it means to be a CPA as needs, roles, and demographics change in our information-driven world. MSCPA advances support to the ever-present and ever-changing needs of CPAs.

Connection – Feed your professional soul. MSCPA is the hub for members to find resources when they need them. MSCPA nurtures opportunities to interact with peers from all walks of CPA life.

Professional Excellence – Challenge yourself to be a better CPA. MSCPA offers a wealth of in-person and virtual learning opportunities to inspire and empower. MSCPA works with governing bodies to keep our credential strong and to uphold our high ethical standards.

Advocacy – Together we make an impact. Voice your ideas and concerns: MSCPA amplifies the voice of Montana CPAs to protect the profession and create the best possible regulatory environment for our members and the people we serve.

Within each of these pillars we maintain specific attributes and metrics to keep delivering value to our members. The full strategic plan is available at www.mscpa.org under Mission/Vision/Strategy, and I encourage you to read it. Based on our retreat discussions, we identified five calls to action, upon which we will work in the coming months:

1. Reserve & Investment Policies – we have assembled a task force to develop a reserve policy and investment policy and expect a draft to be presented at our January board meeting.

2. Diversity and Inclusion – we will be exploring how the Society might reach out to Native American students and other minority groups as to the mutual benefit of attracting them to our profession.

3. Career Expectations – the pandemic has shone a bright spotlight on the fact that work can be accomplished in creative, flexible ways, and that younger employees place a high value on work-life balance. We want to support members as they adapt to new employment models, and to help support a new set of expectations, so that younger workers can advance in their careers successfully.

4. Pre-Retirement Checklist – a large segment of our membership will be retiring within the next five to ten years. Several members have asked us if we have a checklist to help members transition from work life into retirement. We love checklists! And we will be reaching out to members thinking about retirement or actively engaged in the transition to develop this tool.

5. Rural Member Needs – According to Census.gov, one in five Americans live in rural areas. After talking with peers at the AICPA Fall Council and to members of our Rural Montana Chapter, serving the needs of rural CPAs has bubbled up as a topic of interest.  Are there special needs of rural CPAs that the Society could facilitate or fulfill at the state and national levels? We will be exploring this topic – what would the product look like, how might we monetize such a service (akin to how some states are specializing in providing peer review administration), and is it viable from economic and resource perspectives?

As you can see, this is going to be a busy year! Your participation and support are greatly appreciated. If one of these projects particularly inspires you, please feel free to call or email our wonderful staff. They will listen to your ideas and get you connected. I am so excited for my year as your president. If I can do anything to enhance your experience with MSCPA or resolve concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime. It is my sincere honor and privilege to serve as your president during this unforgettable year!

Cheers to you all!

Race, equality, and accounting

This post is inspired by the events taking place across the nation related to race.  Our mission is to inspire, empower, and impact our members to achieve professional excellence.  With that as our mission, I want to share these thoughts on how we can respond, grow, and get better.

The MSCPA Board will discuss this issue at our next meeting.  Over the past few days they helped me craft this message, to be clear these are my words not theirs.  I encourage you to share your reactions, this is your Society and we all want to know what you think and feel on this issue.  We see this as the beginning of a conversation, we are not here to judge but to learn from one another.

Ethics play a critical role in accounting; you are required to take a class before becoming a CPA and then you must take ethics CPE throughout your career.  Practicing ethics involves both identifying and reporting unethical behavior.  If you are aware of fraud and choose not to say something you can find yourself in serious trouble.  This is not easy, but it is a critical part of being a CPA.  Confronting racism and social injustice is similarly difficult and important.

Another core of accounting is objectivity; you make sure financial information is not influenced by opinion or biases.  You also practice professional skepticism; you have a questioning mind and are alert to conditions that may indicate misstatement.  These skills are critical to performing as a CPA, and I would argue these same skills are incredibly powerful right now.  Regardless of where you stand, take a moment right now to think objectively and skeptically about the racism and social injustice issues that our Country is currently experiencing.

I hope this simple exercise opened your mind a bit to seeing that this is a complex issue that will never be solved with a quick fix.  Whenever we try to solve a complex issue there is huge benefit to balancing different thoughts on the issue.  Applying the same thinking to issues and problems results in the same results repeating themselves.  If we want to solve lingering problems and be ready to address issues in the future, we need to be open to different ways of looking at the issues.

As a profession the best thing we can do to both address the issue of race and prepare ourselves for the future is to fully embrace not only diversity, but also inclusion.  Comparing these two, diversity is simple, to create a diverse workforce you simply need to hire people different from the people you hired in the past.  This can be based on the color of their skin or their life experiences or any number of other things.  It is a simple process, not necessarily an easy one.

Inclusion is far more complicated and difficult.  If you hire different people then ask them to act like everybody else you have built a diverse, but not inclusive team.  Inclusion requires you to adapt your organization to these new people.  You need to be objective and equally value and research ideas that come from people with a different perspective.  It does not mean you are not skeptical, but it means that you apply the same skepticism to all ideas.

I don’t expect this post to solve the issue of racism and social injustice  in America.  But I feel that what is most needed right now are the skills CPAs bring to the table.  People need to be more objective in how they look at the issue and we need to be skeptical of all the different solutions being brought forward.

MSCPA’s Mission is to inspire, empower, and impact our members to achieve professional excellence.  I hope this message has inspired you to empower those around you to make an impact.

I would also like to share a personal story about race.  I grew up in a small town where everyone was the same color.  My parents sent me to a private school in the sixth grade.  Every morning my parents would drop me off hours before school started so they could drive back to their work.  One morning I sat in the hallway working on my homework but was having trouble with something.  A group of older students walked by and a very tall black student stopped and sat down next to me.  He took the time to explain how to do whatever it was that I couldn’t figure out myself.  This was the first conversation I ever had with a person of another color.  Before that morning I always assumed different colored people were different.  What I learned was I was right we are all different and sometimes different is exactly what we need.  Whatever I wasn’t doing right had been explained by a white teacher and my white parents and nothing they said helped me figure it out.  That different person explained things differently and it helped me learn.

If I told you I never had a racist thought for the rest of my life after this experience it would be a lie.  When I first saw the video of George Floyd, I wondered what crime he committed to deserve that treatment.  In hindsight, no crime deserves a police officer kneeling on top of a person who is in handcuffs.  It is highly unlikely that any of us will ever be in either role of this situation, but that does not mean we cannot make a difference in this issue.  We can all work to learn from the differences between us and speak up when we see something that isn’t right.

As always, we welcome your thoughts on this and any other issue.

Allen Lloyd can be reached at allen@mscpa.org

Find the fun in everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re-Opening

Written by Allen Lloyd

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

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

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

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

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

How can I make a difference in this mess?

Allen Lloyd, MSCPA Executive Director

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

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

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

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

Industry Accountants: Advice your organizations on their options. You know your organization’s finances better than anybody, what can be done to get through this?  If the economy is going to come back, how can you take advantage of that?  What can you do as an organization to be prepared to get back to normal?  What assistance is available? Here is a link to some options there: https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/03/20/list-of-coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-relief-programs/#7cd7a893e89d

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

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

Educators: Inspire your students.  The need for accounting knowledge is greater now than ever.  Talk to your students about what accountants do in times of economic hardship.  Talk about risk and the new COSO Enterprise Risk Management process.  https://www.coso.org/Pages/erm-integratedframework.aspx

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