of the Minds
APRIL 2008 -
Effective August 1, 2009, candidates for CPA licensure in the State
of New York will be required to have 150 credit hours of qualifying
courses, increased from the previous requirement of 120 hours. Many
other states have already implemented this change, approved by the
National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as part
of the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA). The new requirement reflects
the public’s greater expectations of accountants, and the
expanded role accountants play in the current business environment.
Preparing Future Accounting Professionals
“sides” of the profession—typically taken to
be the educator and practitioner communities—have been at
odds concerning what accounting students should know, what educators
should teach, and whether accounting graduates are adequately
prepared for the business world. The CPA Journal editors convened
a forum, “Preparing Future Accounting Professionals,”
moderated by Editor-in-Chief Mary-Jo Kranacher, in November 2007
to bring individuals representing all areas of the profession
together to discuss these issues.
panel, “How the 150-Hour Requirement Is Affecting the Profession,”
discussed issues presented by the new requirement. The second
panel, “How Academics and Practitioners Can Work Together,”
discussed how to bridge the gap that has traditionally separated
accounting education from accounting practice. Each of the panelists
represented a specific perspective and was selected for their
individual expertise. The following article represents the highlights
of the second panel discussion, including the panelists’
prepared remarks and a reaction written by an attendee of the
event. The March 2008 issue (online at www.cpajournal.com)
included an article on the first panel discussion.
Discussion: How Academics and Practitioners Can Work Together
An Educator’s Perspective
had discussions with students at the C.W. Post School of Professional
Accountancy at Long Island University, as well as at NYSSCPA events,
student nights, mixers, and other functions. Through my involvement
in the NYSSCPA and during our campus recruitment events, I’ve
also listened to practitioners about what’s going on in
the profession, particularly in this transition period.
are very concerned about the costs and benefits of the 150-hour
requirement. Practitioners are apprehensive about how many students
will be coming out of the pipeline after August 1, 2009. Many
firms are concerned about the pipeline drying up, in the short
term. Some firms are considering ramping up their recruitment
efforts—preparing themselves to hire more people to make
sure they can service their clients during the transition period.
are considering whether to accelerate their coursework so they
can earn their bachelor’s degree and apply for the CPA exam
before the new requirements become effective. This would help
them to eliminate one year’s worth of education as well
as the related cost—a cost they may not be able to afford.
Christie Dorsa [see Part 1 in the March 2008 CPA Journal] sees
great value to having this additional education as well as an
advanced degree. Students who opt to earn their bachelor’s
degree early and avoid the increased educational requirement may
be eligible to sit for the CPA exam, but they’ll always
be competing with others who have advanced degrees, and that may
limit their careers. So their cost/benefit analysis has to focus
on the long-term and consider their skill-set on a competitive
As for CPA
firms, when they aggressively hire, that provides significant
economic incentives to students in the short term. But there will
be logistical problems. Educational institutions, for example,
will be greatly disadvantaged by their tendency to adapt to change
slowly. Because the demand for accounting professionals is already
very high, this set of conditions could create a sort of “perfect
storm” where the transition period is a real problem. This
is documented in states that have already implemented the 150-hour
are concerned about the costs of this additional year of education,
and firms want educators to keep the pipeline flowing with candidates,
then firms and schools need to address these issues creatively.
We need to be sensitive to students’ issues, including the
costs. That brings us to the structure of an accelerated degree
program. Maybe we need to think about fifth-year “bridging”
master’s degree programs for students after they complete
their fourth year of educational requirements, so they can work
full time while they’re completing their last year. That
would also provide an opportunity for firms and students to work
together to help finance the educational undertaking. Must students
have a four-year bachelor’s degree in hand before firms
will hire them? This plan needs to include how firms will be affected:
Will students who are completing an accelerated program and working
part-time or full-time be considered interns, associates, or something
reimbursement programs could be offered for specialty areas. Some
firms already have tuition reimbursement programs in place. Maybe
these could be formalized to help us through this transition.
