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Membership survey shows high degree of satisfaction.

Earlier this year, TEI conducted a membership satisfaction survey. Reprising a survey conducted three years ago, the 2006 survey was designed to help the Institute better understand members' perceptions, preferences, and involvement, as well as to solicit suggestions for improving performance in the key areas of education, networking, and advocacy. The earlier survey confirmed a high degree of satisfaction among the Institute's members, and the results of 2006 survey are wholly consistent: TEI appears to be doing a superior job of balancing the diverse needs and interests of its membership.

To enhance the reliability and credibility of the results as well as ensure the confidentiality of individual response, TEI contracted with an independent research firm, (a division of Readex Research), to administered, analyzed, and reported the results. (MemberSurvey. com also assisted the Institute in developing the survey instrument.)

Methodology and Design

TEI invited all current members of the Institute to participate in the survey. Members were initially invited by email to complete an Internet-based survey. Reminders were sent periodically to those who had not yet responded. Members with undeliverable emails or members for whom no email address was available were invited by mail to complete either an enclosed paper survey or the Internet-based survey.

Data were collected between January 3 and February 20, 2006. The response rate was 27 percent, less than the response rate three years ago, but typical for surveys of this type.

The survey questions focused on three broad areas:

* The members themselves and their views of TEI membership in general.

* The ways members are involved, and the importance of (and level of satisfaction with) the various offerings and services provided by TEI.

* What TEI might do differently or better in the future to satisfy the members' needs?

About Ourselves

Several survey questions centered on members' own circumstances, such as their level of experience, and how long they had been a TEI member. Additionally, MemberSurvey. com was able to compare demographic data for respondents against the Institute's full membership data. The high degree of correlation between the two bolsters confidence that the survey results are representative of all TEI members.

The typical respondent had been a member of TEI for 8 years (up 1 year from 2002), with 13 percent having been members for 20 years or more. A third were in their first five years of membership (see Figure 1). Geographically, 88 percent of survey respondents are located in the United States, with 8 percent in Canada, and 4 percent in other countries. This is very similar to results from TEI's 2002-2003 survey.

The typical respondent had been a member of TEI for 8 years (up 1 year from 2002), with 13 percent having been members for 20 years or more.

The typical TEI member has worked in the tax field for 22 years, with 14 percent indicating 30 years or more, and only 5 percent fewer than 10 years (See Figure 2). Also, as in 2002-2003, about half of survey respondents indicated that they are the senior tax executive for their company.

The survey asked members what, in their view, was the biggest challenge facing corporate tax professionals. Figure 3 identifies the top 10 challenges identified in the comments. According to the comments, the best way for TEI to assist its members in meeting these challenges is to continue to offer quality educational programs and increase the frequency and types of opportunities for members to become, and remain, informed. Those commenting often encouraged the Institute to continue its advocacy efforts aimed at reducing the compliance burden. And many suggested that TEI develop or funnel "best practices" or benchmarking information for its members, particularly as a way of addressing the added burdens of financial reporting and Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 compliance.

The survey asked whether TEI members belonged to other tax-related organizations. Of those responding, 43 percent indicated that they are members of one or more tax-related organizations; this is up from 38 percent in the 2002-2003 survey. Those who indicated they were members of other organizations were asked how TEI compares with these other organizations. An overwhelming majority of responses indicated that TEI was comparable or better, and most view their TEI membership as complimentary to their membership in other organizations. Many responses identified the other organizations in which members participated. The primary ones are identified in Figure 4.

Four questions sought to assess members' "bottom line" evaluations of TEI membership. One, repeated from the 2002-2003 survey, asked them to rate the value received for their TEI membership dues, using a five-point scale where 0 = poor and 4 = excellent. The average rating on this scale across all respondents remained steady from 2002-2003, at 3.4. In this survey, 87 percent rated the value at 3 or 4 (excellent).

