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State Board Report

November 2015

When I envision the ladder of success for Boards and NASBA, I know we have a solid foundation upon which it rests. My Dad, a career power company linemen, taught his children proper safety procedures and how to work together when climbing ladders. First, you must put the ladder on solid and level ground. Next, you need someone there to hold the ladder for extra support. The only time anyone in my family was ever injured on a ladder was when Dad decided to go it alone, fell off and broke his heel. Without the proper assistance and teamwork, even the most skilled will come tumbling down.

My point is to tell the members of the Boards of Accountancy: You are not alone in your efforts to effectively regulate the accounting profession. NASBA has the tools, programs and staff talent to assist you on the ladder of success. As Chair, I will lead this effort to help you in your role as regulators and protectors of the public. NASBA wants to continue to hold your ladder for success. Our mission is to: "Enhance the effectiveness and advance the common interests of the Boards of Accountancy." By achieving this mission together, we will all be successful.

This past year, I have put a lot of thought into where my focus should be as chair of NASBA. The steps that I have concluded will lead us all to a successful place are to: (1) Build trust; (2) Be forward thinking; (3) Use all tools available for success.

The first of my three objectives is to build trust by creating new and strengthening existing relationships. We can always accomplish more when we collaborate and communicate effectively. NASBA will continue to invest in positive and beneficial relationships with the Boards of Accountancy. Since being hired in 2012, Dan Dustin, NASBA Vice President of State Board Relations, has made 75 visits to 48 of the 55 Boards of Accountancy. While on his visits, Dan listens to Boards’ needs, informs them of the available resources from NASBA, highlights current trends and topics, and advises them during times of legislative and regulatory change. Coordinating efforts with Dan are NASBA’s Regional Directors. They are there to listen to the Boards’ needs and provide trusted communication between the Boards and NASBA’s leadership. At NASBA meetings, they moderate regional breakout sessions to provide another forum to address their Regions’ questions and concerns and allow for the exchange of ideas within the Regions. Please remember, each Board’s participation and direction for these meetings is of the utmost importance. Without that input, NASBA will not be successful.

A recent success story is the State Society Relations Committee. This committee has allowed State Society CEOs to work directly with NASBA to open lines of communication and foster better working relationships. The collaborative work of the recently formed Committee resulted in a joint conference attended by both State Society Executives and Board Executive Directors. Based on the positive feedback from that conference, they will be meeting together again in 2016 in Tucson. This is a great example of new and strengthened relationships.

Relationships are a two-way street, but one side always has to initiate the conversation. Many Boards have taken steps to do just that. NASBA’s Communications and Outreach program has had tremendous success over the last couple of years in assisting Boards with newsletters, videos, annual reports, professionally designed email communications and social media outreach.

NASBA will continue to be an advocate for the Boards of Accountancy with crucial stakeholders. We will extend the hand of partnership and strengthen our relationships with the federal regulators, AICPA and State Societies, accounting educators, and national and international accounting bodies. NASBA will be positive, transparent and trusting on the Boards’ behalf. We will be open and willing to compromise, but we will never hesitate to disagree when it is in the best interest of the Boards of Accountancy. We will endeavor to represent the Boards and proactively advocate against the potential use of misleading credentials which can be used by non-CPAs. One of NASBA’s major roles in enhancing the effectiveness of State Boards of Accountancy is to guard against confusing and misleading titles. The U.S. CPA designation must continue to be the first and foremost credential for quality, credibility and ethics.

My second initiative on the ladder of success will be forward thinking. Accepting the status quo will never get anyone to the top of the ladder. NASBA will continue to devote significant resources to develop strategies for diversity in the CPA profession, and specifically, at the State Board level, in order to reflect the demographic changes of our country. We are also going to allocate additional resources to implement a leadership development program at both the Board and NASBA levels in order to be forward thinking and help develop our future leaders.

The last of my objectives is to use all tools available for our success. NASBA’s Legislative Support Committee ensures that Boards have the tools to protect the public. The legislative bill-tracking program enables Boards to become more readily aware of key pieces of legislation and regulatory issues that will impact their role as regulators. There are additional tools to help Board members as regulators; for example: Currently, 50 jurisdictions are providing data to the Accountancy Licensee Database which contains information on more than 98 percent of CPA licensees. Our newest service, the CPE Audit Services platform, is working directly with Boards to provide 100 percent compliance audit samples of CPA licensees.

As a fellow regulator, I want to share some words with you from Frank Outlaw, creator of Bi-Lo Stores, that I have followed my entire career: "Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny."

I give you my word as Chair of NASBA: We will proactively listen. We will be open to criticism. We will respond with honest and truthful dialog. We will continue to be financially sound. And, as NASBA President and CEO Ken Bishop always says, "We will not write checks that we can’t cash."

— Donald H. Burkett

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