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The Power of a Collective Voice

Joanne S. Barry

The NYSSCPA has been the voice of the CPA profession in New York State for more than 100 years, and that voice has just gotten stronger. The broadened scope of practice in state law now embraces CPAs in industry, government, and academia, in addition to those practicing under the historic definition of public accountancy. To all CPAs now under the state's regulatory umbrella: Welcome back to the profession.

The NYSSCPA has long been the professional home to thousands of CPAs in public accounting firms. As job opportunities outside traditional public accounting grew, some CPAs working outside of public firms continued to find value in maintaining their membership in a professional society. Often one of the few CPAs in their companies or organizations, these professionals—such as CFOs, controllers, professors, and consultants—saw the Society as a way to continue to connect with other CPAs working in industry, government, or academia, to counsel each other on practice issues, and to network. Over the years, not all CPAs outside public accounting firms saw that value. Participation in their State Society declined.

What issues aie you facing at your company, your town, your school, or your fiim that could be addressed by the NYSSCPA?

The new accountancy reform law brings these CPAs back into the regulatory fold. As your Society, we would like to welcome you back. But in order to do that, we need to broaden our perspective to meet your needs—and we need your help to do it.

Help us define value for you as a CPA in industry, academia, and government. What issues are you facing at your company, your town, your school, or your firm that could be addressed by the NYSSCPA? The Society has recently added two additional Industry Division committees—the Family Office Committee and the Internal Audit Committee—to meet the needs of its newest members. We may need to create more. If so, what should they be?

This year, the Foundation for Accounting Education (FAE), the education arm of the Society, is offering one of its most robust course offerings in its history, designed to meet the needs of all CPAs. This was accomplished through the efforts of our members—FAE's board of trustees and Curriculum Committee. This is the kind of input we need to help maximize our members' professional development.

What Comes Next Is Up to You

Membership and active participation in your Society will give New York CPAs an even stronger voice on issues that are important to the profession. NYSSCPA members have already witnessed what 28,000 CPAs working toward a single goal with a single voice can accomplish: sweeping reform of the profession by updating a 100-year-old state accounting law, and pointed advocacy on the issues that matter most to CPAs.

When the state adopted a law that would require all tax practitioners, including CPAs, to register with the state and pay a fee, the NYSSCPA pushed back. Our grassroots efforts worked, and now all CPAs are exempt from the law. Imagine what else we could accomplish if every member raised a voice, if every member wrote just one letter to a legislator. Imagine if every CPA participated in the Society as much as our most active member. What could we accomplish then? We are 28,000 strong, but we cannot use this strength to its fullest if every perspective is not represented.

The Society's position on practice issues is most often hashed out in one of its more than 60 statewide committees. Most committees are open to all members, meaning you can start participating in the process immediately. There are also 15 NYSSCPA chapters throughout the state. Not every issue is a statewide issue—some are regional, and your local chapter offers excellent advice on how to deal with them.

The NYSSCPA is your professional home—no matter where you are or how long you have been a CPA. And I encourage you to think about what it means to be actively involved in your professional association.

It is up to each member to decide what the NYSSCPA will look like as we continue the steady march into the 21st century. Individually, we stand alone—together, we are a powerful force. How you use this power is up to you. The NYSSCPA is waiting.

Joanne S. Barry. Associate Publisher. CPA Journal Acting Executive Director, NYSSCPA jbarry@nysscpa.org.

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