We Are Better Because Of You
Our mission at the AICPA PCPS is to make practicing CPAs and their firms successful through education and advocacy. We take the input of our members representing firms of all sizes, across our vast country and turn their ideas, opportunities and challenges into resources, tools and action. We are successful when our member firms get better and when they’re able to help their clients get better, too.
We produce relevant and valuable resources and solutions because of the wonderful volunteers who serve on the PCPS Executive Committee each year. In this article, we’ll look more closely at the role of the PCPS Executive Committee and the benefits of contributing as a volunteer member.
The 17-member Executive Committee steers programs to help improve the quality of services and operational success of PCPS member firms. Our Executive Committee members serve as the voice of the practitioners they represent, bringing professional and technical issues and concerns of both firms and clients to the PCPS and AICPA staff.
Each Executive Committee member typically serves a three-year term. We are careful to select members representing a mix of firm sizes, geographies and cultures to ensure that the Committee is truly representative of the membership we serve. Providing assistance in creating and reviewing tools, publications and other resources, Executive Committee members contribute their expertise and also learn from the wisdom of their fellow Committee colleagues and the PCPS membership, too.
Committee members participate in a couple of face-to-face meetings per year, as well as connecting virtually via conference call and email. Together, they drive strategic initiatives to help PCPS members grow their practices and better serve their clients. And, while Committee service provides an excellent opportunity for the best and brightest in the country to give back and elevate our profession, all Executive Committee members would say that the benefits they’ve gained far outweigh any effort or investment they have made as a volunteer.
Executive Committee member benefits most often shared include:
- Enhanced knowledge and understanding of professional and technical issues
- An opportunity to influence and guide the profession’s direction
- An expanded world-view and empathy for issues faced by firms of other sizes, in other geographies, with other specialties or issues
- Lifelong friendships and networking relationships developed with fellow Committee members, AICPA staffers and practitioners around the country
As you read the rest of this issue of News and Views, you’ll explore the unique perspectives of two of our “retiring” PCPS Executive Committee members. Both had a lot to share about their accomplishments and the benefits they gained during their time spent in this important volunteer role.
For more information about serving on the PCPS Executive Committee, please go to our Volunteer site. It is because of members like you, volunteering your time and contributing your expertise, that the PCPS and our profession grow stronger.
PCPS Continues to be a Vital Resource, Now and for the Future
By Melody Feniks, CPA, CGMA
This month marks my departure from the PCPS Executive Committee after serving as a member for five years. I can say without hesitation that my volunteer experience with the Committee has transformed my professional life like nothing else over the past decade. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of volunteering in our profession. I encourage other practitioners to volunteer and I hope they find the endeavor as fulfilling as I have. I also encourage practitioners to explore and utilize the resources offered by PCPS, for it was these resources that have been so instrumental in the evolution of my practice.
Serving on the Executive Committee is an excellent way to share in the challenges and opportunities faced by small firms and to serve in a cooperative endeavor to develop solutions. When I started on the Committee, I was not aware of the depth and breadth of resources PCPS offers. I was amazed to discover that these resources are fundamentally the same as those typically enjoyed in large firms with a multi-departmental capacity to develop and maintain them. After I made that discovery, and as the degree of my participation in the development of some of these resources grew, I began to transform the way I practice as a CPA.
Participation in the Trusted Business Advisor℠ (TBA) Workshop, in particular, was a fundamentally career-altering event for me. The concept of trusted business advisor resonated with my practice philosophy as a CPA; and since CPAs are called upon increasingly to serve as business advisors to their clients, the TBA workshop and associated toolbox were instrumental in developing my advisory skills. The workshop also enabled me to realize what a valuable difference advisory skills can mean for my clients. Over the last two years, I have transitioned from being a partner in a three-principal practice to becoming the sole owner of my firm. Through this transition, the TBA concepts helped me reformulate my mission, vision and overall structure. In addition, the resources available via the PCPS Human Capital Center were – and still are – a tremendous help to me since I have taken on permanent support staff for the first time in my career. These two resources – a small sampling of what is available– and the support of the phenomenal people involved on the Executive Committee, have helped guide me through the specter of uncertainty that comes with fundamental change.
Sole practitioners and small firms often don’t realize that a large organization like the AICPA can support and improve their practice. The core of PCPS’s mission is to support CPAs, and PCPS spends a great deal of time and energy making sure the resources and information they provide are relevant to the current needs and experiences of its members. Sole practitioners and small firms make up the largest segment of the AICPA’s membership population. It’s crucially important, therefore, for the Executive Committee to seat representatives from firms of various sizes and locales so that PCPS can be attuned to the diverse needs and concerns of firms across the country. As the sole CPA in my Alaska-based firm, I’ve been able to contribute important perspectives to the Executive Committee’s initiatives and discussions, and I have benefitted from the care which PCPS gives to the development of resources tailored to small firms such as mine. I encourage the members of PCPS to communicate with the PCPS staff, share stories, and receive their good guidance through the wonderful reservoir of people, resources, information and solutions available to assist in managing challenges and opportunities.
