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Looking Ahead

by J. Mark Penny, International President | Jan 10, 2014

It’s the time of year for fearless predictions that forecasters hope will be forgotten in one year’s time. Well here is my two-cents, although I may only get a Penny for my thoughts…

Serving on the ASA’s executive committee has been a privilege and I am thankful for the opportunity. Involvement with ASA’s various disciplines and other constituencies has broadened my perspective. In addition, I’ve met and worked with a lot of interesting and really smart colleagues. So what have I learned?

  • Across our discipline, death, divorce and taxes is a continuing source of demand, not a bad foundation, I suppose.
  • In the 1990s, discussion among estate planners focused on the transfer of wealth from the “greatest generation” to the “baby boomers”. Now it is the baby boomers turn to leave their legacy.
  • An improving economy should bode well for mergers and acquisitions and the related demand for many types of valuation services.
  • The rebound of the stock market and the great debt paydown are well underway in the domestic economy. Should inflation accelerate, investors will look to store wealth in tangible assets – which will need to be appraised and updated.
  • The Valuation Profession is a mature business in the United States. Just look at all of the grey hair at our conference. An influx of younger professionals will join our ranks, especially if the economic recovery strengthens.
  • Internationally, it is a different story. By comparison to North America, the profession is in its early stages around the globe, providing a wealth of opportunity for practitioners and for the ASA. Correct asset pricing is essential to well-functioning markets.  Professional appraisers are the oil that keeps the economic engine running smoothly.
  • Competition comes from a number of angles including, in-house specialists, uncredentialed valuers, valuation software and outsourcing to low cost countries. This will continue and will create pressure on domestic practitioners to differentiate themselves from commodity providers.
  • ASA and its members will commit to differentiation by developing advanced educational offerings, including multidiscipline offerings to be delivered through a variety of channels.
  • For those who specialize in the healthcare sector, the roll out of the Affordable Care Act will create a need for education programs such as ASA’s Health Care Special Interest Group Offerings.
  • The U.S. energy production boom will provide numerous opportunities for appraisers, as will a resurgent manufacturing sector.
  • The regulatory front will remain challenging. Appraisers have had limited success highlighting the unintended and detrimental consequences of existing and proposed regulations. We will need to keep plugging away and take our victories when we can.
  • The Standards situation will likely remain a confusing jumble for the foreseeable future, as each of the major standard setters can be expected to advocate its own playbook.
  • ASA will face challenges from other professional organizations which, having reached saturation among their core membership, look to expand by going international and by going multi-discipline.
  • Our 2014 conferences will be a great success in part because of incredible volunteers and staff efforts.

Well, there you have it, a birdcage-ready list of fearless predictions. But seriously folks, as I reflect on the past and look to the year ahead, I look to answer the question – Why ASA? My answer: ASA is a unique, international multidiscipline society consisting of experienced professionals committed to professional excellence and high ethical standards. As a non-profit organization, ASA is run by and for its membership. So when you ask what can ASA do for you, part of the answer is looking at you in the mirror. ASA is us. It provides a unique forum for professional development, participation and information exchange. We have a dedicated staff in Reston that helps us carry out our business, providing a range of services to facilitate achievement of our goals. On behalf of the Executive Committee, I want to thank our staff at headquarters and all of those members who have volunteered their time and experience in service to our Society.

Happy New Year!

J. Mark Penny, International President