Bellevue, Wash. (June 5, 2003) -- Working to restore the profession's stature by urging members to "do the right thing," is a prime directive for incoming Washington CPA Society president Rob Fleming.

Fleming, the 52-year-old audit partner in charge of regional powerhouse Clark Nuber's not-for-profit practice, said he's energized by the task ahead.

"The dilemma we’re facing now is what do we do to regain the [public's] confidence?" he told WebCPA. "Do you put on a big marketing campaign or do you take the position that actions speak louder than words and go out and do the right thing? I think it's the second, and that's the direction we're headed," he added.

When Fleming was approached more than 18 months ago to accept the society's top post, the big issue was attracting more students to the profession. "The message at that time was there's not much going on in our industry and it should be smooth sailing," he said. "Right after I said I’d accept [the post] is when we had more events happen in our profession than have occurred in probably the last 50 years. But now I'm stuck," he added with a laugh.

So far, state legislators haven't drafted any kind of cascade-type legislation to try to replicate Sarbanes-Oxley provisions, but Fleming said the society will closely monitor the legislature and offer guidance on any profession-related initiatives that might come up over the next year.

Another focus will be on getting CPAs out to college campuses talking to educators and students "to make sure they know our profession is still of high integrity and is still an attractive profession," Fleming said.

Fleming's been working in public practice as a CPA since 1973. The WSCPA is governed by an elected 16-person board of directors and managed by a professional staff at its Bellevue headquarters. The society will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding throughout 2003.

-- Tracey Miller-Segarra

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