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Today, the Society Celebrates 125 Years of Service to the Profession

Ruth Singleton
Published Date:
Jan 28, 2022

125th anniversary logo-02

On Jan. 28, 1897, the NYSSCPA incorporated, becoming the first state society for certified public accountants in the nation.  The Society has experienced a remarkable history. Charles Waldo Haskins, a nephew of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was elected as the Society’s first president, and he served through 1903. Haskins had helped secure the passage of  “An Act to Regulate the Profession of Public Accountants,” by the New York State Legislature in 1896, which paved the way for the first CPA examination. According to the book The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants: Foundation for a Professionedited by Julia Grant,  other charter members included John HouriganHenry HarneyFrancis GottsbergerS. Eugene Sargent and Farquhar J. MacRae. 

An article in the New York Times reported that the Society held its First Annual Dinner on Dec. 28, 1897, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, with nearly 100 members and guests in attendance. According to the New-York Daily Tribune, Haskins gave a speech in which he spoke of the “constantly growing importance of accountants’ services, and remarked that the State Legislature, in passing a law creating the certified public accountant, has placed the business of accounting on a professional basis, with all that the term implied of guaranteed integrity, skill, and single-minded devotion to the interest of the client.” 

The Society’s first headquarters, through May 1898, was most likely at the office of the secretary, Arthur W. Teele, at 11 Wall Street, across the street from the current headquarters, and now the site of the executive offices of the New York Stock Exchange. The Society remained in the financial district until 1939, when it moved to midtown. It returned to the financial district at its current 14 Wall Street address in the summer of 2013. 

The Society has had 102 presidents, and its membership numbers increased dramatically. For example, between 1922 and 1936, it nearly quadrupled, increasing from 625 to 2,365. By 1945, that number had increased to 4,892, and by 1952, to more than 6,500. Today, that number has risen to over 20,000.  

Throughout the years, the Society has continued to advocate for the profession in Albany, as well as to educate and inform its members through courses and publications. 

The NYSSCPA began publishing The CPA Journal (originally, The New York Certified Public Accountant) in 1930, and it quickly became the Society’s flagship publication. For many years, it has been a valuable member resource, as it includes nationally focused content written by thought leaders in the accounting profession. Major topics include accounting, auditing, taxation, finance, management, technology and professional ethics. Its double-blind review process ensures the highest technical quality and material relevant to CPAs in public practice, industry, government and education. The Journal celebrated its 90th anniversary in its October/November 2020 issue. In addition to publishing the print magazine, the Journal has an online platform that reaches 160,000 monthly visitors globally, with more than 400,000 page-views. 

The Society established the Foundation for Accounting Education (FAE) in 1972 as a separate 501(c)(3) organization, to provide continuing professional education (CPE) resources to CPAs and other financial professionals. So while the Society is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, the FAE is celebrating its 50th. The FAE offers a wide selection of courses in accounting, auditing, taxation, industry-specific topics, ethics and advisory services, in multiple formats, including live and on-demand courses online, full- and half-day conferences and seminars, on-site learning, and 1- and 2-credit CPE sessions provided through the NYSSCPA’s technical committees. 

Through the efforts of then-NYSSCPA President Bert Mitchell, the Society launched the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (COAP) program in 1987. This free summer program, held on college campuses, was created to introduce high school students—particularly those from underrepresented communities—to the accounting profession. It was  designed  to  teach  students  about  the  breadth  and  depth  of  accounting  as  a  career choice, through workshops, field trips, and interaction with businesses and firms in  their own communities. In 2017, the Society established The Moynihan Scholarship Fund as a separate 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization to oversee COAP and the Excellence in Accounting Scholarships. 

In 1998, the NYSSCPA began publishing The Trusted Professional as “the voice of the Society,” keeping readers up to date on legislative, regulatory and administrative developments, along with NYSSCPA news, services and events. Sections are devoted to the educational, recreational and professional activities of the Society’s 15 chapters, as well as insight into key issues and changes affecting New York CPAs and information on regulatory and ethical standards of the profession. This year, The Trusted Professional will begin publishing its 25th volume. More recently, the Society initiated The TaxStringer, a monthly online publication focusing on numerous taxation topics, and NextGen, a magazine addressed to students, CPA candidates and members under 40. 

As the Society plans ahead for its next 125 years, it is focused on future-proofing the profession by emphasizing proactive transformation. That is also the goal of the CPA Evolution initiative developed by the AICPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). It entails embracing new technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics in order to offer clients forward-looking information. 

To celebrate 125 years of service to the profession, the Society will a host a gala on April 28 2022, benefiting The Moynihan Scholarship Fund. The gala will take place at Current, on Chelsea Piers, overlooking the Hudson River, and it will feature an open bar, an elegant dinner by Abigail Kirsch, entertainment and dancing. Tickets are available online.

Click here to see more of the latest news from the NYSSCPA.