Achieving Success Together.
That phrase has served Kathy well in both her leadership style and career. Now she brings it to the role of NSA President with a focus on membership service, growth and retention.
Kathy Hettick was installed as NSA president at its 70th Annual Meeting in August. A successful leader who applies her catch phrase, “Achieving Success Together” to both her leadership style and career, Kathy is looking forward to focus her energy on membership service, growth and retention. She is approaching the next year with a positive attitude and the motivation to get things done.
NSA’s Mainstreet Practitioner took some time to speak with Kathy about her vision for NSA in the coming year, how she’s benefitted from her NSA membership, and the path she took to get where she is today.
NSA: Congratulations on being named NSA President! Your last position with NSA was 1st Vice President. What lessons or experiences stand out for you from that year?
KH: Having the opportunity to see how things operate as 1st Vice President enabled me to better understand the structure and protocol of the offices. Last year provided an opportunity to observe how things are done and to develop my own timeline of what needs to be done – when and how. My position as an NSA Administrative Chair for several years provided a solid foundation for my current role as President and plays a huge part in who I am today. Working at the committee level and being the boots on the ground with many other volunteers is the best training opportunity for future leaders.
NSA: What are your favorite things about being an NSA member?
KH: I value the resources NSA provides for both tax preparation and accounting, because I do both in my practice. NSA is an organization that serves its members well by providing them with valuable benefits. Among those benefits are continuing education, the opportunity to prepare for professional credentials, leadership training, platforms for networking opportunities, protecting the right to practice, and the list goes on. If you want to grow professionally, grow as a leader and grow as an individual, NSA provides the tools and resources to do so.
NSA: What are your goals for NSA during your 2015-2016 presidential year?
KH: The face of the organization has changed and the face of our members has changed. My goal is to continue NSA’s efforts to be the best organization for accounting and tax professionals while continuing to protect our right to practice. We will accomplish this by evaluating the way we do business – trying to be more efficient and effective in what we are doing and how we do it. We must be nimble, effective and efficient as we move forward by continuing to provide electronic meeting platforms, networking, and education to ensure reaching all of our members.
We have been privileged to have many great NSA leaders that have made a difference during their term and I hope to do the same. I want to continue to have a positive impact on our members and the profession.
NSA: What has been keeping you busy lately?
KH: I represent NSA as a speaker at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums, which keeps me busy during the summer. My speaking partner, Gene Bell, and I have been speaking at these forums for the last five years and we feel privileged to be able to reach thousands of accounting and tax professionals across the country. It is a great opportunity to network and to see how practitioners are coping with the demands of their clients, constant tax law changes, and continuing education. Speaking and traveling have allowed me to gain a better understanding of who our members are.
NSA: You also have held the post of President of the Washington Association of Accountants (WAA). What was that like and what were your key accomplishments during that timeframe?
KH: I was honored to serve as the WAA president from 2006-2008. WAA is an Affiliated State Organization, or ASO, and these organizations are member driven and a crucial part of NSA. WAA is where I started; it’s my leadership foundation. My experiences there taught me the value of belonging to a professional organization. When I was elected, it was a time of transition for WAA; we had to focus on what needed to be done and exercise the discipline to stay the course. I was able to provide the leadership, structure, and accountability that were needed.
Knowing that you’re working for the greater good of the organization and looking at the bigger picture is what leadership is all about. I look back on that term as being a great success and an opportunity of growth, to better understand how to lead and build a culture of trust. I plan to use these experiences and skills as I serve as NSA president.
NSA: You received the Joe McReynolds Award from WAA for your “commitment, service, and dedication to WAA members in protecting the non-licensed accountants right to practice” and your work with NSA, IBA, and Board of Accountancy for 2013-2014. Can you explain more about the importance of protecting the non-licensed accountant’s right to practice?
KH: I am dedicated to protecting the right to practice for all tax and accounting professionals; licensed and non-licensed. I have worked closely with the Washington State Board of Accountancy to make certain that non-licensed accountants can continue to serve their clients with the relevant financial information they need. WAA has a strong relationship with our State Board, which enables us to work effectively together despite our licensing differences.
Regulations for accounting and professional licensing vary from state to state. Our NSA committees monitor all of the states as well as federal jurisdictions relating to legislative and rule-making changes that affect our member’s right to practice. Our top priority is keeping our members in business and able to meet their client’s needs.
NSA: What was your path to becoming an accountant and an Enrolled Agent (EA)? Did you major in business or accounting in college? What did you think you would do as a job when you were a little girl?
