AICPA Board Chairman says ‘together we are stronger’

When Timothy L. Christen, CPA, CGMA, Chairman and CEO of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP (Baker Tilly), visited Rhode Island in January,

RISCPA members were enthusiastic about his insightful address into the state of the accounting profession. Christen, who serves as Chairman of the AICPA’s Board of Directors, came away equally impressed with the Rhode Island CPAs and business leaders he encountered here.

“Rhode Islanders have a strong sense of who they are and take great pride in their state,” said Christen. “The success of the Rhode Island Society of CPAs in reaching out to other professionals, such as lawyers and bankers, and bringing them together for the good of the state is impressive.”

Christen was also impressed by the ‘why not us’ sense of optimism he encountered during his visit. 

“It is sure to lead to great results for the state,” he said.  

With more than 2,500 employees, Baker Tilly provides a wide range of accounting, tax, assurance, and advisory services. As the 13th largest firm in the nation, Baker Tilly serves clients from its Chicago headquarters, as well as 28 other offices across twelve states. It is one of the 100 largest privately held companies headquartered in Chicago. In addition to his work at Baker Tilly, Christen’s role as Chairman of the Board of the AICPA -- an organization with more than 412,000 members – affords him the opportunity to visit with accounting societies around the country. This gives Christen a unique perspective into pulse of the industry.

As a representative of the AICPA, Christen currently serves on the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), a global coalition of financial services professionals and non-governmental organizations dedicated to advancing the practice of integrated reporting (IR). Christen embraces this type of outreach and encourages other CPAs to get involved in their respective societies, just as a colleague encouraged him to do so.

“I was inspired by former AICPA Chairman Jim Castellano to get involved,” said Christen. “Jim is a good friend and someone I've always looked up to. I discussed with Jim the best way to make a difference and he ended up nominating me to serve as an at-large member of the AICPA Council. This led to me being elected to serve on the AICPA Board of Directors.”
It is a path that began at the local level.

“State societies are a great place to learn and build lifelong relationships,” said Christen. “The walls of competition sometimes deter professionals from teaching or mentoring others. But at society meetings those walls come down and there are great opportunities to learn from each other. And together, we are stronger.” 
Christen has learned a lot from his most recent visits to state societies and his January meeting in Providence.

“Not to sound cliché, but technology will be a game changer,” he said. “With technological advancement comes complexity and an opportunity for CPAs to increase their value as providers of high quality, objective assurance services. Skills such as data analytics, critical thinking, project management and communications will be increasingly important as we broaden our role as trusted arbiters regarding the veracity of data and information from a variety of sources.”