As I See It: What’s keeping CPAs awake at night?

by Clarke Price, CAE, President and CEO

I did something different during the Fall Professional Issues Update programs (PIUs). I asked members the question “what’s keeping you awake at night” and recorded the answers at each location. What I found was one overwhelming similarity with many different components.

The responses were varied:

  • The economy
  • The debt
  • U.S. solvency
  • The fiscal cliff
  • Health insurance uncertainty
  • The election
  • Tax change uncertainty
  • Municipal tax complexity
  • Devaluation of U.S. currency
  • Gridlock in Washington
  • Retirement uncertainty
  • Excessive regulation
  • Non-CPA competitors
  • Standards overload

The similarity I found was that almost all of the issues brought forth are beyond the control of any individual, or of any organization like OSCPA, to solve.

Frankly, this surprised me. What I expected to hear were practical issues like workload, managing generational differences, tax law complexities and changes in standards. While difficult to achieve, those are issues where we might collectively stand a chance of achieving meaningful changes or reforms that could resolve the frustrations members are feeling.

So what’s the takeaway from this exercise? What did I learn that can lead to success for OSCPA’s members?

The reality is that achieving change – meaningful change of the “big” challenges – takes time. OSCPA should focus on expanding the dialogue around these sorts of issues and promoting serious conversation about the need for change—just like we did when Ohio was facing an $8 billion budget shortfall. We need to engage more people in the conversation beyond just CPAs. We need to take these issues into the mainstream of conversation and promote action. For some of the issues, perhaps the solution is to demand change and be aggressive in carrying that message.

Many of the issues identified during the PIUs fall on the shoulders of Congress to solve. And in too many instances, we’ve allowed inaction by Congress to be accepted as the norm. We’ve accepted that inaction and gridlock by Congress is a situation that’s beyond our ability to control. But if we’re able to ramp up the volume among a broad audience, maybe, just maybe, we can get Congress to recognize that the status quo and petty bickering – or adhering to staunch ideological principles that keep progress from being achieved – just isn’t going to be accepted. That’s what I think it’s going to take to achieve meaningful change and progress toward the goal of resolution of many of these critically important issues.

That’s how I see it.

Some may agree, others may disagree. I encourage everyone to join the conversation. cp

Tune in to the live CPA Issues Forum video webcast Nov. 8 to learn more about these critical issues. You’ll have a chance to ask questions of Clarke and our panel of experts. It’s free and exclusively for OSCPA members. Register now.

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