Some of you probably read the title to this Memo and thought: “Take a big swing at it” must be a quote from NASBA Past Chair Ted Lodden, who often uses baseball metaphors to illustrate points. Others might attribute it to the unique language of the great baseball manager Casey Stengel, often referred to as “Stengelese,” who once shouted that advice to a player who struck out after making three feeble swings. Actually, the title is to call to mind a speech made by Warren Buffett in 1998: “You’ll see plenty of times when you get chances to do things that just shout at you. And the thing you have to do is, when that happens, you have to take a big swing at it.”
For the past year, we have been having serious discussions about the increased reliance on technology, the use of data analytics and artificial intelligence in auditing, and the increased use of blockchain, cryptocurrency and other radical disruptive technologies that are impacting the accounting profession. Some of us, and I am including myself, believe this trend is continuing to gain momentum and, although it may not be even be on the radar of most smaller firms today, it will likely impact all size firms in a relatively short period of time. For NASBA, we must make sure that the candidate pipeline, education and examination all keep pace with the transition. Having State Boards prepared and able to regulate effectively in this new arena is something we are focused on. Earlier this year, we took a big swing at it….and we missed. However, we received the clear message that we need to continue to work toward solutions that are effective and salable to State Boards and to the profession.
It is not likely that we will have recommendations to present to the NASBA Annual Meeting in late October, but we hope to have a process underway to prepare us for the next big swing. There is general agreement that, because of the importance and scope of whatever recommendations we bring back to you, the results have to be significant enough to justify the costs and efforts that will have to be made. In the jargon of this memo, once again we will have to: “Take a big swing at it.”
One thing we realize is that some of us, who have been developing and exploring different concepts and approaches, need to step back so that we can bring fresh eyes to the landscape. NASBA and AICPA will soon be announcing the appointment of the joint CPA Evolution Working Group (CEWG), which will revisit this challenge. The CEWG will be a mix of State Board, State Society, NASBA and AICPA volunteer leaders, and will also include an educator, a young CPA, an IT professional, a State Board executive director, a State Society director and a representative of a large firm. The group will be selected and will likely have had initial meetings prior to the Annual Meeting. Hopefully, their recommendations will be available to present by the Regional Meetings in June 2019. We are very appreciative of the continued feedback we have received from State Board members and staff from across the country.
My next President’s Memo will not be published until December, as Chair Ted Long will be writing the October Memo and incoming Chair Janice Grey will be authoring the November Memo. So, this will be my last opportunity to encourage you to attend the exciting NASBA 111th Annual Meeting in Scottsdale, AZ. Last year we had great representation from all jurisdictions and we hope to replicate that this year. The agenda topics, speakers and presentations are going to be interesting, informative and relevant to every State Board member. If your state is not currently registered, there is still time to get signed up. Executive Directors please reach out to NASBA Chief Communication Officer Tom Kenny if there is anything we can do to support your Board’s effort to attend. There are so many important challenges and opportunities in front of State Boards and NASBA in the coming year. Our expectation is that we will be prepared for whatever comes our way, but be sure: “We will take a big swing at it!”
I look forward to seeing you in Scottsdale!
Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).
— Ken L. Bishop
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