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State Board Report

January 2016

In previous Memos I have mentioned that I live a few miles south of Nashville, in Franklin, TN. There I have become friends with resident artists, performers, poets and song writers. I have observed with interest how writers always carry a notepad or tablet to record things they see, hear or unexpectedly experience. Being married to a published author who is an aspiring novelist, I see the same phenomenon in my personal life. Those scribbled observations ultimately may become part of a story or song.

On a balmy December morning, I was in my favorite coffee shop with several of my friends. As is typical on a nice weekend in historic Franklin, the town was busy with both locals and tourists, and the coffee shop was crowded. A young fellow carrying a tray with several cups of coffee was trying to exit the shop when an apparent out-oftowner bumped into him causing the tray to shift and the hot coffee to spill everywhere. The tourist obviously felt terrible about the mishap and was profusely apologizing when the young fellow tossed his head, smiled, grabbed a few napkins and said, "It’s all good!" Then he headed back to the counter for some refills. Sure enough, a couple of my song writer buddies pulled out their notebooks and began writing. While I have no idea what they wrote, I also made a note of the expression and the man’s unruffled attitude.

This weekend I received a telephone call from a past NASBA chair who wanted to pass on New Year’s wishes. In the ensuing conversation he asked how things were going at NASBA. After brief reflection, I responded: "It’s all good!" And I sincerely meant it.

As we enter a new year, it is natural to do an appraisal as to where we are and where we want to be. Having four years under my belt as CEO, I know that we will likely face some challenges, maybe even some drama, in 2016. However, I also know that NASBA has never been better positioned or more able to manage those challenges and, more importantly, to reach new levels of competence to provide support to State Boards of Accountancy.

Last month I wrote about focusing on what is in front of you. At NASBA we are most certainly doing that. In the coming days we will begin moving into our new office space in Nashville. By late spring, all of our operations will be housed in a new cutting- edge and collaborative environment. We look forward to the enhanced capability this will promote. Simultaneously, we are well underway in moving our IT infrastructure into position to meet future needs, as we reinvigorate our existing products and services while developing new opportunities.

As stated earlier, there are continued challenges facing NASBA, State Boards and the accounting profession. We continue to be concerned about the appearance of lack of support for the U.S. CPA credential and license. The ongoing promotion of sub-level credentials for non-CPAs in areas that have historically been held by CPAs continues. NASBA’s strategic plan makes maintaining the CPA candidate pipeline, to produce an adequate number of CPAs, a public protection issue. The movement towards promoting non-CPA credential holders as being anywhere near the quality of CPAs conflicts with concentrated efforts to recruit students to the CPA profession. Please note that I am using the phrase "the appearance of lack of support." I know many in the profession and in the professional associations that are selling these new non-CPA credentials are equally concerned about focus being shifted from the CPA credential. NASBA, for its part, will keep this issue on the front burner!

Another issue carried over is the continuing growth of non-traditional methods of education. NASBA in partnership with AICPA has been devoting significant time and resources into trying to mitigate this concern. In late January we will be conducting an unprecedented Accreditation Summit, wherein we will be discussing our concerns with the relevant accreditation bodies and seeking remedies and solutions. We have already made inroads into this matter and I believe that, as a result of our efforts, we will see steps being taken to significantly improve the existing accreditation processes.

The growth of a global economy and its significant impact on the U.S. accounting profession and its regulation continue. NASBA has increasingly developed relationships with the profession and regulators from around the world. 2016 will be an important year as we review and improve existing mutual recognition agreements and consider new recognition protocols for future agreements. The joint NASBA/AICPA International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB) is taking the lead in this process.

There are many more threats and opportunities that I could discuss in this Memo. The important point is that NASBA, with our resources, volunteers and State Board support and involvement, has a handle on them. As you begin the "busy season," we would like to wish you a safe, prosperous and happy New Year…and remember: "It’s all good!"

Semper ad meliora. (Always toward better things.)

— Ken L. Bishop
President and CEO

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