Also, we should consider other options, such as flexible schedules
and a two-tiered hiring system. For example, we could create a
part-time, pre-professional category for students who haven’t
completed their 150 hours or advanced degree. After they’ve
complete their degree, they can convert to full-time employment.
institutions have to recognize that they need to help build these
bridge programs. Which means we need to creatively address issues
such as course format and class schedules; for example, offering
weekend classes so students can work during the week while they
continue their education. Scholarships might be offered as incentives
for advanced degrees. Some firms have already approached C.W.
Post about offering scholarships to students who will participate
in the 150-hour accelerated program.
We also need
to rethink the recruitment process. Some firms that recruit on
campus use a two-tiered system. One tier includes students on
a four-year track, after which they’ll leave and work full
time. The second tier is for students who will stay an additional
year. Schools and firms need better coordination and communication.
Regional and local firms need to be more proactive in recruitment.
Most recruitment activity is done by national firms and the larger
regional firms. Educators should help students understand the
recruitment process and the differences between different types
of potential employers. Finally, the recruitment process for industry
and government is another area that needs to be addressed, including
the compensation differential.
A. Barragato, PhD, CPA, CFE, is a professor of accounting
and director of the C.W. Post School of Professional Accountancy
at Long Island University. He is the founding partner of Charles
A. Barragato & Co., LLP. Barragato has received the Foundation
for Accounting Education (FAE)’s outstanding discussion
leader award, as well as the NYSSCPA’s 1996–97 Dr.
Emanuel Saxe “Outstanding CPA in Education” Award.
A Recruiting Consultant’s Perspective
By way of
background, Ajilon Finance Solutions is a national consulting
practice that specializes in finance, accounting, and operations.
It’s part of Ajilon Consulting, a wholly owned subsidiary
of Adecco, a Forbes 500 company and the largest human capital
organization in the world. Because we see both candidates and
employers as our clients, we’re very familiar with the gap
between the groups. As Charles Barragato said, there is a shortage
of accounting professionals, and client demands are continuing
to grow, so the gap is widening.
regulation and legislation of accounting is increasing the costs
of compliance, and the demand isn’t being met by the candidates
that we are providing to our clients. Interestingly, not only
do clients want the technical skills, they also want soft skills,
including communication skills and the ability to fit into the
organizational culture. So the criteria list continues to grow.
are we dealing with the short-term situation, we’re also
dealing with unrealistic demands from the market. At some level,
we are also educating the market about what’s realistic
and what isn’t, and that education process is difficult
and time-consuming. Corporations tell us their expectations—what
they’re looking for in an ideal candidate—and we have
to tell them that the ideal candidate does not exist. Ajilon is
rolling out several initiates in 2008 to bridge the gap—to
help accounting candidates find opportunities, and to help clients
find candidates. One excellent example is a mentorship program.
By the year 2012, 80% of CPAs will be eligible to retire, so succession
planning is an issue that needs to be addressed. We’re developing
a formal and an informal mentoring program. We have an advantage,
because we have more than 5,000 clients.
we’re doing to bridge this gap is to develop an internship
program. This includes internships in private industry in addition
to CPA firms, to give students real-world-experience with tax,
audit, and financial reporting work in private industry. Our goal
is to develop students into strong, well-rounded accounting professionals.
Our clients are open to this because they know by the year 2010,
25% of the workforce will be contingent, which will eventually
be the only way to access talented, knowledgeable professionals.
also launching a university on the West Coast, with participation
from academia, students, and private industry. The objective is
to give students access to state-of-the-art accounting-related
technology. CPAs not only need to have technical knowledge and
be a good cultural fit within an organization, they also need
to understand systems, the backbone of any business.
thought about training programs: The Big Four have incredible
training for their staff. Ajilon has suggested that academia participate
in those programs, to give firms the benefit of their technical
knowledge, research, and teaching ability.
Bastoli, MBA, is the first national vice president at
Ajilon Finance Solutions, responsible for launching and managing
the expansion of Ajilon’s operations in North America. After
joining Ajilon Finance in 2003 as a branch manager focusing on
financial services, she quickly advanced to branch vice president,
where she piloted Ajilon Finance Solutions in 2004. Prior to working
at Ajilon, Bastoli was a senior financial analyst at Automatic
Data Processing, Inc. (ADP). She has also worked as a financial
consultant at Solomon Smith Barney, and has held positions in
mergers and acquisitions, marketing, and accounting.
