History

MSCPA Through the years

Our History

Follow this link to see the history of MSCPA in a PowerPoint from the 100th Anniversary in 2013 

When Did MSCPA Get It's Start

by Marilyn Bartlett, CPA, CGMA
MSCPA Past President and Century Celebration History Chair

Following the enactment of the Certified Public Accountant Law in 1909, the CPA profession emerged in Montana.  The core of the profession was in Butte, where 15 men formed the nucleus of what would become the MSCPA today.  Most of these men worked for the firm Pogson, Peloubet & Company, the firm that audited the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (ACM) and financial interests of W. A. Clark.  And of course, ACM and W.A. Clark had accountants on their staff too. 

The Thornton Hotel in Butte was known as a hospitable gathering place for the important business people to network.  The public accountants were no exception, and this meeting place served as the first gathering spot for this group.  One written account from the Thornton Hotel stated, “Poker was a favorite pastime of the accountants.  One of the losers paid his gambling debt with a check for $5, but the bank cashed the check for $5.06, causing him great difficulty balancing his bank account.” 

While Butte was thriving, the rest of Montana was not standing still.  The gold miners had moved North and West, homesteaders were coming in droves to take up government land, and new business enterprises were starting up throughout the state.  Accounting offices sprang up in various cities of Montana.  Accountants in Great Falls, Billings and Missoula ultimately joined the Butte accountants to form the “Montana State Society of Public Accountants”.  The first meeting was held June 23, 1913, and the society was born.  The stated purpose was “To advance and enlarge the scope, interests, ethics and practice of the profession of accountants, and to promote, urge and aid the study of the principles and practice of accountancy”.

Calls were made annually for meetings of the society from 1914 to 1919, but there was never a quorum.  A few accountants appeared before the Montana Legislature in support and in opposition to the Certified Public Accountancy Law of 1919.  Proponents argued that the 1909 law required annual examinations, and only 4 applicants had been admitted since its enactment.  One comment in the records noted, “ At this time accountants are as scarce as Republicans in an Irish beer hall.”  The 1919 law passed, and repealed the 1909 law, with mostly the same provisions enacted! 

At this time, World War I was underway in Europe, with Americans wondering how long it would be before we were involved.  So records of society activities were suspended for a few years.  The next recorded activity was the annual meeting of the Montana State Society of Public Accountants on held in Billings on June 20, 1924, with President Anton Gerharz.

MSCPA After WW1

Following WW1, the nation experienced a readjustment period, where business failures were numerous.  Occasionally, Certified Public Accountants were called upon to help save businesses or salvage what was left, creating more public awareness and interest in the CPA profession. CPAs were also finding new fields of endeavor in private business, banking, and government employment.

Of the Montana CPAs that were granted certificates under the 1919 law, there were probably fewer than 10 of them practicing public accounting in Montana by the mid-1920s.  The difficult economic times made the distances traveled for meetings almost impossible for MSCPA members.  The 1925 MSCPA Annual Meeting was held in Butte, and the agenda consisted of CPAs presenting papers.  Topics presented included “CPAs as the Best Receivers”; “State Banking Laws and Bank Control’; and “Municipal Accounting”.  At this meeting, a resolution was passed condemning the wide solicitation for business in Federal tax matters by some self-styled “tax experts”.  Even in 1925, MSCPA was focused on advancing and protecting our profession!

The next recorded annual meeting was in 1932 in Great Falls.  The seven year lapse of annual meetings does not represent indifference among the CPAs, as there were local groups forming to maintain the strength of the society.  It does represent the economic state of Montana that paralleled that of the nation.  Discussions at the 1932 meeting included attitudes of accountants toward the handling chain store audits and Eastern states’ concerns with branches in Montana.  But the most focused discussion pertained to the CPA law of 1933.

One participant noted the meeting was marked with “rejuvenation in society activities and more spirited interest.”  And in this spirit, the meeting was closed with this “humorous” poem:

We have audited the Balance Sheet and say in our Report
We have audited the Balance Sheet and say in our Report
That the Cash is overstated, the Cashier being short,
That the Accounts Receivable are very much past due,
That if there are any good ones, they are very, very few,
That the Inventories are out of date and practically junk,
That the method of pricing them is very largely bunk,
That according to our figures, the undertaking’s wrecked,
But, subject to these comments, the Balance Sheet is Correct.