KH: Upon realizing I couldn’t play college soccer for the rest of my life, I tried a couple of different paths and found my niche in accounting. I dove into the profession and got my AA in accounting and business so that I could get to work. Shortly after, I joined WAA which was the beginning of my leadership growth in the profession. I then went on get my ABA credential and joined NSA, which motivated me to study and pass the EA exam.
I would have never thought that I would be in this profession, but I quickly realized that it came very naturally. There is a huge service aspect in being an accounting and tax professional and I love being able to help my clients. It has been a truly rewarding career.
NSA: You’ve owned an accounting and tax practice for 28 years. What are some of the changes you’ve seen over those years, both positive and negative?
KH: The most dramatic changes we’ve seen in this profession are technology advances and tax law changes. We are now very dependent on technology, where before we were reliant on pencils, green ledger paper, calculators, and file cabinets! Today, our practices rely on: electronic communication, data entry and computer processing, electronic filing of tax returns and documents, and “cloud” storage. These advances have allowed us to grow our practices while maintaining efficiency, accuracy, and customer service.
The ever-changing tax law forces us to stay educated and keep processes and procedures in our office to ensure we are doing a thorough job. We have to be sure we have all the facts and information to accurately prepare a return, which translates into asking our clients more questions and requiring appropriate documentation. Keeping up-to-date on tax laws is a challenging process, especially when we are working under pressure. Having access to the appropriate resources, education, and peer support enables us to be well-informed practitioners.
NSA: We are hearing a lot about the use of social media for the 2016 presidential election and in business. Do you or your firm use social media to communicate to or advertise for new clients?
KH: We use social media to drive clients to our website, which houses a multitude of resources. We have information for all of our clients, businesses and individuals, tax and accounting, as well as resources for fellow practitioners. We try to keep our FaceBook updated; it is a great tool if there is something we want our clients to see immediately. Most of the FaceBook posts point our clients to our website, the “keeper of the goods” as we like to call it.
NSA: What would you say NSA does well?
KH: NSA does an excellent job of representing our members on a national level and keeping their right to practice a priority. We have a great relationship with the IRS and will continue to keep an open line of communication. We were just on The Hill a couple months ago visiting with senators and bringing the rights of our members forward. We are the voice for our members. We will continue to have influence and input with our elected officials as well as the IRS and stay in front for our “main street tax and accounting professionals.”
In addition to protecting our member’s right to practice, NSA also provides a variety of mediums to connect with members and peers. We offer fantastic education via webinars, self study courses, and live events. Our leadership training is exceptional – it has given NSA the opportunity to grow members personally and professionally. We will continue to pursue what NSA does well in order to give our members what they need.
NSA: This year, the NSA annual meeting was held in Vancouver, BC, where you were officially installed as president. What are some of the benefits of the annual meeting that keep you coming back each year?
KH: It’s always great to see people face to face! I have been attending the annual meeting for the last 10 years and it is always enjoyable to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Spending time in Vancouver with family, friends, and peers for my installation as President was very meaningful.
The NSA annual meeting provides a platform that allows us to network, conduct business, and earn continuing education (CE). We are able to connect with people and resources from across the country. Change is on the horizon. We are making a concerted effort to offer our membership more value to the annual meeting with additional CE and networking events. I am already looking forward to attending next year’s 71st Annual Meeting in Tampa, Fla.!
NSA: Tell us a little about yourself.
KH: Spending time with my family and friends and enjoying a good glass of wine are among my favorite things to do!
The support and encouragement I receive from all of my family is truly amazing and I feel very fortunate to have such great people along side of me. My three wonderful children are my life’s greatest blessing, and I am so very grateful for their unconditional presence and love. Josh, my oldest, is a firefighter in Enumclaw and he and his wife, Stephanie, live on Lake Sawyer. My daughter, Kelly, works for me as my business and accounting manager; she and her partner, Michael, just bought a home close to the office. Kevin, my youngest, just passed his CPA exam and he and his wife, Jordyn, live in Bellingham. I am fortunate to have them all relatively close, and am so proud of each of them.
In my spare time, I love running. Not only does it give me the opportunity to explore the places I travel to, it also allows me the time to mentally sort things out and debrief.
NSA: What book has influenced you most, and why?
KH: I love to read and for the last 10 years I have focused my reading on leadership and personal growth books. If I had to pick one favorite, it would be Gung Ho (Gung Ho! Turn on the People in any Organization by Ken Blanchard). It’s a very simple read, but it’s extremely motivational and sentimental for me as I based my two-year WAA presidency on Gung Ho. Currently, I am reading “Traction” and while it is more challenging, it is certainly bringing forward great ideas and processes for a successful organization.
Everything I have experienced, read and learned in my life builds me up for the next journey. So here I am, and it will be a great year!