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CPA Profession’s Journey of Greatness

Road-journeyI am honored to write to you in my first blog as the new AICPA Chairman of the Board of Directors. I truly look forward to being able to engage with you through these bimonthly posts. We have an exciting year ahead of us, a year which will focus on the quality of our work and the members of our profession.

As I begin my term as chairman, I have found myself reflecting upon my early days as a staff accountant. From the time I graduated college and began pursuing my career as a CPA, I have been surrounded by inspirational leaders who helped shape me into the man I am today. My firm, Postlethwaite & Netterville, is named after two such extraordinary role models, the late Mr. Alexander Postlethwaite (whom I never addressed by first name) and Jake Netterville, a former AICPA chairman. These great men taught me that quality service and passion are two key ingredients needed to achieve success.

Many years ago, Mr. Postlethwaite gave me advice that still resonates with me today. He said growth stemmed from quality – fulfill on that pledge and good things will follow. As I take on this new role as chairman, I will take Mr. Postlethwaite’s advice to heart. By focusing on high-level performance and talented people, we will continue building upon our profession’s strong reputation.

Our profession’s core values are embodied in several initiatives. Here are a few of them:

A one-stop A&A resource for smaller firms. Last month we launched the AICPA PCPS Center for Plain English Accounting, the AICPA’s national A&A resource center for PCPS member firms. My firm has been a member of PCPS ever since it was formed and we always thought a service like this would be valuable. I am very proud to announce this new and exciting initiative that will help members manage today’s complexities and ever-changing landscape so they can continue to serve as the nation’s trusted advisers in accounting and auditing.

Private company financial reporting. Since I joined the profession more than 35 years ago, we have been discussing differential financial reporting for private companies. I am happy to see progress in this arena, in both the non-GAAP space with the AICPA’s Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities, and within GAAP, where the Financial Accounting Foundation’s Private Company Council is recommending modifications. Private companies far outnumber public companies, and the AICPA supports improving financial reporting for the businesses that are the cornerstone of our nation’s economy.

The “next generation” of peer review. Peer review is a central component of our profession’s self-regulation. To ensure we are constantly reaching the pinnacle of excellence, we are starting to explore a new practice-monitoring system that would use the latest technology to enable a continuous process for evaluating engagements. As a former member of the AICPA Peer Review Board, I am looking forward to seeing peer review evolve.Member input will be very important in this transformative process, so watch for more on this topic as the year progresses. 

Broadening our talent pool to attract and retain the best and brightest. Increasing diversity in the profession was a top priority of my predecessor, Rich Caturano, CPA, CGMA. Rich led the effort to create the AICPA National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, whose mission is to help the profession recruit, retain and advance the nation’s brightest among underrepresented minorities. I, too, believe diversity and inclusion is key to better serving the evolving needs of clients, employers and our communities. We need to make sure we include the best minds and top skills for the profession’s continued success going forward.

Several other significant initiatives are important to me this year because they demonstrate CPA quality and commitment to the public interest. They are a revision to the definition of attest under the Uniform Accountancy Act, movement in firm mobility, enhanced audit quality, continued success of the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation, legislative advocacy efforts and public service activities. Watch your AICPA information resources for developments on these topics.

Thank you. Let’s keep in touch and take this journey together.

William E. Balhoff, CPA, CGMA, CFF, Chairman of the Board of Directors, American Institute of CPAs.

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