 And MSCPA continued on . . .

The Value of a Logo

THE VALUE OF A LOGO by Leslie Thompson, CPA, CGMA, Glacier Bancorp, Missoula A good logo goes a long way in creating instant recognition for any organization. A great logo also tells its story.  Since its inception in 1913, the MSCPA has had four logos. 

The first logo gives off a very formal, official vibe. The three characteristics listed, integrity, fidelity and ability, were obviously very important to the logo’s creators thus their prominence. These same traits still resonate and remain a vital part of the MSCPA and its members. 

The second logo came into being in the 1970’s and had two versions when the colored version was created in the 1990’s. Both were dramatic departures from the first. The lower case lettering and pencil became the significant features. While I don’t know the exact intent, I wonder if this was a move to make CPA’s a little more appealing to the masses. After all, what good CPA does not love their pencil?  

The third version of the logo was introduced in the early 2000’s. The goal of the changes was to make it more progressive and modern. The three abacus beads on the left symbolized the past while the arc showed the forward progression of the Society. Word on the street is that the plan backfired and most people thought it looked like a fly fishing rod! 

The 4th was created in 2012, primarily for two reasons. 2013 is the 100th year anniversary of the MSCPA and the old one didn’t necessarily represent the diversity of our membership. Although we may not all love taxes (shocking I know!), we have more in common than you think, which is illustrated with overlapping circles. The circles can represent the five areas of the profession (Public Practice, Non Profit, Government, Industry and Education) or they also align with the MSCPA’s value statements: We value our profession; We value a mobilized membership; We value pro-active leadership; We value quality/professional staff; and We value effective communication. The new logo does a terrific job of communicating to the world that while we do great things in a variety of roles, the membership of the MSCPA as a whole is united. 

Today's logo 

Women in Business

Aggressive executives earn higher profiles

Story by Kevin Giles—The Helena Independent Record, Helena Montana, June 17, 1979

This article is being reprinted from the MSCPA archives as part of our Celebrate a Century "Moment in History

Any woman who wants to survive in the business world must be aggressive, assertive, confident and generally more intelligent than men, say six Helena businesswomen.

Federal equal opportunity laws have cut deeply into the incidence of job discrimination, of course.

BUT ONLY RECENTLY, the executives say, have women made their presence known in business.

“I think women are becoming more aggressive and more self-confident and are gaining a higher profile,” says Jane Campbell, executive director of the Society of Certified Public Accounts.

And says Ellen Feaver, state deputy legislative auditor:  “Men used to be very uncomfortable walking with women carrying briefcases.

Those days of change in the male bastion of business have faded into a more energetic competition among sexes to land the big bucks.

Women, employers are beginning to reason, often draw more business.

“I’VE BEEN HIRED because I was a woman,” reflects Patricia DeVries of past employment. 

She now is a 29 year old partner in the CPA firm DeVries and Morgan.

“I find more often than not women handle the family finances.  That’s why it’s good that I’m a woman accountant:  women like dealing with a woman.”

Men traditionally have challenged a woman’s fitness for employment with intrusive questions about pregnancy, child care, family life and her sexual behavior during business trips with men, and only five years ago, female college accounting graduates were few.

Mrs. DeVries was one of five women among 40 graduates in her class at Montana State University in 1971.  Mrs. Feaver was one of about six women who graduated in an accounting class of more than 100 from the University of Oklahoma in 1967.

BUT IN HELENA, with its large pool of business-related jobs in both private and public sector, more women are surfacing as executive leaders and are claiming their share of job opportunities.

Of the 33 accountants Mrs. Feaver has on her staff in the Capitol complex, 12 are women.  Private CPA Rae Haas is looking for a female partner.  More women are being hired in larger Helena business firms.

And Ann Kindred, who in 1960 became only the fifth woman certified to be a public accountant in Montana, licked the age-old argument that because she was a woman she couldn’t be paid as much as men.

