Syracuse accountant David Moynihan has taken the reins as the new president of the New York State Society of CPAs.

Moynihan, a distant cousin of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was installed at the NYSSCPA’s annual election and dinner Thursday evening. He is the partner-in-charge of the audit practice group at Testone, Marshall & Discenza LLP.

Moynihan takes office as a new accountancy reform law that was signed earlier this year by Governor David A. Paterson makes sweeping changes to the state’s regulations for the accounting profession, including bringing a larger number of CPAs under the state’s regulatory structure.

At the dinner, Moynihan emphasized that the theme of his administration would be “quality matters." His goal is to have CPAs and users of CPA services work together to ensure quality for the public.

“There is great frustration among practitioners that a lot of people in the profession are not playing by the rules,” he said. “The perception of the public is that we are honest and have integrity.”

Moynihan’s father was also a CPA, and he recalled the day that his father learned he had passed the CPA Exam as one of the proudest days of his father’s life. Moynihan entered the profession in the 1970s, and he recalled that in those days, CPAs could not even advertise. Those rules have changed, and now CPAs are strongly encouraged to bring in business for their firms.

“We went from a farming to a hunting mentality,” he said. “You got raises if you were the best hunter. The concept of lowering fees has tainted the profession and led to some of the current scandals. We have to get beyond the concept that fees are the driving force. Quality is what matters. You don’t necessarily go to the cheapest doctor.”

In addition to quality, Moynihan also wants to step up enforcement, including accountants who aren’t currently being peer-reviewed.

Moynihan has been a society member since 1982.  He has served as president-elect and as a member of the executive committee and board of directors. He also chaired the Quality Enhancement Policy, Peer Review and Peer Review Administrative Committees, was vice chair of the Political Action Committee, and chair of the Career Opportunity in the Accounting Profession Program Fundraising Committee. He is a past president of the Syracuse Chapter and was president-elect and a member of its executive board.

In addition, Moynihan is also a former member of the AICPA Peer Review Board and is on the Central Region Council of the New York State Government Finance Officers Association.

Also honored at the dinner were Sidney Kess and, posthumously, the late William Donaldson, who were both inducted into the NYSSCPA Hall of Fame. Donaldson was president of the NYSSCPA from 1945-46. His sons accepted the award on his behalf.

Kess, a member of the NYSSCPA for 50 years, credited the society with first encouraging him to give his popular tax prep workshops, which he has now presented to more than 720,000 practitioners in 47 states over the past 42 years. Kess is a widely recognized authority on taxation and has written the “Tax Tips” column in the New York Law Journal for 40 years. He spoke about the importance of helping others, especially fellow CPAs, particularly with finding jobs and contacts during tough economic times.

The society also presented Elliott Hendler of the Bronx and Thomas Murray of Sayville with its Distinguished Service Award. Brian Roulin of Rochester received the Outstanding CPA in Government Award.

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