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Our roots run deep by D. Paul Regan, CPA.

Earlier this summer as I gazed out my window in Maui at a banyan tree, I saw a parallel with our profession and CalCPA. Like the banyan, each CPA can stand against adversity because they are founded on an extraordinary root system that enables them to weather life's storms and emerge renewed.

A barrage of high-profile corporate scandals has profoundly impacted our country's capital markets and economy, as well as millions of people. Investors--individuals, institutions and retirement plans--lost billions of dollars. Numerous people have lost their jobs. And the media has had a field day reporting on waves of financial shenanigans, cooked books, abusive tax shelters and sleight of hand accounting.

The storm of scandals has impacted the public trust that is so critical to our existence. As CPAs, we are distinguished from other professions by the designation "public." We are more than just "certified accountants." We are certified public accountants, which recognizes that CPAs provide the public with information that is fairly presented and may be relied upon by others for important financial decisions. Our license carries with it tremendous responsibilities and significant opportunities.

Because our professional opinion and work product are vital to our clients and the public, CalCPA members have rooted their conduct within a framework of core values that include integrity, competence, continuing education and lifelong learning, independence, objectivity, protecting the public and being attuned to business issues.

Over time, the public has developed a respect and trust in the work done by CalCPA members, in large part because of our principled core values. The public's recognition of our roots has enabled CalCPA members to withstand the corporate scandals of the past three years and emerge stronger, with a renewed focus on that which earns us the public's trust.

We all must do our share to reinforce the public's confidence that our 27,000 members abide by these values. The responsibility lies with not just those members who are independent auditors, but with every member, including those who are CEOs, CFOs, controllers, audit committee members, internal auditors and staff accountants. During my term as CalCPA chair, I will focus my efforts on our responsibility to uphold our core values as well as in the following key areas:

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Corporate Governance

Reducing the incidence of corporate scandal requires a partnership among auditors, corporate management, audit committees and all financial professionals. We must create a culture of honesty and high ethics, which incorporates appropriate controls, anti-fraud and over-sight processes. This means we may need to require professionals with a significant role in the preparation of public company financial statements to be CPAs with active licenses. This would ensure adequate technical and ethical training to create and maintain the appropriate environment for the preparation of financial statements that are fairly presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principals.

We need to support positive and effective reforms that improve financial reporting at all levels of California's economy. These reforms should focus on system reliability, corporate accountability and codes of conduct, timely information dissemination and understandable disclosures. Such reforms should be designed to restore trust in our profession by providing more transparent, informative and timely business information to our clients and the public.

Financial Literacy

A natural extension of increased corporate responsibility is increasing the scope of our financial literacy efforts. Financial illiteracy is a serious problem in California, affecting individuals, businesses and government. Two out of three California households will fail to realize major life goals--home ownership, educating children through college and providing for a dignified retirement--because of financial illiteracy.

Last year, CalCPA took a lead role in using members' financial expertise to enhance the financial literacy of Californians. I support expanding CalCPA's commitment to financial I iteracy and reaching out to businesses, nonprofit boards, audit committees and others.

Ensuring CalCPA's Success

As CPAs, we take great pride in our profession and the important role we play in California's and the global economy. CalCPA is essential in helping the profession fulfill its role as we:

* Strengthen our profession through legislative and regulatory advocacy, and image building with the public, and

* Contribute to members' success by offering CPE and networking opportunities, as well as recruiting students to the profession.

During my term I will emphasize these benefits and encourage each member to be an active participant and supporter of CalCPA's values and success.
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Title Annotation:Certified Public Accountant
Publication:California CPA
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Aug 1, 2004
Words:723
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