“You tell me the ‘fair value’ of the Mona Lisa.” 

This was an aside made by Melisa Galasso of Galasso Learning Solutionsmidway through an installment of her new Accounting and Auditing video blog series in partnership with SCACPA on the topic of Definition of Direct Care of Collection Items. FASB had issued an Accounting Standards Update that contained guidance that would be useful for art collections found in museums and not-for-profits that have art collections. The guidance requires that the nonprofit declare a “fair value” for its art pieces if they did not meet the definition of a collection, which can often contain pieces that had been donated. The recent ASU broadens the definition of a collection.

“That’s the problemIf you end up with a priceless work of art on your hands … good luck! What is that? Melisa said of her commentary during a conversation with SCACPA Content Strategist Gregory Hardy during a break before she began speaking for three A&A sessions on the Friday of this May’s Spring Splash in North Charleston. 

“Zoos are really interesting,” she continued, because they’re supposed to get fair value of the collection of their animals. Well, if two animals decide to make a third animal, you try to figure out the accounting for that!” 

Earlier this year, SCACPA was excited to announce it has partnered with Melisa to provide real-time A&A updates and answers to SCACPA members. Galasso is the founder of Galasso Learning Solutions LLCwhere she designs and facilitates courses in advanced technical accounting and auditing topics. Galasso Learning Solutions will provide for SCACPA members audio and video blogs on changes impacting the profession.  You can already find her videos on SCACPA’s YouTube channel. 

With over 15 years of experience in the accounting profession, Galasso closely monitors regulatory bodies for changes in auditing and accounting guidance and serves as a subject matter expert in implementing the updated guidance.  

She designs and facilitates courses in advanced technical accounting and auditing topics, including not-for-profit and governmental accounting. She also administers essential professional development, public speaking, and business skills.  

In early May, she received the Rising Star of the Year Award from the Charlotte Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, which is presented to one of its member who has demonstrated entrepreneurial creativity and determination in successfully managing a business that is less than five years old.  

The following is the full conversation between Melisa and SCACPA at Spring Splash. Look for Melisa to be a speaker on audit topics at the SCACPA’s 2019 Fall Fest as well as many seminars and rebroadcasts.  

SCACPA: Thank you for agreeing to work with SCACPA, Melisa! If you could, walk us through your process of what you’ll be sharing with members. 

Melisa Galasso“The blogs are going to be based on what is issued in exposure drafts during the month. The video ones will always be based on either what’s going on in the profession or what kind of ancillary guidance they’re going to be. The written blogs are going to be on standards. For example, this past month I’ve already started drafting it, it’s going to be on the new auditor’s report. The video version of the blog is more what’s coming down the pike, what can we participate in, what are things you might not necessarily hear about because a lot of times the news cycle tends to focus on what’s issued. You can’t impact what’s issued. The video is really designed to introduce people to potential changes they need to be aware of. The written blog is focusing on these are the changes that are out there. This is what you need to think about to prepare for them. Then it lines up and dovetailsSay I’m doing a GASB Update, which will bring together all the things that have been issued. But I’m also going to address things coming down the pike; trying to keep that consistency with not just what do we need to do right now, but what do we need to be planning for. 

SCACPA: When you started doing these types of teachings, what was some of the feedback you got that made you realize you offer a different perspective? 

MG: There are not a lot of people who track future things. There’s a huge focus on what’s going on now. I’m part of the AICPA’s Technical Issues Committee, so we go to the FASB once a year and we have calls with them three or four times a year. I know what’s coming, I knew the collections guidance was coming out in March before they had selected a date. I didn’t know what date, but I knew it was coming out in March. I had to prepare for it and be ready. It’s nice to help people know what’s coming because so many people focus on what’s issued. They don’t really help people, especially smaller companies and smaller firms who don’t have an opportunity necessarily to be tracking an agenda or follow what GASB or FASB are talking about. It gives them an opportunity to at least know what’s being told. 

SCACPA: Tell us about your process that goes into your presentations. 

MG: Obviously, it’s digesting. You don’t want the presentation to be too long and overwhelming, you want manageable pieces and figuring out a way to get the key elements and what to think about. I went back to school and I did the Association of Talent Development Master Trainer Program and their certificate in instructional design. It’s the same process I use for the blogs that I use for my courses. Which is, how do you introduce it, how do you develop it to the point where it makes sense, because I don’t just tell you what’s changing. I need to tell you why it’s changing first. A lot of times I’ll get background and it’s not part of the change but if you don’t know why someone’s doing it, it’s hard for you to buy in. When I write a lot of the blogs, I’ll be like, The reason why they’re even working on this project is  For example, collections. They didn’t plan on working on that. The Code of Ethics changed. And then they were like, OK, we have to adjust this change in Code of Ethics. Otherwise, you’ll be like, Why is FASB changing collection guidance? It doesn’t make sense. So you have to know the why. I spend a lot on prepping the Why? so the change makes sense. 

