A member moment and lasting legacy

June 23, 2022

On Friday, Aug. 2, 1963, the Chicago College All-Stars beat the Green Bay Packers 20-17, "So Much In Love" by The Thymes held its spot at the top of the charts for the fifth day and Robert Helm's life changed forever.

That summer day nearly 59 years ago may not hold significance for most, but for Helm, it was the day he earned his certification and began his CPA journey, an adventure that he has no desire to quit yet.

Helm grew up in a small town in Southwest Oklahoma, then moved to Norman, Okla. where he graduated from Norman High School in 1956 and attended the University of Oklahoma.

Helm tried his hand at engineering in college, but quickly determined that accounting was the best path for him.

After graduating, Helm took a role as a junior accountant at PMM & Co., now KPMG, and earned his CPA certification one year later.

Life for an accountant looked considerably different in the mid-sixties than today. Helm recalls peg-board accounting systems to create accounting journals that were then transferred by hand to a general ledger for the creation of financial statements. 

In 1970, Helm left public accounting to join CMI Corporation as a director and vice president treasurer. In the same year, Helm took on the secretary-treasurer role with the OSCPA and the Oklahoma Accountancy Board, as the two entities were combined at the time.

Helm was promoted to executive vice president in 1973 and continued his work with CMI Corporation until he returned to public accounting and formed his own firm in 1995.

"You can imagine the work I had to do to catch up with the changes that had taken place from 1970 to 1995," Helm said. "It hasn't always been easy, but it has been worth it."

Even at 83, Helm continues to serve his loyal clients, doing both auditing and tax preparation. 

"People often ask when I plan to retire," he said. "I tell them that I will never retire as long as I continue to enjoy my work and my health remains good."

Helm attributes much of his longevity in the profession to the respect that the CPA profession and its members garner.

"I appreciate the respect for the profession that has been earned as a result of the efforts and diligence of those both before me and since," he said. "The profession is probably respected more than any other profession in the world."

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