It’s been seven years since state law-makers and regulators overhauled the rules that regulate the CPA profession in New York, expanding the scope of practice beyond the audit, requiring most firms engaged in attestation work to register with the state and undergo peer review every three years, and enacting a host of other updates and changes. But like so much of what seemed innovative in 2009, those rules are now in need of revision in order to keep up with a changing profession and evolving business demands.
That’s why the New York State Board for Public Accountancy, which is finishing up an upgrade to its application forms and close to completing a years-long revision of the state’s professional conduct rules, is also tackling an update to the state’s regulations. Some of the changes are matters of housekeeping—fixing typos and adding clarification to better reflect board office practice—but others are more substantive, addressing the CPA experience requirement, practice mobility, and nano-learning [i.e., shorter continuing professional education (CPE) web sessions]. The state board is mulling the introduction of 10-minute CPE increments that would equal 0.2 credit hours, while capping the amount of acceptable nano-learning credits at 3 full credits per calendar year.
The NYSSCPA will be submitting its own recommendations on the state’s accounting regulations, and I encourage members to provide their feedback to us on any provisions that have led to practice issues in the six years since the law’s implementation. Prior to adoption, the proposed revisions must be released by the state for public comment, so New York State CPAs will be given several opportunities to weigh in on the revisions.
The NYSSCPA staff and leadership is considering other initiatives that would update professional practice in New York State, including clarifying certain state provisions surrounding CPE, namely those that require retired CPAs to earn annual CPE in order to act in any advisory capacity on nonprofit boards. We are also considering a proposal that would require newly licensed CPAs to earn CPE during their first three years of licensure. Currently, new CPAs are exempt from the state’s CPE requirements during that time, creating a knowledge gap at a time when they most need to be aware of the regulations guiding their new profession.
Other Regulatory Issues
Revisions to public accounting rules and regulations are not the only items the NYSSCPA’s government affairs team has on its radar. New York law-makers created business opportunities and regulatory challenges for the state’s CPAs when they made the sale of medical marijuana legal in 2014 despite the federal government’s continued prohibition. The NYSSCPA is now holding discussions with regional managing partners, the New York State Department of Tax and Finance, and other state boards that have already adopted positions on the sale of marijuana to help regulators develop guidance and build a practice framework for accountants serving clients engaged in this new and burgeoning business sector in New York.
For several years, the NYSSCPA has supported a bill in Albany that would have allowed non-CPAs to own a minority stake in a CPA firm. In June, the bill passed in the Senate but died in committee in the Assembly. While the NYSSCPA will continue to support non-CPA ownership, and while most of our members support the concept, the Society will prioritize other legislative initiatives that address practice issues for our members, such as voluntary license surrender and advocating for strong internal audit requirements for New York State school districts.
I often urge managing partners to gain a better understanding of how external forces, such as technology and the generation gap, are having an impact on professional practice. It is the NYSSCPA’s responsibility to make sure that the state’s laws and regulations reflect changing practice as well. Each year, 26,000 NYSSCPA members renew their memberships with the expectation that we will represent the interests of New York State CPAs in Albany. I consider our advocacy initiatives one of the most important benefits we provide to our members, but in order for us to be successful, we need to hear from you. Do you know of a New York State legislative, regulatory or technical issue that you think should be fixed? Would new legislation dramatically impact your business? Please reach out to our government affairs team at http://bit.ly/2askArn and let your voice be heard.