State Board Report
Last year I was interviewed for an accounting-related publication when the reporter asked me this question: “What is the most important function of your job in one word?” After brief consideration, I responded, “Persuasion.” I recently wrote a message to my friend Pat Costello, the CEO of the Chartered Accountants of Ireland (CAI), that I led off by observing, “You are a persuasive guy…,” knowing that to a fellow CEO, that would be taken as a complement. Mr. Costello, who will be retiring this summer, had been in Nashville discussing terms for the renewal of the mutual recognition agreement between the CAI and the State Boards, and he was successful in persuading our NASBA Chair Ted Lodden and me to consider a different approach.
I want to be clear, “persuasion” is not pleading or reliance on passion or dominance, but providing information and intuitive arguments to counter existing positions. I have discovered that effective negotiation and persuasion work best for me when all the cards are on the table. I often speak and write on the importance of transparency in developing trusting relationships. Transparency is even more important in getting to a good end in a negotiation.
The point of the introduction of this Memo is twofold: to briefly recognize my friend Pat Costello, and to disclose in advance that I am ultimately going to try to persuade you in this Memo.
In speaking with my staff this week, I was pleased to hear that the registration numbers for both the upcoming Western and Eastern NASBA Regional Meetings are strong. I am elated that so many states who a few years ago were not participating in NASBA meetings are now regularly attending and providing valuable input at those meetings. You might recall that last year’s Annual Meeting was the first time in NASBA’s history that we had someone registered from all of the 55 U.S. states and territories. So, what is my concern? We continue to have several states that find it very difficult to attend because of often arbitrary determinations that some type of conflict might exist, or because of financially-related travel freezes. We also see a few states that have historically sent multiple members to meetings now waning to sending only one, and possibly only a staff person, with no Board member representation.
I am not one to rest on my laurels. Even though the ebb and flow of time and events often changes patterns of behavior, I believe it may be time to step up again to try to be transparently persuasive. We are at a critical juncture as to rapid changes in the profession: increased reliance on technology and data analytics, incursions from other credentials and titles, expansion of new education delivery models, and a myriad of other threats and opportunities. NASBA’s meetings and forums are undoubtedly the best, and often the only, source of information, education and deliberation of regulatory issues for State Board members. I believe it is imperative that every state and territory have representation at all meetings so that the uniform distribution, assessment and concurrence on critical regulatory matters can be maintained.
By the time you read this Memo, I know that it may be difficult to adjust calendars and priorities to attend a Regional Meeting in June. However, there is ample time for everyone to plan for and commit to attending the NASBA Annual Meeting in New York City on October 29 through November 1. The agenda is likely to be one of the most important in our history, with an impressive lineup of speakers and topics. As always, NASBA will provide a scholarship to any state or territory that does not have the funding to attend, enabling all jurisdictions to be represented. As importantly, if your state denies your requests to participate in this, or any other NASBA meeting, I would be pleased and willing to parachute into your state to try to persuade the bureaucracy to not only allow, but to encourage, you to attend. I would be transparent — and “persuasion” is what I do!
Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).
— Ken L. Bishop
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