I probably could have used the title “This is Going to Be a Busy Year” for most, if not all, of the President’s Memos I have written over the past nine years, but it seems particularly relevant for the year ahead, 2020. While each year is typically busy for NASBA staff and volunteers alike, 2020 may well be remembered as not only busy – but transformative.
For several years we have been discussing changes in the accounting profession, specifically in the use and reliance on technology and artificial intelligence. Last year, after several false starts, a CPA Evolution model was exposed that garnered support from the majority of stakeholder groups and, most importantly for NASBA, from State Board members who participated in the Annual Meeting and other discussion forums, including a national webcast led by NASBA Chair Laurie Tish. Getting general support for the initiative was important, but now the heavy lifting begins.
A key component of the CPA Evolution initiative is education. We established the CPA Evolution Education Advisory Group (CEEAG), made up of practitioners, educators, State Board members and other regulators, who will review the current education requirements to consider changes and additions to the Uniform Accountancy Act and its Model Rules that may be needed. The work of the CEEAG began January 8, 2020.
In 2020 the agenda of the NASBA/AICPA International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB) continues to be a high priority for NASBA. Recent developments in the United Kingdom, particularly the election of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the support he received for his plan to leave the European Union (Brexit) early this year, have raised both challenges and opportunities for new and existing mutual recognition agreements with UK Commonwealth countries. While post-Brexit administrative changes may ultimately improve our ability to gain fair and equitable reciprocal practice privileges for U.S. CPAs, other recent changes in the UK, including the change in leadership at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), have presented some potential barriers that were unanticipated and will need to be resolved. NASBA certainly supports the FRC, a regulatory body responsible for audit quality in the UK, and looks forward to building strong relationships with their new leaders.
We expect 2020 to be another busy year for legislation, some of which would be damaging to State Boards and public protection. NASBA’s governance, legislative staff and Legislative Support Committee are gearing up for the challenge. Working closely with State Boards, State Societies and the AICPA legislative team, we keep tracking bills and legislative activity in all U.S. jurisdictions. The threat of anti-regulatory legislation remains our primary focus and we are dedicated to support any State Board in warding off bad bills and legislative language. As I have stated many times, every State Board needs to be prudent and responsive to anti-regulatory legislation filed in its state. NASBA continues to work with the AICPA and other professional industry groups through our joint Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL). You can expect to have ongoing support and current educational material from ARPL in 2020.
Momentum to bring new states on to the CPE Audit Service is strong in 2020. NASBA continues to make significant investments into this important resource for State Boards. Managing and supporting the CPE Audit Service and all our internal software systems includes ramping-up security compliance. New legislation in states, nationally and internationally has significantly raised the bar for the integrity and protection of personal information and data. NASBA’s compliance in this area is a high priority this year.
When publishing an article with “busy” in its title, we recognize that for most CPAs, including our State Board members, January begins the “busy season.” The NASBA staff members always take that into consideration when planning committee, task force and working group meetings. It is also a time that we are particularly appreciative of the tremendous investment of time each of you makes by serving on your State Board and protecting the public. We at NASBA honor and thank you for that, for we know 2020 is going to be a busy year!
Happy New Year and to all we send wishes for good health and prosperity in 2020.
Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).
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