Friday, December 4, 2009

Dunked in the Raven Fork

It wasn’t going to end well. It was one of those situations where you just know what the outcome will be. Dave and I were fishing the trophy section of the Raven Fork. Rain, which was not predicted to start until the afternoon, had just started to fall.

Yesterday we had our first experience on this beautiful water where big, I mean really big, rainbow trout are the prize. It had been perfect; bluebird skies, mild temperature, clear water, relatively few fisherman and plenty of healthy rainbows. We were so impressed that we had begun planning our next trip before we had been on the water an hour.

Now I needed to position myself so that I could cast to the tail of a pool that I was sure held a monster fish. The problem was that I needed to cross the river below the pool so that I would not disturb my quarry. The water was flowing fast although it wasn’t particularly deep…in most places. Typical of boulder-strewn mountain streams there were holes in places where the rushing water forces its way between and around the largest boulders, scouring away the stream bed. I was working my way across just such a place. I could have retreated downstream to a less challenging crossing, but that would mean bushwhacking my way through the rhododendrons that lined the banks to come back up to the spot I wanted to fish.

There was a ledge in the near boulder, about a foot underwater, that I was sure, well almost sure, would provide a place for my foot; and I thought I could see a reasonably safe foothold for my next step. When wading in mountain streams you need to plan a few steps ahead. Once you commit to move, your body’s momentum and the force of the rushing water make it hard to pause and reconsider. You see how this is unfolding, don’t you.

The first step was fine and the second wasn’t too bad. The problem was, I didn’t know what the third step would be and the force of the water had me off balance. Sometimes you just have to succumb to the inevitable. I slipped into the hole behind the second boulder. It was a quick dunk; my head didn’t even go under. It would not have been a problem but for the fact that I was wearing chest waders and I was in forty-four degree water up to my shoulders! It is amazing how quickly water can flow over the top of a pair of waders, soak your shirt, squeeze past a tight wader belt, run down both legs and pool in a pair of wool socks. Ick!

There was nothing to do but stand up and keep going. Squish! With every step, squish! I reached my spot, made the cast and, wham! Got him! Life is good.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fall Leadership Council Meeting

The GSCPA Leadership Council met at Callaway Gardens last Monday and the agenda was full. The Educational Foundation Board of Directors met on Sunday afternoon and there was a reception and dinner for Council members on Sunday evening. Monday began with the Chapter Presidents’ breakfast followed by the Council meeting while spouses and guests enjoyed a tour of Callaway Gardens.

The highlight of the Council meeting was a panel discussion featuring Senator Mitch Seabaugh, majority whip in the Georgia Senate, Representative Howard Mosby, CPA, (who is a member of our Leadership Council) and Arthur “Skin” Edge, Jr. of Georgia Link Public Affairs Group, the lobbyist for the GSCPA. The extreme interest in this session was evident from the number of questions posed by Council members…I believe we could have extended the session another half-hour.

Our Treasurer, Scotty Jones, reported that last year’s cost cutting measures have paid off and we are successfully operating on what basically is a break even operating budget for 2009-2010. I hope that our CPE revenues hold strong in the last two months of this CPE reporting year, and membership renewals come close to meeting our projections. We will know the results for both of these areas by January. Also, our investment portfolio is performing well again and we have recovered some of last year’s losses.

We generally have breakout group discussions on various topics to give the members of the Board of Directors feedback from our Council members concerning important topics. At this meeting members discussed questions concerning CPE delivery and Chapter issues. The Board will weigh this valuable feedback in implementing the Society’s strategic plan.

Tom Fuller, President of the Educational Foundation, reported on the Foundation’s activities. Although the Foundation’s endowment funds have taken a big hit in the market they plan to award scholarships, although at a somewhat reduced level. The Foundation also has a new logo and updated website at
Bill Schneider, our past president who has recently moved to Texas, gave the report form AICPA Council. Bill was with us in his role as liaison to Georgia from the AICPA Board of Directors. You see, Bill was elected to the AICPA Board at the AICPA Spring Council meeting in Las Vegas. It was good to see Bill, but we still ragged him about leaving Georgia soon after his nomination to the AICPA Board. We really are proud of Bill for being elected to this prestigious position and expect to see him at future GSCPA functions.

The Fall Council Meeting could be described as routine, the agenda was normal and we followed procedures as usual. But the connections we made with our colleagues were current, the conversations with friends were current, and we cemented another brick in the foundation of GSCPA Community. All of our opportunities to get together are special not routine.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Different GAAP for private companies?

