By being married to a former professor and PhD, I am often corrected when I use a word or phrase inappropriately. Similarly, former President Harry Truman, a fellow Missourian, was often criticized for his misuse of words and language. He once stated that he liked to use “plain language that the folks understand.” I can relate. 

For the past several months, I have been telling NASBA’s staff, governance leadership and volunteers that after two years of near lockdown behavior, it is ‘time to unwind.’ Now technically, “unwind,” defined as “to relax after a period of tension” is not the most eloquent word to use, but I think most folks understand what I mean ─ we must get back to something closer to normal. 

For over two years, NASBA, and I, have been extremely cautious and risk adverse as we worked through the pandemic, with limited travel, few face-to-face meetings, and no in-person NASBA conferences and meetings. Recently, we resumed having in-person NASBA Board of Directors meetings, while practicing safety, and as discussed in this issue, our intent is to return to in-person conferences and meetings in 2022. Also, it is time to focus on the important issues, challenges and opportunities that we face. 

The issue that is one of our highest priorities is “pipeline” or the number of candidates taking the CPA Examination and seeking licensure in the U.S. Pipeline has been on our radar as a significant threat for several years, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic obstructed our ability to accurately assess candidate behavior. It is increasingly clear that the number of students in accounting programs and ultimately taking the CPA Examination is continuing to decline. This phenomenon is not accounting specific as demographic data indicates that the population of college aged students is shrinking. 

NASBA and AICPA are working on measures to encourage and support students and candidates to become CPAs. We have been communicating those strategies through our article and meetings. We are not alone. Groups and individuals, including state boards, state societies and firms, are looking for answers and opportunities.   

I recently had an interesting conversation with Jerry Maginnis, a retired KPMG audit partner, who has written a timely book titled, Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession. The first two chapters, Why Accounting is a Great Profession and Is Becoming a CPA the Right Path for You, amplify and demonstrate what I conveyed in my annual report message, that we all must do a better job of articulating the incredible career opportunity that being a CPA offers. Maginnis begins his first chapter by offering a key takeaway; “Accounting is a terrific profession that can both create an excellent standard of living for you and your family and challenge you to grow, professionally and personally. It can develop and position you for many exciting career opportunities while simultaneously offering a sense of purpose and satisfaction.” What a great offering. We can all echo Jerry’s words and, as regulators, add the importance of the profession in preserving the financial wherewithal of the investors and consumers in the U.S. 

 As stated, the CPA pipeline is incredibly important, but there are several other major undertakings in progress. CPA Evolution, probably the most important transition and modernization of the accounting profession in decades, is well underway. It is our belief and hope that efforts of preparing the profession for the future will help attract students with alternative acumens to becoming CPAs while advancing the accounting profession. NASBA and AICPA continue to advance changes in our technology and operations to ensure that we are ready to launch. NASBA will continue to communicate with State Boards of Accountancy on the progress and milestones of this huge undertaking. 

State Board of Accountancy have faced unprecedented challenges over the past two years, and we will all likely face some continued and possibly new challenges in 2022. This year, we will have the opportunity to gather, collaborate, and work together to resolve any challenges we may face…it is time to unwind. 

Be safe and healthy my friends. I wish you all a great 2022! 

Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things). 

— Ken L. Bishop 

    President & CEO 

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