One Shoe Fits All Curriculum No Longer Meets Needs of Practice
Let me start
by asking, “What is accounting education for tomorrow?”
Because I don’t think it is simply an issue of dealing with
the 150-hour requirement.
point is that a “one-shoe-fits-all” curriculum no
longer meets the needs of practice, and evidence of this is everywhere.
Baruch College is dealing with the same issues that Sue Hamlen
of the University at Buffalo spoke of in the first panel discussion,
including the role of the MBA program.
From my perspective,
we should adopt a different outlook and marry accounting with
other functional areas. For example, a specialization in risk
analysis/finance meets today’s needs in the practice of
accounting and auditing. You can marry accounting with information
technology; you can marry accounting with international business;
you can marry accounting with operations management, and also
taxation. Viewed that way, such an interdisciplinary focus of
accounting and the other functional areas reflects what is happening
within organizations, and further satisfies a need for increased
specialization. So I think part of what we should do in adopting
a different outlook is to look very hard at the structure of accounting
practices of all sizes and types. Baruch did some of this when
we first adopted the 150-hour curriculum seven years ago. We married
the 150-hour program with different functional areas and determined
how to implement or operationalize such changes.
need to do more to bring the various stakeholders together—faculty,
students, business, and regulators. Baruch is partnering with
NASBA, and we regularly invite speakers from the AICPA, the SEC,
the PCAOB, and thought leaders from practice, including but not
limited to the Big Four. Ten different firms have already committed
to come in, and our goal is to identify and discuss the issues
confronting the auditing profession.
need a better understanding of career opportunities within CPA
firms. When I started in accounting, rarely would a candidate
speak to anyone in a firm beyond the recruiting representative.
Today, the process is much more open. For example, the leadership
within a firm’s internal audit division may be directly
involved in hiring new people for that group. In a way, that reflects
my first comment about marrying different functional areas. And
because that’s different from the recruiting model schools
are used to, our business programs must adapt their programs as
well as their career placement services.
point is about sharing knowledge, and bringing business to the
college campus. Huge investments are being made in knowledge systems
in various organizations, including the Big Four; however, some
of our professional associations aren’t playing as large
a role as they used to in the dissemination of knowledge. For
example, when the AICPA moved its library to the University of
Tennessee, this weakened the AICPA’s important responsibility
of serving as a source of knowledge for the practitioner.
My last point
is about teaching auditing. Knowledge is a two-way system. There
is knowledge in practice, much of which begins in formal education,
and we need to get better at bringing that real-world–based
knowledge to colleges and universities.
B. Lilien, PhD, CPA, is the Weinstein Professor of Accountancy
at the Zicklin School of Business of Baruch College of the City
University of New York (CUNY). He is on the Board of Governors
of both the New York City Chapter of Financial Executives International
(FEI) and the New York City Chapter of the Institute of Internal
Auditors. He specializes in financial accounting and auditing
and the discovery of accounting information in litigation actions,
as well as corporate governance and executive compensation. Lilien
is also a member of The CPA Journal Editorial Board.
A Large-Firm Practitioner’s Perspective
going to discuss faculty programs and students initiatives that
KPMG currently has across the country. The firm has increased
its hiring numbers year after year, and I think these programs
have helped. Baruch College is the main school that I work with,
and I spend a lot of time here.
faculty web portal program
supports our faculty outreach objectives. Another excellent online
program is our accounting research tool that is available to four
premier schools, including Baruch College. It provides quick access
to a full range of authoritative accounting, auditing, and financial
reporting guidance with an emphasis on International Financial
Reporting Standards (IFRS) and U.S. GAAP.
is the PhD project, which supports minority professors so they
can help KPMG effectively support minority students in the future.
When the PhD project began 12 years ago, there were 294 minority
business school faculty members. Today there are more than 833,
with 380 doctoral students in the process of becoming business
We also held
a faculty symposium this past summer, a seminar for professors
to gain up-to-date information about everything going on in the
students the future diversity leadership program. Each year the
firm offers scholarship and internship opportunities to freshmen
students identified by professors in the PhD project. They can
do an internship in their freshman year, another in their sophomore
year, and another in their junior year, with the opportunity to
join the firm full-time depending on their performance.
