I was recently in New York City participating in the bi-annual AICPA/NASBA summit. While in the city, I had the opportunity to have dinner with several former Board of Accountancy members from New York and New Jersey, who all had played important roles in NASBA ranging from committee members to NASBA Directors and even a past Chair of NASBA. It is no exaggeration to say that seeing these folks, along with their spouses, was like attending a large family dinner. During our conversation we learned that several of us, including me, had either travelled to visit, or at least reached out to check on the wellbeing, of another former NASBA Chair who had experienced some health issues. Again, doing something that families do. So why am I taking up valuable space in the State Board Report, and your time if you are reading this piece, talking about family?

When I was selected as the CEO of NASBA over seven years ago, like any new leader I wanted to make my mark by instituting changes and improvements to take NASBA to a new level, just as my predecessor had done. However, I also knew that I wanted to perpetuate and nourish warm friendships. Enjoying the camaraderie at events such as the New York dinner and our recent NASBA Regional Meetings and witnessing the strong bonds that have developed between so many of our stakeholders, makes me believe that the NASBA family is flourishing.

I use the word “stakeholders” purposely, because the membership of the “family” goes well beyond just Board of Accountancy members. Our outside legal team, staff and leaders from the AICPA, State Societies and other organizations and partners such as Prometric staff are all integrated into the fabric of this great family.

Why I am writing about this family is because it is so important to the success and relevance of NASBA. You often read or hear my arguments as to why every State Board member should participate in NASBA, either through attendance at our conferences and meetings or by involvement in NASBA committees, and should ultimately aspire to NASBA leadership positions. My arguments are usually pragmatic and include such elements as: It will make you a better board member. You will be more aware of what is happening in the profession and regulation. You will learn about shared experiences and best practices from other State Boards and Board members. And, most importantly, you will develop a network of resources that will benefit you in your role as a State Board member, as well as in your own professional life.

All of these reasons are certainly true, but the personal relationship focus of this Memo is no less important. In a recent discussion with a State Society executive I heard her express concern that that new generation of CPAs are not “joiners” and, consequently, associations are aging leading to shrinking membership rolls. At NASBA, we have been blessed. Attendance at NASBA meetings is historically high and the requests for participation in NASBA committees and tasks is robust. I am profoundly pleased that we are attracting an increasing number of diverse and younger participants. My question, and the focus of this piece is: Are we taking the time to develop the type of personal and trusting relationships that have been the underpinning of NASBA’s continuous growth in relevance? To be more specific: Are we making sure that we are bringing our new stakeholders into the fold of the NASBA family?

We are facing significant changes in the coming weeks and months. Important decisions need to be made regarding the use of technology in the profession. The end of the current tri-party (NASBA, AICPA and Prometric) contract period for the Uniform CPA Examination is on the horizon. Global issues, such as the appropriate professional response to Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulations (NOCLAR), are becoming more pressing. And of critical importance, threatening and destabilizing deregulatory legislation is gaining momentum around the United States. The significance of the NASBA family bonding goes well beyond being “warm and fuzzy,” but to the strength of trusting and communal discussions that result in effectiveness.

I am so proud to be a part of the NASBA family. Once you integrate yourself into it, it never goes away. The huge network of past State Board members, NASBA leaders (staff and volunteers) and stakeholder groups, remains a tremendous resource for NASBA and, as importantly, just folks we like to be with…just like family!

Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).

— Ken L. Bishop
President & CEO

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