Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of profiles highlighting the diverse interests and careers of VSCPA members. Know a member (including yourself) who would make for an interesting profile? Email VSCPA Communications Manager Chip Knighton.
At a relatively young age, Brett Sinsabaugh, CPA, finds himself a grizzled veteran of the VSCPA’s advocacy efforts. Now he’s putting his experience to the test in the Society’s most challenging campaign in some time.
Sinsabaugh and the VSCPA are working hard to pass tax conformity legislation for the 2018 filing season, a task made more complicated by the specter of tax reform. (The issue is still up in the air, and you can help us get it through the General Assembly using our VoterVoice tool or by joining Brett at next week's CPA Assembly Week.) But even independent of that issue, Sinsabaugh relishes the opportunity to share his knowledge with the legislators who make financial decisions that affect every Virginian.
“Being a CPA, we get the benefit of being in a specialized industry and holding such specific technical and practical knowledge and expertise, that can be used to help support certain legislation impacting the public and profession,” he said. “Our voice is important to promote CPA’s interests, educate lawmakers who make financial related legislation for their constituents, and increase awareness of issues that are important to the CPA profession.”
Sinsabaugh, a manager in the business assurance and advisory services practice at Keiter in Glen Allen, joined the VSCPA Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Trustees in the spring of 2016 and has since become the board’s vice chair. In addition to that role, which has him helping to plan and execute PAC contributions and appearances, he’s also been active in the VSCPA’s other advocacy efforts, having attended the Society’s General Assembly events the past two years.
That meant he just missed the opportunity to work with another VSCPA member, Sen. Walter Stosch, CPA (R-Henrico), who retired from the Virginia Senate at the end of 2015, leaving the profession without a representative in the General Assembly.
That changed in November with the election of Del. Joe McNamara, CPA (R-Roanoke), who worked in industry before leaving active practice. While McNamara has never worked in public accounting, Sinsabaugh is excited to have someone else in Richmond who understands the needs of the profession.
“I’m excited to work with him, he speaks the same language as us,” he said. “We hope he will be an advocate for issues and positions that the VSCPA works hard to support.”
A Richmond native and a graduate of Christopher Newport University, Sinsabaugh began his career with a general contracting company before going back to school to obtain his accounting certificate from Virginia Commonwealth University. It was there that he first joined the VSCPA, and he quickly made an impact, winning the Top 5 Under 35 Award in 2017.
He continued to build his expertise at Keiter, obtaining his Certified Construction Auditor certification last year as part of his work with his firm’s real estate and construction industry practice, as well as being heavily involved with employee benefit plan (EBP) audits. The latter is a particular point of emphasis with EBP audits trending as higher-risk engagements due to regulatory requirements and continual focus on EBP audit quality.
In addition to the necessary focus on quality, Sinsabaugh enjoys EBP work for the change of pace after busy season and the opportunity to work with a diverse set of positions and personalities outside of the typical accounting and finance environment.
“I like auditing them because I’m not just working with accountants, but with company leaders, HR, the benefits committee,” he said. “It’s a stretch and a reach beyond the auditors and the accountants into a full CFO/company kind of surrounding. Sometimes it’s refreshing not just talking to the accountants of the world, but seeing how it all fits.”
In addition to his professional growth, Sinsabaugh is eager to branch out in his community and professional engagement. He’s on the VSCPA’s Awards Program Task Force, president of his neighborhood association, serves on his church’s finance committee, an active volunteer with Junior Achievement, and just stepped down from a four year involvement with Richmond Society of Human Resource Management as the orgnaization’s treasurer. Between all those commitments and busy-season pressures, he still manages to make time for his wife and children and is active in the Richmond tennis community. He stays busy, but is happy to have the opportunity to make a difference.
“When issues are this important and this visible, balancing time happens itself,” he said. “It motivates me to get my work done so I can be available to serve others and stay involved. I’ve embraced this position.”
“I’m not doing it because I have to do it, but because I want to do it. It’s not every day that issues impacting the profession and the public like this shine their light. I’m grateful to be involved with the VSCPA’s advocacy efforts during this time and help any way I can.”