State Board Report
“Promises! Promises!” Throughout our lives, we will continue to make promises — some will be kept and some will not. But one thing that is promised is tomorrow. There are things that you and I must do as regulators to ensure that there is a safer tomorrow for the public we serve. The theme of the Annual Meeting, “Shaping the Future,” fits the world we are experiencing both as regulators and professionals. We must do the right things today, for a brighter tomorrow.
The presenters at this year’s Annual Meeting focused on the continual evolution of the accounting profession. As regulators, we must anticipate changes within the profession and adapt to be effective. These changes include an emphasis on an increased reliance on technology, legislation that undermines effective regulation, changes to education accreditation models and improvements to the peer review process. Our strategic plan will be updated this year to continue to gauge the Boards’ needs. I will chair this committee and I welcome your input because it will be instrumental in guiding the organization for tomorrow.
I began this column with the phrase, “Promises! Promises!” There are three promises that are important for us to keep: 1 – To enforce your Board’s rules and regulations; 2- To guard against deregulation; and 3- To engage in the evolution of the profession.
It is imperative that Boards of Accountancy proactively enforce their rules and regulations. I have noticed in various disciplinary hearings of the Ohio Board that, when the Code of Conduct is referenced, the licensees are not aware of this most important document. Your Board’s rules and regulations can be communicated more proactively than reactively through outreach initiatives such as newsletters, email communications, social media and video. NASBA’s communications team is ready to do all the heavy lifting to help you communicate to your licensees, candidates and the public in your state.
I am asking for your continued support of the Uniform Accountancy Act by both adopting the just approved Model Rules for continuing professional education, which outline the requirements for learning and programs, and enforcing the restrictions on confusing and misleading titles. As President Ken Bishop says, “Enforce your rules, or change them, because you can’t look the other way.”
During our Annual and Regional Meetings, we discussed NOCLAR (noncompliance with laws and regulations). State Boards need to thoughtfully consider the issue and voice their opinions. What is the appropriate balance between two important, but sometimes competing, values: confidentiality and the public interest?
Quality control is one of the pillars of the accounting profession. The American Institute has suggested changes to the administration of its Peer Review Program. Twenty-six Boards of Accountancy sent comments to the American Institute in response to their proposed changes. Thanks to your input and comments, many modifications were made to that original proposal.
The second promise that must be kept is to guard against deregulation. The deregulatory political climate is more prevalent today than ever in history. Recent Congressional legislation, the Restoring Board Immunity Act (RBI), was introduced to undermine our public protection mandate. This bill encourages states to examine and eliminate their occupational license regulations. Undermining regulation, and the regulatory bodies that have been put in place to protect the public, that is the true danger — and we can no longer be complacent on this issue. In 2018, NASBA will take the lead on this issue by coordinating efforts between Boards of Accountancy and the profession to reassert the value of the service Accountancy Boards provide.
The third promise is we must be engaged in the evolution of the profession. My promise to you as chair of NASBA is that we will do everything in our power to keep Boards apprised of the latest regulatory issues and changes in the accounting profession. We must keep up with the rapidly changing educational models. Credit for experience, online classes and competency-based granting of credit are all part of the changing education landscape. We must ensure that the Uniform CPA Examination remains current and tests what newly licensed CPAs need to know. As the profession evolves and non-CPA experts in data analytics and IT controls become even more integral to the performance of services, we must ask if pathways into the CPA profession need to evolve too. We will be considering that thought-provoking question this coming year.
This past year, a new AICPA, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, came front and center. This reorganization of the American Institute of CPAs and its partner, CIMA, has brought about many questions. These questions are operational, political, contractual and regulatory. In response to your questions and concerns, NASBA recently created the Reorganization Impact Task Force.
We are aware of the changes in the world’s population. The licensees we regulate and the world we protect is more diverse than ever before and the current composition of the Boards of Accountancy does not reflect the diverse population they serve. I want to publicly applaud the efforts of the Boards that are working closely with minority accounting organizations to have their members serve on Board committees and task forces.
I ask you again to keep these three promises during this upcoming year: Enforce your Board’s rules and regulations; Guard against deregulation; Engage in the evolution of the profession. By coming together on the issues, educating each other, and embracing the change of tomorrow we will strengthen state- based regulation for years to come.
Tomorrow is here! Embrace it.
— Theodore W. Long, Jr., CPA
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