In late February I landed in New York City to attend several meetings and work in our Manhattan office. When I arrived in baggage claim, I could not help but notice a large and ominous sign that read: “Health Warning – Know the Signs of Coronavirus.” While I was fully aware of the impact of the coronavirus in China, and the possibility of the contagion reaching the United States (NASBA had already had internal discussions about preparing for it), the bright yellow sign caught my attention. By the time I flew home to Nashville a few days later, I could sense the mood in New York was changing. While I had no idea that the trip would be my last one for the foreseeable future, I instinctively perceived the threat. One of my last thoughts before boarding the flight home was “I love New York.”
I distinctly remember the first time I visited New York City. As a small-town boy from Central Missouri, I was overwhelmed by the mass of people, the sounds, the smells and the tremendous energy of the city. I never imagined that I would be there. While NASBA had its 2017 Annual Meeting there, it is estimated that nearly 65 percent of Americans have never been to New York, and will never see the Statue of Liberty, Times Square or the Empire State Building. I certainly would not have contemplated that someday I would have staff, countless acquaintances and dear friends there, much less that I would travel to the city multiple times a year. Though many will not experience actually being there, almost everyone has seen the tee shirts, sweatshirts and bumper stickers with the slogan “I Love (heart) NY”.
You are probably asking: What does this have to do with accounting? Good question. It probably has more to do with people than the profession, but we cannot ignore that New York City is the financial capital of the U.S. Many big firms are headquartered there, as are the AICPA, IFAC, the New York Stock Exchange and countless other financial institutions. What happens there impacts us all, including this horrific pandemic.
Within a few weeks of my returning home, in March we had curtailed all travel, cancelled conferences and ultimately shut down all our offices. My focus became the wellbeing of NASBA, the safety of our staff and volunteers, and ensuring that we could maintain our core mission responsibilities to State Boards.
In recent days, the term “reopen” has taken on a new significance. Businesses, cities, states and territories are all exploring how and when to open-up their economies. NASBA is no different. We have developed a four-phase plan to get to what will likely be our “new normal.” We have enhanced our technology capabilities and are developing new alternative work strategies. Face masks, sanitizers, social distancing and increased working from home will be a part of our lives for some time, but we are encouraged by the progress that has been made in “flattening the curve” and the opportunity to allow business functions to resume.
The recent decision by Prometric to begin opening testing centers is a key component of business resumptions. Our monitoring of social media indicates a pent-up desire and readiness of candidates eager to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination. We are anxious to be able to accommodate these candidates. We stand ready to help State Boards in any way we can as state offices reopen and need support. Our intent is to ramp up communications with Executive Directors and State Boards to provide a forum for sharing issues and resolutions.
Most who know me know that I am an optimist, a “glass half full” kind of guy. I believe that we will all get through this with new skills, capacities and capabilities. There will be trying days ahead, but I know we are up to the task. Hopefully we have seen the worst of this epidemic but the impact, both personal and economic, will be with us for the foreseeable future.
My heart goes out to all of those who have been impacted, particularly in urban areas across the country, including New York City which is the epicenter in the United States. The numbers there are astounding. In New York alone there have been over 300,000 cases and nearly 20,000 deaths in a matter of a couple of months, but it is good to see the continuing decrease in number of cases in recent days.
I look forward to thinking, talking and writing about things other than COVID-19 and its impact. There is a lot going on. CPA Evolution, NOCLAR, staff augmentation and other issues and opportunities are still at the forefront of decisions facing the profession, and work and progress continue. Our staff and volunteers have done an amazing job of keeping things moving, which is a great indication of our perseverance and fortitude. I look forward to getting back on an airplane for a meeting in New York City. I will say it again, “I love NY!”
Be safe my friends!
Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).
— Ken L. Bishop
President & CEO
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