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and I want you to feel that when I do open it on anything else, for the first time, and I suppose the last time in this meeting, it is on a subject upon which there is no possibility of any divergence of opinion between any of us. (Loud cries of "Good, good.”)
Twelve months ago, Mr. Goodloe, on behalf of the Ohio State Society, offered an invitation to the American Association of Public Accountants to come out and see Columbus. There wasn't much debate on that motion; I think it took about two minutes; I think it was about the quickest piece of business we ever got through in the American Association; we were all there, we were all ready, and we all said: “Oh, yes, we will come to Columbus.” And then Mr. Goodloe got up and he told us of the grape vines he was going to plant and all the other pleasures that were in store for us when we came to Columbus.
Well, twelve months went by, and by hook and by crook, and by the exertion the transportation committee, of which Mr. Sells is chairman, we got here somehow, and we have been here, some for three days, some for five. Some have seen a little of Columbus, and some, like myself, have not seen anything, but hope to see some of it to-morrow. But those grape vines, and those other good things that Mr. Goodloe held out, seem to have made a very phenomenal growth. While we had great anticipations for them, we think a good deal more of grape vines now than we did when he talked to us about them. I am quite sure I am speaking the views of every member in this room when I say that whatever we thought those grape vines were going to produce is nothing to what they have produced. (Cheers and prolonged applause.)
This is the first meeting of the enlarged American Association that has been held outside of New York. We had a congress once. My friend, Mr. Wilkinson, nearly killed himself over it. It was held in St. Louis, a little town some way from here, and we all had a very good time—those of us who were there. We represented most states, but there were two we did not represent-New York and New Jersey. One or two isolated members attended, but we did not represent them officially. There is one very great difference between Columbus and St. Louis.
St. Louis represented, as I say, everything practically that there was then outside of New York and New Jersey; Columbus represents everything there is to-day. (Loud applause.)
The Ohio State Society has done everything, it could possibly have conceived of to make this meeting a success. It has entertained us from the moment we set foot on the platform of the station here; and, from what I see of the program, it is going to entertain us up to the very moment we go out to-morrow night, or Friday night, and I want you all to get up on your feet now and give the Ohio State Society of Certified Public Accountants—that is a little premature, but they will be certified before long-give the Ohio State Society of Public Accountants the very best we can give them our heartiest thanks for the hospitality which they have shown, for the trouble they have taken over all these arrangements, and for all they have done for us.
Reply of Mr. John A. Wright, to the Toast, “The Legal Profession." Mr. Toastmaster and Gentlemen: There seems to me nothing left to be said in behalf of “The Legal Profession.” All has been said that ought to be said on this occasion. Like my brother of my profession, very much elevated, gratified and pleased to know that we were a sister profession to the profession of public accountants.
Now, gentlemen, although I am bound to recognize your superior qualities (laughter), and notwithstanding the elegance of the entertainment, which I have received as your guest, and the cheerfulness and generosity with which you have received and treated me, I am bound still to claim that we are first to be considered. Although we may be your
sister profession, from your point of view, from our point of view you are brethren of the law; you are, in my humble judgment, an administrative branch of the judicial arm of the government.
The profession of the law, as it is commonly called the profession of attorney and counselor at law, has been very well defined by a very eminent professor of jurisprudence in a great university. He said that the profession of the law, the science of jurisprudence exhibited upon its practical side, has for its object, not so much the discovery or elucidation and application of principles of law, but the administration of the law, the seeing to it that the law is understood and obeyed; principally that it be obeyed. That, so far as we can see, embraces your function and your calling, whilst ours, after all is said and done, the theoretical, the scientific or the practical lawyer, commonly brought before our minds, when we conceive of the lawyer, is rather more of a professor of jurisprudence than he is a lawyer in the ordinary sense of the term.
Where the law is not well administered there is something wrong with the profession of the law; where, in my judgment, there are unpunished lynchings, there is something wrong with the profession of the law; the administration of the law is inadequate. If the administration of the law were satisfactory, there would be no lynchings. In the presence of members of a profession which I regard to be, not a sister profession, but we might call it, for the sake of peace, a brother profession, I don't hesitate to rise and confess the weakness of my own profession, because I find among you gentlemen here an aspiration to improve what defects you find in your own calling.
You are, as I have said, administrative officers of the judicial branch of the government; you have for your purpose the discernment, not merely of the truth where a matter of dispute arises and is pressed in court, but you have a still higher function; you have a function which enables you to do justice and prevent disputations; you stand, so to speak, by the cradle of the arbiter, and in the quiet of indisputable facts you protect his inheritance; you stand at the right arm of the judge in a court of equity, and by your report of the fiscal transactions that have taken place in the case of a litigation before him you enable him to do justice; justice is made expeditious by the skill which you exert. (Applause.)
