The world around us is changing … and the profession is responding with some changes of its own.

Tim Christen, CPA, CGMA, chair of the American Institute of CPAs’ Board of Directors, has sent a letter to each of the AICPA’s more than 400,000 members that outlines a proposal that would “drive our profession’s vitality and relevance for generations to come.”

The plan is actually the next step in a joint venture launched in 2011 between the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, or CIMA. The first step in that venture resulted in the creation of the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation.

Now, officials with the AICPA and CIMA want to create a new association that would, in Christen’s words, “integrate operations, strategy, and management from both organizations to further advance advocacy, achieve economies of scale, and better support accounting professionals.”

The new association would be called the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. Its purpose? To “significantly enhance advocacy, lift awareness of member credentials and designations to help support member employability, and strengthen our abilities to advance the accounting profession in the U.S. and abroad.”

“We need to act now to keep the accounting profession indispensable and preserve the relevance and value to future generations of public and management accountants alike,” the AICPA states. “Environmental trends and demographic shifts are altering the face and expectations of the next generation. At the same time, with increased complexity driving the need for more specialized and strategic skills, employers are looking for professionals with broader competencies. Other organizations, some with less rigorous credentials, are positioning themselves to leverage these trends and tap into this demand. We need to act now to keep the CPA profession’s core values of quality, competency and integrity at the heart of the U.S. accounting profession and the hub of the broader financial system.”

It’s a big move, but in announcing the proposal, the AICPA is equally quick to emphasize what won’t change:

  • While members of both the AICPA and CIMA would automatically be part of the new association, AICPA members will remain members of the AICPA.
     
  • Dues will not be affected by this proposal.
     
  • “The AICPA will continue to exist and focus on promoting and supporting CPAs,” the AICPA states. “This proposal would keep the CPA profession’s core values of quality, competency, and integrity at the hub of the U.S. accounting profession and extend them through the broader financial system.”
     
  • This is not a merger. The AICPA and CIMA will maintain separate governing councils and membership bodies.
     
  • The AICPA “will remain committed to promoting and protecting the CPA, our profession and its foundation of quality and ethics,” the AICPA tells its members. “The AICPA will continue to advocate for the public interest on behalf of the CPA profession, develop and grade the CPA exam, and monitor and enforce compliance with the profession’s technical and ethical standards. You will continue to receive existing AICPA member benefits. … In fact, those resources are expected to expand.”

At the same time, officials say the proposal will make the profession more relevant and future-ready than ever.

  • It will create “the most influential body of professional accountants, building on the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs and CIMA, to make the accounting profession indispensable.”
     
  • It will “enhance advocacy, with the voice of more than 600,000 current and next-generation professionals to help shape policies in the public interest.”
     
  • It will “extend the CPA’s core values of quality, competency and integrity across the entire accounting profession.”
     
  • It will broaden the “platform to talk with students and graduates about your designations, and options within the entire accounting profession.”
     
  • It will accelerate “development and delivery of streamlined and relevant resources.”

Learn more about the proposal
The AICPA is preparing a number of resources to help explain the proposal. Those resources are (and will be) available at AICPA.org/Horizons.

Also, the MACPA’s Tom Hood will be discussing the proposal at his continuing series of fall professional issues updates throughout Maryland. The updates are free to MACPA members and worth four hours of CPE. Check out the complete schedule of updates here.

In the mean time, the conversation surrounding the proposal will continue. Keep an eye on AICPA.org/Horizons, MACPA.org, and CPASuccess.com for updates.

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