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Celebrating 125 Years of Professional Pride

AICPA_125_Anniversary.gifThis year, the profession is proudly celebrating a major milestone: the AICPA’s 125-year anniversary. We are one of the few professional organizations to reach this landmark birthday. I believe we got here because the profession’s core values—integrity, objectivity and competence—have made CPAs the most trusted financial professionals and will continue to do so. Those values have remained constant since 1887, and they will serve us well in the 21st Century.

Reaching 125 years of age deserves recognition, so we kicked off our celebration of that achievement with a special Council meeting in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Since the Institute plays an important role in educating and influencing policymakers, the gathering began with more than 400 representatives of the AICPA and governing Council visiting their legislators on Capitol Hill to reinforce our important thought leadership role. We talked with congressional leaders about two public interest initiatives launched in honor of the occasion.

One was the AICPA’s new tool, Total Tax Insights calculator, offered free to the public so people can have a clearer picture of the number and types of taxes they pay and see an estimated total of their tax obligation. The other is an effort that is close to my heart and one of the messages I want to share as AICPA chairman. What’s at Stake is an educational video on how the U.S. government’s financial statements can be used for greater understanding of the nation’s fiscal health. Educating lawmakers and citizens about the deficit, and the differences between the government’s annual budget and financial statements, is a priority that I am particularly passionate about and made one of my term’s key efforts. While Council members and others met with members of Congress, the AICPA Board of Directors met with senior advisors and cabinet representatives at the White House.

We then heard from a long list of prestigious speakers, including James R. Doty, chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board; SEC commissioner Troy A. Paredes; IRS commissioner Douglas H. Shulman; Iowa governor Terry Branstad; FASB chairman Leslie Seidman; assistant Treasury secretary Janice Eberly; U.S. Small Business Administration administrator Karen G. Mills; former U.S. comptroller general and founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative David Walker; Forrester Research founder George Colony; and leading technology strategist and author Geoffrey Moore.

 The Council meeting was a stimulating three-day discussion of our profession’s future. I believe that our Council members and other leaders of the profession came away, as I did, inspired to envision new roles for CPAs founded on the same essential skills and values that defined the profession 125 years ago. We heard lively panel discussions on hot topics for CPAs and the organizations they serve, including sessions on the future of financial and business reporting, career paths for young CPAs, rebooting business and stimulating commerce on Main Street. Videos of the panels will be available to members later this month so that you can listen in on these thought-provoking conversations.

There are many ways that all of our members can take part in our celebration throughout 2012. The June issue of the Journal of Accountancy is dedicated to the anniversary. There’s also a special printed commemorative poster available free by mail (limited quantities) or through online download that shows accounting memorabilia submitted by CPAs from all over the country. We created videos of some of the key developments in the profession’s history, as well as videos sharing the reflections of more than 20 past chairmen of the AICPA Board of Directors. And I hope you’ll take part in some of our fun social media activities, including a virtual birthday cake to which you can add your own celebratory thoughts. Visit aicpa.org/anniversary and take the journey with us down memory lane and get a glimpse of the road ahead.

Of course, our profession and its many accomplishments simply reflect the high quality of our membership and CPAs’ dedication to high standards. So it’s fitting to close by congratulating my fellow CPAs for enabling our national organization to thrive for 125 years. I look forward to taking part with all of you in our profession’s exciting future! 

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

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