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.

How to Connect if You Are the Only CPA in Your Office

Are you the only CPA in your office? We hear that a lot from our BING (business, industry, NFP, gov’t) members. And sometimes do you wish you had someone to run an idea past, or ask an accounting question? You need that someone who understands what you are talking about, Imagesomeone who can think out loud with you.

These are the types of conversations we hear each year at the Industry Conference, this exchange of ideas. We walk through the crowds at break time and sit with you at lunches and we hear issues being discussed, great conversations blooming and solutions being debated.

MSCPA President Paul Nisbet is a BING member himself and he says,

“The biggest benefit of the [Industry] conference is the connections and friendships that are created.  I often leverage these connections by reaching out to the Industry CPAS that I have met at the conference throughout the year. The ability to collaborate on issues and topics and learn from the experiences of these experts is invaluable.”

So while we promise you outstanding speakers about cutting edge topics each year, the Industry Conference itself is about more than the CPE. It’s about the connections you make.

We hear people say, “You know we had that same problem and this is how we handled it . . .” and “How are these new standards affecting you?” and best of all, “Thank you! I’m so glad I got to talk to you about this issue.” The Industry Conference is a safe ground for participants to ask questions of instructors, staff and most importantly each other.

If you come to this year’s Industry Conference you’ll get 16 hours of professional development but you just might get a whole lot more. This year’s conference is March 19 & 20 at the Great Northern in Helena. Contact Jean if you have any questions: 800.272.0307 or

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.