Accounting & Auditing | BLI Leadership | Leadership / Management | Legislative / Regulatory

Leadership, self-regulation and your profession

One of the greatest things about the CPA profession is that we, as CPAs, can (and should) participate in our profession, even at the regulatory level. From standard-setting to regulatory and even legislative advocacy, it is our duty to continue to build the body of knowledge and regulatory framework that serves as the infrastructure of the CPA profession. This is the core purpose of all of the associations that serve the profession -- AICPA, NASBA, state CPA societies and FASB. In fact, that was why we, the MACPA, were in attendance at the NASBA Annual Meeting in Hawaii last week.

Dsc06087_2NASBA (the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) represents the state boards of accountancy and related jurisdictions (Guam, Puerto Rico, etc). The chairman of NASBA for this past year is a good friend and past MACPA chairman, Wes Johnson. Wes will be remembered for his efforts in kick-starting the uniform mobility efforts that are now sweeping the nation. He announced major progress on this initiative (11 states enacted mobility since last year, with eight more currently in legislative sessions). This project also features historic cooperation among the profession (the AICPA and state CPA societies) and the regulatory community (NASBA and the state boards).

The conference can be summed up as globalization - convergence (standards) - mobility and how do we, as a profession, maintain relevance and protect the public interest in a global marketplace? I will revisit these topics in future posts, but for now I want to focus on NASBA.

What does NASBA have to do with you?
The theme of the conference was celebrating the past and anticipating the future. I always find it useful to look back at the history of an organization and the initial spark of energy that came from its purpose. According to its history book, NASBA serves the state boards of accountancy and the state boards serve the public interest by enforcing licensing laws that have been enacted to protect the public from unqualified professionals.

This is a noble purpose and one that is compatible with our own purpose at the MACPA. I think we all need to revisit our history from time to time, and this made me think about where we are as a profession.


A profession is an occupation that involves the application of a specialized body of knowledge with a public interest and has a code of ethics.


Professions enjoy a high social status, regard and esteem conferred upon them by society. This high esteem arises primarily from the higher social function of their work, which is regarded as vital to society (serving the public interest) and having a special and valuable nature.


All professions involve technical, specialized and highly skilled work. Training for this work involves obtaining degrees and professional qualifications without which entry to the profession is barred. Training also requires regular updating of skills.


Our profession was founded on the public interest of financial reporting and dates to the beginnings of our free-market economy in Maryland when Gov. John Smith signed the Accountancy Act into law on April 10, 1900. It was reaffirmed during the stock market crash in 1929 and again with the Enron and Worldcom failures in 2001-02.


We need to remind ourselves -- and especially students and CPA exam candidates -- of our purpose, of why the CPA license is so important today and will be even more important in the fast-moving global economy. It is so much more than a credential and will only gain in importance in the future. See our post about our recent "swearing-in" ceremony in which Maryland CPAs took a public oath as they received their licenses. Mark your calendars, because the next ceremony will be held on June 17, 2008 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The other point is that many CPAs have led the profession by volunteering to serve on our state boards of accountancy, NASBA, the AICPA and the MACPA. I was proud to be with several Marylanders who have continued to give back to our profession and have gone on to lead at the state board and NASBA levels.

These tireless volunteers deserve recognition:

  • Dsc06137Wes Johnson, who just finished his term as 2006-07 NASBA chairman.
  • Don Howard, NASBA Board of Directors and Board of Examiners of the CPA exam.
  • Jacob Cohen, chairman of the NASBA Ethics Committee.
  • Les Mostow, NASBA Regulatory Response Committee.
  • Arnold Williams, chair of the Maryland State Board of Public Accountancy.

Note that all are MACPA members. Wes, Don and Jacob are past chairs of the MACPA as well!


I also learned that  Thomas Cardegna of Maryland was also a NASBA chairman from 1979-80. That means Maryland claims two past chairs of NASBA in its 100 year history!


We all owe some thanks to these volunteers who work to keep our profession strong and relevant.