In President’s Memos of the past, I have described how, from my perspective, NASBA has three types of years that impact much of what we do. We have our business/fiscal year (July 31 ending) that determines our budget, financial measurement and business planning. Our governance year runs traditionally from late October, when a new Chair and other newly-elected officers reconstitute the Board of Directors to provide different and/or sustained visions. Then there is the traditional calendar year, which is not tied to our business activities but remains the time many of us step back to generally assess accomplishments. As I prepared to write this final Memo of the year, I spent some time reflecting on what we have done in 2019.
From a business perspective, 2019 was another very successful year for NASBA. We completed implementation of outsourcing our information technology services to an international company so that NASBA has the capability and capacity to keep up with the increasing demands for the use of artificial intelligence. In spite of revenue challenges created by a decrease in the number of CPA Examination candidates, 2019 was a year in which we provided a record amount of support to Boards of Accountancy and made multi-million dollars of investments in our infrastructure and systems, so that we ended the fiscal (and calendar) year with the organization having increased its net assets.
An even more significant challenge that continued to escalate this year was the increasing amount of anti-regulatory legislation across the country. The threat grew to the point that it became too big for one association, no matter how strong, to fight alone. This year NASBA and AICPA joined forces with the associations of engineers and architects to form the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL), a coalition of advanced professionals focused on educating policy makers and the public about the importance of rigorous professional licensing standards. ARPL is a significant investment for NASBA and it plays a pivotal role in this timely effort. In legislative politics, however, nothing is more crucial than the grass roots and direct work done by boots on the ground. NASBA’s staff and volunteers, working closely with our counterparts in the AICPA, have done a great job this year in meeting each and every challenge we have faced.
As I look back on the year, NASBA’s continued efforts and success in making diversity and inclusion key elements of our core as an organization is a source of significant pride for me. This year we witnessed history with the first back-to-back women Chairs of NASBA, the election of NASBA’s first Hispanic Vice Chair (and future Chair), and other officer elections that give us the most diverse Board of Directors in our history. State Boards and State Societies have also made significant strides. Anyone who attended a NASBA meeting or conference this year was able to witness the rainbow of representation.
If 2019 is remembered for any one issue, it will be the transitional effort to address the evolution of the CPA profession. Like many other major issues in the past, the CPA Evolution challenges have been substantial. It is unprecedented to have the Chairs of NASBA and AICPA personally lead such an effort, which reflects the importance of this critical endeavor. While we are only in the early phases of this process, getting to acceptance of a model in 2019 was key. Early next year, as the model’s implementation strategies are developed, NASBA will work to keep State Boards and other stakeholders involved in the process.
Like the accounting profession, NASBA is experiencing the retirement of some of our “baby boomer” staff. When I joined the NASBA staff in 2007, the organization had only two retirees, but other names have been added to that list since then, several in 2019. While it is always somewhat of a melancholy experience to see folks move into the next chapters of their lives, it is also reflective of what a great organization NASBA is to have attracted and retained such dedicated individuals who spent a good portion of their careers supporting the State Boards’ mission to protect the public. I am so pleased that we continue to find and develop new talent to fill the important roles and build on the shoulders of those who went before them. I look back at the year in amazement, and look forward to 2020, as I think about the wonderful people I get to work with every day.
It would take many additional pages for me to list all the accomplishments of our staff and volunteers, both domestically and internationally, in 2019. I personally end the year grateful for the opportunity to lead this great organization. This is my chance
to thank all our member Boards, friends and stakeholders for your unprecedented participation in this very busy year. I hope that
each of you can take pride in our shared accomplishments, looking back at 2019.
I wish each of you the happiest and safest of holidays.
Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).
— Ken L. Bishop
President & CEO