This from our friends at the New Jersey Society of CPAs: On January 13, Governor Christie signed legislation (A1545) supported by the NJSCPA that eliminates the “five-year death penalty” provision for CPAs and other licensed professionals. The legislation also streamlines the reciprocity process for out-of-state professionals applying for licensure in New Jersey. The bill will […]
When I wrote Why Am I the Only Person Under 40 at AICPA Spring Council? last week, I knew that my tongue-in-cheek exaggeration would get people talking, which was mostly the point of saying something like that. As I think we all know, whenever someone implies that the profession is still represented mostly by middle-aged men in suits, everyone gets worked into a lather. My goal wasn’t to offend said middle-aged men in suits, most of whom I admire for their leadership, but to bring the issue of under-representation of the younger demographic to the table for discussion.
I didn’t actually believe I was the only one under 40 there (creative license people, deal tand that there is a hierarchy that young CPAs have to work their way up, starting on the state level. As a reporter, I had to do exactly the same, first covering MACPA’s CPA Day in Annapolis to get a feel for how visits with legislators work before being sent to cover Council. Cruising through the Maryland State House was a lot like attacking the Hill except on a smaller scale, and certainly prepared me for what to expect at Council.
As it turns out, I really wasn’t the only one under 40 there (as suspected). Evidenced by the following email I received from a young Washington State CPA shortly after Council wrapped:
I’m sorry I missed you! Thank you for your article. I am 2 years fresh out of college (work for an international firm), and was fortunate enough to be sponsored by the Washington (State) Society of CPAs to attend the AICPA governing council. I had a chance to meet with my representative, another representative’s office and my senator’s office today to discuss these issues with them and/or their staff. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting with the other senator from my state. The state society had the same view as you, in that it is important to start including accountants of my generation in the advocacy role, because these issues that are being introduced today will transform the profession for years, potentially decades, to come. The AICPA Governing Council has exposed me to numerous leaders in the accounting profession that serve as a great resource for the younger crowd to learn from. All it takes is the interest of young CPAs to become involved. It’s important now more than ever to have young CPAs step up to the challenge. Thank you for urging all young CPAs to contact their state society or nearest member on the governing council for more information.
“I found that for whatever reason, most state societies use their Council seats as ‘rewards’ for their (usually senior–both in experience and often age) members–so the ‘free’ attendance that Council members receive are not generally available to people our age. So I don’t blame most of the young CPAs, since without this free ticket, I wouldn’t be able to afford to attend this meeting either,” said Donny Shimamoto, CPA, CITP, founder and director of IntrapriseTechKnowlogies and the only young CPA we were able to track down at Council. Does that tell me that the system is rigged to keep middle-aged men in suits at the top of the food chain? No, it tells me that perks like comped trips to DC for Council are earned through demonstrated leadership, which is a commitment of both time and energy toward advancing the greater good of the profession.
As I said last week, if you are interested in legislative issues and want to get involved, you can start by contacting your state society of CPAs and checking out the AICPA Leadership Academy, which will be meeting in October in Durham, NC.
Here’s the bottom line: no one is going to approach you and ask if you want a free trip to our nation’s capital just because you have a pretty face (sorry, Joe Carey). You can position yourself as a leader by staying on top of important legislation that impacts the profession and even if you couldn’t make it to Council, there’s nothing keeping you from writing your Congressmen to share your feelings on this year’s key issues.
So I’m here in downtown Washington, D.C. for three days of awesomeness that is AICPA Spring Council 2011. While today’s session started just past the asscrack of dawn (breakfast at 7am) and goes through evening, the first day was mostly cocktails and schmoozing, as these events tend to be.
Here’s my question: where the hell are the young CPAs? Of the attendees, every single state is represented, some more than others. CPAs from across the country have descended upon Washington in their best monkey suit to listen to speakers like George Will and Eleanor Clift, as well as to get an update on the legislative issues that impact the profession. On Tuesday, they’ll be taking to the Hill to bring these issues directly to their Congress(wo)men.
But there is only ONE attendee (from Hawaii) who falls into our age bracket (your humble reporter excluded, of course). ONE.
Listen, I get it. You spent your last college years dealing with this kind of shit, putting on a tie and sucking up to partners and recruiters, all the movers and shakers of the industry. You worried about using the wrong fork at banquets and sat through symbolic awards ceremonies just to appear as though you are passionate about your industry. Now that you actually have a job, what’s the point?
The point is that these issues impact the profession which you will inherit one day. I’ve got nothing against middle-aged men in suits (hell, I’ve been dating one for the last two years) but one day soon, they’ll be retired and it will be up to us to take the reins and move the profession forward. How on Earth are we supposed to do that if we don’t figure out how it is done now?
There are endless opportunities here for mentoring and, better, for young CPAs to have a voice. Yes it’s somewhat symbolic. Yes you will have to wear a tie. Yes it can be stuffy and dull and a bit tedious. Guess what? It’s still important and one day, when all the middle-aged men are living their retirements out on yachts in the middle of the Pacific, you’re going to have to step up and do it anyway.
If you’d like to get involved (it’s not too late to start planning for next year), get in touch with your state society of CPAs for more information. You can find out more about AICPA Governing Council on their website.
You can follow #AICPAGC11 hashtag on Twitter to check out what we’re all up to for the next two days and please, don’t make me yell at you again. I didn’t put this monkey suit on this morning for nothing.