Members were also asked to rate the extent to which TEI membership provides value for each of 10 distinct tax areas using a 5-point scale (where 4 = a great extent and 0 = not at all). In addition to choosing a rating, respondents could select "does not apply" (DNA). Ratings of 3 or 4 are denoted as favorable; of 0, 1, or 2 as unfavorable. Perhaps not surprisingly, the area in which TEI provides value to the greatest number of members is federal, with 82 percent favorable and only 9 percent unfavorable. Planning and research, compliance, and controversy are all rated favorably by about two-thirds of members; state and local, management, international, and financial reporting by at least a majority. Results for those parts of the question that are comparable to 2002 have not changed significantly. Figure 5 summarizes the results for this question.


Two new "bottom line" questions were asked in the 2005-2006 survey: one to gauge the likelihood that members will renew their TEI memberships when they next come due, and the other asking respondents to rate the likelihood they would recommend TEI membership to a colleague. The survey data predicts an exceptional 94 percent renewal rate among TEI members. That includes a full 75 percent who rate their renewal likelihood at the top of the scale ("definitely will"), and only two respondents saying they "definitely will not." The likelihood that members would recommend TEI membership to a colleague is perhaps the most stringent "bottom line" measure for an organization. Since to recommend is to stake your own reputation, those willing to do so give a very strong endorsement and typically generate effective word-of-mouth publicity for the organization. The survey data predicts that 89 percent of members responding would commend TEI membership to their colleagues.

The survey data predicts that 89 percent of members responding would commend TEI membership to their colleagues.

Gauging Current TEI Benefits & Programs

The bulk of the survey was designed to gauge members' involvement in, the importance of, and their satisfaction with, the various programs, activities, and services provided by TEI.

The survey asked members to indicate the number of times they had personally done 22 activities associated with TEI membership in the last 3 years. A similar question was asked in 2002-2003. Results are shown in Figure 6. A majority of members have taken advantage of their membership in TEI in the following ways over the last three years are:

* Read a feature article in The Tax Executive (90%)

* Read a technical submission in The Tax Executive (83%)

* Used the print Membership Roster (67%)

* Used the online membership directory (51%)

* Obtained information about a TEI educational program from (58%)

* Attended a chapter meeting (87%)

* Sent a member of your staff to a TEI conference, course, or seminar (54%)

Use of the printed version of TEI's Membership Roster is down 14 points from 2002, while use of the online directory gained a dozen points. Participation in telephone or online seminars rose from 32 percent in 2002 to 46 percent in 2006.

In results more or less comparable to 2002-2003, about a third of members report attending one or more Annual or Midyear Conferences, meaning that two-thirds of members have not attended either conference in the last three years. Attendance percentages are markedly lower for those who have been members for less than five years and for those located outside the United States.

An extensive survey question asked respondents to indicate familiarity with, importance of, and satisfaction, with 30 programs, products, services and activities currently offered as benefits of TEI membership (only importance was asked about in 2002-2003). The 30 benefits were grouped into 5 major areas:

* Networking Opportunities

* Education of Members

* Advocacy

* Website

* Other Benefits/Activities

Most members were familiar with TEI membership benefits. Benefits not familiar to at least a quarter of members overall include LMSB Bonus Sessions following the Midyear Conference, conference materials available for purchase, tax department management roundtables at Annual Conference, online (web-based) seminars, week-long courses, regional conferences, and regional, national, and chapter liaison meetings. In addition, members seemed unfamiliar with the email and messaging features, as well as the discussion forums, on the website. And for those who had been members fewer than five years, lack of familiarity with particular benefits is even more of an issue; most benefits are unknown to them at rates 20 points or greater than those seen for those who had been members longer.

In the same question, members who were familiar with the benefits were asked to rate their importance, using a scale where 0 = not at all important and 4 = extremely important. Those rated important by a majority of members include:

* Networking opportunities at the Chapter level

* Chapter meetings

* 2- or 3-day seminars

* Technical submissions

* Online job bank

* Online membership directory

* The Tax Executive magazine

* Membership Roster (print version)

* Monthly member email message

* Chapter job bank or employment committee

For each familiar item, members were also asked to rate their satisfaction with TEI's performance. Ideally, the proportions for important and satisfied should be equal, or nearly so. To the extent a benefit is important but members are less than satisfied, a gap for improved performance exists. Under this analysis, the benefits showing the greatest improvement potential include:

* Networking at the Industry Group level

* Online (web-based) seminars

* Job bank

* Chapter websites

* Chapter job banks or employment committees

No benefit had a dissatisfactory performance rating by 10 percent or more of members as a whole. This means that, while there is room to increase positive satisfaction, the Institute is not faced with battling overt dissatisfaction in regard to its many benefits.

