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Enhancing member service and communication to build upon a 60-year record of accomplishment.

What a full, momentous year this has been for tax executives and Tax Executives Institute. TEI's last Annual Meeting of Members was held in August 2002 amid much talk of the justenacted Sarbanes-Oxley Act whose full implications on the tax community, while unknown, promised to be far reaching. Other topics commanding attention were the government's efforts on tax shelters; legislative proposals on subjects as diverse as international tax reform, requiring CEOs to sign tax returns, and the public disclosure of tax returns; and Treasury Department initiatives to promulgate common sense and practical capitalization rules and final research tax credit regulations. Yes, when the Institute's Board of Directors convened last summer, the agenda was daunting, even without consideration of our internal objectives to conduct a membership satisfaction survey, offer more distance-learning and other top-notch educational programs, and advance the long-term objective to build a world-class website.

A Job Well Done

The far-reaching, overflowing agenda might have made some blanch. Hence, it was fortunate that it was Drew Glennie of the Calgary Chapter who became TEI's president last August. Drew oversaw the Institute's operations with the equanimity of the seasoned manager he is. He set broad, but clear, objectives, and he assembled a team of volunteers whose collective efforts enabled the Institute to make good progress on all fronts--progress made despite an economic environment that sometimes made volunteering difficult and personal challenges that might prompt less dedicated volunteers to withdraw. On advocacy, TEI remained a champion for the business tax community, especially on matters relating to the Large and Mid-Size Business Division. On education, TEI held one outstanding program after another, including a telephone seminar on Sarbanes-Oxley that attracted more than a thousand listeners. On networking, TEI remained without peer, locally, nationally, and internationally.

As I succeed Drew as the Institute's president at TEI's 2003 Annual Meeting of Members, I commend him on his outstanding leadership and service. I especially congratulate him on making TEI's number one goal the promotion of our members' professionalism. In this time of challenge, TEI owed its members nothing less.

The Job Ahead

In moving TEI forward during his term, Drew Glennie followed a path of accomplishment blazed by his predecessors during the previous six decades. It is a path that, with the help of tax executives across our membership, the Institute will continue to tread. Since 1944, the Institute has been a voice for effective tax policy and administration. The diversity of our membership --combined with an unassailable commitment to both competence and collegiality--imbues our work with credibility. Whatever the issue--from tax shelters, GAAR, and Sarbanes-Oxley to records retention, business activity nexus, and international tax reform--TEI will continue to be involved.

For TEI's full potential to be achieved, more members must participate in setting goals and then advancing them. Elsewhere in this issue is a document summarizing the Institute's goals and objectives for the year. I invite your careful consideration of the document, and I solicit your ideas on how we can make progress toward achieving the goals. Without your active involvement, the Institute cannot wholly fulfill its vision of being the preeminent organization of business tax professionals. The organization, of course, has to do its part, and building upon the member survey we conducted this year, we will focus this year on two overarching themes--increased member service, and enhanced and effective communication.

Member Service and Communication

As a member-driven organization, TEI has long had a goal of equipping its members (and their companies) with the information and tools they need to be effective. We strive to do this, locally and nationally, through our educational programs and networking activities. A wholly complementary goal is to advance good tax policy and administration through focused, timely advocacy and liaison activities. The Institute has a solid record of accomplishment in all these areas. At the same time, we must strive to build upon our past successes by retaining and fine-tuning what has worked and putting aside that which may have lost its vitality. We also need to seek future opportunities. For example, we should continue to pursue new technologies and to anticipate trends by continually seeking member ideas and input. Given the magnitude and rapidity of change in the tax world, TEI must embrace new ideas and "new ways of doing business."

A key to delivering more value to TEI members is making sure the members know precisely what we are doing and how they can contribute to getting it done. Numerous conversations over the years have led to the realization that the Institute could do more to market itself. Candidly, the range of TEI's activities and the scope of our successes (in education, networking, and advocacy) are not as well known as their significance properly dictates. If we do a better job of communicating the full scope and openness of the Institute's activities as well as its accomplishments--to our members, to be sure, but also to senior corporate management, government authorities, and the general public--more members will find it easier and more meaningful to contribute.

To advance the Institute's twin themes of member service and communication, working groups have been established to assist our leadership and staff in bringing sharper focus to three areas: engaging members, empowering members, and enhancing membership value. The charters of the three groups are set forth in the goals and objectives, but I want to highlight some of their intended activities.

Engaging Members

The Engaging Member Group will work to expand and enhance the diversity of the Institute's membership in all respects. In addition, given current economic times, the group will work with the chapters, the Membership Committee, and others to assist members-in-transition. An especially important initiative will be the group's work with the Corporate Tax Management Committee in planning a seminar on management issues, especially targeted at the needs of senior tax executives. This group will also explore ways to better link TEI, its 53 chapters, and the membership at large.

Empowering Members

The Empowering Members Group will work to increase the scope and effectiveness of, as well as the involvement of more members in, the Institute's advocacy and networking activities. An important "first step" in this effort is to do a better job of informing members how they can participate in Institute activities and, as already noted, "advertising" what we have been doing right all these years. An advocacy guide on how TEI's process works and how your company's issues might become TEI's issues will be completed and distributed soon. Once we do this, we will be able to expand our reach and seek new opportunities to promote good tax policy and administration.

Enhancing Membership Value

The third working group will focus on enhancing the overall value of membership. The number one priority will be to design and implement a new Internet "presence" (including subsidiary websites for all chapters) that facilitates networking and communication among members and between the members and the Institute. Another goal will be to fine tune our educational curriculum, for example, by holding webconferences and, as appropriate, revitalizing the industry sessions at our conferences. We will also move forward to conduct a survey of corporate tax departments that will provide all members with important benchmarking data.

An Invitation to Serve

2003 is a challenging time to be a tax executive, and by working together, I am confident that we will meet the challenge and build upon TEI's sixty-year history of accomplishment to the mutual benefit of ourselves, our companies, and the tax system as a whole. A roster of TEI's leadership team, including the chairs and members of our new working groups, is set forth elsewhere in this issue. I invite you to contact me, them, or the Institute's staff to learn more about our initiatives.

A Final Word

TEI's 58th Annual Conference, which will convene in Atlanta on October 19, offers all of us an opportunity to experience the best in tax education and networking, as well as to take stock of our advocacy and other member service initiatives. Many important new proposals and initiatives (legislative as well as regulatory) will be discussed during the conference, and it will also afford new IRS Commissioner Everson the opportunity to address his first TEI audience. Full details have been mailed to all members and are available at www.tei.org. Please mark your calendar and join me for what promises to be an outstanding program.

Raymond G. Rossi

International President
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Title Annotation:Tax Executives Institute
Author:Rossi, Raymond G.
Publication:Tax Executive
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:1402
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