Member Profile: Ken Bishop of NASBA

Posted on Feb 25, 2013

Feb 25, 2013

Ken Bishop took 165 flights last year, traveling the country and globe on behalf of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, where he is now President and CEO.

His demanding travel schedule makes time spent at home even more important, and for Ken, “home” includes the Nashville City Club. Staff members  welcome him when he’s been out of town for awhile and the restaurant’s servers recite daily lunch specials with a smile because they know he will order blackened salmon on a Caesar salad. Every time. He knows breakfast or lunch meetings will take place in a business-friendly atmosphere.

“I wish I could carry the Nashville City Club with me to other places because I can’t find the ambiance we’ve got at the City Club,” Ken says.

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), based in downtown Nashville, is a big operation, with 185 employees and annual revenues exceeding  $80 million. The association administers the CPA exam worldwide and its member boards regulate nearly 750,000 U.S. CPAs who practice across the globe. It is one of the largest regulatory support organizations in the world and works to promote ethics and integrity in the accounting profession as well supports state boards with political and legislative issues that affect their missions.

Ken has been named to Accounting Today’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting,” helped get “CPA Mobility” legislation adopted and expanded international administration of the U.S. certification exam. The exam is now offered in Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil, and talks are starting with Germany – the first foray into the European Union. NASBA also has offices in New York, San Juan and operates a large testing and call center in Guam.

The non-profit organization relocated to Nashville from New York City 17 years ago, a move Ken says turned out to be great for recruiting talent and controlling costs. He arrived in Music City about six years ago from Missouri, to assume the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of Professional Credential Services, a former, wholly-owned subsidiary of NASBA.

He joined the Nashville City Club quickly. His NASBA predecessor was a member, and he visited the club during the interview process.

Ken started in law enforcement and served as an Assistant Director in the Missouri Department of Public Safety. He was an undercover narcotics officer and commander of the Missouri Major Case Squad. At first glance, the leap from law enforcement to accounting regulation seems abrupt but Ken sees important similarities.

Both, he says, are about public protection and safety because accounting regulation at its core protects the assets of people and companies.

“We do very important work to protect the investments and financial wherewithal of the American people,” Ken says.

When it comes to the Nashville City Club, Ken is a frequent flyer. He reserves one of the smaller rooms for periodic “G10” lunch meetings with his  direct-report staff members. When his schedule allows, Ken and his family take part in special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Easter at the club. He takes all of his out-of-town business guests there for breakfast or lunch meetings.

“When I think about the most important element of my job, it is persuasion,” he says. “I know I am most effective face-to-face. Having an environment like the City Club where the staff is sensitive to the nature of the type of meeting you are having makes all the difference.”

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