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Facing and Embracing Change Together

by Kimberly Scott, CAE, WSCPA President & CEO | Aug 01, 2017
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Today I officially moved into my new office; it is the start of a new journey. During the last 16 plus years I have worked in a few cubicles and a couple of offices in this building, yet this office feels very different—it is very different. The change in my office view, and the change in my role, prompted me to think about changes to the profession and organization since I have been with the WSCPA.

First, let me say that I am excited about new and different opportunities, and the change they bring. I mentioned to the Past Chairs at their annual dinner a few weeks ago that things were changing in the association world and in the CPA profession. A wise past chair eloquently stated that he was chair 40 some years ago and change was what they worried about too. In fact change has been a constant as long as he has been a member. The number of changes which affected the CPA profession in Washington State during the past 16 years seem to prove he is correct.

Changes Affecting the CPA Profession Since 2000

CPE

Shortly before I joined the organization, the CPE requirement had just been modified. Some of you may recall that, prior to this change, CPAs were required to complete 32 A&A credit hours every license renewal cycle, regardless of whether they were engaged in audit or attest work. Soon after I joined, the reporting cycle was modified from every two years to a three-year cycle. The number of required credit hours stayed the same—40 hours per year is the average—but the type of credit hours became more focused on what you might actually need to advance in your position. They also added the four-hour ethics requirement.

License or Certificate

Washington State used to be what we called a two-tier state as well. You could be either a licensed CPA or a certificate holder. To be licensed it was very similar to what it is now, except you needed to have work experience in a public accounting firm. The certificate meant you had the education, passed the rigorous CPA exam, but were missing the required work experience in a public accounting firm.

CPA Exam

That rigorous exam has gone through many changes as well. By the way, the exam is celebrating its 100th birthday this year! Do you remember when you could only sit for the exam two times a year, May and November? Or when you had to take all four parts in one sitting, and it was paper and pencil only—no computers. It may surprise you to know that the exam moved to a computerized exam a little over a decade ago. In April more changes to the exam were rolled out and additional changes are expected every couple of years in order to keep up with the changes in regulation and technology.

Technology

I cannot even begin to discuss every technological change. I clearly remember buying my first home computer. It took up a ton of space, cost as much as car, and nowadays a handheld child’s toy has more memory capacity. I even recall when the Internet became available for home use, for once I was an early adopter. Of course back then it was only really used for chat rooms. There were no news feeds, shopping, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the latest platforms which are trending today.

What This Means for the WSCPA

How do I interpret all of this change? There are opportunities and possibilities that exist for our organization. We should expect that what lies ahead will not be easy to maneuver.

The WSCPA has changed significantly during my tenure as well, especially in the areas of communications and continuing education.

Sixteen years ago, when we held live CPE courses, they were full. Now we offer more webcasts than we do live courses. The convenience of taking education courses from our desks or in our homes has changed how members interact with the Society. There is fierce competition in the market for CPE and so we will continue to see changes in this area.  

Finding the best way to communicate with members (or for you to communicate with your clients) is constantly changing as well. With new technology comes new expectations. The WSCPA used to rely on printed marketing pieces, now we communicate via print, email, and the major social media platforms. Now, we can hear from members in many different ways, any time of the day, any day of the week and we need to respond, in accordance with member expectations for each communication platform.

The WSCPA has invested in connecting with students and young professionals, trying to clearly understand what they expect to need from a professional organization. We have created new types of networking events, increased scholarships, and created structure in our leadership opportunities.

We have launched two new websites and many upgrades, and two databases—which is a monumental challenge for any organization. I expect the rate of change in this area will increase as well. However, it is desperately necessary. Sixteen years ago, you could not easily and securely pay for training or membership online—it was all by phone or mail.

I see much more on the horizon in this changing world and we will continue to evolve. With impressive volunteers and staff, the WSCPA will create new programs and experiences. Of course, change can often translate to fear and new opportunities may mean old ones disappear.

Let’s face this change remembering that we—WSCPA members, leadership and staff, as well as the entire profession, and all the organizations that support it—are in this together. I look toward to the future and anticipate it will be full of opportunities to bring growth and excitement. We may not know what the organization will look like in 5, 10, or 50 years from now, but together anything is possible. Thank you for starting this new journey with me!

Kimberly-Scott-headshot

Kimberly Scott is President & CEO of the WSCPA. You can contact her at kscott@wscpa.org.

This article appeared in the summer 2017 issue of WashingtonCPA Magazine. Read more here.

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