If it were left to men of my branch of your profession to ascertain, with the same exactitude that you ascertain it, the sum of two and two, I am quite sure that if I were the person who had that labor it would not be ascertained until this day. And so you are time-savers in the administration of the law; you save the administration of the law from the scandal of failures of justice pretty often; you prevent by your mediations, by the confidence that is reposed in you, in the accuracy of your determination of facts, you prevent litigation, perhaps more frequently than we do; and yet, singular as it may seem to you, I venture to say that the average lawyer—the average lawyer, I mean-prevents more litigation than he fosters.
We have an offense known as barratry, for which a member of the legal profession may be thrown over the bar. Barratry, as you all know, is simply the fostering of litigation for personal profit, and you, by some system of laws or code of rules ought, I think, to pass a law, a by-law, to the effect that anybody who attempts to foster the employment of public accountancy, who advertises, in other words, since you have no bar to throw him over, should be thrown out of the window. (Laughter and applause.)
It is an exceedingly pleasant thing to meet a group of gentlemen filled with ambition, not merely to elevate themselves individually, but to elevate the body to which they belong; it is a great aspiration, that which you entertain. You are one of the forces of civilization. Where the wild places of the world are conquered by civilization, there you come, following us a little ways behind (laughter), but in the long run looking to us, let us say, as pioneers in your calling. You come eventually to do the refined work of the administratio of justice-of one nch of the administration of justice. Of course, we have to do the rough work; we have to stand, for your sakes, the abuse which everybody casts upon the heads of justice in every form. Every thief in every bush sees an officer and a lawyer at his side, and let us hope that some time in the dim distance he will also see, with a quivering, truthful pen in his hand, the vision of a public accountant. (Loud applause.) Reply of Hon. Joseph T. Tracy, to the Toast. “The State and Municipal Authorities."
Mr. Toastmaster and Gentlemen of the Certified Public Accountants Association: I am not prepared to make any extensive talk as to the work of the bureau of inspection and supervision of public offices. This department was created by law in this state about four years ago. The law was amended two years ago so as to give us, as we believe, a law of practical operation.
Our work may be said to be divided into six fields or classes. The first is to provide uniform accounts for all public offices. The first part of our work was in prescribing uniform accounting for city offices—that is, the accounting system in the city auditors' offices for the seventy cities of Ohio. That has been in operation now since January 1, 1904, and from the system of accounting we have been enabled to prepare and receive uni form reports, from which we could collate the comparative statistics required by law of the department. Prior to the enactment of the law there not only existed different systems of accounting in the several county and municipal offices, but in the counties and cities these systems were very often changed by the coming in of new men, each one having his own particular ideas as to the proper accounting system.
Another feature of our work is the annual inspection of all public offices. This service requires the work of twenty-four or twenty-five field men, who go into the various cities, counties, school districts and townships and make annual inspection and report as to whether the laws of the state, the ordinances of the city and the requirements of our department have been complied with by the officer. This has been a very arduous task and required a great deal of the time of the supervisors in securing uniformity of work on the part of these field men. We are now about through with the first inspection of the county offices, and we expect to be able, now that we have secured uniform accounts, to work much more rapidly.
I might say that the public service industries comprise a subject that we are just beginning to formulate a system of accounting for—that is, public service industries owned by the municipalities of the state. It is a very great field, and we at some time hope to work out an accounting system which will show the result of the municipal ownership of these public utilities.
As the hour is getting late and you have other speakers, I will avail myself of the privilege of taking leave to print, and merely state to the assemblage that we will be glad to furnish any information to any of you accountants or the citizens of any state, who believe in the value and efficiency of state supervision of public offices. I thank you. (Applause.) Reply of Mr. Allen Ripley Foote, to the Toast, “Manufactures and Commerce."
Mr. Toastmaster, and Members of the Association: Those who are engaged in operating the manufactures and commerce of this country, and all of the people of this country, are to be congratulated that there is such a profession as the profession of certified public accountant, and you, gentlemen, are to be congratulated on being members of this profession, a profession that makes it your business to tell the truth. The truth must ultimately become the fundamental basis of every business transaction.
The time will come when every manufacturer, every business man, will require your certificate to his statement showing that you have examined the accounts and verified every statement of facts. The banker will require such a certificate from those who desire to obtain loans; depositors will demand such a certificate from the banker with whom they made deposits; and taxpayers will exact such a certificate from every public official who handles public funds. In fact, every business interest and every person in the community has a keen and vital interest in placing and keeping the profession of certified public accountant above the reach of a reasonable doubt as to the ability and honesty of its members.
The more the character and purpose of your work become known and understood and its purpose and usefulness is appreciated, the easier it will become for you to secure the enactment of laws in all states that will protect your profession, in the first place, from the use of your title by men who are incompetent or of bad character, and, in the second place, will enable you to purge from your profession men who do not do satisfactory work, who prove to be corrupt or become disreputable in any way. In securing the enactment of such laws you will soon have the backing of the entire business community.
