You Get What You Put In

When I tell talk to business and industry people about their professional organizations I often get the same reaction – “they don’t do anything for me.” I used to try to convince them they were wrong and their professional organizations did plenty for them.

Our professional organizations defend the value of the CPA license through work with state boards of accountancy and state legislatures. The number of less than intelligent ideas by well-meaning but uniformed non-professionals can sometimes be amazing. The simple act of informing and educating such people about how the profession works can have significant results. Our professional organizations work to keep the tax code and other laws and regulations rational and sane. I would agree that success in this area hasn’t been the greatest, but if you look at all of the crazy ideas proposed that didn’t make it due to the profession’s involvement, I think you would agree things would be much worse without our professional organizations.

I could add a dozen other things to that list but I quickly get that look of, “but none of that is FOR ME, what are they doing FOR ME.”

So I can talk about the great benefits like insurance, life and disability for example, but they can get that from other sources at rates and terms that are not quite as good, but not bad either. I can talk about CPE, but then they say it’s just a racket by the profession to get more money out of them for something they don’t have time for in the first place. I can talk about the ability to create a network of their peers to have for asking questions and seeking help and I get a blank stare.

I have come to realize there are many people that don’t get anything out of the profession because they don’t want to get anything out of the profession. I find that the saddest moment of all. Here are people that worked through five years of college, extensive days and nights studying to pass the CPA exam and at least a year of relevant work experience to finally get that CPA license and now they decide it isn’t worth another second of their time.

There are two realities about any time humans gather in groups of more than one. The first is that we do so to get something out of it, and the second is that you only get out of it what you put into it. The CPA profession is no different. Now when people tell me their professional organizations haven’t done anything for them I ask them, what have they done for their professional organizations? When the answer is “I paid my dues” I tell them anyone can do that. If you really want your professional organization to do something for you, then pay with some time. You’ll be amazed at how much more you get back.

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