It is said that all good things must come to an end. This thought was foremost in my mind as I prepared my final column for the Pennsylvania CPA Journal
. Forty-two years after I began my PICPA journey, including the last 10 years as your CEO and executive director, I look back with great satisfaction and gratitude that this opportunity was provided to me.
Over such a long time frame, you see a lot. I have witnessed the CPA profession’s growth and evolution over the decades, and PICPA’s too. We have followed suit as the desires of our membership changed and their needs in new areas grew. When you go from the cutting-edge technology of calculators and electronic typewriters to cloud computing and artificial intelligence, you understand the pace of change only accelerates, which has been exhilarating. Our membership more than doubled during my tenure, and our professional staff grew from about 20 to over 60. Lots of change! I believe I could fill this entire edition of the Journal with stories, anecdotes, and achievements of our members and the PICPA that occurred during my tenure, but I am going to focus on just a few challenges and opportunities that arose during my time as CEO.
My tenure as CEO was bookended by governance changes made to enhance member engagement and leadership opportunities. About nine years ago, we changed to a bicameral leadership structure at the state level, which resulted in a smaller, experience-based Board charged with fiduciary governance of the organization, and a larger Council composed of members representing broader demographic and geographic interests who would develop strategic priorities for the PICPA. This change nearly doubled the number of members engaged in leadership within the organization. As technology has continued to change how we engage with members, Council this year approved a new member value framework, and membership approved eliminating our previous chapter governance model and replacing it with Local Connection Committees. These committees will continue to plan engagement activities for members regionally, but the reduced complexity of local governance will shorten the time frame for members to engage in leadership opportunities.
As member preferences and delivery models for learning and development evolved with enhanced technology, it became apparent that the PICPA needed to diversify its traditional revenue streams of dues and seminar registrations. The opportunity to expand our peer review administration accelerated our ability to enhance services in professional and technical areas. In addition to Delaware and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the PICPA now administers peer review for New York state, more than doubling the size and scope of our program. This provided a new source of revenue, but more importantly it allowed us to grow our professional team in peer review to include four CPAs, enhancing our ability to provide technical resources and training to our members.
Speaking of the evolving delivery model for learning and development, the PICPA made a historic strategic acquisition in 2020 with the purchase of CPA Crossings. CPA Crossings is a national provider of online learning, and this acquisition accelerated our ability to develop the CPE Academy, an online, state-of-the-art, individual-study learning platform where our members can access quality CPE whenever and wherever they want it.
Every year that I have been employed at the PICPA, recruiting talent has been a priority for our members. This concern has only accelerated over the past 10 years as technology changed the hiring models and skills required to work in the profession, coupled with fewer students entering the accounting pipeline. Realizing we needed to do more to ensure that accounting students in Pennsylvania met the demand, the PICPA created the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation in 2017. The Foundation’s mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in accounting and to provide educational, motivational, and financial support to those working to attain the CPA credential. The Foundation and its volunteers provide resources to introduce students to careers in accounting at the elementary-, middle-, and high-school levels, and has a special focus on highlighting the business case for increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the profession. I am proud that PICPA members and firms have supported the Foundation with nearly $1 million in contributions since its creation to expand and grow programs.
The oddest, most disruptive event of my tenure has, of course, been the coronavirus pandemic. The past 18 months have been challenging for all, but it also demonstrated the value of CPAs as trusted business advisers and provided an inspirational story to share with future generations of CPAs. Members and staff seized opportunities to do things differently, engage in innovation, and accelerate new business models. Its impact will be felt for years.
None of these initiatives and accomplishments would have happened without our extremely dedicated and engaged volunteers who provide their time and talent to support the PICPA and our strategic vision of providing more value to our members. For all those members, I am beyond grateful for your wisdom, counsel, and support. I will cherish the many friendships I have gained.
It has been my honor to serve and represent the PICPA over the years. But I had a great team standing with me. None of what we have accomplished would have been possible without the skilled and resilient professionals at the PICPA. I cannot begin to thank all those who have been a part of the team during my tenure, but I am confident they will continue to be the gold standard for member associations going forward. And I am exceedingly proud that a member of the team, Jennifer Cryder, will be succeeding me as CEO. I know Jen will continue to enhance the PICPA to your benefit.
Finally, I wish all of you much success, satisfaction, and accomplishment going forward.
Michael D. Colgan, CAE, is emeritus CEO and executive director of the PICPA. You can leave a farewell message for Mike at www.picpa.org/mikeretirement.