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Chair's Letter: Overcoming Challenges

AICPA 125 AnniversaryWelcome to my first blog post as the new AICPA Chairman of the Board of Directors. I am honored to serve you and our wonderful profession during the next year and hope to meet many of you as I travel around the country.

It’s a great privilege to take on the role of chairman in the year the AICPA celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2012. A source of pride for all of us, this milestone signifies both the historic and contemporary importance and relevance of our profession, and its staying power as a career.

Looking back on the history of the profession, I am struck by our long tradition of successfully overcoming challenges. And that’s a good thing, because despite all our many recent successes, we still have some very serious work to do. As a nation, and around the globe, we are going to have to overcome some major challenges in the coming years if we want to achieve economic growth and prosperity. I’d like to talk about how we will continue to accomplish great things in the future.

Throughout our nearly 125 years, we have been a proactive profession that seeks out opportunities for growth and improvement. The latest example is CPA Horizons 2025, a landmark project that continues the valuable work of the profession’s Vision Process in the late 1990s and charts a course for the profession over the next 15 years.

Among other key areas, Horizons 2025 focused on the increasing impact that technology will have on our world and on our profession. Since technology can automate so many of the tasks that we perform, it has allowed us to raise our game and reinforce our roles as trusted business advisors. To continue to create value for our clients and employers, we have to regularly rethink how we deliver services and activities. This will move the profession up the value chain as we solidify our roles as strategic partners to our clients and companies.

As CPAs, and as individuals, we must use our skills to overcome the challenges we see in our profession and in our communities, and in our nation as well. Given the recent deficit debates and the importance of addressing our expanding debt concerns, we are exploring ways to leverage the profession’s knowledge to help Congress better understand the U.S. government’s financial statements. In addition to the eight CPAs now in Congress, we need more CPAs in a position to help decide how public money is spent, including school boards, city councils, state governments and Congress.

The ongoing globalization of business brings us additional challenges and opportunities. To seize those opportunities, we are working to ensure the U.S. CPA remains a premier professional accounting credential across the globe. The U.S. CPA Exam is now being offered in Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates. In February, we’ll offer the exam in Brazil. This is just part of a broad international strategy, which culminated in the creation of the new Chartered Global Management Accountant which is launching in January.

Of course, one serious challenge that we continue to work tirelessly to address is the need for more relevance and less complexity in private company financial reporting. I’m passionate about this effort, and like many of you I was very disappointed when the Financial Accounting Foundation’s recent proposal failed to include a separate private company standard-setting board that is not subject to FASB ratification. We continue to take steps to push for such as board, as we did with the resolution passed by Council in October. You can help in this critically important effort. I urge you to visit aicpa.org/privateGAAP and use the AICPA’s online tool to send a comment letter to FAF supporting an independent board.

Finally, as the first chair from Generation X, I’m happy to say that we have had some tremendous success during in the past decade in creating excitement about the profession among young people. Accounting graduates are at an all-time high. At the other end of the spectrum, we want to capitalize on the wave of older CPAs entering a new phase of their lives. To tap into that wealth of knowledge, we are organizing a task force to help put to use the perspectives and experiences of the large group of seasoned CPAs who are quickly approaching retirement.

Yes, we face many challenges. But we are well equipped to meet them. I look forward to working with you to push boundaries, explore new terrain and discover new opportunities.

If you have any thoughts you’d like to share on my column, please post a comment. Thank you.

Gregory J. Anton, CPA, Chairman, American Institute of CPAs.

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