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MACPA Annual Meeting charts year of change, road ahead

The Maryland Association of CPAs has capped a year of forward-looking change and is set for an exciting road ahead.

That theme resounded throughout the association’s Annual Meeting, led by MACPA CEO Tom Hood with more than 400 members participating in-person and via simulcast.

Outgoing Chair Lisa Cines reflected on highlights of the past year and thanked the membership, staff and sponsors for the opportunity to serve. She was presented with the first MACPA CEO Award. Incoming Chair Ken Kelly shared his vision for the association and his enthusiasm to work with the 2017-18 board, members, staff and sponsors.

To the cloud! Barrett Young recapped the MACPA’s extensive and successful move to the cloud, which included moving its accounting system to the Xero platform this year. This follows the MACPA’s move of virtually all of its systems and website to virtual platforms, using Google and other apps.

Young, who stepped down from the MACPA’s Board of Directors to engage in a valued consulting role with the MACPA’s systems adoption, said the MACPA’s move to the cloud demonstrated that “we practice what we preach.”

IBM partnership to accelerate CPA’s role in an A.I.-powered world Board member Wally Boston, Ed.D, highlighted the new partnership formed between the MACPA, the Business Learning Institute, and IBM, in which the MACPA and BLI will provide content from IBM’s Big Data University. The partnership will help accounting and finance professionals enhance their knowledge and skills in technology areas that are threatened with wholesale disruption but offer opportunities to those who build their skillsets to accomplish higher-level analysis.

The line between “today” and “tomorrow” does not remain static, and before “tomorrow” becomes “yesterday,” it is important for CPAs and other finance professionals to learn how data analytics, Big Data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other forms of automation are here to stay and how to provide value above and beyond that which robots or automated processes provide.

Stay tuned for the release of more information about the MACPA / BLI partnership with IBM, including announcement of the link to the portal, coming soon.

Enhanced programs for CFOs, business and industry A growing trend among CPAs is to offer client accounting services. AICPA CEO Barry Melancon, speaking at AICPA Engage, said, “The growth rate on modern CAS is 10 percent -- and it didn’t exist 10 years ago.” A related top trend is for CPAs to embark on their own, developing and working with a portfolio of clients as “outsourced CFOs.” Companies choose the outsourced CFO model to save money and access the expertise of a seasoned professional.  

Board member Kelly Jennings, founder of an outsourced CFO business, spoke of the MACPA once again taking a leading role in listening to, recognizing, and predicting its members’ needs by creating a community for those in the growing market of entrepreneurial / outsourced CFOs. This demographic can benefit from programs and networking opportunities tailored to its needs, said Jennings, adding that members should watch their e-mail for an announcement of the first event for this group later this summer.  

Board member Ray Speciale spoke of the board’s project to update the MACPA’s bylaws in recognition of the expanded membership and program opportunities available as a result of the enhanced relationship between the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Any proposed bylaw changes will be discussed at upcoming town halls this fall, and will ultimately be subject to a vote of the MACPA’s membership.

Mentorship program moves into high gear Incoming Vice Chair Samantha Bowling, a participant in the successful pilot of the MACPA’s mentorship program this year, addressed the Annual Meeting crowd with her mentee, Randi Reed.

Both Bowling and Reed shared how important their mentor-mentee relationship was, with Reed – who began her career with Clifton, Larson, Allen and is awaiting the results of her CPA exam scores – thanking Bowling and the MACPA for providing professional development and information about opportunities.  The learnings gained through the pilot program are being used to finalize the mentorship program that will be formally launched this year.

Peer review, legislation and professional practice issues Past chairs Mike Manspeaker and Allen DeLeon provided updates on proposed changes and current developments in peer review and state legislative matters, respectively.

Attendees also received digital handouts of top accounting and auditing issues and a recap of legislative advocacy wins.

Hood led the town hall-style meeting with his popular professional issues update, identifying trends and the top issues identified by members. He described MACPA and BLI initiatives at the state and national levels to support the value of the CPA license through advocacy and enhance the ability of its members to compete and thrive in a fast-changing world through networking and professional development opportunities.

Sponsors’ role as strategic partners The MACPA’s sponsors, said Hood, really are strategic partners who offer important products and services to our members. Annual Meeting sponsors included:

For more photos and highlights from the event, follow @macpa and #PIU17 on Twitter.


Edith Orenstein