New Orleans (Oct. 19, 2010) – Paul V. Stahlin, CPA, is the new chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. His term is one year.
In this role, Stahlin, 58, leads the world’s largest body of CPAs. The Council elected him to his new position at its fall meeting, which concludes today.
Stahlin said the United States is emerging from a period of economic turmoil that has “driven demand for new business practices, new regulations, new oversight and new solutions,” in his inaugural speech, titled “Seize the Future.” He said CPAs have been finding solutions for more than 100 years.
“We as CPAs have the unique ability to make sense of a constantly changing complex world,” Stahlin said. “Employers, our clients and our country turn to us to make sense of the most complex developments in business and regulation. We best understand how a business ticks.”
Stahlin said during the next year he will lead the profession in taking a fresh look at how the profession’s core purpose and values can most effectively address the changing trends. He said the CPA Vision Project, which the profession undertook in 1996, concludes in 2011. The CPA Vision Project was a profession-wide initiative that provided an opportunity for CPAs to define their future, both for themselves and the people and organizations they serve. It is time, he said, for CPAs across the country to recreate their future taking into account current economic, market, technological and regulatory conditions.
“Let me underscore that our core purpose and values will not change,” Stahlin said. “Integrity, objectivity, independence and the ability to make sense of a complex and changing world should guide us as we work to seize the future.”
Stahlin spoke about some of the issues he expects the AICPA to be involved with during the next year.
“Much of our Washington focus this year will be on tax – including the IRS tax return preparer registration,” he said. “We’ve raised critical questions and have succeeded in protecting CPAs from unnecessary and duplicative testing and CPE. We continue to ask for additional guidance on extending similar treatment to non-signing preparers. Preventing confusion among consumers remains a priority as well.”
“One of the most important accounting issues we will face during the next year is private company financial reporting,” Stahlin said. “I have prepared financial statements for 25 years as a financial executive. I have reviewed financial statements in the capacity of an auditor. Now as a user, I review up to 15 sets of financial statements a week at loan-committee meetings. What I have seen is that too much of the content in private company financial statements prepared using U.S. generally accepted accounting principles is not relevant to the owner, not relevant to the user and not relevant to the preparers.”
Stahlin said that while there are about 15,000 companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, there are more than 29 million private businesses.
“Traveling across the country, I hear both public practice and business members clamoring for changes in their reporting requirements. It has become evident that the needs of private companies are quite different from the needs of public companies.”
Currently, a blue-ribbon panel, formed by the AICPA, the Financial Accounting Foundation, and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, is considering how accounting standards can meet the needs of private company financial statement users. Final recommendations are expected by the end of this year.
Regarding international accounting standards, Stahlin said the AICPA has advocated for a single set of worldwide standards for many years and that the AICPA will continue to work closely with the SEC on adoption of international financial reporting standards.
“We once considered international standards a convenience,” he said. “Today they are a necessity. More and more of our members routinely have international business dealings. There are many businesses in the U.S. today with less than $20 million in sales that have a vendor, a supplier, or a customer – and sometimes all three – located outside the United States.”
He said the AICPA will launch a new IFRS certificate program that will demonstrate knowledge and competency in applying IFRS and that beginning in January questions about IFRS will be included on the CPA exam.
Stahlin has a lengthy history of service to the AICPA. From 2001 to 2004, he served on the special task force on Services to Members in Industry. He chaired the AICPA Audit Committee from 2007 to 2008 and has served on the Strategic Planning, Compensation and Finance Committees. He served on the board of directors from 2006 to 2008.
He is regional president of Skylands Community Bank in Chester, N.J. Skylands is a member of Fulton Financial Corp. Stahlin has an extensive career in banking, having served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Fleet Credit Card Services and corporate controller of Summit Bancorp. He began his career in public accounting, including six years with Price Waterhouse & Co., a predecessor firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Stahlin was president of the New Jersey Society of CPAs from 1999 to 2000. He is currently chair of the audit committee of the Somerset Medical Center Board of Trustees and is immediate past chair of the Montclair State University Foundation’s Board of Trustees. His community-board service is extensive.
Stahlin graduated from Montclair State University with a B.S. in accounting and resides in Montgomery Township, N.J., with his wife, Nonny. They have four daughters.