We're 'Michigan Tax and Accounting Professionals'
Members Approve Name Change
Board Moves Swiftly to Make More Strategic Changes
by Jon A. Hayes, Executive Director
IAAM members unanimously approved a new public name for the 69 year old organization on June 22, supporting a strategic vision that leaders feel will enhance the value of belonging and increase participation in programs and services.
"MTAP will now be the public name of the association, but the Independent Accountants Association of Michigan will always remain our official name," said President Robin D. Wheaton (Adrian). "Nothing will replace the history and professional respect we've built in our IAAM name, but industry shifts were making it very difficult to recruit members who exclusively offered tax services. MTAP makes it very clear that we want and welcome all tax and accounting professionals into our community."
Board Moves on Retention and Recruitment
Responding quickly to member support for the new name, the state board of directors began implementing an overall strategic plan to bolster membership and participation. Actions included:
- Decreasing Active Member dues from $160 per year to $97 beginning with renewals this September.
- Decreasing Associate (employee) member dues from $60 to $27 per year beginning with September renewals.
- Eliminating the "member employee rate" to IAAM seminars beginning in 2016 by requiring Actives to enroll employees as Associate members to receive seminar discounts and to be eligible for all association services.
- Expanding internet-based services with an emphasis on services younger professionals now use every day to communicate and learn.
Because 2015 live seminar rates have already been published, Active members may register employees at the "employee member rate" for fall events, but the board is encouraging Actives to enroll those employees as Associate members now to get a jumpstart on their participation.
"Employees are the key to a sustained future," said Wheaton. "By substantially decreasing Active member dues, we believe the savings provide an instant incentive for Actives to sign employees up and for MTAP to reach out to those employees now with quality services that benefit their professional development and the Active's business."
Growing Associate Ranks for Successorship
"There are two trends in our industry that must be addressed," said Executive Director Jon Hayes. "First and foremost, we need to grow future successors who are prepared to buy and grow a business. Our retirement-aged members struggle to find those successors and the number who are forced to sell under duress for less than the practice is worth is increasing. We have a very good stable of member employees in this community who are viable buyers. We need to reach out to them, prepare them, and connect them with our selling members."
Hayes said plans are underway for successful member-owners to provide tutorials and mentoring resources that help potential successors better understand the opportunities and needed requirements to step into ownership. The plan also calls for expansion of online resources to help current and future owners make informed decisions on service growth options, effective practice management, and client procurement.
"We are reaching out to those members who have successfully built a business and we're asking them to lend that expertise," said Hayes. "Our goal is to host a growing video-based archive that both Active and Associate members can access 24/7 to help in professional advancement, whether it be to become an owner or to enhance skills."
Hayes emphasized that such an archive would not house technical-based aids like preparing forms or a financial statement since many vendors offer such services and MTAP continues to strategically partner with them for member discounts. The archive would focus more on providing checklists and "ask the expert" type options for pursuing advancement.
"The industry doesn't offer this," said Hayes. "We believe we can and must create the opportunity because it is a win-win for the employees and owners within our ranks," said Hayes.
Creating a Bank of Qualified Employee Candidates
The second challenge that MTAP faces rests in creating a pool of potential employees who possess basic, necessary skills to be an asset to a member business upon hiring. Many member owners have abandoned practice growth efforts simply because they can't find good employees and they fear their own personal workloads would become unmanageable with increased business.
"The lack of employee talent, especially in taxation and financial services, is literally preventing our members from seizing profitable opportunities," said Hayes. "Everyone agrees that the oppotunity to grow is there, but solving this problem will be difficult since our prior efforts to establish training programs with community colleges drew no interest and other stakeholder associations don't seem interested in such an effort."
Hayes sited trade-based industries who faced the same dilemma and created self-financed training programs as a possible option. But those associations were manufacture-based, larger and better equipped to finance and maintain such a program.
"We have a unique situation where the public really doesn't know about the opportunities in our industry. Creating that opportunity will require collaboration and creativity," said Hayes. "We will begin that process this fall by seeking support and participation from our Active members. If our Active members have the will to support a plan of action, we will be ready to implement and work that plan immediately to start producing the talent our members need to grow and succeed."
The shift from IAAM to MTAP has already begun. Changes will be coming soon to the website, public announcements will be made, and MTAP will reach out to both members and potential members this summer and fall. Upon renewal or joining, members will receive a kit including a new membership certificate and other resources to promote their membership in MTAP.
"We are gratified by the show of support from our members as we embark down this new path," said Wheaton. "The new logo clearly projects community with the hands coming together to form an outline of our great state, and we are confident our members will choose to actively participate in growing our community to insure our industry remains strong."