As in 2002-2003, members were asked whether TEI is providing too much or too little information in each of four areas. On balance, members believe TEI is providing slightly too much information in the areas of educational programs, advocacy, and organizational goals or activities (though majorities are satisfied in all three cases). Response is more even with respect to tax developments.

Members were also asked to rate how much they like receiving information from TEI in various ways. Email messages were rated positively by 83 percent of members, up 8 points from 2002-2003. Other proportions are similar to the prior survey results: 76 percent favorable for The Tax Executive, 51 percent for regular mailings, and 50 percent for TEI's website.

A new question for the 2005-2006 was included to help the design and promotion of the Institute's educational efforts. Members were asked to rate how important each of 6 factors is in determining whether they will attend a TEI educational program, using a 0 to 4 importance scale. Clearly, quality content and location are the key factors for members deciding whether or not to attend a TEI educational program; of minimal significance are recreational opportunities or a spouse/companion program (see Figure 8).

A related question provided members an opportunity to suggest ways TEI could improve its educational programs that would make respondents more likely to attend (or send staff). The importance of location is reflected in the comments. In many cases, specific locations were suggested. Additionally, scheduling of programs, including their duration, commanded as much attention as location in the comments. Figure 9 summarizes the major suggestions.

Future Directions

One part of the survey asked how important it would be that TEI conduct each of 5 new activities in the future, using the standard importance scale. At least 3 out of 4 members found 3 prospective offerings important:

* A set of "best practices" or metrics to be used for benchmarking tax departments (82%)

* Salary survey (79%)

* Survey of corporate tax departments (size, structure) (74%)

The salary survey and survey of corporate tax departments were also asked about in the 2002-2003 survey, with similarly high interest expressed. Two items were new to the 2006 survey, and are rated important by slightly under half of TEI members:

* Evaluation and certification program for tax departments based on TEI benchmarking standards (45%)

* Certification program for individual tax professionals completing specialized training provided or approved by TEI (41%)

To round out the examination of how TEI might better serve members, the survey asked members to share any recommendations they might have for improving TEI's networking opportunities, educational activities, and advocacy efforts at the Institute or Chapter levels, or for any other comments. A gratifying number of members responding used this opportunity to simply praise the Institute and express their appreciation. Many did so even while offering recommendations. Figure 10 shows the top recommendations generally.


Given an exceptionally high predicted renewal rate of 94 percent, TEI does appear to be doing a superior job of balancing the diverse needs and interests of its membership. Hence, TEI should generally keep doing what it has been doing. But that does not suggest that TEI cannot improve, and the 2005-2006 satisfaction survey was not just an exercise in validating the status quo.

The Institute's leadership, in particular the 2006-2007 leadership team, has reviewed the results of the survey in shaping its goals and objectives for the coming year. TEI's staff will also be using the data from the survey to make improvements to TEI programs, communications, and service to members. At the June 2006 Leadership Seminar, the survey results will be shared with the incoming chapter presidents to help them better understand the important role of TEI's chapters, and glean ways to make chapter level activities of even greater value to members.

The Institute's leadership, in particular the 2006-2007 leadership team, has reviewed the results of the survey in shaping its goals and objectives for the coming year.

