[IMGCAP(1)]Fifteen years or so ago, political scientist Robert Putnam caused a bit of a splash with his book Bowling Alone, famously citing the drop in the number of people who bowl in leagues as a proxy for a decline in the “social capital” and civic engagement in America over the previous 50 years.

Then social media happened, and no one has worried about social engagement since (or if they have, it’s been to say that we might have too much of it). And in any case, no one was ever likely to write anything called “Accounting alone” (except me, just now) — accountants have always been engaged with their profession, both before and after social media.

So why bring this up now? Because I’m going to encourage all of you to up your level of engagement. If you don’t belong to a group of your fellow professionals, join one — or create one. If you already belong, get involved in a committee, or volunteer for a position. And if you do all those, start recruiting others to join, and to increase their level of engagement, too.

Why? First off, it’s good for you, right now.

Whether it’s through an active social media forum like the QBOChat, the local chapter of your state CPA society, or a larger organization like a firm alliance or network, or the National Conference of CPA Practitioners or the American Institute of CPAs, interacting with your fellow practitioners will help you solve problems, learn valuable new things, recruit and retain new employees, promote your firm, and find new business and M&A partners. With competition rising both within the profession and from the outside, now is the time to benefit from accountants’ willingness to share all manner of valuable advice and best practices with their colleagues.

And second, it will be good for the profession, both now and over the long haul. As the exit of the Baby Boomers continues, accounting, like everything else, will fall off a demographic cliff, even as concerns rise about younger generations being lured away to other fields. A vibrant, highly engaged profession will be better able to weather the Boomers’ departure, and to draw in the new members who will fill their spots, to say nothing of identifying exciting new opportunities for its members.

If you’re a member of the AICPA already, there’s a great opportunity to engage with your profession going on right now. In the week after April 18, you should have received an e-mail from the institute about voting on a proposal to create an international association with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. The new group would represent a large pool of accountants internationally, while preserving the separate membership bodies of the AICPA and CIMA.

In our April issue, we ran an article by institute vice president Carl Peterson on why he thinks the proposal is good for the profession, and in our May issue we ran an article by the institute’s Ash Noah on the value of the Chartered Global Management Accountant credential, which was the main product of the original joint venture between the AICPA and CIMA. On the con side, our Spirit of Accounting columnists, Profs. Paul Miller and Paul Bahnson oppose the proposal in their May column (and pretty much everywhere else).

Whichever side you take, ballots are due by June 16, and given the proposal’s potential impact on the profession both here and abroad, it’s important that everyone weigh in.

I won’t say that the future of the profession depends on you — but if not you, then who?

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