I’m also proud to have participated in the development of PCPS initiatives and projects. I’m especially proud of the growth and development of the Trusted Business Advisor℠ resources accomplished during my tenure. As Chair of the Member Services Subcommittee, which works to ensure PCPS tools and resources are addressing issues and helping practitioners overcome current challenges and seize opportunities, I took personal interest in the success of the TBA program as something which continues to evolve. The latest iteration of the TBA Workshop is a valuable opportunity for firms looking to manifest the advisory value of their teams. My own experience in the transformation of my practice attests to the value and effectiveness of the trusted business advisor perspective presented in the TBA Workshop. I believe PCPS will continue to provide valuable, relevant, comprehensive support to its members, and I’m confident the Executive Committee will continue to take a keen interest in the diverse needs of practitioners across the country.
PCPS is one of the most valuable gifts I’ve encountered as a practitioner, and I encourage all CPAs to make use of PCPS’s vast resources by becoming members. Committee service has allowed me to cultivate lasting professional relationships – an invaluable resource in itself. The people with whom I’ve served while on PCPS Executive Committee are among my most treasured colleagues. The depth of camaraderie, support and encouragement; the quality of dialogue in exchange of ideas and perspectives; the degree of privilege, honor and good fortune I feel in their company – I can’t emphasize enough the “chance of a lifetime” PCPS has given me.
Melody Feniks, CPA, CGMA, is the sole practitioner of Feniks & Company, LLC located in Fairbanks, Alaska. (www.fenikscpa.com)
The TBA material can be learned in full-day workshops held at firms and state society events, or in small modules during conferences such as the upcoming Digital CPA Conference. Follow-up coaching calls are also in place to ensure that questions are addressed and participants are supported in their learning.
Getting More Than Expected
By Joe Falbo, CPA, CGMA
The statement, “You get more out of it than you put into it” has never personally been truer than the experience I’ve had as a PCPS Executive Committee member. As a four-year member of the Executive Committee I have realized countless benefits. And while I’m sad that my term is ending, I am certain that the new members will continue to offer their wisdom and experience to PCPS members well into the future.
Our upstate New York firm, Tronconi Segarra & Associates, LLP, has been a member of PCPS for years and we have used the tools and resources to not only help us grow our practice, but also strengthen areas that we’re already doing well. I was curious about how the tools were developed because they were such high quality, so I reached out to Jim Metzler, former AICPA Vice President of Small Firm Interests and other AICPA PCPS staff members to learn more. I was so impressed by those that I met at the AICPA that I submitted my application to be on the Executive Committee.
I, like so many PCPS members I meet, was not aware of the many ways I could contribute as a PCPS Executive Committee member. In addition to participating on the 17-member committee, Executive Committee members represent PCPS across the country speaking about PCPS member benefits, commenting on exposure drafts and sharing their opinions which help shape the direction of our profession. The Executive Committee also has three subcommittees, Member Services, Advocacy and Awareness, where members work on special projects to create specific deliverables for members or represent PCPS members on specific profession issues or initiatives.
Lasting Personal and Firm Benefits
The biggest personal benefit I’ve realized by deepening my PCPS involvement has been meeting the incredible CPAs across the country who I served with, on this Committee. I have developed lifelong relationships with these members and now have a network of friends and colleagues across the country with whom I share firm management information, best practices and ideas for improving our firms.
My firm has also gained value at a level we wouldn’t have experienced if I had not been on the PCPS Executive Committee. After nearly every PCPS Executive Committee meeting, I bring back new perspectives about the issues we discussed and share these points of view with our leadership team for our firm to consider. For instance, firms of all sizes across the country are planning for succession. We were able to leverage a succession planning process and approach we learned from a PCPS Executive Committee member who had used the process in their firm, which has helped us to further our planning while avoiding some potential pitfalls in our succession planning process.
Debunking the Best Kept Secret
While serving on the PCPS Executive Committee, one of our goals has been to increase the awareness and use of the PCPS resources– and not just by one or two of the top people in the firm; rather by the masses, who will benefit from them. I am extremely proud of our PowerUp initiative where our objective was to reintroduce PCPS to its nearly 7,000 members. We reminded PCPS members about their many membership benefits and why being a PCPS member is such an incredible value through new enrollment packages, guided tours of various toolkits available and increased service offerings in certain sections, such as the Practice Growth and Client Service section and Firm Planning and Strategy section. The PowerUp outreach resulted in an uptick of website and toolkit usage by PCPS members, getting the resources in the hands of those who can use it most.
To enable and encourage PCPS members to use the many resources and tools available to them, we also improved PCPS website navigation so that members can self-select their firm size and the kind of information they are seeking. The enhanced website now helps PCPS members access information that will most benefit them immediately, for their current stage and needs.
As I end my term, I am committed to continue as an evangelist for PCPS. I will promote the vast resources of this membership section when speaking at various professional events such as the PCPS Trusted Business Advisor Workshop or as the president-elect for the NYSSCPA because I received so much more than I gave when serving on the PCPS Executive Committee. I look forward to being a member of the PCPS Executive Committee “alumni” and ensuring CPAs and firms of all sizes know about the breadth and depth of resources available to help them build their practices. I am proud to have been part of the PCPS Executive Committee and to have worked with the PCPS staff, who are passionate about delivering everything they can to PCPS members to make their firms – and professional lives – better!
Joe Falbo, CPA, CGMA is a partner of Tronconi Segarra & Associates (www.tsacpa.com) in Buffalo, NY with 13 partners and 85 employees.