One new program
is our China roundtrip program. Last year the chairman and CEO
of KPMG China made a presentation to students in this very room.
Our northeast managing partner and New York office managing partner
returned the favor, making a presentation at a university in Beijing.
Another part of the China roundtrip program is for students to
spend two years in the U.S. and two years in China, with the option
of staying in either country.
We plan to
accept more international applicants to increase diversity within
the firm. The program’s drawbacks include vastly differing
language skills. We can teach technical skills, but not soft skills,
such as language. I recommend that schools develop more group
projects and other things that make the classroom more interactive,
giving students opportunities to interact with each other as team
members and to develop public-speaking and other communication
Lin is the campus development manager at KPMG for Baruch
College. Before joining the campus recruiting team at KPMG, he
had worked in resource management and human resources. Prior to
joining KPMG in June 2002, he worked at Arthur Andersen as a training
The Expectation Gap in Accounting Professionals
Rubenstein Reminick (HRR) is a regional firm that serves the New
York metropolitan market. Although we do not audit the largest
public companies, our firm competes with the largest firms for
the same accounting students, and we face the same problems.
to the growing shortage of accounting professionals, we have what
I call the expectation gap: the difference between the skill set
and technical knowledge that an accounting graduate entering the
workforce thinks is adequate, versus what the employer thinks
is adequate for an entry-level associate.
firms and academia need to step back, reassess our assumptions,
and decide how to address that gap. For example, colleges and
universities are traditionally excellent at teaching theory; however,
a greater emphasis should be placed on the practical application
of technical information and writing skills.
kind of reassessment of assumptions about necessary skill-sets
needs to be made in practice, initially at the staff level and
then reviewed by someone at the manager level. A staff person
who is working on an engagement, should think about what he or
she is actually doing and try and develop their own recommendations
and conclusions. Simply following the mechanics of a program and
waiting to be told what to do next is not a good way to develop
judgment or making a contribution to the engagement.
We see underperformance
in areas beyond technical skills. Even basic things like professional
appearance. I see a wide range among young professionals in what
they think is appropriate business attire. That’s important
because first impresions last for a very long time, so this issue
needs to be addressed by both educators and practitioners.
is time management. Younger professionals need to recognize the
importance of deadlines—not just their own, but other individuals.
They need to learn that no one works in a vacuum: Other people
are relying on their work—the client, firm management, and
the firm’s administration. They need to buy into the concept
that someone else is waiting for the product they are working
on, and it is not just a homework assignment. This is business,
and a timeline needs to be met, with consequences for not meeting
to time management, we need to emphasize the planning of work,
based upon the requirements of the engagement. Although most of
my experience has been with public accounting, commercial enterprises,
private institutions, and government agencies all have comparable
requirements. We need to know how to keep track of our work for
each engagement as it reaches different stages of completion.
Although that skillset needs to be learned over time, many recent
graduates have a difficult time grasping it, and employers did
not plan this to be a part of on-the-job training.
is problem-solving skills: Young professionals need to think more
like an auditor. Rather than solely having a theoretical basis
for their work, they have to learn how to step back, analyze the
situation, and then make a decision—which may involve the
risk of making the wrong decision. This is why professional standards
require close supervision of staff and review of their work. This
is also how staff can learn from their experience.
accountants’ research skills are lacking. They may know
what auditing standards are, but if you describe a situation and
ask what auditing standard applies and how, they often have no
idea of how to go about reaching a conclusion and developing a
solution. They need to learn that they can’t expect the
answers to just be provided to them or for the answer to be obvious.
They should be able to identify the appropriate resources for
finding the information, and form a judgment for making a decision.
is a big problem, regardless of the size or type of work environment,
and an important skill that educators don’t emphasize enough.
Writing a clear, concise business letter or memorandum is a learned
skill that includes a review of your work product before submitting
it to someone else, especially if it’s a client communication.
