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State Board Report

January 2015

Over the last two years, I have written Memos related to my law-enforcement background, President Harry Truman’s quotes, my grandfather’s words of wisdom, and various relevant life experiences. However, I don’t think that I have ever mentioned my early interest in music. Several generations of my family were musicians, including my mother, who has been a professional piano player for most of her life — and who is still doing gigs in Missouri. In that environment, I naturally took up playing guitar at an early age. In fact, back in my teen days, I thought I was pretty good.

However, other interests called to me and I hadn’t picked up a guitar in decades. Now that we are living in Nashville, I’ve made friends with songwriters and entertainers who have rekindled my interest. For the past year or so, I have been picking and strumming my acoustic guitars and have been pleased to find my skill level returning and, in fact, improving. A good friend Gary Talley, former lead guitarist and singer for The Boxtops, who recorded The Letter, offered to teach me to play at a more professional level.

At our first lesson, Gary asked me to play him a song so that he could evaluate my skills. I decided to play Mr. Bojangles, by Jerry Jeff Walker, a song I love and I was confident I had mastered. After only a few bars, Gary stopped me and said, “You are using the wrong chords.” What? My first reaction was to push back, but I decided to listen and consider his criticism. Turns out, he was right. The chords and progressions he showed me sounded much better. Looks like after all of these years I will be improving Mr. Bojangles.

As we embark on a new calendar year, January is an important time for NASBA. We are well into our fiscal year, the Annual Meeting and the holiday season are behind us, so we reengage on the challenges and opportunities of a new year. One important challenge we (staff and the Uniform Accountancy Act Committee) are undertaking is to review the UAA, specifically looking at language that has not been adopted by Boards of Accountancy, to understand the Boards’ reasons for maintaining these gaps of acceptance that challenge uniformity. Though the UAA is considered to be evergreen, adapting to changes in the profession and marketplace, in some areas language has existed for years but has not been uniformly adopted, or has become outdated, or irrelevant.

As is often the case, considering and accepting change is hard. In volunteer organizations such as NASBA and the AICPA, individual and organizational positions and beliefs are not always consistent. Every line and each word of the UAA was written, considered and approved by volunteers from NASBA and the AICPA. Then the UAA was released to the states and there considered word-by-word for adoption into state law. Removing or changing any part of the UAA can trigger passionate responses from those who participated in promulgating the original and existing language, or who fought to enact specific language. Like my initial reaction at my guitar lesson in hearing that what I was comfortable playing could be improved, it is natural to push back. But changes can improve harmony.

The question is: How dedicated are we to the effort to achieve uniform and consistent laws that best protect the public by effectively regulating the profession? Are we at a point in time where we can have trusting conversations among ourselves and with the AICPA about getting to consensus positions to achieve that goal.

Working on the UAA is not our only major effort in the new year. Our committees and task forces are involved in a host of activities including updating NASBA’s strategic plan, ramping up our efforts to achieve diversity, reviewing our election and nominations processes, and finalizing our leadership development efforts. Internally we are engaged in updating our infrastructure, making continued improvements in our IT systems, and increasing our efforts to achieve excellence in all of NASBA’s products and services, including our new for-profit subsidiary Aequo International.

As many of you begin the “busy season,” we continue to thank you for the countless hours and effort you provide to your Boards of Accountancy and NASBA. 2015 is going to be a great year. There may be some conversations and changes that raise your interests this year, but remember, with just a few new chords we can improve our harmony, and, in my case, continue improving Mr. Bojangles.

Wishing you all a healthy, prosperous and happy new year!

Semper ad meliora. (Always toward better things.)

— Ken L. Bishop
President and CEO

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