The body representing ex-pat chartered accountants in the US recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. Roger Musson (DH&S/C&L, 1963–1996) was its second president.
Last year, ACAUS (‘the Association of Chartered Accountants in the US’), representing the professional interests of over 7,000 expatriate CAs resident in the US, celebrated its 40th birthday. It also joined with Chartered Accountants Worldwide to form Chartered Accountants Network Worldwide USA (‘CAW USA’).
These milestones were marked by the publication of a book, The Association of Chartered Accountants in the United States, The First 40 Years, 1980–2020, written by DH&S Glasgow alumnus Ian Wise; and the creation of a timeline hosted on the website of CAW USA featuring video interviews with many figures who have influenced its growth.
One such is former partner Roger Musson, who at the time of the formation of ACAUS in 1980 had just begun a four-year stint as the UK firm’s first UK/US liaison partner, based on 100th floor of No1 World Trade Center. Roger who, uniquely at the time, was resident in the US but remained a UK partner, served as ACAUS president in 1981–82.
The current CEO of CAW USA, David Powell, is another DH&S UK alumnus, having qualified in Swansea before transferring to London. David will be remembered by many for his diverse roles as main part/stage manager/director of the London office pantomime for underprivileged children from the East End in the 1980s; he credits this experience with teaching him valuable project management skills, which have served him well in his subsequent working life. [The PwC charity panto continues to this day – Alice in Wonderland is on in London next January and in Manchester in February].
Roger’s time in New York pre-dated the arrival of International Financial Reporting Standards (‘IFRS’). He remembers: “There was a great deal of confusion arising from the many differences between the rules-based US GAAP and the principles-based UK accounting standards. UK Exchange controls had just ended and, partly as a consequence, there was a spate of acquisitions of US targets by UK clients; one UK client alone made over 40 acquisitions around that time. The role of the UK partner resident in US was to provide support in a variety of ways to the many DH&S US offices dealing with a rapidly increasing number of UK-owned clients.
“In addition to my practice work role with DH&S US, I strongly believed there should be a representative professional body for the relatively large number of expatriate Chartered Accountants resident and working in the US. Whilst I wasn’t quite involved in the conception of ACAUS, my involvement began while it was still embryonic. I shared the vision of its founder and first president, Angus McDowell, and I was one of the four initial directors when ACAUS was incorporated in 1982.”
Perhaps our most ambitious undertaking was booking Windows on the World, the restaurant at top of No1 World Trade Center on the 107th floor
Roger, who spent 24 years as a partner with Deloitte/DH&S/C&L, set about helping to raise the profile of ACAUS to a new level from its modest beginnings of informal gatherings in NYC. “We thought it would be a good idea for senior representatives from the UK and Irish institutes visiting New York and the US to have a forum where they could meet ex-pat CAs, so we established a series of semi-social events and arranged seminars on various subjects such as the difference between UK and US GAAP, international taxation and acquisitions.
“Perhaps our most ambitious undertaking was booking Windows on the World, the restaurant at top of No1 World Trade Center on the 107th floor, for 150 people on the occasion of a visit in 1981 by Teddy Boyd, the President of ICAS (Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland). It was a remarkable Scottish-themed occasion which I, particularly as a native of Hoy in the Orkney Islands, well remember to this day.” Both Roger and former partner Gordon Cowie, who was on the dinner committee, remember the restaurant’s French chef warming to his brief as regards the haggis, which was to be processed into the dining room behind a piper, with both chef and piper to be handed a quaich of whisky from which they were to take a generous slug.
Gordon had somehow sourced 150 haggis from a butcher in New Jersey; his wife Alexis generously collected them but was barred from bringing them up in the lift to Windows on the World to explain to the chef how they should be prepared, as her jeans were not considered appropriate attire! Gordon would later succeed Roger as UK/US liaison partner based in New York. Robin Stewart and Bryan Blackborn also later took on the role.
Ian Wise’s The First Forty Years contains rich detail about the ACAUS story, as well as looking into the future to see where the next 40 years might take CAW USA. What’s evident is the pride invested in those letters ‘CA’, wherever people choose to ply their trade. As Sir David Tweedie, former chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board, writes in the foreword: ‘Markets exist on trust. As respected professionals CAs bring that trust. This is the unique role we have in society and why we are so savage on any member who may transgress. I’m proud to be a member of a worldwide profession that oils the wheels of the global economy because of the recognition of its integrity and its standing in society.’
Concludes Roger: “It is very gratifying to see how the aspirations of ACAUS in those early days have come to fruition so impressively… and to reflect on the key role former members of DH&S UK have played along the way, and continue to do so. I much enjoyed reminiscing, live and online, with Ian, David and Gordon leading up to the publication of Ian’s book, and playing my small part in providing some material for it.”