Here in Ohio we have had a little struggle in attempting to get a law enacted by the General Assembly creating the profession and degree of
Certified Public Accountant.” The measure is now half a law, having passed the Senate and now pending in the House of Representatives. I think it will be enacted into law by the General Assembly at its next session. I believe the time is not far distant when such a law will be enacted by the legislature of every state.
But when this is done, you will find that you are only at the beginning of your work. It is not only your privilege and duty to certify to facts that tell the truth, but beyond this it is your fundamental duty to establish the standards to which reference must be made to show that the certificate given is based on an intelligent audit and arrangement of accounts devised to show the truth. This is fundamental work. Your profession is now in the formative stage of development. You are now engaged in establishing your standards—your standards of educational fitness of those who are to be members of your profession; your standards for accounting forms and systems to which the accountant's work must conform and on which your certificates must be based. Upon the ability and thoroughness with which this fundamental work is done your future prestige and influence depend.
Gentlemen, I congratulate you upon the character of your work; I congratulate you upon the progress you have made; upon the hold you are acquiring upon the good opinion of public mind; upon the usefulness, reliability and trustworthiness of your work.
For the honor of being with you this evening and the privilege of addressing you, I thank you. (Applause.)
Reply of Mr. F. H. MacPherson, to the Toast, “The Canadian Societies"
Mr. Toastmaster and Gentlemen of the American Association of Public Accountants: The toast, gentlemen, to which you have asked me to reply is “ The Canadian Societies." I sat during the progress of your meetings yesterday and to-day and I have enjoyed very much, I may say, the fact that I was able to be present, and I was particularly pleased with the reports of the various state associations. We believe that we have made great strides in the matter of elevating the standard of accountancy in the Province of Ontario. And in that connection I may say there are in the Dominion of Canada five societies besides the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Province of Ontario, viz., one at Montreal; then there is the Dominion Association; there is the association in the Province of Nova Scotia; another in Manitoba ; and the fifth in British Columbia.
The Montreal and Dominion associations are, in a sense, close corporations. They do not hold examinations as does the Ontario Institute. While the Montreal Association has probably been in existence a little longer than the Ontario Institute, the Dominion Institute has only been in life some three or four years. The Ontario Institute was established by special act of the legislature in the year 1883, nearly twenty-four years ago. I may say in that connection that I am just now in the unique position of practicing in the city of Detroit, where my principal office is, and representing the Institute of the Province of Ontario as its president. I regard it as a very great compliment that this is the third time in the life of the society and the first time in eighteen years that the presidency has gone outside of the city of Toronto.
The objects of the institute are very much the same as those of your association, “ To promote and increase by all lawful ways and means the knowledge, skill and efficiency of its members." We have been given no special powers. Up to date we have not thought it politic to ask that our charter be amended, but we have endeavored to have amendments along other lines; for instance, the Municipal Act. We have endeavored to have that act amended, and it has been amended, so that now in the case of petition by local taxpayers the Ontario Government is empowered to appoint a chartered accountant or other expert accountant to make investigations of this character, and we have had recognition along that line.
At the present time an effort is being made, and the prospects look toward ultimate success, to so amend the Joint Stock Companies' Act at the next session of the legislature as to require all joint stock companies to employ chartered accountants to make investigations of the affairs of the company, and to forward, with the notice of the annual meeting, a balance sheet duly certified by these accountants. If we can accomplish that, and we have very great hopes of being able to do so, because we believe we have the government in sympathy with us—if we can do that, we have made a step in advance.
The Ontario Institute, in respect to its examinations, follows largely the lines laid down by the English and the Scotch institutes. Provision is made for three examinations, primary, intermediate and final. You will see from this that it takes three years to qualify as an associate under ordinary circumstances. The primary may be waived upon evidence satisfactory to the council that the candidate has had an actual business experience in accountancy covering a period of at least two years, and who, in addition thereto, has passed the junior matriculation examination of the University of Toronto, or its equivalent. Upon but one condition may the intermediate examination be waived, and that is that the applicant shall satisfy the council that he has been continuously in practice and of known standing as a public accountant for at least three years prior to the date of his application. Candidates for the final examinations are not permitted to write unless they have had a period of at least three consecutive years at practical accountancy work in a business office, or two years in the office of a practicing chartered accountant, and the experience must in any event be satisfactory to the council.
The subjects covered by our primary examination are business correspondence, spelling and punctuation, penmanship, English grammar and composition, arithmetic, bookkeeping and the Bills of Exchange Act. The intermediate covers arithmetic, bookkeeping and accounts, auditing, principles of mercantile law and statute law (which covers banking, companies, partnership and bankruptcy). The final examinations include the following subjects: Bookkeeping and accounts, auditing, business investigations, accounting systems, municipal accounting, statute law (covering insurance, municipal, executorships and trustees).