There's something about Jim, that is, AICPA chairman James Castellano, something we haven't seen from previous chairs or from the AICPA's permanent leadership. It started with a press release from the AICPA in which Castellano stated that when he comes to audits, wrongdoing will not be tolerated.

It continued when the AICPA called the accounting trade press and asked to bring Castellano and President Barry Melancon to our offices for an interview. That request for communication has not happened in my 11 years of covering this business.

Castellano is a leader. The problem is that Castellano as chair has a one-year term. But we need this kind of leadership on a permanent basis. One of my friends challenged me, "If you believe the AIPCA needs new leadership, who would you put in key positions?" Good question. If we are going to criticize, then we should help with constructive criticism, not just bashing particular people.

One name came to mind immediately, J. Clarke Price, executive director of the Ohio Society of CPAs and chairman of the Shared Services corporation that represents the state societies. Price is not a CPA, and is technically not be president. But as my friend continued, "The AICPA has bent the rules in the past. It can do it again."

Price has been a loyal soldier. He has fought for Shared Services and CPA2Biz. He spoke out for the global credential. Heck, Ohio was one of the last state societies to have a WebTrust seal on its home page. But Price has also shown willingness to compromise, and the ability to admit when he’s wrong. Price has experience running a major CPA society, and has shown an orientation to serving people, both members and staff, with innovative programs.

It’s his conciliatory talents that I think are most needed. There was a lot of anger and hurt following the global credential debate, feelings that have been aggravated by the betrayal of trust in the Enron case. The AICPA needs a leader who can acknowledge that anger and hurt (that does not mean agreeing with opponents). I think Price has that kind of temperament.

Where would I go from there? Another choice is Jim Metzler, partner at Gaines, Metzler, and Kriner of Buffalo, N.Y., and chairman of the AICPA’s technology committee. Metzler put together the model for operating a technology practice in a CPA firm. But it’s not the technology talent I value here—it’s his ability to put together programs and promote them. He also has a deep knowledge of the AICPA and was a consultant for the early stages of CPA2Biz.

The AICPA also needs a first-class marketer, someone of the stature of Chuck Peck, who left his senior vice presidential position at the height of the boom. Peck had heavy-duty experience at Simon & Schuster. The AICPA needs someone with that kind of experience again. It just doesn’t know how to promote its ideas.

From there, I think there is talent in the executive ranks at the AICPA. But I don’t think that my praising specific people will necessarily help their careers at this point.

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