May 20, 2019

PICPA’s Strategic Direction for 2020 and Beyond

By Maureen Renzi, vice president – communications

PICPA members are in the driver’s seat when it comes to directing PICPA strategy. Member needs have always topped the list in terms of developing the institute’s goals, and this year members of PICPA Council are taking these concerns and incorporating them into the longer view as we work to adapt to the speed of today’s change. The PICPA is aware of the many challenges members face, and we had them front and center as we strategized how to support members’ future success.

Before we moved forward, we wanted to assess PICPA’s strengths and weaknesses. This past winter we conducted a member survey, and through this analysis six broad themes became apparent. We presented those to PICPA leadership at the Council meeting in April, and members broke into six groups to strategically think about how the PICPA should address the identified concerns.

Below is some insight from your leadership on how we got to the goals we will be working toward for the next three years. I compiled summaries contributed from the following Council members: Steve Christian, Heather Demshock, Mike De Stefano, Ian McDowell, Aaron Risden, and Will Velekei.


Data Integrity and Decision-Making

Aaron R. Risden, CPA
Aaron R. Risden
Incoming PICPA Vice President
CFO, Vision Benefits of America

In our discussion, we identified two primary goals. First, we recognized the need to improve PICPA’s data. To accomplish that, we would like to see the PICPA identify key data elements or records, and then establish metrics to monitor future progress toward improved data quality. Second, we realized that the PICPA can identify how existing and future data could be used to improve member engagement. Ideas should be prioritized to focus on the most promising data-use cases.


  • Improve data integrity/quality measurement.
  • Identify key data elements.
  • Prioritize the data and identify where to apply first.
  • Use the data to improve member engagement.


Eliminate and Innovate Processes

Heather M. Demshock, CPA
Heather M. Demshock
North Central Chapter
Council Representative
Associate Professor of Accounting
Lycoming College

We discussed innovation, which was defined as “to make changes to something established” or “new, refined, reduced, enhanced; not necessarily more.” With this in mind, we looked at the resources that the PICPA has available and how they could be better aligned within a culture of innovation. However, we were challenged to identify specific goals because the resources existing and available really depend upon the decisions and goals made in the other five categories that were discussed at the council meeting. The thought process was that if PICPA leaders could establish an evaluation process (would need to be quantitative and qualitative) of their offerings, it would help continue, refine, or eliminate services or products and use the available resources in a more innovative way.


  • Develop a measurement using existing data to evaluate existing products, programs, and services to determine which can be maintained, streamlined, enhanced, or eliminated to align resources on a regular basis.


Future Proof and Digital First

Ian McDowell, CPA
Ian F. McDowell
Assurance Principal
S.R. Snodgrass PC

This discussion started with security and trust. Based on the current climate of digital security, we felt that emphasizing PICPA’s focus, and continued diligence, on data security was important. This needs to continue to be at the forefront of the conversation, and should be emphasized as a member benefit as the PICPA moves forward with more digital services. Regarding processing, platform enhancements should primarily focus on making it intentionally easier to conduct business online, including registering for courses, renewing memberships for individuals and firms, and participating in educational and committee activities. Payment structures can be revisited, as well as an expansion of firm renewals. Finally, in the current CPE environment our thought was that the market is saturated with options. One way to make sure the PICPA is distinguishing its brand is to provide information that is more relevant and timely than other providers. There is a large space for rapid CPE delivery on issues that are current. Something like a 10 to 15 minute overview of a new accounting pronouncement or exposure draft within 10 days of its release could really benefit members. We discussed the potential for member firms to carry some of this load in exchange for visibility as a presenter. As the speed of information delivery continues to increase, it is important for the PICPA to keep up with that changing pace to remain relevant.


  • Start with security and trust.
  • Make it intentionally easier to conduct business and education online.
  • Build a go-to-market process to release products quickly when accounting changes occur.


Integrated Content Plan

Mike De Stefano
Michael F. De Stefano

Our group was tasked with setting goals surrounding an integrated content plan from a strategic perspective. The group discussions focused on what segments of our membership we should be directing the integrated content to, and gave consideration to whether or not that should expand beyond our membership into other areas that the profession is moving into (IT professionals, data analytic specialists, corporate finance, etc.). We felt that this was an important aspect to be sorted out so PICPA content could be delivered in a focused way. Furthermore, we discussed what partnerships could exist between the PICPA and outside resources, which we realize is being addressed by a different group. Currently, many CPA firms offer content to their employees/clients that overlaps with what the PICPA looks to offer (white papers on emerging topics, as an example). Partnering with these outside organizations would give members access to internal publications that could benefit our members and the CPA firms. It does seem that the goals could align in this area with the content that the PICPA looks to share with our membership.


  • Identify the content and delivery methods that serve diverse members and align with their specific needs.
  • Determine if, and to what extent, to serve non-CPAs.
  • Explore the creation and curation of partnership opportunities with firms, members, etc.


Member Value Proposition Goals

William Velekei, CPA, CFP
William K. Velekei
Lehigh Valley Chapter
Council Representative
Certified Financial Planner
Corbenic Partners LLC

The true value of membership goes beyond the bottom line cost to belong. While money is a tangible payment, the intangible rewards, such as making meaningful connections, are where the true value is realized. Further, the member value proposition will change as an individual’s professional career evolves. For instance, younger demographics may use membership for the social aspect; where someone established in their career may leverage the PICPA to make a career move. Career stage is not the only guiding factor. Firm size or engagement in corporate finance also play a role in determining value. By collecting feedback in real time and using predictive analysis, PICPA’s recruitment and retention strategies will remain strong as we refine and promote the member value proposition.


  • Communicate value of membership beyond price.
  • Identify the value proposition for different demographics.
  • Add more relevant services to firms and companies tied to their size and role in the organization.



Stephen W. Christian
2018-2019 PICPA President
Director, Kreischer Miller

Our group discussed how the PICPA and its members can benefit from strategic partnerships and alliances. We all agreed that entering into such arrangements provide a variety of benefits, including connection to resources and services not otherwise available, access to relevant and timely content, and additional revenue potential.


  • Define criteria on who we should collaborate with.
  • Establish how we will judge a successful partnership.
  • Determine potential partners and evaluate current alliances.

Watch for developments to be reported in CPA Now and the Pennsylvania CPA Journal as we move through this process. If you have thoughts on any of these efforts, please email me or provide your insight in the comments section below.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.