Advocacy, Mindbugs, and Technology Threats

by Kimberly Scott, CAE | Jan 30, 2017

One of the key strategies for the WSCPA is communication. Delivering the right message at the right time, in the way our members want to receive it. A lofty goal, and one that seems impossible against the chaos and competition.

For advocacy, another key strategy, how do we effectively communicate, in a way that will make you take notice of what the WSPCA is doing to advocate for you, as a CPA in Washington? For the WSCPA, advocacy is not just about protecting the profession. Advocacy is also about promoting the profession.

During the last few years the WSCPA leadership has made a concerted effort to visit each chapter in person and share an update on what has been happening in the profession. This year we took it a step further, with local Disruption Tour events, and attendees were given a sense of how the WSCPA both protects and promotes the profession.

The Disruption Tour, held during the last two months, was a free 3-hour CPE program for members and covered topics of personal development as well as a professional update. Inspired by member feedback, the program was interactive, high level, fast paced and even fun. The presentation was a little different in each chapter based on the interests and interaction of the participants.

Over the years WSCPA members have asked for more soft-skill or personal development courses. This demand is growing as the baby boomers start to retire and the next generation of professionals step into leadership roles.

The first hour of the Tour program included soft skills training on unconscious bias. Attendees learned what it is, its importance and had some fun testing some of their own assumptions. The brain is amazing and everyone has personal blindspots which taint perceptions. Members tested their visual, memory, and social mindbugs and delved into bias. Bias can creep into our work, but it is possible to become aware of and avoid biases when necessary. Together attendees failed (and passed) tests and supported new ideas. It is true that the more we learn about ourselves, how we respond and are perceived by others, the better leaders we can become.

Mary Joyce, a CPA member from Seattle, had this to say after attending the Seattle Disruption Tour:

“The Disruption Tour was one of the most interactive and engaging WSCPA events that I have attended in quite some time. Important ‘disruption’ takeaways ranged from current initiatives at the WBOA and AICPA to soft skills for today’s workplace. Presenters stimulated exceptional attendee participation. Great member benefit! Thank you!”

The program then moved into understanding who our volunteer leaders are in our own state and nationally. Members learned about resources available to them locally and nationally, based on the top areas of concern according to recent surveys. Resources for retention, recruitment and development of staff were at the top of most lists.

Of course, advocacy topics were covered! We discussed the bills recently passed in Washington State and what they mean to local CPAs. Other topics included recommended changes to peer review, the audit quality initiative, the CPA pipeline, changes to the CPA exam, and new resources from the AICPA.

The program ended with a high-level look at technology. Where do you start and how do you develop a plan to stay on top of the sheer amount of change? What tools should you be looking at for your own organization? Also, what are the top technology threats everyone should understand?

Did you know that the financial services field is one of the most targeted fields by cyber criminals? Cybercrimes are still on the rise and a cyberattack now on average costs about $4 million per incident. Hopefully your organization has cyber insurance. If you do, your insurance provider can be a great resource for your business, but you still need a plan and you need to test your plan. After a breach your insurance premiums could go up as much as 200%. Do you have your records backed up to a secure location? Are your off-site computers updated, including smart phones? Do you know what ransomware is and how it is transmitted? Have you educated everyone on staff about what they need to do to avoid succumbing to a cyberattack?

If you didn’t have a chance to attend the Disruption Tour, we hope that you keep an eye out for future opportunities to learn about what’s happening in your profession. I realize that you receive hundreds of emails a day, that you are bombarded on social media and that you receive more material to read than you have time in the day. You are a member of the CPA profession, and a member of the WSCPA. Take a minute to read, or at least skim, the information we send you. We are trying to listen, trying to respond, and you never know when you will miss a great opportunity because you missed the invitation.

Kimberly Scott, CAE, WSCPA VP of Member and Government Relations

About the Author

Kimberly Scott, CAE, is the WSCPA Vice President of Member and Government Relations.

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

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