For many months we have been discussing the impact of technology on the accounting profession and, specifically, considering a new “technology pathway” to become a CPA. The culmination of that process for NASBA took place at the Regional Meetings, where thoughtful and passionate discussions occurred. Saying that there was a “lack of support” for the two-path concept would be an understatement: In fact, there was strong and consistent opposition to the concept. As my old grandpa used to say: “That dog ain’t gonna hunt!” After listening to and reflecting upon your feedback, by the end of the Western Regional Meeting I had advised NASBA’s governance leadership that I no longer supported pursuing the two-pathway concept and suggested we consider a new approach. Chair Ted Long has placed this as a major item on the agenda for the NASBA Board of Directors’ meeting in July.
So where does that leave us? First, let me state that leadership was very pleased with the robust debate that occurred at the Regional breakouts and in other forums across the country. While it became obvious that the proposal, admittedly a somewhat radical idea, was unacceptable to most of our Boards, there was a clear consensus that we need to do something. The comments we heard most frequently were: “We are glad NASBA and AICPA are focusing on this issue” and, “The current pathway needs to be modified to address the use and reliance on technology.” The responses from the Boards were not inconsistent with the feedback from recent AICPA Council meetings. Similarly, from the discussions that I have had with individuals, large firms, state societies and several other stakeholder groups, the support for evolving the current pathway to become a CPA is prevalent.
It was clear to me that many of our volunteers came to the meetings well prepared to discuss this initiative. The insightful comments we received included suggestions and recommendations to be considered in lieu of the proposed technology pathway. NASBA staff have been consolidating and categorizing those comments as we prepare for leadership meetings with the AICPA to consider next steps. I am hopeful that we can refocus our efforts without losing the momentum resultant from the work to this point.
We have already begun discussions with our AICPA counterparts, both volunteers and staff, about the ideas and opportunities that developed during the exposure process. Those discussions will be formalized at the upcoming AICPA/NASBA Summit in August and in senior staff preparation meetings for the Summit. I am optimistic that we can quickly pivot to a new course of action that addresses the need for change with as little disruption to the current pipeline and marketplace as possible. Hopefully, we will have a new approach fleshed out by the NASBA Annual Meeting in late October.
I am writing this President’s Memo near the end of our fiscal year — and what a year it has been! Beyond the technology discussions, this has been a year of development and implementation of several major IT projects, the completion of the NASBA buildout at our Nashville offices, the opening of our new Guam testing and call centers, and a restructuring of several of our business and service operations.
For most of us at NASBA, the pinnacle measurement of a successful year is our relationship with you, our member Boards. This year we had a record 54 states and territories represented at the NASBA Annual Meeting and 51 participated in this year’s Regional Meetings. Other records include the number of requests for assistance by State Boards, the amount (nearly $10 million) of mission spending in support of State Boards, the number of Student Chapters (now 40) in our Center for the Public Trust subsidiary and, finally, we have continued to grow NASBA’s net assets to a record amount, assuring we can continue to fulfill our mission to support Boards of Accountancy. This is my opportunity to say “thank you” to the many NASBA volunteers who helped make all of this possible, and for the support and trust given me again this year.
Mark your calendars for what is going to be an informative and truly memorable 111th NASBA Annual Meeting in Scottsdale, AZ, on October 28-31.
Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).
— Ken L. Bishop
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