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State Board Report

December 2015

A few weeks ago I watched the NASCAR championship race which was won by Kyle Busch. I don’t often have the opportunity to watch stock car races, but I do enjoy them when I do. This year’s final race of the season was particularly exciting because of the closeness of points of several competitors at the end of the racing year, giving several drivers the opportunity to win the coveted Chase Sprint Cup. For those who don’t follow stock car racing, you may not know that the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff format introduced in 2014 to make racing even more exciting has brought in some raucous behavior, including several instances of drivers intentionally wrecking their competitors’ cars. This practice was of such real concern to the drivers who were finalists that they spent a significant amount of time looking in their rearview mirrors. As the final race was getting close to the end, one of the announcers commented: "If Kyle is going to win this race, he needs to flip up his rearview mirror and focus on what’s in front of him." As I listened to those words, it struck me that the advice given by the announcer might be applicable to much more than just stock car racing.

In my role as President and CEO, I am often on the leading edge of trying to implement change. The "change" may be significantly different from what we have done in the past. It may actually require us to trust others, both individuals and groups, with whom we have justifiably disagreed in the past. Often when I speak to stakeholders about embracing change, I am reminded of some past event as a reason, or excuse, for not moving forward. Similarly, I frequently hear some variation of: "We have always done it this way." Or, given the stock car analogy, we often find ourselves looking in the rearview mirror.

As 2015 comes to an end and we begin a new and exciting year, we can reflect on the significant successes of this year, but there remains an inventory of changes that will be carried over into 2016. We need to remain focused on this inventory, which includes: CPA firm mobility, changes to the definition of "attest", adoption of a uniform Code of Professional Conduct, jurisdictional CPE acceptance and development of effective peer review oversight committees. Plus we know there are new recommendations and proposals such as the use of "retired CPA" status, updated CPE standards and rule changes that may be required for a smooth transition to the revised Uniform CPA Examination.

Whether in writing or in conversations, when I enter into these proactive discussions, I always need to preface my remarks with an acknowledgment of the fact that NASBA, and I, will always ultimately support states’ rights. I also think it important to remind everyone that the legislative or policy change recommendations in the Uniform Accountancy Act and Model Rules were developed by volunteer CPA and public members from across the country with the assistance of legal counsel, then exposed to all stakeholders for comments, which were duly considered, revisions made as needed and then ultimately approved by the Board of Directors of both NASBA and the AICPA. The process is open, transparent and all comments and concerns are taken seriously. Upon completion of that process, however, it is important that we work toward implementation. Otherwise, we are just "spinning our wheels," and not addressing the changes needed to regulate an ever-changing, dynamic profession.

As I often state, I am a "bottom line" guy. I like to finish what we start, and to me a "win" is not a "win" until we have reached our goal. As you plan for your Board’s new year, I ask that you consider flipping up your rearview mirror and "focusing on what’s in front of you," and we can get these important changes accomplished in 2016.

On behalf of the entire NASBA staff, I would like to take the opportunity to wish each of you and your families the happiest and safest of holiday seasons, and a great and prosperous new year!

Semper ad meliora. (Always toward better things.)

— Ken L. Bishop
President and CEO

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