CPA value at home and abroad

In his presentation to Council October 20, Barry Melancon, CPA, AICPA President and CEO, stressed that the AICPA had received “pretty good indicators” that the SEC would not be rolling back fair values. In fact, Melancon reported, debates over “mark-to-market” would cease if a buyout goes through, as the market would then know real economic values.

Fundamentally, Melancon stated that accounting rules should be about true economic conditions, and that the independence of the standard-setting process should not be affected by political pressures.

As buyers attempt to sort out the true economic value of mortgage-backed securities, XBRL  can bring strong value in tracking data sets of underlying assets for the future, said Melancon. 

Timing of the proposed SEC roadmap for adoption of IFRS could be deferred by uncertainty in global capital markets or by a new political administration, according to Melancon.

As current events highlight the connectedness of international markets, what is the future value of the CPA in a global economy?

Facing increased international demand for the CPA designation, NASBA and the AICPA have been investigating the potential for international administration of the CPA exam. Reviewing this proposal, Leslie Murphy, CPA, and Arleen Thomas, AICPA Senior Vice President, outlined criteria important to this consideration, including:

·         Assessing the security of the exam and the testing ethics of the local culture

·         Requiring the same rigorous process as is required in U.S. administration of the exam

·         Not authorizing CPA designation holders to provide attestation services, which continue to be subject to local licensure.

At the heart of the issue is how will the CPA credential be positioned in a global marketplace.  Today “CPA” only applies inside the U.S.  In a global environment, what steps should be taken to ensure that the CPA credential means more than just competence in the U.S.?  How can we ensure that other global credentials don’t make CPA a second tier credential?

Concerns raised by Council members included putting the CPA “brand” in the hands of candidates who may not have the same level of buy-in to the profession’s core values, and how the disciplinary process would work for those holding the CPA designation outside of the U.S.

Results of a new U.S. survey indicate that CPA brand is stronger than ever. Presenting recent survey results, Melancon reported that the CPA has been resilient in the face of crisis and resistant to reinvention. Investors and business decision-makers are more confident in work done by a CPA than a non-licensed accountant, and nearly two-thirds responded that CPAs are subject to more rigorous training and testing than other financial credentials.

The prominence of fraud as a top concern of investors and business decision-makers has declined, being replaced by global competitiveness, health care, and economic growth as the dominant concerns. CPAs ranked second only to physicians in market perception, with a notable decline of mortgage brokers and hedge fund managers to the bottom of the survey results.

The research was conducted post-sub-prime mortgage crisis, but pre-stock market decline.

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