Adding up: Born in Cowtown, Texas Society of CPAs marks 100 years

Adding up: TSCPA celebrates 100 years

Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants

The key words “certified” and “public” conveniently sum up the bullet points

of the 100-year history of the Texas Society of Certified Public

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Accountants, according to the organization’s modern-day leaders.

The group was founded on Oct. 26, 1915, with 20 accountants focused on standardizing the profession and introducing its services to the public.

Much of its function is still the same: guarding its members’ legally defined and protected professional identity, keeping an eye on potentially obstructive governmental regulation, and ensuring ethics, competence and devotion to the practice of accountancy.

It’s a movement born in Fort Worth.

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“One hundred years ago, the first chairmen of the TSCPA and Texas Board of Public Accountancy were from Fort Worth,” said Allyson Baumeister of Fort Worth, current TSCPA chairman.

“We’ve come full circle,” she said. “Fort Worth is where the first members of the TSCPA were.”

Its 27,000 members in 2015, spread through 20 chapters, are also committed to broadening the membership to mirror the diversity of modern-day Texas and to embracing new technologies and career paths for accountants.

“Our job is very different but the basics of what we do and whom we do it for is basically the same,” Baumeister said. “The TSPCA still advocates for probably the same reasons, to provide resources and support for CPAs in professional careers, working with the public and making sure the public is protected.”

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The organization provides its members with continuing education opportunities, technical advice and advocacy during legislative sessions.

A big challenge is the growing need to monitor new laws and regulations that often profoundly affect the work of CPAs.

The governmental watchdog area of TSCPA covers not only the Legislature but changing IRS rules and Congressional actions that might apply to the profession.

“One of the things about watching Austin is, it leads to a lot of uncertainty when legislation is passed on the last day of the session and it’s retroactive,” Baumeister said.

While the basics of public accountancy remain the same, who goes into the profession is changing.

“When I arrived, the impression was that it was an affiliation of old white men,” said John C. Baines of Denton, a current member of the state board who joined TSCPA in 1982. “There were a number of females, but it was still very white.”

Baines is African-American, and though he says there is still much work to do for CPAs to achieve ethnic parity with the larger community, he sees signs of success.

“There’s been a definite effort to change the hue and perception of that over the last several years,” said Baines.

There are unique challenges facing minority CPAs who are building their careers, he said.

“I would say, one of the largest challenges for people of color is the access to capital to start businesses, to borrow money for their businesses,”

Baines said.

“Not all of the people have had that kind of training; they are not the most prominent in business ownership,” he said. “It’s like first-generation home ownership.”

In 2008, the beginning of the Great Recession, African-Americans “lost quite a few homes, the African-American community lost a great deal of its wealth,” Baines said.

Women have had considerable success assimilating into the CPA organization’s ranks, however.

“Most [CPA] firms in our area now employ more women than men,” Baumeister said. “I’ve seen a tremendous change in the 28 years I’ve been a member.”

Women are drawn to the accounting field because there is a lot of flexibility and specialty choices.

“You can design your career around your life,” she said, adding that the array of specialties is also attractive to women.

“It’s amazing, the different kinds of specialties within the field,” said Baumeister, who practices mostly in the area of business consulting within her firm, CliftonLarsonAllen, where she is principal in charge. Her previous firm, Sanford, Baumeister & Frazier LLP, recently merged with CliftonLarsonAllen.

A native of West Texas, Baumeister graduated from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School with areas of expertise in the oil and gas, farm and ranch, and manufacturing and construction industries.

Kelly Hein, the TSCPA’s next president, also has Fort Worth ties. He is partner-in-charge of the tax department of RCO, with expertise in estate planning, fiduciary taxation, organizational consulting, business valuation and litigation support.

Being a part of TSCPA is an incredible experience, Baumeister said.

“It’s a lifelong relationship. They are there for each other all the time,” she


Baines, a Houston native, intended to go into law and politics. After his military service he graduated from the University of Houston with a business degree and worked in the law offices of former Gov. John Connally. Baines made an abrupt switch to accounting during his senior year at UH and went on to earn his master’s degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington.

“I started all over again,” he said. He worked in the accounting departments of Diamond Shamrock and Ernst and Young, and he started his own CPA business in Denton in 1986, John E. Baines, PC Consulting.

Unlike in so many professions, one of the biggest current challenges to public accountancy is filling the vacancies and the many new jobs in the field.

“There’s a much higher demand for CPAs than there are CPAs,”

Baumeister said.

“The difficulty is in finding people,” she continued. “There aren’t as many folks graduating with accounting degrees that might go ahead and sit for their exam and become certified, grads that actually get their licenses.”

One answer to replenishing the number of accountants, Baines said, is to bring students out of the classroom and into the real world of CPA possibilities.

CPAs should reach out and be guest speakers at school accounting clubs, arrange office tours and invite students into meetings.

“Let them shadow professionals during the day and see the problem solving and networking skills at work, so they’ll think ‘perhaps I won’t get bored as an accountant’,” Baines said.

Then there’s the outdated public perception of CPAs, Baines said.

“People still think of us as having the little green shades over our eyes and working out problems on an abacus,” Baines joked.

With work, he said, the stereotypes of dull number crunchers will disappear and new professionals will move in to write their own chapters.

“I’m encouraged,” Baines said of the outlook for his profession. “The water is being stirred, as far as pushing more people into the pipeline of becoming CPAs.”