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Bob Cedergren: Ready for a 'wild ride'

| April/May 2023 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated March 29, 2023

Like Kirill Kaprizov, the star left winger for the Minnesota Wild, Bob Cedergren, CPA, approaches every facet of his life with passion, skill, dedication and an all-out effort. It’s with this ardent approach that he will captain the MNCPA board for the next year as its chair. The partner with Wipfli LLP sat down with us to talk about his career, his life and where he sees the accounting profession heading in the future.

What is your background as a CPA?

After graduating from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, I began studying for the CPA exam right away with the intent to pass in the first attempt. That didn’t quite work out because I passed three parts initially and missed the fourth part by one point! I took the last part at the next available test date and, fortunately, passed. I have been a CPA my entire working career.
From a professional experience perspective, I have a mix of industry and public accounting. I started my career at First Bank System (now U.S. Bank) in their internal audit department. After four years, I moved to McGladrey and spent several years with the national consulting practice that was based in St. Paul. My next move was back to private industry where I spent nearly 13 years at Assurant. Since 2006, I have been at Wipfli LLP.

What led you to becoming the MNCPA board chair?

After many years in the profession, it was time to give back to the organization I had been part of since becoming a CPA. A colleague at Wipfli was on the MNCPA board and would share her positive experiences about being a board member. I have always respected the MNCPA as an organization that represents the interests of its members whether it was through its CPE programs, member benefits or legislative activities. When the call for new board members came out a few years ago, I decided to give it a shot and was elected. My time on the board has been extremely fulfilling and I am even more impressed now with how dedicated the MNCPA leadership and staff are and the passion they bring to working on our behalf.

What excites you most about the role of the MNCPA board chair?

These are exciting times in our profession because we have many challenges and opportunities ahead of us, including the upcoming CPA exam changes, addressing the talent pipeline shortage that our profession is facing and continuing to rebound and adapt from the COVID-19 pandemic. The strength of our board, as well as the high level of talent at the MNCPA, will serve us well as we navigate these challenges and opportunities.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the accounting profession today?

We need to find a way to make accounting exciting and interesting so we attract more people to our profession. As a member of the MNCPA recently stated, “The world is a better place with CPAs and we need more of them.” I passionately agree. CPAs in public accounting serve as trusted business advisers to their clients. Within private industry, government and nonprofits, they often fill key leadership roles within these organizations. Attracting more people to our profession has to be a top priority for us.

Where do you see the profession in five years?

The role of the CPA will continue to grow in influence whether working in private industry or public accounting. The skills and knowledge a CPA brings to the table will be in high demand. This will be driven by several factors, including the expansion of the regulatory environment and the speed at which technology influences business processes. CPAs will be expected to fully understand each of these factors and provide guidance to our clients. Through this change, one constant will remain — our clients and those we serve will continue to rely on us as trusted business advisers.

What do you like to do outside of work and why?

Given the pace of working in a public accounting firm, I like to dial it down a bit outside of work. Most of my nonwork life is spent with family, volunteering, watching sports and relaxing with friends. My wife, Sandy, and I are blessed to have three wonderful children. All three of them are married and live fairly close to us. We are able to spend time together with our children, their spouses and our five grandchildren.

My volunteer time includes being an active member at our church, serving the community as part of our local Lions Club and doing taxes through the VITA program.

My wife and I spend time traveling, often with friends. We usually take a couple of trips to Mexico or other warm weather destinations each year.
Lastly, I enjoy Minnesota professional sports and like to either attend in person or watch on TV. We recently bought a season ticket package for the Twins and are hopeful for a successful season. The Wild are also always exciting to watch.

What brings you the most joy in life?

Spending time with family. When our children were younger, both my wife and I volunteered as much as we could in their various activities whether it be school, sports, church or Boy Scouts. As they have grown, it is now a joy to be part of their lives as they are starting families of their own. We also travel with our family, which always results in lasting memories.

What else, besides accounting practices and the industry, do you enjoy learning about and why?

I tend to read a lot and on a variety of topics, including American history, politics, investing and personal finance, and action novels (Vince Flynn type). One of my favorite topics is learning about past U.S. presidents. I am awed by the courage and perseverance they demonstrated as they led our nation from the Revolutionary War to the present. A few years ago, I purchased a book containing the inaugural addresses from each president through 2017. It is fascinating to learn about the visions that each one of them had for our country.

What do you read, watch or listen to every day?

I watch both the local news and the national news at least once during the day to catch the major stories. I occasionally get hooked on a Netflix series and end up binging it (“Manifest” is the most recent show that occupied way too much time).

While driving, I listen to a variety of things, including talk radio, sports or music (classic rock or Christian). In the summertime when I am outside doing projects, you will definitely hear classic rock blaring from the stereo. I subscribe to several magazines and a couple of weekly newspapers that I read as well.

Let’s say you have a free Sunday afternoon. What are you doing?

On a lot of Sunday afternoons, Sandy and I are spending time with family. In the summertime, it is usually spent doing projects outside. When the weather is not as accommodating, maybe watching a movie or sports — Twins, Vikings or Wild.