Leadership / Management | Legislative / Regulatory

Protecting the public: It’s our middle name

DSC00768Last week, we had the honor and privilege of having Ernie Almonte, CPA, attend our annual Board Strategic Planning Session at the Wye Aspen Institute on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Ernie is one of those remarkable leaders who truly "walks the talk." He made an impact by reminding us of what truly distinguishes CPAs -- our core values (integrity, competence, objectivity, continuing education / lifetime learning, and being attuned to broad business issues).

He reminded us that the reason we are all licensed by states is our obligation to the public interest. All CPAs serve the people of the states that make up our nation. He made the point that "public" is our middle name -- Certified Public Accountant. "As CPAs, we are really in the trust business due to our unwavering commitment to our core values," Ernie said.

I happen to agree 100 percent: All CPAs, not just those in public accounting, are vital to the public interest and part of the foundation of our entire free-market democracy.

Ernie is the first CPA from government to lead the AICPA as chairman of the board in its 100-plus year history. He is auditor general of Rhode Island.

He also called on all of us to use the "A" in our name to instill accountability into all of our organizations -- public companies, private business, government and non-profits. When asked about the very real threat of more regulatory reform in light of the recent scandals and market meltdown, his response was, "inaction is a mistake, overreaction is worse."

He concluded by talking about the importance of belonging to both the AICPA and your state CPA society (the MACPA, for instance). Together, these two organizations have all of the resources you could ever need. They both are critical to maintaining the infrastructure that supports your CPA licenses at both the federal and state legislative / regulatory levels.

Check out this brief interview with Ernie and you will see what I mean about him being a remarkable leader.

Ernie also challenged us to all "think differently," a theme he borrowed from Dan Pink's book, A Whole New Mind (a great read which I highly recommend). Ernie is also a voracious reader, covering a book a week -- another example of my theory that "leaders are readers."

Thanks for coming to our board planning session, Ernie, and best wishes during your year as chairman.