As CPAs, we must strive for quality in everything we do. The quality of our work reflects not only on each of us individually, but also on the reputation of the CPA profession. As North Carolina CPAs, we must live by the oath to “uphold the honor and dignity of the accounting profession by serving with integrity, objectivity, and competence”. Those words hold true whether you are in public accounting, industry, education, or government, and apply whether you are a new CPA or well along in your career.
The recently issued Department of Labor report “Assessing the Quality of Employee Benefit Plan Audits” is an example that illustrates the importance of maintaining the highest level of quality in our profession. If you have ever done an employee benefit plan audit, or ever plan to do one, this report affects all of us by calling into question the competence of CPAs and our ability to self-regulate our profession. In my own business, which is centered on the architecture and engineering industry, I have seen a very similar type of report and its effects on the perception of CPAs. In that case, the report was based on an audit of costs incurred in 2003, and the CPA firms and their clients are still working to overcome the negative effects on the perception of the quality of their work.
As a profession, we need to identify the challenges to quality, and strive to address them in order to maintain our reputation as one of the most trusted professions. In my experience, challenges to quality often include the following:
- Trying to do it all: As one who routinely does this, I can speak from experience that this can put you in a difficult position of trying to meet unreasonable expectations. It’s important to establish boundaries and realistically evaluate what you are able to do, in terms of both resources and qualifications.
- Lack of adequate training: There is no substitute for proper training when it comes to doing a job well. I would be more qualified to install all the electrical wiring in a new house than I would be to perform an employee benefit audit. And trust me, even I wouldn’t want to live in that house. My point is this: do what you are qualified to do, and seek training that allows you to expand your abilities into new areas.
- Time pressures: Being under pressure to meet tight deadlines can be one of the greatest risks to quality, regardless of your role. Solutions can include building a qualified team that can support you, and holding your ground when pushed to complete work within a deadline that could cause quality to be at risk.
What can we do as an association to support quality in the work you do? We would love to hear from you!
A couple of tools to support and improve quality are as follows:
This is a great tool to identify others with similar challenges and areas of expertise, and to share best practices. If you’re not using Connect, give it a try. Post a question, start a conversation—you may be surprised by how effective it is.
Taking CPE that is relevant and specific to your needs is one of the best ways to support quality. As an association, we focused on identifying our members’ needs and developing CPE programs that meet those needs. We want to hear more about the topics that are most relevant to you.
As CPAs, we have a responsibility to support the great reputation of our profession by striving to achieve the highest level of quality in all that we do. Let us know what NCACPA can do to help!
Dan Purvine is the 2015-16 chair of NCACPA Board of Directors and president of A/E Clarity Consulting and Training, chair of the ACEC Audit Subcommittee and has long been an advocate for the needs of A/E firms in contracting with local, State, and federal agencies. He continues to work closely with FHWA and AASHTO in his volunteer role with ACEC to achieve uniform application of FAR Part 31 and the AASHTO Audit Guide, and to better address the needs of A/E firms nationwide.