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Has your firm shown you any appreciation lately? Made you feel loved? Did you have a single reason to be thankful for anything last Thursday? For some, the answer is a resounding “Hell no.”
This is not the case at Rockville, Maryland-based Aronson, LLC who shocked the pants off all of their 200+ employees with iPads at their annual meeting.
Why would a firm would do this, you ask? Is management trying to a prevent a winter exodus? Was it a banner year for the firm and they opted to spread the wealth around? Maybe. But right now they’re going with “appreciation” and a anniversary:
Aronson LLC, the Mid-Atlantic region’s premier public accounting and consulting firm, surprised its staff at its November Annual Meeting by handing out over 200 iPads, one for each and every Aronson employee. The company’s offering, valued at nearly $100,000, was made both to celebrate the firm’s 50th Anniversary (coming in 2012), and to demonstrate appreciation for the employees’ dedication and hard work.
Motives notwithstanding, it beats kick in the shins. All non-Aronson employees may commence envious bitching as they see fit.
Our favorite revolutionaries over at the Maryland Association of CPAs never take a vacation, and for those of you interested in leadership, you might be interested in their latest project. Or at least enjoy the following without making snide comments about overachievers that mask your true feelings of jealousy. Let’s face it, you’re probably not as cool as Tom Hood. It’s fine, just embrace it.
A team of graduates from MACPA’s 2011 Leadership Academy say CPAs must become more global-minded, proactive, future-focused, balanced and tech-savvy to maintain their competitive edge in a complex and constantly-changing world. Getting there, they say, will require a brand new set of skills and characteristics. Among them: Unity and flexibility, the ability to collaborate and crowdsource, a mind shift from history to possibility, and a new tech-focused mindset.
It is likely no coincidence that Gen Yers, as the future leaders of the industry, are hyper-connected, collaborative and far more interested in the “possible” than the “already been done.”
Forty members of the MACPA’s 2011 Leadership Academy used those infamous collaboration skills to shape a new MACPA white paper, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: Maryland’s Young CPAs Create a Vision of the Profession’s Future.”
“These young CPAs care deeply about their profession,” said MACPA Executive Director Tom Hood, CPA. “They know we’re facing an increasingly complex and challenging future, and they see each challenge as an opportunity not only to help clients and employers, but to position CPAs as the world’s most trusted business advisor.”
The white paper comes on the heels of the profession’s CPA Horizons 2025 project, which leveraged input from CPAs, regulators, thought leaders and futurists to identify key trends and map what the profession will look like in 2025.
The interesting part about the MACPA’s project is that opinions and visions are a dime a dozen in this industry, but Leadership Academy participants went beyond postulating about the future to map opportunities from a future CPA leader’s point of view complete with action plans, timelines and desired results. This isn’t simply a report on the state of the industry at some point in the future but a report on how young leaders can get us there in the here and now.
“There have been a lot of questions swirling about the next generation of business leaders. Topping the list is, ‘Are they ready to lead?’” said Hood. “Our Leadership Academy provides the answer: Not only are they ready to lead, they’re hungry to lead, and this white paper is their starting point.”
If you are anywhere near Baltimore and looking for something to do on June 2 – 3, have you considered checking out the Maryland CPA Summit?
I’m specifically going to check out the new CPA swearing in as I hear from a reliable source that the MACPA crew is planning something very special that I just can’t share with the class at this point. Trust me, you’re not going to want to miss it.
You can also pick up some CPE in such fun and exciting topics as healthcare reform, fair value, revenue recognition & fraud, IFRS, XBRL and more. It’ll run you $125 if you’re a MACPA member, or $325 if you are not.
Maryland CPAs, I expect to see many of you there.
Of course Tom Hood had something to do with this.
Get your MACPA vanity license plate, complete with the CPA logo and tagline “CPA – Never Underestimate the Value” prominently featured. Let everyone know you are a member of the Maryland Association of CPAs. Plates cost just $25. They’re a fun way to show you are proud to be a CPA.
There’s one resident of Maryland who probably would like one of these that simply says “JDA” but we’re guessing “CPA wranglers” aren’t eligible. As for the legit CPAs out there, unless there’s a proctologist out there that’s already nabbed it, we suggest you move quick to get “ASSMAN” because it won’t last. We’ll hear your other clever suggestions now; shoot for style points.
What do you get when you cross 150 CPAs with the state capitol? You get the Maryland Association of CPAs’ CPA Day and, lucky me, I got to be there when a record number of MACPA members stormed Annapolis, Maryland (on Inauguration Day, none-the-less) and brought their passion (and the sun) with them.
Driving in the dark at the crack of dawn to Annapolis, I had absolutely no idea what I was in for. I’d heard about previous CPA Day successes and knew the day involved legislators and CPAs swarming their offices but I had no idea the day would be so powerful, nor did I expect the passion I gathered from those in attendance.