As Mrs. Haas, she decided to change careers after her children had grown older, studying at night to become an accountant.

Now the 58 year-old industrial relations graduate of New York University is the senior partner in her firm, Kindred, Holland and Lindberg.

“WHEN I GOT started I put Ann J. Kindred on the door, and I never met a man named Ann, so they knew they were dealing with a woman,” she says of her clients.

“I don’t have to ‘out-man’ the CPA down the street,” she says.  “I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction in working with my clients and knowing the job is done right.”

As many middle-aged businesswomen, Mary Craig, the new director of the state Department of Revenue, had experienced all the arguments why women should not be supervisors or have a say in the expending of money.

She was a member of the Fire Commission in Billings a few years ago, for example, when a male member disapprovingly told her that because she was a woman, she had no place on the commission, although she appeared to be harmless.

“HE SAID THE worst thing I could do was put ruffles on their uniforms,” says the 43 year-old top state tax collector.

But she refused to be subdued by such sexist thinking.

She went back to college and studied accounting, graduating from Rocky Mountain College in Billings in 1973.

“I wanted to have a good firm and be accepted by my peers as a good accountant, and I was,” she says.

She attributes her rapid rise to state government’s No. 1 money management position to perseverance and a steadfast desire to shake sexist shackles.

“I believe that if someone really wants to do something—if it’s physically possible—you can do it,” she says.  “Society is changing and a lot of people do have the drive to get things.

BUT MRS. CRAIG, Mrs. Haas and Ms. Kindred experienced conservative when women generally were not expected to be capable of balancing the family checkbook—concede that younger women today face few of the challenges of the businesswoman of yesteryear.

“It seems to me the younger men of this generation are much more understanding and more willing to help out so their wives can work,” Ms. Kindred says.

Even in the late 60s and early 70s’ women were grilled habitually by male executives whether they would allow their family life to impose on their career commitments.

Mrs. Feaver, for example, was hired by the firm Price Waterhouse in Washington, D.C. after college graduation, but initially she got little of the encouragement afforded a budding male executive.

WHEN SHE WAS given a physical examination, the tests were adapted only to male anatomies.  Her managers speculated the firm might lose clients if she became too prominent in auditing.  She was denied promotions when she became pregnant with her first child.  She was asked not to enter by the front door of the firm.

And when an executive bathroom was built, nobody paused to think that because the firm was comprised predominantly of men, Mrs. Feaver truly would be a stranger among men.

She says she employs her experience with sexism to stop potential personnel problems between men and women in her office.

“Still, in our office, men refer to women as girls,” she says.  “As soon as I hear the men say, ‘I’ll get one of the girls to do it,” I say, “Why not get one of the boys to do it.’”

BUT MRS. FEAVER, who describes herself as “not heavily feminist,” believes that being too obviously liberated can be detrimental to woman in business.

“I’ve always thought it’s a mistake to promote women in business with women’s groups, because we’re primarily dealing with men,” she says.

You have to be extra careful not to develop a suggestion of a lack of professionalism or career-mindedness,” she says.

Mrs. DeVries says women have not achieved equality in business and government, primarily because they tend to be stereotyped as low achievers who predictably abandon their job for their family.

But Mr. Kindred, who proudly points to photographs of her two daughters – the fifth generation of female college graduates in her family – says people should not confuse the female business executive with lower paid, female secretaries.

IT’S NOT YOUR professional or staff women who give you trouble, but your clerical workers can drive you right up the wall,” she says.  “You hire a young girl and you don’t know whether she’ll be here tomorrow.  Of course, the men give you trouble, too.

Mrs. Haas says aspiring female business executives faced with the notion, “Women really ought to be home taking care of the kids instead of out in the business world,” should develop a personal security.

As a former director of administrative services in the state Office of Public Instruction, she learned the secret to survival was to convey self-confidence and a readiness to make decisions.

Recommends Mrs. Feaver:  “Try to be yourself. Don’t try to be a man.  Don’t be aggressive, but don’t be wishy-washy and afraid.  Be able to exhibit your confidence.”

And says Mary Craig:  “It’s not your aptitude, but your attitude, that gets you to that altitude, with a little intestinal fortitude.”