Finding Value (and Referrals) With Find-A-CPA

by Margaret Herriges, MSCPA Communications Director

Herriges Margaret 2014Did you know MSCPA helps the public find CPAs? Our Find-A-CPA feature on our website is all about helping potential clients, and even other CPAs, find a person with the right expertise. And as a member of MSCPA you can post your profile for free.

Helena member Marca Gibson has had some success through Find-A-CPA, “I love Find-A-CPA as a member benefit. It provides an easy-to-use resource for potential clients, as well as for use by colleagues. I refer to it when I’ve met someone new at a local chapter meeting or CPE event, or if I don’t provide specific services that a prospective client needs.”

So what makes a good CPA profile?

  1. ADD YOUR PICTURE! Think of it like Ebay or Craigslist; would you buy anything from either of those sites that didn’t have a picture? So add a nice, professional, friendly picture to your Find-A-CPA profile. Great example: Marca Gibson (Helena)
  2. AREAS OF EXPERTISE. Pick four or five areas in which you are an industry expert. One of the best parts of Find-A-CPA is that people can search by area of expertise. BTW–we’ve had requests for folks who are ACA experts to show this in their profiles. People are looking for you! Great example: Conor Newman (Missoula)
  3. TELL YOUR STORY. This isn’t the place for your resume. You are trying to make people like you enough to contact you.  Make it interesting and friendly. Would you hire yourself after reading your Find-A-CPA profile? Great example: Kim Foard (Billings)
  4. HAVE SOME NARRATIVE. This ties in strongly with #2 and #3 in this list but the point is don’t JUST list your areas of expertise—make them your story!  You are a business expert! This is a really good place to tell people. Great example: Dave Gilmer (Missoula)

While it’s easy to see the value of Find-A-CPA for public practice members, it’s actually a very good resource for our BING (business, industry, NFP and gov’t) members, too.  For example, if you are a CFO for a manufacturer in Billings and you run up against an issue about inventory that you don’t know how to solve, you could go to Find-A-CPA and run a search for a peer with an expertise in this area. This members only feature has value for all.

Does the public really use Find-A-CPA?  It received more than 12,000 views last year! And what’s really critical is how long people are staying on this webpage. On average they stay almost a minute, reading profiles to find the accounting professional they need. In web-speak, a minute is a pretty long time. From this we can pretty safely say that yes, folks are using Find-A-CPA which makes it more imperative than ever for you to be listed with a GOOD profile.

It’s important to note that MSCPA members are not automatically added to Find-A-CPA. This is a profile that YOU must build. It is an important member benefit but it takes initiative from you to make it shine. It’s also critical to know that if you already have a profile you can edit it at any time. Simply log-in and click the Members Tab. From there you click on Find-A-CPA from your Member Dashboard. And as with all MSCPA benefits and services, we are here to help you. If you have questions regarding Find-A-CPA please don’t hesitate to contact me, 800.272.0307 or Margaret@mscpa.org.

THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON THE SUCCESS AND LONGEVITY

by Becky Turner, CPA, CGMA
Glacier Bancorp

Becky Turner, CPA, CGMA

Becky Turner, CPA, CGMA

As with any organization, the support by and work done within the volunteer committees makes the biggest impact on the success and longevity of that organization.  The same is true at MSCPA!  While they are absolutely AMAZING, the Board and MSCPA staff could not possibly shoulder all of the work done by each of the Committees.

I have been a member of the Professional Development Committee since 2009.  I have known Jean (Rieden) since I was a kiddo and I had only been part of the Society for about a year when she—let’s be honest here—may have strong-armed me to consider joining the Professional Development Committee.  Jean knew I couldn’t possibly say no to her; she didn’t even have to threaten, “Don’t make me call your mother”.

At the time I joined, the Professional Development Committee needed some diversification in ‘years of experience’ within their ranks, and was in desperate need of Industry representation. Fortunately, I fit the bill! Being a typical CPA, i.e. introvert, this group provides me a networking opportunity with CPAs around the state.  The diversity of the group is an added bonus; we have a great mix of public practice, representing both tax and audit and industry individuals from a variety of businesses and positions. Being on the Professional Development Committee allows me to impact the courses provided in a given year, meaning I can help ‘steer’ the course offerings to the needs for my particular job, experience level or training needs of my department/company.

MSCPA provides accessible, affordable, professional development courses to meet a particular learning style. While webinars, self-study, and online courses are prevalent, we offer a service to our members that respond best in a live, in-person learning environment.  We also have the ability to provide specialized courses for Montana-specific issues, such as tax and employment matters.  In fact, stay tuned for a new series of webinars based solely on Montana issues, provided by experts in those areas!

Membership and involvement in the MSCPA and on their Committees shows how much my employer, Glacier Bancorp, Inc., stands behind their employees, helping us grow in our positions by maintaining our certifications, encouraging professional development courses and networking with fellow CPAs. This is at a relatively small cost to the bank; my involvement on the Professional Development Committee takes me out of my office for three days a year (including Leadership Day), we have two one-hour conference calls in the fall and I field a few emails during course scheduling.  The time and impact this has on my work and Glacier Bancorp is minimal, yet offers BIG returns and personal accomplishment.

Being involved on MSCPA Committees is my way of showing commitment to furthering the CPA profession and Society. It is a great networking opportunity while supporting the Society in their mission to help all of us achieve professional excellence.  The Professional Development Committee is always recruiting new members . . . (hint, hint).  We are currently seeking members to help with our diversification in ‘years of experience’ and BING representation.

Based on my committee experience, I would recommend every member consider serving a term on one of the Committees. It will make the biggest impact on the success and longevity on both your career and the value MSCPA continues to offer.

If you are interested in joining the Professional Development Committee, or any of MSCPA’s committees, please check them out on our website and contact the Society Staff for more information, 800.272.0307.

Becky Turner is a Vice-President and Internal Auditor for Glacier Bancorp in Bozeman, MT. She has been a member of MSCPA since 2008 and also serves as a member of the Industry Group and the Future of Learning Task Force.