110 Years of a Common Purpose

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DECEMBER 2007 - If it is proposed to inculcate some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society.”

Those words were written in 1835 by Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political thinker and historian who wrote Democracy in America. He thought that association, the coming together of people for a common purpose, would bind Americans to an idea or notion larger than selfish desires.

The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants was incorporated in 1897 for the purpose of elevating and maintaining the standards of proficiency, integrity, and character, of CPAs, and to promote and protect the interests of CPAs and the public they serve. Over the last 110 years, the mission of the NYSSCPA has been to bring together professionals who believe in maintaining the excellence of their profession.

Has the Society Succeeded?

After a law established the CPA designation in 1897, John Hourigan, one of the first CPAs in New York, wrote that a society of accountants would be of great value to its members. At a subsequent meeting with Hourigan, S. Eugene Sargent, Francis Gottsberger, Farquhar MacRae, and Henry Harnery, the first society of CPAs in the United States was born.

Charles W. Haskins, founder of Haskins & Sells, (a precursor to Deloitte & Touche) and the first dean of New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, served as the inaugural president. Beginning with a small nucleus, the Society has grown to become a haven where CPAs can gather. Cultivating and disseminating information concerning the public accounting profession, 30,000 members now come together to discuss issues that are of utmost importance to CPAs.

Salons, gatherings of people of intellectual distinction made famous by the Enlightenment, act as a blueprint for the Society’s committees. With more than 60 technical and administrative committees that range from Accounting & Auditing to Information Technology, members are kept abreast of the latest developments and issues, reflecting the changing landscape of the profession.

The committees create a forum where members interact with their peers to discuss important issues facing accounting professionals, and help to develop solutions. For example, the Society’s Committee on Practical Reform for the Tax System prepared a position paper on a simplified approach to income tax. The concept has been discussed with representatives of the Treasury Department and members of Congress, and is now a viable option for tax reform.

There are now 16 chapters across the state so that all New York CPAs have the opportunity to network, socialize, and share issues facing their respective firms. Offering activities that include wine tastings, museum visits, clambakes, and blood drives, each chapter provides the opportunity to be a professional but also an individual.

The Society furnishes information regarding the practice and methods of accountancy to its members and the general public through a number of vehicles. First, according to Alexa, a subsidiary of Amazon that provides information on web traffic, NYSSCPA.org ranks as the most popular of all 50 state CPA societies’ websites.

The Society’s biweekly newspaper, The Trusted Professional, offers up-to-date news on legislative, regulatory, and administrative developments, as well as coverage of Society news, services, and events. Accounting professionals who want more frequent updates on news and information regarding the profession can subscribe to the weekly NYSSCPA.org Ezine, which currently reaches 5,700 accounting professionals.

The Society also publishes challenging and thought-provoking articles in The CPA Journal, the oldest and only technical journal published by a state CPA society. This peer-reviewed publication showcases original research on topics currently facing accounting professionals, analyzes the issues, and offers unique perspectives. The Journal uses a double-blind review process that rivals any other financial publication by drawing on the expertise of a minimum of two subject-matter experts. Going beyond the geographical boundaries of New York State, the Journal not only reaches a nationwide but an international audience.

In 2006, nearly 6,000 CPA professionals attended conferences hosted by the Society. The highest-attended included the Nonprofit, Antifraud, and Broker Dealer conferences. The Society offers an array of other events that feature top-quality continuing professional education seminars, technical sessions, trade shows, and special events throughout the state. The events are offered with one goal in mind: to help members keep up with changes in the profession, techniques, and technologies. The Society gives its members every opportunity to become better CPAs.

From a small group that believed in the idea of coming together, the Society has grown by leaps and bounds. In addition to promoting and maintaining excellence in the profession, the Society offers members an opportunity to give back with programs like Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (COAP), designed to recruit underrepresented minorities. Through its devotion to promoting professional development, camaraderie, and to examining issues regarding accountancy and its methods, the Society has grown from a handful of men to more than 30,000 members throughout New York State. With the question of success aside, the first 110 years have been well spent.
Happy Anniversary.

Louis Grumet
Publisher, The CPA Journal
Executive Director, NYSSCPA




















The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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