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Industry CPAs Fully Join the Profession

Louis Grumet

We have found along the way that the ethics, the professionalism, the integrity, and the resiliency of CPAs aie as great as ever.

Since the New York State legislature passed the accountancy reform law last December, the NYSSCPA has sprung into teaching mode. In addition to talking about it over the past several months in this space, the Society has conducted numerous educational sessions regarding the new law at various businesses, governments, and schools so that CPAs throughout the state know what they must do to protect their licenses.

As you're reading this, the new law has already gone into effect. D-Day for accountancy reform in New York was July 26, 2009. By our count, more than half of the estimated 70,000 CPAs doing nonattest work in firms, private industry, government, and academia who now fall under the state's regulatory umbrella may not be registered with the New York State Department of Education (SED). This is required under the new law.

It's been our duty and our pleasure to give these free educational sessions to entities such as JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, the IRS, the City University of New York, the State University of New York at Westbury, Deutsche Bank, New York Life, and the New York City Comptroller's Office, as well as our own NYSSCPA chapters. So far, we've spoken to more than 2,500 people, either live or on webcast.

We have found along the way that the ethics, the professionalism, the integrity, and the resiliency of CPAs are as great as ever.

Because the SED is understaffed, the Society made the decision to reach out to those accountants who are inactive and to those for whom the law is a radical change. We were wondering if we would get a sense of “Why me?” from attendees of these educational sessions. That would have been okay—it's only human nature to react in such a way.

More Than a Good Idea

The thing about the new law is, it's sort of like that ubiquitous commercial regarding the merits of wearing a seatbelt in the car. “It's not just a good idea,” the commercial intones. “It's the law.”

It's the same principle here. Virtually all CPAs must now register with the SED. It's not an option, it's the law. So in some respects, we expected a bit of ‘Well, I have no choice, so I'll do it.”

Instead, we are seeing an incredible spirit among CPAs, reaffirming our faith in the authenticity of the profession. We've heard comments such as “I like this new law,” “I no longer feel like a second-class CPA,” “Now I know I can say ‘I refuse to do that. It's unethical,’” and “I can do things according to professional standards.”

That's what the first significant changes to New York State accountancy laws in more than 60 years have done. A person at one of our sessions in Buffalo came up to me and said, “I really feel like a professional now. There are people paying attention to what I do.”

We're glad. People should feel that way.

Now it's up to us to continue the education and the goodwill. We want every chapter, every community, and every Society member to reach out to those colleagues who are not in public practice. We'd like to see more people at Society functions. We need to continue to spread the news about the law so everyone within the profession who is affected by the legislation understands what is expected of them.

After all, as of July 26, everybody is CPA family now.

Louis Grumet. Publisher. The CPA Journal, Executive Director, NYSSCPA, lgrumet@nysscpa.org.

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