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Thoughts on the profession.

As you read this article I have just stepped into my new role. Speaking with others in preparation for this time, I had likened the chair-elect role as similar to the batter on deck who watches the pitcher, observes the batter, and adjusts accordingly. What I am discovering is that the chairman's role is not actually as the batter. The role is more like being the ball with Barry Bonds as the first batter. After I have been batted around the park for a while and scuffed up I will be replaced by a shiny new ball. As all of you who serve in volunteer leadership positions recognize, that's how the process works. With all of the challenges and limitations I, like all of you, am still happy to have the opportunity to serve and play ball.

We have such a great and honored profession and we must use our roles to renew faith and confidence in CPAs as the most trusted advisors. I will spend much of my time this year talking about our core values--integrity, competence and objectivity. What distinguishes our competence from that of any other service provider is our integrity and objectivity. When coupled together our core values provide true professionalism, and therein lies the answer. There are those who have called into question what we value. In point of fact, what we value is not the question, it's the solution. Our core values of integrity, competence and objectivity-our rock solid foundation represent our strength and our solution.

In addition to focusing on our values, much time will be spent addressing our changing environment. The Sarbanes-0xley Act ceded responsibility for public company audit standard setting to the new Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Out of 45,000 firms in the AICPA, fewer than 750 audit public companies. Out of 350,000 members less than 20 percent are involved with the SEC registrant community. What about the other 44,000 firms and 80+ percent of the CPAs in this country? The answer is that the Auditing Standards Board will continue to set audit standards for the rest of the non-public financial community. They will do so with a new charge and a reconstituted membership reflecting this new environment. The process of standard setting will require coordination and cooperation with PCAOB audit standard setting so both bodies benefit from the best thinking available to meet the needs of our respective constituencies.

The SECPS will also undergo a makeover to meet our changing environment. This body will process feedback from members and provide input to the PCAOB on proposed public company audit standards and on implementation challenges. Auditors will have a mechanism to communicate the real world issues related to standard setting. Tools and member communication options will be provided and enhanced to meet the needs of CPAs operating in the public company environment.

For those who have concerns about multiple sets of standards I would note that we have actually been operating under multiple sets of standards for many years. While we have had one set of audit standards we have had to comply with many additional requirements to meet the needs of the SEC, D0L and GA0. As each group attempts to manage its needs we might expect the diversification to continue. It is important that the needs of private enterprise not be lost in this process. The relationships CPAs have with owners of private enterprise are wholly different than relationships in the public company or governmental arena and those differences must be recognized in the development of standards.

Change is in the wind and will continue to challenge us for the foreseeable future. We will be measured by how we respond. The process calks us to be educated to the issues and willing to speak up on behalf of our profession. We must get the facts, not the rumors, and share what we know. As my daughter, the second grade school teacher, says to her new parents, "If you agree not to believe everything you hear is going on at school I'll agree not to believe everything I hear is going on at home." Get the facts and then proceed. Each one of us has a sphere of influence within our own organization and our own community and the best opportunity to drive change and renew confidence. We must make the most of our opportunities. That will be my approach this next year and I hope it will be yours.

Batter up.

S. Scott Vaynich is the 2003-2004 chair of the AICPA. He is managing partner of the Columbus, Georgia firm at Robinson, Grimes & Co. He has served on many AICPA bodies. including the governing Council, and is former president of the Georgia Society of CPAs.
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Title Annotation:Members Only
Author:Voynich, S. Scott
Publication:Catalyst (Dublin, Ohio)
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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