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ICYMI: NASBA Is Looking For a New President

Office workplace with vacancy sign. Empty seat, chair in room for employee.

So longtime NASBA president Ken Bishop announced his retirement at NASBA’s 116th Annual
Meeting held in late October/early November which obviously means they’re looking for a new one. His retirement is effective July 31, 2024.

Bishop joined NASBA in 2007 and has held the president and CEO position since January of 2012. Prior to ascending to the role of president over the entire shebang, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer.

A committee has been established to find his replacement and consideration will be given to current NASBA staff as well as qualified outside candidates. The right president will be “a visionary, one who possesses strong financial and business acumen, executive decision-making abilities, dynamic public speaking skills, and has knowledge of the profession and the importance of accounting regulation” according to comment by 2023-24 NASBA Chair Stephanie M. Saunders, CPA. We nominate Big4Veteran.

Requirements for consideration:

  • Bachelor’s degree required; master’s degree or CPA preferred
  • Experience in executive leadership
  • Strong strategic planning and execution skills
  • Excellent communications and interpersonal skills
  • Demonstrated commitment to ethical behavior and public protection
  • Experience managing a diverse workforce and promoting an inclusive work environment
  • Must be willing to relocate to the Nashville, Tennessee area
  • Must be willing to be in the office 2-3 days a week (when not travelling)
  • Must be willing to travel domestically and internationally

Excellent communications and interpersonal skills

We humbly rescind our nomination for Big4Veteran. If you want to throw your hat in the ring, by all means have at it.

We’ll wrap this up with Mr. Bishop’s August 22, 2023 President’s Memo: “You are not listening!”

As the president and CEO of NASBA, I have always felt comfortable in my ability to monitor and measure what I describe as the temperature of our stakeholders. While the State Boards of Accountancy are our primary stakeholders, we are certainly interested in the opinions and ideas of Board of Accountancy staff members, State CPA Societies and their staff members, and other national associations, all of whom we consider to be important stakeholders. I have recently written and spoken about some current disagreements between our various stakeholder groups (mostly pipeline related), and more importantly, the tension that it has created. In our discussions about those disagreements, I occasionally heard either “they are not listening, or “you are not listening.” When “you” is NASBA, I take that criticism very seriously.

This is a relatively new phenomenon. While I try to never be defensive, I have always considered NASBA’s efforts to communicate, including listening, to be effective. As I have stated many times, NASBA is you. Through our regional director led regional calls, state board relations staff, executive director monthly Zoom meetings, and open participation in conferences with breakout sessions, there are many opportunities for listening and dialogue. Similarly, through our State Society Relations Committee, inviting society staff to our conferences, and other visits, there should not be a dearth of communication. Despite these efforts, the “not listening” criticism is ever present.

I have spoken of the “distortion” of behavior after the tremendous disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Folks are just behaving differently and that includes challenging institutionalized and historic ways of doing things. This is not necessarily a bad thing as change is often painful, but ultimately proves to be positive.

In trying to interpret or understand what is behind the “not listening” commentary, I have begun to have some empathy. If we appear to be listening, but not willing to seriously consider viewpoints and express the need for change, then are we really listening?

At the recent NASBA Western Regional meeting, I approached a longtime friend who is a senior staff member of a state society, which has proposed legislation that could disrupt substantial equivalency and mobility. I was surprised when he commented that he didn’t know if I was speaking to him because of the society’s legislative actions. While his remark may have been made somewhat facetiously, it sensitized me as to the importance of how we communicate and the tone of our conversations, particularly when we disagree.

In my last President’s Memo titled The 150 Legacy, I wrote of the tremendous amount of work of generations of accounting leaders who for decades worked to get all states substantially equivalent, allowing a system of practice mobility that no other profession has been able to accomplish anywhere in the world. There is no doubt that I, and others, are passionate about protecting their work and the resultant privilege U.S. CPAs and their clients have enjoyed. I am starting to recognize that passion may be seen by others as a proverbial ‘stake in the ground’ and an unwillingness to consider changes to address the shrinking number of new CPAs…in other words, not listening.

At the most recent NASBA Board of Directors meeting, there were serious discussions about legislative challenges and the resultant perceived distrust, with a focus on the best ways to move forward. We have already reached out to key stakeholders to establish communication channels and opportunities. While there are disparities in opinions as to how we should address the pipeline issue, there seems to be consensus that no party wants to disrupt substantial equivalency or mobility. That provides an avenue for negotiation and middle ground opportunities.

This coming year (NASBA’s new fiscal year begins August 1), we are going to face unprecedented challenges, but also significant opportunities. After years of development and investment, we will soon be launching the new CPA Evolution examination with changes that will bring currency and flexibility into the entry examination for the accounting profession. We are already seeing signs of renewed interest in joining this great profession with increasing numbers of students enrolling in accounting programs at colleges and universities across the country. If we can muster the where-with-all to work together, I am confident that we can reach consensus as to changes in the process that should be considered.

I am personally committed to being open to new and innovative ideas, and most importantly, to listening!

Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).

— Ken L. Bishop
President & CEO

And then he dipped out. 🖐️🎤 Happy trails, Mr. B.

One thought on “ICYMI: NASBA Is Looking For a New President

  1. I find it interesting that the right candidate doesn’t need to be a CPA or have five years of higher education.

    Surprisingly, the job doesn’t require the CEO to be a CPA or have five years of college, which is unusual since NASBA sets these requirements for CPAs. The job ad says a bachelor’s degree is needed, and a master’s or CPA is preferred.

    This raises questions: NASBA insists on five years of education for CPAs, but not for its CEO. Is this a case of NASBA now valuing diverse experiences more than traditional qualifications?

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