I’ve written and talked at length, in this column and in discussions with accounting thought leaders across the country, about the transformation taking place at CPA firms due to the intersection of technological and generational forces. I’ve been urging firm managing partners to prioritize succession planning and to look at some of the innovative ways CPAs are using technology to blaze their own path to partner—often managing partner—of their own firms.

Firms aren’t the only ones trying to manage this sea change. The NYSSCPA Board of Directors continually assesses whether the Society meets the needs of its members, not only as an advocate for the CPA profession in New York, but also as a resource throughout their careers.

In an effort to better reflect the way many CPA firms are structured today, the NYSSCPA’s Board of Directors voted on March 22 to approve a proposed change to the organization’s bylaws that, if adopted by the membership at large, would create a new associate membership category at the Society for individuals in other professions who work closely with CPAs—such as attorneys, actuaries, and other financial professionals—but who do not hold a CPA license or work under a CPA’s supervision.

The new associate member category would make membership available to professionals who are vital to firms but who cannot be NYSSCPA members.

Our regional chapters have been holding extremely successful networking events for CPAs, bankers, attorneys and other financial professionals for decades, but at the state level, only CPAs could join our robust and resource-heavy committee network. While we often hold open, afterwork networking events at the NYSSCPA, the Society does not currently provide consistent opportunities for our CPA members to meet and network with people they do business with outside of the profession. This proposal would change that.

The NYSSCPA already has a sizeable non-CPA, associate membership base, composed of students, CPA candidates, or individuals who work for a CPA firm or a CPA. The proposed change to the bylaws would expand the allowable criteria for associate membership so that individuals outside the direct supervision of a CPA have access to NYSSCPA membership. These individuals would be prohibited, however, from holding board or committee leadership positions and would not have voting rights. Sponsorship by a CPA member in good standing would continue to be required of all applicants.

The new associate member category would make membership available to professionals who are vital to firms but who cannot be NYSSCPA members. In a recent membership survey, respondents told us that two of the primary reasons they become members of this organization is for career resources and networking opportunities. Let there be no confusion: This proposal seeks to provide more of these opportunities without diluting the CPA brand. The NYSSCPA will always be the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. That’s who we are, who we represent, and what we will always be.

Because revisions to the bylaws require approval by two-thirds of a general membership vote, proxy ballots that feature the proposed change and the slate of 2016–2017 board and officer nominees have been sent to the membership (through e-mail to those who have provided the Society with an e-mail address and through the U.S. mail to those who have not). I encourage all eligible members to cast their vote. Bylaws changes approved by the membership will go into effect immediately following the May 19, 2016 Annual Election Meeting, which this year will coincide with the NYSSCPA’s inaugural Moynihan Fund Gala in New York City.