UMSL Professor Jennifer Reynolds-Moehrle takes over as chair of Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants

by | Jun 10, 2024

Reynolds-Moehrle, who recently celebrated her 25th anniversary at UMSL, will bring a valued educator's perspective to the top role in a time of potential transition in the accounting industry.
Jennifer Reynolds-Moehrle

At MOCPA’s annual June business meeting, UMSL Professor Jennifer Reynolds-Moehrle succeeded Jeff Parkinson as chair of the executive committee. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Reynolds-Moehrle)

Last week at Camden on the Lake Resort, on the banks of the Lake of the Ozarks, the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants held its annual members convention.

The handoff ceremony was on the agenda, as always, the time when new members of the executive committee and new appointees to the board of directors unofficially began their roles for the 2024-25 season. University of Missouri–St. Louis Professor Jennifer Reynolds-Moehrle took the reins as the chair of the executive board, though her term in the top spot doesn’t officially start until July 1.

“It’s a huge honor to have the role that I’m taking on,” she said. “Our group advocates for the profession in Missouri. We are fortunate that we have a broader reach than that because we have a lot of members who are very high-stature in their profession. We have a very active society.”

This is, essentially, the second year of a three-year cycle for the chair position. Reynolds-Moehrle, who has been at UMSL since 1999, served on the executive committee as the chair-elect for 2023-24, and will remain on the board of directors as the immediate past chair for 2025-26. She first joined the board of directors in 2016, and she joined the executive committee as treasurer in 2019. As part of the executive committee, she’s also on the governing council for the American Institute for CPAs, a national group advocating for the profession.

Other states have similar organizations advocating for the profession, but Reynolds-Moehrle has been especially pleased with the balance within the MOCPA membership – the group has more than 8,500 members – and leadership.

“What’s really unique about the Missouri society is we have a really great relationship between all of the universities – the pipeline of CPAs – and the professionals, the people who are out in practice,” she said. “This isn’t true in a lot of states, but in in Missouri, the educators are viewed as a really important piece of the society. Of our 8,500 members, about 2,700 are students. The educators are the bridge between the profession and the students. We have 245 educator members.”

Reynolds-Moehrle, who was recently honored for her 25 years at UMSL, received the UMSL Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014 and received MOCPA’s Impact Award for Outstanding Educator in 2011.

Her insight as a decorated, long-time educator will serve MOCPA particularly well in this moment in time. Reynolds-Moehrle is ascending to the top spot on the executive committee at what could be a transformational period in the industry.

“The way the CPA licensure works today is that everybody across the country – around the world – takes the exact same exam to get that CPA certification, and everybody has a 150-hour education requirement,” Reynolds-Moehrle said. “What makes it an interesting time right now is there are some challenges to the pipeline, with a lot of people retiring, and there are fewer college students than there used to be across the board. Within the profession, there’s a lot of discussion about making sure that we have the stream of new professionals that we need.”

Across the country, she said, different state boards and groups are trying to strategize and formulate ways to approach adjusting those requirements, with the goal of answering this two-pronged question: How can they make the profession more accessible and more affordable? Reynolds-Moehrle said different states are considering moves that would, essentially, eliminate the uniformity of CPA licensure requirements. It’s a challenging dilemma because it’s a legitimate issue without a clear-cut solution.

“The beauty of the license being the same everywhere – and this was true before the pandemic but with the shift to a lot of work-from-home opportunities, it’s true even more so now – is that right now, you can get your license in Missouri and work for a firm in any state because all the state regulations are the same,” she said. “You don’t have to get a new license to practice in Illinois, or in Hawaii or in New York. You have mobility with your credentials. What happened after the pandemic was you had a lot of people living in states where cost-of-living is affordable, like the Midwest, and they work for firms on either coast. I have former students who live here in St. Louis and work for firms in Southern California.”

Reynolds-Moehrle earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Kentucky in 1984 and worked as an accountant for Ernst & Young and Bradford National Life Insurance Company until 1991, when she went back to school. She earned her MA in accounting from Indiana University in 1994 and her PhD in accounting from Indiana in 1997.

After two years at the University of Southern California as an assistant professor of accounting, she landed at UMSL in 1999 and just recently celebrated her 25th year with the school.

Her favorite part of being at UMSL: “Hands down, it’s being able to watch the generational transformation of students,” she said. “The fact that now, after 25 years, I see names of CFOs in town, partners in local firms and other educators across the country who were former students. We are so lucky to be placed where we are in St. Louis, in the St. Louis environment of education; what we get is that intersection of very bright people and very hard-working people. It’s a great combination. When I say ‘generational transformation,’ I mean we get to see students who come through as the first person in their family to get their degree, and it transforms not just the life of the graduate, but you see the whole transformation of their family. It’s generational. It changes everything. That’s just been a really exciting part about being here.”

Ryan Fagan

Ryan Fagan