If you’re one of the people who believe that financial reporting requirements have become increasingly focused on addressing the needs of users of public company financial statements, thereby making financial statement preparation by private companies too burdensome, there just may be some reason to hope for relief.

One of the very interesting things that we heard at AICPA Fall Council was a report from Judy O’Dell, chair of the Private Company Financial Reporting Committee (PCFRC). This committee was formed in January 2007 as a major initiative of the FASB and the AICPA to incorporate into the FASB’s standard-setting process a means to consider the needs of private companies and the users of their financial statements. The PCFRC’s primary objectives are to provide recommendations to the FASB as it sets accounting standards for privately-held enterprises. To date the PCFRC has issued over 30 letters and recommendations to the FASB on such notable issues and FIN 46R, FIN 48.

While the PCFRC’s recommendations have resulted in some temporary postponement of the application of certain requirements to private company financial statements, permanent recognition of important differences in GAAP for private and public companies has not been forthcoming.

Through breakout group discussions members of AICPA Council expressed overwhelming support for U.S. private companies and not-for-profit entities (NPEs) having GAAP recognition, measurement, and disclosure differences, where appropriate, from GAAP applied by U. S. public companies. The further sense of Council members was that the AICPA leadership should explore the idea of having a self-contained, standalone GAAP for use by U.S. private companies and NPEs. In light of this and the recently issued IFRS for SMEs, which private companies can currently avail themselves of in issuing “GAAP” financial statements, I think things just might get interesting in the months to come. Stay tuned.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chapters, their role in the Mission?

I’ve always thought of chapters as being squarely in the Community portion of the society’s mission (ACE, Advocacy, Community, Education). They are the primary place for peer group networking. The place to meet with fellow professionals and discuss the things that they are dealing with in their everyday routine; chapters are where we answer the questions, “Have you dealt with this yet”? “How did you handle that”? “What do you think will happen with”? They are the place to satisfy our need for personal interaction.

As I muse over various issues that land on my desk it occurs to me that many of our members may not understand all the aspects of the GSCPA and know how we have evolved over the years. I thought it might be good to include some of my thoughts in this and future blogs. This is not intended to be a history lesson, or even an organized description of GSCPA structure and organization, just observations based on 37 years of involvement with the Society.

Years ago chapter meetings centered on social interaction and informative programs with a community, political or general business orientation. They sponsored special events such as bankers’ and attorneys’ nights. There has been a universal shift of focus toward qualifying all chapter meetings for one or two hours of CPE. This grew, at least partially, out of the need to attract attendance at chapter meetings. The generally accepted belief seems to be that CPAs will not attend chapter meetings unless the program qualifies for CPE. In addition to focusing meetings on CPE, some chapters are in the “CPE business,’ sponsoring large blocks of programming.

Is community now a minor part of a chapter’s role? Is community even important to younger generations of CPAs? Is the primary function of chapters to provide CPE? What do you think?

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Monday, July 27, 2009

ACE, it's what we're about

The GSCPA has a mission statement but I don’t have it memorized. I prefer to keep it simple when I focus on the mission of the Society. I think of ACE: Advocacy, Community and Education. That is why the GSCPA exists; that’s how we serve our members; it’s the core of our value proposition. We advocate for our members’ interests from a position of strength in numbers. Think of our tag line...One profession. One voice. We provide community in many forms where our members enjoy the benefits of exchanging information and ideas with fellow professionals. We provide high-quality education to keep our members competitive in the marketplace. We evaluate all of our programs and initiatives by the yardstick of ACE; how well they accomplish one or more of our basic missions. Speaking of evaluation…one of the initiatives that came out of out strategic planning session last week involves evaluation criteria for our programs.

Associations are very good at starting programs but not very good at ending programs that don’t support the mission or are no longer effective. Every program has its champions. This maxim was reinforced by Harrison Coerver (Harrison Coerver & Associates, association management consultants) who facilitated our strategic planning session. Left unchecked this can produce a loss of focus, an organization that is a “mile wide and an inch deep” as the saying goes.

One of our strategic initiatives is establishing formal criteria for evaluating programs before they are begun. This initiative also includes formalizing the process that was begun last year of evaluating our current programs against the established criteria. The Board is very aware of its responsibility to oversee the effective and efficient use of the Society’s resources. The Society is blessed with a great, hard-working staff. I am amazed at the number of effective and high quality programs that they run and support and this initiative is not campaign to eliminate programs; it’s all about effective use of limited resources.

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