The Maryland Association of CPAs has proposed a series of changes to its bylaws designed to increase the association’s flexibility and adaptability in an increasingly changing and complex world.
The proposed changes would:
- Modernize and simplify the MACPA’s charter and bylaws.
- Give the Board of Directors greater discretion to respond quickly and fluidly to changes in the profession.
- Ensure that a majority of the seats on the MACPA’s Board of Directors are filled by licensed CPAs.
- Update references to ethics requirements to reflect the MACPA’s current practices.
- Add language to allow for the use of various forms of electronic communication.
Much has happened since the last time the MACPA updated its bylaws nearly 20 years ago, and recent trends like advancing technology, workforce shifts, changes in firm structure, attempts to modify CPA licensure, and their related impacts on organizations have reinforced among MACPA leadership the need to refresh the document.
“Things are changing fast, and we’re doing our best to stay on top of what’s happening in the profession,” said Ray Speciale, an associate professor at Mount St. Mary’s University and vice chair of the MACPA’s Board of Directors. “These governance changes will allow us to move with these types of trends more fluidly and effectively in the future.”
Learn more about the proposed changes by watching this webinar, which features detailed summaries by Speciale and MACPA President and CEO Tom Hood:
The proposed changes were exposed to thousands of MACPA members by Hood during a lengthy series of recent “town hall”-style professional issues updates. According to Hood, 86.8 percent of the members in attendance expressed support for the changes.
“Our chief concerns are, how do we become very nimble and proactive and not be burdened with massive governance requirements in order to keep up with these fast-moving changes?” Hood said. “How do we make sure the profession is ready to deal with disruption, and how can we help our members become future-ready?”
The answers, MACPA leaders believe, lie in a series of clarifying but important bylaws changes.
Greater Board discretion to respond quickly
Traditional methods of changing and updating governing documents like the association’s bylaws often include lengthy review and exposure periods before final adoption takes place. In worst cases, the entire process could take as long as two years from start to finish. Given today’s exponential pace of change, that’s simply too long to enact timely changes, which may end up being obsolete as soon as they take effect.
In certain cases, the MACPA’s Board needs the authority to enact changes on its own in order to help the association better serve members’ needs in a timely manner.
“(The Board) needs to be able to respond quickly to changes, and sometimes we have to be able to do that on a dime,” Speciale said.
Under the proposal, any changes suggested by the Board would require approval by two-thirds of the association’s directors.
CPA majority on Board of Directors
The face of the profession is changing. At the top 100 CPA firms, the number of non-CPA professionals now outnumber the number of CPAs by more than three to one. Add to that the fact that only one in three accounting graduates are now becoming CPAs, and it’s easy to see why AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon now calls this a “CPA-led profession” rather than a “CPA profession.”
To reflect these changes, many organizations — the MACPA included — have begun allowing non-CPA professionals to join their memberships as non-voting members. The MACPA now offers a “Professional Colleague” membership category for professionals who have been referred by a CPA member and “who hold a bachelor’s degree and are currently employed in the accounting and finance field but are not CPAs and do not plan to pursue the CPA license.” Such professionals might include, for example, non-CPA Chartered Global Management Accountants (CGMAs) and non-CPA Certified Management Accountants (CMAs).
To protect the profession’s interest and to ensure against the dilution of the association, the proposed bylaw changes require that a majority of the seats on the MACPA’s Board of Directors are filled by licensed, practicing CPAs.
Updates to references to ethics requirements
The section in the bylaws relating to ethics requirements include descriptions that are not current realities. The proposed bylaws changes would update these references to reflect current MACPA practices.
Adding references to e-communications
The ways in which we communicate are changing as fast as everything else in our profession. The proposed bylaws changes includes references to various electronic and digital communications to reflect both current practices and potential future changes in those practices.
Modernizing and simplifying the MACPA’s charter
The MACPA’s charter, which explains the purpose for the association’s existence, was last updated 26 years ago and includes both an amendment from 1992 and a correction to that amendment from 1993. The proposed changes would edit and simply the charter to include all of those changes in one document.
“We have not done a thing to change the substance of the charter,” Speciale emphasized. “The purpose of the organization remains untouched. We are merely amending it to clean up the document.”
For the curious, the MACPA’s purpose as stated in the charter is to “provide services to members of the Corporation including, but not limited to, protecting and furthering the interests of those members, and helping members of the Corporation to conform to the high standards of professional service.”
A history of future-readiness
The crucial task of helping the association, its members, and the profession become more future-ready might sound like a recent concept — one born in a complex era of great change and exponential technological advance.
It’s not. The MACPA has been helping accounting and finance professionals become future-ready for more than 20 years now.
- In 1997, Hood helped lead the AICPA’s nationwide grassroots initiative to anticipate the future. That initiative became known as the CPA Vision Project and produced the profession’s now-famous vision statement, “CPAs: Making Sense of a Changing and Complex World.” Read more here.
- Soon after, the MACPA successfully advocated for the adoption of all of the principles of the UAA necessary to achieve substantial equivalency for license mobility and allow for non-CPA ownership of firms by requiring that only a simple majority of firm owners be CPAs. The move was an early effort to address the increasing numbers and influence of non-CPAs in the accounting and finance world. Read more here.
- Conversations about the evolution of the profession led the MACPA to launch the first of what would become annual series of “town hall”-style professional issues updates throughout the state. Held each spring and autumn, the meetings help members understand the trends that are impacting the profession and take advantage of the opportunities those trends provide CPAs.
- In 2000, the MACPA created a future-focused Structure and Governance Task Force. Made up of volunteers from the MACPA’s general membership, the task force was charged by the Board of Directors with reviewing the association’s structure and making recommendations for changes to align it with the vision and mission of the MACPA and the profession. The task force included an over-35 group and a under-35 group, which simultaneously addressed how to best structure the MACPA for the future. The recommendations, which were approved by the Board of Directors, required revisions to MACPA’s bylaws, which were approved in 2002. Read more here.
- In 2002, the MACPA created the Business Learning Institute in an effort to deliver the future-focused skills and education that CPAs will need to remain relevant in a changing and complex world. BLI is a wholly-owned subsidiary (corporation) of the MACPA with no outside ownership interests.
- In 2011, Hood again helped lead AICPA-organized nationwide conversations about the future of the profession. Those conversations resulted in CPA Horizons 2025 report, which found that the profession will, in the words of the Journal of Accountancy, “need to respond quickly and competitively to the shifting ground on political, economic, social, technological and regulatory fronts.” Read more here.
- In 2016, the MACPA’s Board of Directors endorsed the AICPA’s joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), which created the “Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.” The new association is designed to enhance the relevance and vibrancy of the profession far into the future, and to respond to the needs of members working in corporations of all ownership structures and sizes. Read more here.
- Also in 2016, the MACPA’s Board of Directors affirmed our support of the Chartered Global Management Accountant (or CGMA) credential by agreeing in principle to devote resources toward promoting the designation and recruiting CGMA exam candidates to become credential-holders. The MACPA also created a new membership category of “professional colleague” which could include non-CPA CGMAs. Read more here.