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Society of CPAs preparing for upcoming legislative session

It’s a busy time for the Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA). While members are helping clients sort out the various strains on the economy as this tumultuous year comes to a close, the association is providing support through its ongoing programs, putting the finishing touches on its legislative agenda and participating in two national initiatives.

“CPAs have been doing their part to reassure clients, employers, investors and the general consumer market through a host of different activities,” said MSCPA executive director Jack Coppenbarger. “Individuals are calling upon CPAs for advice about their retirement plans, college funding plans and mortgage financing issues.

“CPAs in the personal financial planning community have been providing sound, objective personal advice to investors and the public.”

Under the leadership of president Jan Lewis, the MSCPA has an active legislative committee that advises its board of governors on issues taking place with the Mississippi Legislature.

“We monitor legislation that affects the business community and stay in close contact with our legislators across the state through our Key Person Network,” she said. “For many years, our policy has been for the legislation chairman to brief the board of governors at their December meeting on upcoming issues, and that report is being prepared now.”

Coppenbarger said the MSCPA is planning a young CPA outreach program that is not yet ready to be publicly unveiled. It is scheduled to be rolled out after the first of the year.

The group’s newest initiative is a national program in conjunction with the Advertising Council known as Feed the Pig, a new component of the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy effort that aims to educate Americans about the ways financial issues affect their lives. The goal of the campaign is to encourage Americans age 25 to 34 to take control of their personal finances.

“Feed the Pig features Benjamin Bankes as a reminder to take savings seriously,” Coppenbarger said. “Benjamin Bankes is not just your average pig about town; he’s a piggy bank all grown up. He has a message to share: Feed the Pig. In other words, take small savings steps today to build a solid financial tomorrow.”

Benjamin is the star spokespig of a national public service campaign from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Advertising Council. It features a web site, www.360financialliteracy.org, offering free tools and resources to help Americans manage their finances through every stage of life. There are also links on MSCPA’s web site, www.ms-cpa.org, under the resources tab.

“Public service announcements in this national campaign will begin airing on Mississippi stations and across the country later this year,” he added. “We are excited about this additional emphasis on financial literacy to draw attention to the importance of savings.”

The AICPA and the Ad Council chose 25 to 34 year olds as the target audience because their financial behaviors, though less established, tend toward debt accumulation. This age group is also experiencing milestone life events, such as marriage, parenting and home purchases. In addition, since they have more working time before retirement, their financial decisions have a greater impact — positive or negative — on their long-term financial security. According to the U.S. Census, there are approximately 40 million Americans in this demographic.

The AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program is a national effort of CPA professionals to improve the financial understanding of all Americans. It provides a comprehensive approach to financial education, focusing on the information that people need at each stage of their lives from childhood to retirement.

According to the AICPA, the 11 life stages are: childhood; college; career, military and reserves; marriage and couples; parenthood; home ownership; small business; life crises; sandwich generation; and, retirement.

Coppenbarger points out some of the program’s components, including: financial literacy for women; a weekly reader educational program that targets fourth-grade students; disaster recovery and preparedness guides and public broadcasting TV shows.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

About Lynn Lofton

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