September 1998 Issue


AICPA president Barry Melancon recently spoke before the Long Island Chapter of the National Conference of CPA Practitioners (NCCPAP). NCCPAP was organized in 1979 as the voice for local and regional practicing CPA firms and at times has been critical of the activities of the AICPA. Herbert Schoenfeld, executive director of NCCPAP, introduced Melancon to the gathering of nearly 100 practicing CPAs who were eager to let him know how the AICPA was not meeting the needs of practicing CPAs.

Melancon addressed the group for approximately three-quarters of an hour discussing the full range of current AICPA projects and programs. He stressed the importance of the marketplace as the testing ground for all initiatives--it is there, in his view, that what CPAs do and can do will be sorted out and valued. His view of the CPA landscape in the near future includes more and larger financial service organizations buying CPA firm practices. H & R Block will be among the buyers, as it seeks to strengthen the services it offers at the higher end of the market. Small firms, according to Melancon, will look very different in the future--success will depend upon developing niche practices and utilizing technology.

Melancon stressed the need for new services--he painted a dim picture of tax compliance services in the 21st Century. He sees U.S. GAAP changing because of the emergence of international GAAP as the standard in important capital markets. He also believes the CPA credential can benefit from more specialty accreditations, which will gain market permissions for CPAs to enter new fields.

At the conclusion of his prepared remarks, Melancon answered any and all questions and demonstrated the willingness and energy to respond to all the group's concerns. NYSSCPA president George Foundotos was present. "Barry's presentation and responsiveness to questions was impressive," said Foundotos. "It came through, loudly and clearly, that he wants groups like NCCPAP to know the AICPA is ready to talk and to listen."

A major question for Melancon centered around the AICPA's efforts to promote and maintain the CPA name in the marketplace as the professional of choice for tax and accounting services. A show of hands at Melancon's request indicated that an overwhelming majority of the group would support a dues increase if the increase went specifically to the image enhancement campaign.

Melancon entered the lion's den and emerged with nary a scratch. And maybe he won a friend or two. *

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