LOS ANGELES (Oct. 22, 2013) —William E. Balhoff is the new chairman of the board of directors of the American Institute of CPAs, the world’s largest member organization representing the accounting profession.
In his acceptance speech, Balhoff recalled his first boss as a CPA, Alexander Postlethwaite, who instilled the idea that superior service to clients should take precedence over profits or firm growth. As a legacy of that focus on quality and integrity, Balhoff announced the creation of the AICPA Center for Plain English Accounting, a one-stop, technical resource for small to midsize firms looking to cut through complexity and provide the best possible accounting and auditing services for clients.
“The quality of our work and our people are the two most important factors in establishing and maintaining our profession’s reputation,” said Balhoff, CPA, CGMA, CFF, managing director and CEO of Postlethwaite & Netterville in Baton Rouge, La. “CPAs take pride in doing the right thing, the right way. Clients and employers experience that quality and respond to it.”
Balhoff, 59, was elected to the one-year volunteer post this morning by the AICPA’s Council, which wraps up its annual fall meeting today. Tommye Barie, CPA, a partner with the southeastern accounting firm Mauldin & Jenkins, was voted in as vice chair.
After graduating from college, Balhoff joined Postlethwaite & Netterville in 1976, when it had 22 employees. It’s now grown into a Top 100 firm with more than 600 staffers. Working for just one firm, Balhoff said he’s had the opportunity to tackle a half-dozen job categories in the course of his career, in such diverse fields as technical audit, accounting, consulting and firm management.
Balhoff believes CPAs are underrated when it comes to communications skills. “We’re ‘people’ people,” he likes to say. He describes his firm as family, and took great pride that most of the firm’s leaders and partners came to Los Angeles to see him voted in as chair.
“Everything in my life – from home to school to firm to this profession—it’s all family to me,” he said.
Balhoff spent the past year as vice-chair of the AICPA, and has a lengthy record of service to the organization. He is a past executive committee chair of the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section, which focuses on firm practice management. From 2003-2004 and again from 2008-2009, he served as a member-at-large of AICPA’s Governing Council. From 2005-2007, he served as a member of the AICPA’s Board of Directors.
Balhoff graduated with an accounting degree from Lousiana State University, and is also a graduate of the National Banking School at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.
He and his wife, Sandra, have three children. Two daughters are following in his footsteps in the profession. One is already a CPA, and the other is preparing for the exam. He lives in Baton Rouge, La.