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 .

 

 

 

 

 

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 — We Count Our Blessings

by Ann Deegan, President
Summers McNea, Billings

MSCPA President Ann Deegan

MSCPA President Ann Deegan

Hard to believe it is November, that time of year when we count our many blessings.   Like most, I count my family and friends among those blessings.  Anyone who knows me knows I have a lot of family to be thankful for, the gathering of which requires the rental of a hall to host Thanksgiving Dinner!

My work family (with whom I spend more time than anyone, especially during tax season) is also included among my blessings. Summers-McNea is a fun group of professionals to work with.  We occasionally find ourselves sharing stories, that only those with “accounting humor” can appreciate.  The office Christmas parties and open houses, almost always include a story or two from Leroy and Mel about “tax seasons past”.  Working those long hours is easier to manage, when you work with people you can share with–laughs, as well as the struggles that we all face along life’s journey.

I am also thankful for all the great people I have met from across the state at the MSCPA Annual Meetings, especially those I have gotten to know better through the years while serving on committees and the MSCPA board.  The Board travels to different cities around the state to hold our quarterly board meetings and while we work hard to accomplish the business at hand, we have some time after meetings to get acquainted personally as we share dinner and drinks . . . and stories.  Any past board member will tell you that it is a great experience to be a board member and meet CPAs from across the state.  We become friends as well as colleagues. We look forward to the Annual Meeting, to hear about the latest developments in our profession, to have the opportunity to participate and share view points on emerging issues, and to catch up personally and professionally.

If you have ever considered serving on the MSCPA Board of Directors—NOW IS THE TIME.  For all of us as professionals, it is time well spent. There are many benefits associated with connections made and knowledge acquired.  For firms and employers, it is a great investment in your employees and your future.  Like anything, we get out of it what we put into it.  If we don’t think it is important enough to make time to advocate for ourselves and our profession—who will?

Jump in and be a part of the future of accounting in Montana, as we continue to work through the ever-changing business world and the role of the CPA.

Learn more about the time commitment and expectations of Board Service and submit your application by November 25th.

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.

Celebrating 25 Years

by Jane Egan, Executive Director

Eleven years ago, my husband and I built a house. The kitchen is a place where kids and grandkids could gather and make meals and connect. The yard is huge with a deck and patio where we all hang out and have fun. The house has been everything we dreamed it could be and more. It brings our family and friends together and we have made lots of great memories. We will continue to.

ImageThe Society is like my house – intentionally built for the purpose of bringing people together. The just completed 101th annual meeting in Helena is a perfect result of that purpose. We spent two days with some of our best friends in the profession where I renewed my admiration for my members. I wish everyone had the opportunity to meet all of you and to know you in the way I do. You are amazing people dedicated to your profession, your clients, your communities, your families, your coworkers and the Society. You are also a ton of fun. Thank you for all you do!

The annual meeting is also the time I renew my admiration for the fabulous ladies I work with in the Society office. They never cease to amaze me with their dedication, Imagecreativity and willingness to give whatever it takes to complete our mission. Thank you Margaret, Jean, Carol and Shannon!

One more thank you: to all my current and past board members, past presidents and to all those who signed my card for taking part in recognizing my 25th anniversary with the Society. It has been an amazing ride and I can’t imagine I could ever find a better bunch of folks to work for. You have all made my life richer and taught me so much. It means so much to me that you think I do a good job for you.

And, for those of you who couldn’t make it to Helena, we missed you! I can’t wait to see you all at our 102nd annual meeting in Kalispell next June.