The inimitable Groucho Marx used to swear that he'd never join a club that would have him for a member.
I feel his pain. Neither would I.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell you that I'm not a joiner -- in anything.
During my formative years, my father made me enlist in the Boy Scouts under the paternal assurance that it would "build character." After participating in three miserable overnight hikes, I was looking to hire an attorney to examine the legality of sleeping with other foul-mouthed adolescents in a lean-to as the temperatures hovered around the 30-degree mark. I was sure there was a law on the books that prohibited that.
I was later "encouraged" to join the school band, an exercise whose fringe benefit consisted of being strong-armed to play in the annual Memorial Day parade while my classmates enjoyed a lazy day off in wonderful late spring weather.
I just never saw any benefit to joining a group, organization or softball team, despite all the oft-trumpeted cliches like "leveraged resources" and "networking."
The only reason I played football was that I foolishly thought it would jumpstart my social life. The truth was that not only did I remain dateless, but I was now black and blue as well. I overlooked the part where it said you had to be a good player.
During the 1980s, I refused to buy any item of the "Members Only" clothing line. I still cringe when someone asks to "join" them for lunch.
But I digress.
Since I assumed the editor's post at Accounting Today I quickly noticed that the much of profession are "joiners."
The field is liberally sprinkled with professional associations connected to some part of the CPA experience, such as marketing or education. There are also domestic and global alliances and, of course, the 340,000-member organization, the American Institute of CPAs.
Now people have their own reasons for joining -- or not joining -- the AICPA, or any other similar group. And tackling that subject alone would more than likely require a separate column to address myriad issues related to that debate.
And it seems each week I get a flood of e-mails from various groups announcing their newest members or strategic initiatives.
Occasionally, we even get news of a new association that has formed, such as the recent founding of the "Global Alliance," which now counts seven firms as members with aggregate fees of $300 million and is looking for more CPA shops with annual revenues exceeding a $15 million threshold.
Most likely some of these new factions are emerging because some firms are dissatisfied with their current associations or alliances. I know I've fielded more than one complaint over the years from readers who were disappointed with the direction of a certain large New York-based membership organization.
But don't follow my example.
If you think your firm can benefit from joining, or that belonging to an association will help introduce best practices in your shop, facilitate economies of scale, leverage resources or any other boilerplate phrases thereof, then by all means please do.
Just don't send me a release claiming that having Firm A join our association is a "win-win" situation for the membership. That's where I draw the line.
That reminds me, after the holidays I have to renew my discount club membership.
Hey, I'm not stupid.
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