SCACPA: What topics will people be talking about soon? 

MG: You’re going to see it with leases and revenue recognition. The AICPA just put out a request for another year delay on leases. Because what we had found is that they are just started to get serious on rev-rec, which is effective this December – and leases is effective next year. If you’re just tackling revenue recognition, you don’t have time in the next year to turn around and do another major implementation. You don’t have the capacity to do it. 

They gave rev-rec a one-year delay back in 2015. It was issued in 2014, and in 2015 they gave a one-year delay. In 2016 they issued leases, and they kind of said, No, we’ve given you enough time to implement. What we’re realizing is that smaller entities don’t have the capacity of larger entities. Wlook at some of the big companies that have adopted rev-rec. They’ve hired hundreds of contractors! A small company doesn’t have that capability. Yes, they were able to get it done on time, but that’s not necessarily indicative of what smaller entities are looking for. They need more help. 

SCACPA: Who do you envision your target audience to be? 

MG: I see my audience as being the mid-sized firm where they are not large enough to have a national office. Big firms have a national office, monitoring – really focusing – on what’s coming and they don’t do any client work. The firms I work with don’t necessarily have a national office, they don’t have the capacity for someone not to do client work. Everyone does client work. What I can do for them is what their national office would be doing behind the scenes, which is monitoring and providing that. Then they can help their clients. Some of my mid-size clients invite their clients to their trainings now. This way, their clients are hearing it too. Last week I was in Ohio for live, on-site training, and the client had their audit clients call in during the first two hours to get the update stuff. Everybody was on board. And then they hung up and I continued with the actual firm training. 

SCACPA: Congratulations again on your Rising Star award. 

MG: I was totally surprised. I didn’t even prepare a speech! Loss for words was definitely the key element there. I had no expectation. I really wanted to have some of my core partners and my clients that I work with attendAICPA cameSCACPA COO/CFO Jacque Curtin was there, Becker Professional Education, another one of my bigger clients, I really wanted to have them there as part of the process.  

“It was a multistep process. There was a nomination process, written process, how your business is organized in governance and processes. After that was an interview stage where I had to go in and there were eight people in the room, asking questions about the business, how it’s organized. How’s it growing, how’s it structured. Then it was brought down to three nominees, and the three of us were over there that evening. 

It was a wonderful surprise, and my daughter was with me. They don’t tell you ahead of time. They play a video about each of the finalists and then they start talking about the winner. But they don’t announce their name. They just start talking about them, and then my table turned and looked at me. My daughter was exuberant, but I was like, Oh my God, I have nothing prepared! It was awesome, though, and I’m glad that Jacque was there. 

SCACPA: How do you find time to work your blogging into your speaking and travel schedule? 

MG: I have help, obviously. This year, my husband decided to help, and I have an assistant who does my travel and things like that. Because I didn’t before. A year ago, I booked all my own travel. I did about 106 flights last year. I booked all of those on my own. This year, I really decided that if I wanted to have my home time be at home. A lot of times I would be home but I’d still have to work. And you can’t book on the flight or things like that. So when I decided I wanted to devote those four days typically that I’m home to being home, I knew I needed someone to help. I do have a lot of support, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible. 

SCACPA: Where did your career take you before this? 

MG: I started in public accounting way back when with the Big FourThen I tried a lot of different things in accounting. I tried internal audit. I tried working in industry. I worked in a national office. One of the common denominators throughout this was when I sat for the CPA Exam, it was with pen and paper. And I studied with Becker. And Becker was how I got through it, so I started teaching their CPA Review. Which is almost 12 years now that I’ve taught CPA Review. And I’ve always had a teaching element. When I worked in the national office, one of my major roles was working in training. So it was a nice development for me. 

SCACPA: What are some of your thoughts on SCACPA since you’ve started working with us? 

MG: I think it’s a forwardthinking agreement. A lot of time, everyone just wants the training. But you guys wanted the content and the thought process and the overall continuous learning element. I don’t work with very many state societies that have that. They just want you to come in, teach and you’re done. South Carolina really wanted to deliver a partnership where we would have continuous learning throughout the year and it would be content-driven from different ways. Everyone learns differently. Some reading, some audio, all these different perspectives. That’s one of the most unique opportunities. I had never had anyone approach me with anything like this, and when Jacque did, I was like, This is a great concept. A lot of state societies would benefit from more consistent thought leadership in the area, as opposed to passive training. I’m really excited. 

What A&A questions do you have for Melisa Galasso? Send them to melisa@galassolearningsolutions.com.