Alumnus Dwaine Iverson Earns MSCPA’s Highest Honor

June 23rd, 2013

Each year, the Montana Society of CPAs (MSCPA) honors one member who has served the profession or the public with distinction with the George D. Anderson Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes a CPA who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the profession, to the public, and to their community. The 2013 award, the MSCPA’s highest was awarded to JJCBE alumnus Dwaine J. Iverson.

A Montana Upbringing
When Iverson was a farm kid growing up just outside of Brockton, MT, his dad was the mayor of that agricultural community. However, when his father saw the educational system deteriorating, he transferred his children to the nearby Poplar school, and resigned as mayor. His dad said he couldn’t be mayor if he didn’t have faith in the town’s school system. That set the stage for a life of ethics and standards that Iverson models every day of his life.

Iverson completed his primary education in Poplar. He was planning to attend a trade school, after graduating from high school, to learn to repair air conditioners or become a plumber, but decided to ask his math teacher, a trusted advisor and friend, what profession he should consider. His teacher recommended Iverson contemplate being an accountant or an actuary. “I didn’t know what those were so I went to the World Book Encyclopedia to find out. I discovered you had to live in a big city to be an actuary, so I became an accountant instead.”

Iverson started college at Eastern Montana but didn’t feel challenged, so after he completed his first year, he waited until August to apply to MSU. He lived in the dorms at MSU for one quarter, moved to a fraternity house the second quarter and got married the third quarter. “I knew Barb from high school. We started dating that October after I gave her a ride home. It was her freshman year and my sophomore. She was 18 and I was 20. We got married on May 4, 1974.”

The Accounting Path
After graduating from MSU, Iverson started his first job with Misfeldt & Garnett in Great Falls, in July 1976. “They sent me up to Shelby the next June to look at starting an office up there. I had been a CPA for a year and I was going to run it. I thought they were crazy! I spoke to my dad and he suggested that perhaps Mr. Misfeldt and Mr. Garnett knew more about me than I did.”

Misfeldt & Garnett soon became Hamilton Misfeldt, and on July 1, 1980, Iverson became a partner in the newly merged firm. The people who influenced Iverson at this time included Clarence Misfeldt, Tony DiLello, Curt Ammondson, and George Campenella all men who had or would someday become Distinguished Service Award recipients themselves.

May 4, 1992 was a momentous day in Iverson’s life. That was the day he bought the Shelby practice from Hamilton Misfeldt; it was his and Barb’s 18th anniversary and the first day he ever shot par in golf. “When I left Hamilton Misfeldt, I still maintained good relationships with all those people, we did it with respect. The difference between the large and small firm is you miss the support, but you have more freedom. It’s harder to apply the large firm principles to the way you practice in a small town. You have to have more involvement in controversial local issues, you must be a leader and willing to take on those challenges.”

Iverson has definitely been involved in the Shelby community. One year he was president of the local Chamber, president of Jaycees, and Exalted Ruler of the Elks, all while Barb was pregnant with their sixth child. “I worked hard to make people feel like I was part of this community, like I was one of them.” He also took over as chairman of the board at Toole County hospital at a time when the institution was in dire straits, a position he held for six years. When he stepped down, the hospital was $3 million in the black and back on stable ground. He said, “I’ve always applied my skills to my community. As CPAs, I think we have a special talent to assist our communities in a lot of areas. Our work is critical to them.”

Barbara and his six children, Kristi, Becky, John, Lisa, Colleen, and Holly, are clearly what’s important to him in life. Iverson was always there for his six children, missing very few of their games or events, and he figured out early on how to balance work and family life. Iverson said he lives by a very strong code he learned in Jaycees, “There are three areas of life: financial, personal, and spiritual. You need goals in all these areas. There you will find peace.”
He added, “The reason we came to a small town was so we could be involved in our kids’ lives. I took the role of raising kids to the same level as my job, my profession. Parenting and management books are the same; they just use different terminology. So I applied those management principles as much as I could to raising kids.” When he was president of MSCPA, he got to sign John’s membership certificate. “That was one of the most important moments of my life,” he shared.

“I love the profession so much,” Iverson said, and that passion shows. “I always felt that the profession was created by people with great moral fiber and it’s important that we hold it in that same high esteem when we pass it on. People who have discredited the profession don’t hold it in the same esteem. It’s very special and very delicate. Our independence is so very important; that’s why I’ve never gotten a broker’s license, because I wanted people to come to me for advice. I never want to compromise that with commissions.”

However, being a CPA has always been more than just a job for Iverson. He added, “I get to apply the principles of my faith and my family values to this profession. It isn’t often you get to do that and live what you believe all while helping people.” His passion for his chosen career shows and he said, “I never looked at it like a job; I looked at it as a profession. A job is how you get from one place to another; a profession is part of you forever.”

Iverson’s gratitude to the profession led him to serve on the MSCPA Board. “Being lucky enough to serve as an officer of the Society was one way to give back for what I’ve received from the accounting profession,” Iverson said. MSCPA Executive Director Jane Egan shared, “When Dwaine was president, we literally had to have a notebook whenever we were on the phone with him. He had so many great ideas, we had to capture them! Barb told us to stop encouraging him, but it’s because of Dwaine that we have Managing Partners Group and Montana Connection. He made a big impact on the Society during his presidency and continues to do so.”

Iverson’s involvement with the MSCPA has made him a regular at annual meetings. “I’ve always enjoyed the convention, especially the golf tournaments, having a few beers with people in the evenings, and getting to know them in a non-formal setting. The networking is great, and one of the things I enjoy is maintaining those relationships.

The 2013 George D. Anderson Award came as a surprise to Iverson. “Getting this award, all the people that I’ve respected that have gotten it, it is beyond words. It meant a lot to be chosen as president of the Society, but to be selected by your peers for your professional accomplishments is really amazing. I don’t think there’s any higher recognition than from your peers.” Iverson shares the credit, “Having a good support staff back at the office, at home, has allowed me to give back. Barb has made this possible. Without her support, no way it would have happened. I look at this award as a sign of the accomplishments in my business life. My kids are my accomplishments in my personal life.”