For the day, I got to chase MACPA vice chair and association Legislative Executive Committee head Allen DeLeon, CPA. Al is partner at Gaithersburg’s DeLeon and Stang, a 2010 Accounting Today winner for best places to work, and yet another CPA touched by MACPA CEO Tom Hood’s powerful social media message.
As Tom so eloquently stated yesterday, the MACPA’s primary legislative mission is to protect the CPA license in the state of Maryland. Their secondary level of legislative influence means keeping an eye on tax policy in the state. The association has identified the following five issues for the 428th session of the Maryland General Assembly:
1. Pass 120/150 legislation. This legislation will allow students to sit for the CPA exam after completing the accounting requirements in an undergraduate program. They would be able to get their license upon completion of the 150 credit hours. This bill (HB 1137) passed the House and Senate committee last year but ran out of time before the end of the legislative session. See our prior post about this issue.
2. Stop sales tax on accounting, tax and consulting services. The real issue here is the compliance costs to CPA firms (and their clients), as intangible services are hard to identify where and when they are delivered to and from.
3. Exempt CPAs from proposed regulation of debt counselors. The CPAs education, examination and experience requirements, along with rigorous state licensing and oversight, make it unnecessary to include CPAs in this legislation. See our prior post here.
4. Stop the lawsuit tax. Efforts by the trial bar to liberalize tort law will be detrimental to CPAs and small businesses as the basis to argue suits would increase and liability would be linked to the entities with insurance. This means more suits and more settlements, effectively creating a lawsuit tax. This is bad legislation even in a good economy.
5. Pass “safe harbor” legislation. This is a technical correction necessary since the passage of mandatory peer review legislation in 2005. This will clarify the definition of “attest” and practicing certified public accountancy in Maryland law. This will allow non-licensed CPAs to prepare compilations for clients provided that they do not use AICPA SSARS language and state that they are not required to undergo peer review.
For Al’s part in yesterday’s event, we met with Senator Rob Garagiola, Senator Nancy King, Delegate Brian Feldman and Andrew Aleshire, aide to brand spanking new Delegate Aruna Miller. Having done this several years in a row, Al wasted no time bringing up the key issues with each legislator. We cruised between the House of Delegates and the Senate buildings (he’s done this so many times he even knows of the secret underground tunnel that connects them both) discussing taxes, the 120/150 rule, reviews and compilations and regulation of CPAs as debt counselors.
I was especially impressed by Senator King’s willingness to sit down with Al and discuss current issues, including a highly controversial (Tom Hood called it “dangerous”) 2 – 3% gross receipts tax, which the state is apparently considering in lieu of a sales tax hike. Al volunteered to give any proposed legislation a good once over as a politically-independent CPA, something young CPAs getting involved in legislative issues should take note of. While MACPA members came to Annapolis to push the association’s legislative agenda, it’s also important to remember that part of protecting the public interest also means protecting the profession from unnecessary or burdensome legislation.
Comments from first-time attendees included “I was surprised at how receptive everyone was” and one Rockville CPA noted that though CPAs had invaded state buildings, they did not get the sense that they were perceived as “a bunch of people coming to bother them.”
Barrett Young, one such first-timer in attendance yesterday, stated that he was surprised at how “normal” legislators were. The 27 year old Charles County CPA (who can be found blogging at CP…eh?) attended CPA Day after Tom Hood came to his area for a town hall on these issues and, like me, didn’t realize the full impact 150 CPAs would have in Annapolis that day. He came because he wanted to meet other CPAs in the state, not because he knew it would be a legislative day of action. But now that he’s attended one CPA Day, he is both informed and inspired to take action moving forward. “The MACPA keeps us focused on a bigger picture than our revenue sources,” he said.
Did yesterday change his view on these important issues? Absolutely. “I do have a big chance of running into my delegates at the store,” he said, “and now, I have the confidence to know that they are approachable – and interested – in my views on the profession. The MACPA knows what impacts us, and is doing a great job to remain nonpartisan. [They do not favor] a specific county, but protect our license as a whole.”
Tom reminded those in attendance that making face-to-face contact with legislators allows CPAs in the state the opportunity to show lawmakers that we care enough to show up, shake hands and make our concerns known. For young CPAs like Barrett, it also gives the next generation of the industry a chance to see how powerful their profession really is. “I have a responsibility to see that the profession is greater than just me, my career, and my need to make an income. CPA Day does this by introducing me to older CPAs, and connecting me with peers from my own age group,” he told us. Who would pass up a chance like that?
“If we had two or three hundred of you, we could rule the state,” Tom joked to the audience.
Judging by the tangible buzz yesterday, I’d say Maryland CPAs are pretty close to ruling the state as is.
Once again, we have to congratulate the MACPA for a job well-done and I’m already looking forward to following along next year.