In sum, member input has been, and will continue to be, invaluable. TEI thanks those members who responded to the survey, and reminds all members that you need not wait for the next survey to provide input; if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please contact Timothy McCormally at 202.638.5601, or by email at
Figure 1: Length of Time as a TEI Member

<5 yrs 34%
5-9 yrs 25%
10-14 yrs 17%
15-19 yrs 11%
20+ yrs 13%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Figure 2: Experience in Tax Field

<10 yrs 5%
10-14 yrs 13%
15-19 yrs 22%
20-29 yrs 46%
30+ yrs 14%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Figure 3: Ten Biggest Challenges Facing the Corporate
Tax Professional

Top Ten Challenges Facing the Corporate Tax Professional
(Listed in order of number of comments)

1 Financial Accounting & Reporting (Including Sarbanes-Oxley
 Section 404 Requirements)
2 Keeping Up to Date with Changing Laws & Regulations
3 Increasing Workload but Dwindling Resources
4 Increased Compliance Burden & Disclosure Requirements
5 Lack of Understanding Regarding the Role of the Tax Department
 within the Company
6 Recruiting & Retaining Qualified Staff
7 Difficult Enforcement Environment & Dealing with Auditors
8 Career Satisfaction & Professional Development
9 Managing the Tax Rate and Risk
10 Increased Complexity from Globalization

Figure 4: Other Tax-Related Organizations in which
TEI Members Participate

Other Tax-related Organizations in which TEI Members Participate
(Listed in order of times identified)

* Other Local, Regional, or Industry Specific Organization
* Council on State Taxation
* American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (Tax Division)
* Manufacturers Alliance (MAPI)
* Canadian Tax Foundation
* American Bar Association (Tax Section)

Figure 6: Involvement--Done 1 or More Times in
Last 3 Years

read Tax Executive article 90%
read Tax Executive technical submission 83%
read or downloaded submission online 41%

used print Membership Roster 67%
used online membership director 51%

obtained ed program info from web site 58%
paid dues online 44%
registered for ed program online 40%

attended Chapter meeting 87%
sent staff to TEI conference/course/seminar 54%
participated in phone or online seminar 46%
attended 2-3 day seminar 41%
attended Annual Conference 33%
attended Midyear Conference 30%
attended a regional conference 26%
attended a week-long course 7%

used RIA/Carswell discounts 21%
posted job in job bank online 20%
participated in Institute committee 18%
responded to thread in online forum 18%
started a thread in online forum 16%
participated in developing a submission 10%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Figure 7: Most Important TEI Benefits

networking: Chapter level 81%
networking: Industry Group 48%
networking: Institute level 47%

Chapter meetings 75%
2- or 3-day seminars 50%
Annual Conference 41%
Midyear Conference 39%
industry sessions at Conferences 39%
telephone seminars 39%
online seminars 34%
regional conferences 34%

technical submissions 61%
Chapter liaison meetings 39%
national liaison meetings 33%

job bank 53%
membership directory online 51%
Chapter websites 43%
discussion forums 41%
email and messaging features 37%

The Tax Executive 78%
Membership Roster (print) 67%
monthly email message 56%
chapter job bank/employment committee 54%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Figure 8: Importance of Factors in Deciding Whether
or Not to Attend a Program

content (speakers/topics) 98%
location 80%
registration fee 52%
meals and lodging expense 42%
recreational opportunities 11%
spouse/companion program 7%

Figure 9: Making Attendance at TEI's Educational
Programs More Likely

Making Attendance at TEI's Educational Programs More Likely
(Listed in order of times identified)

* Offer at a Different Location or Specific Location
* Offer at a Different Time, Shorter Duration, or More Frequently
* Keep Costs to Attend Low or Make Lower
* Less General, More Relevant & Practical Topics
* "Keep up the Good Work"
* Maintain Quality Speakers & Better Manage Their Content

Figure 10: Making Attendance at TEI's Educational
Programs More Likely

Improving TEI & Other Comments (Listed in order of times identified)

* More Educational Programs or Opportunities to Get Technical Content
* Improve or Make Better Use of the Website
* More or Better Opportunities to Network with Other Members
* Make Programs More Technical
* Promote TEI's Advocacy Efforts & Opportunities to Get Involved
* Better Coordination Between the Institute & Chapters and Between
 TEI & Other Organizations
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Publication:Tax Executive
Date:May 1, 2006
Previous Article:Payment strategy to reduce interest costs on IRS settlements.
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