A poorly written letter or memo can leave a lasting impression
about the firm as well as the individual.
documentation is another issue that goes beyond the theoretical
and beyond the training. Less-experienced accountants must realize
that other people need to understand and follow their work, and
hopefully come to the same conclusion. This is similar to time
management because people need know that they don’t work
in a vacuum. And this is increasingly important: Adequate workpaper
documentation is no longer just good business practice: PCAOB
Auditing Standard 3 and AICPA SAS 103 specifically cover workpaper
documentation requirements, so it’s the law.
entails understanding the purpose of the engagement. Often an
assigned staff person will have some idea of what is involved,
but they don’t understand the purpose of the assignment—why
they are doing it, because it isn’t just busy work. Getting
it done in a timely manner, and in accordance with GAAP, is very
important. Employers have a responsibility to exercise good judgment.
We can’t simply assign work to someone and say, “Just
go ahead and do this”; we have to make sure they understand
the expectations, including the timeframe.
to these soft skills, we also need more emphasis on what I describe
as the big-ticket accounting issues, such as fair-value accounting
and accounting for stock options. I recognize that it’s
a two-way street. Practitioners should help academics understand—and
teach—these complicated accounting issues that often develop
very suddenly. HRR has an extensive, training program that covers
technical topics that a new hire will be working with in their
first year. It includes practice cases so they aren’t just
reading about bank reconciliation and account receivables cases.
We devote significant time in planning meetings and explaining
assignments so the staff understand what is expected and know
what to do before they go into the field.
an internship program as well, to provide students an opportunity
to work at our firm, mainly during their junior or senior year.
Our interns don’t just sit in the office processing mail
or making photocopies. Even though the interns are not yet considered
professional staff because they do not have their accounting degrees
yet, they will still actually go out in the field with a staff
person to assist in the engagement, with appropriate supervision.
can do more. As I said, it’s a two-way street. For example,
practitioners should visit schools and be more accessible to professors
and students, and it would also be helpful for the firms to have
professors come and make presentations. Perhaps educators could
spend a few days working on a pre-arranged, planned basis, or
go into the field to experience the client services work environment.
I. Victor, CPA, is the quality control partner at Holtz
Rubenstein Reminick LLP, a regional public accounting firm with
offices in New York City and on Long Island. He chairs the firm’s
education committee and oversees the firm’s professional
development program. Victor frequently lectures on SEC, accounting,
and auditing topics, and is often quoted in professional journals
and business publications. He is chair of the NYSSCPA’s
Accounting and Auditing Oversight Committee, a member of its SEC
Practice Committee, and serves on The CPA Journal Editorial
the panel discussion, Mary-Jo Kranacher summarized the key points
raised during both panel discussions and opened the floor for
presenters and attendees to share additional perspectives on the
issues raised. The following section captures observations and
responses that added significant new information and insight to
the panel discussions.
noted that several presenters indicated that the best way to get
a good blend of theory and application in the classroom is for
colleges to have a mix of both professors with scholarly backgrounds
and those with practical experience. Some advocated getting more
practitioners into the classroom. However, the Association for
the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), currently
the sole accrediting agency for accounting programs, stipulates
a minimum quota of 50% “academically qualified” (AQ)
faculty for accreditation eligibility for a baccalaureate accounting
program. Graduate-level programs require an even greater percentage
of AQ faculty. As a result of the 150-hour requirement, this percentage
has effectively increased. AQ faculty must have a PhD in accounting,
and the number of such individuals has declined significantly,
resulting in an impending shortage. At the same time, many people
question whether PhDs in accounting have sufficient practical
experience to bring useful examples and case studies into the
commented that we need to mentor students and show them the various
possibilities an accounting degree opens, so that they can create
a vision and career path for their future. The role of the CFO,
she said, has become that of a change agent, so exposing students
to CFOs who are leading organizations could be illuminating for
students who aren’t aware of all the options available.
noted that his firm’s internship program includes a component
to develop speaking skills, which all in attendance agreed were
essential for a successful career. Victor’s firm also encourages
participation in state CPA society committees, which provide public-speaking
opportunities that benefit the individuals and the firm.
asked the attendees whether any firms offer programs for educators
to work during their sabbatical as a way to get current practice
experience. David Lin noted that KPMG has more than 60 professors
from across the country participating in its national training
programs. The firm also sponsors a national faculty internship
program whereby professors on sabbatical can work for the firm
for three to six months. About 18 faculty members per year are
eligible for inclusion in this program.
and presenters raised concerns about accounting students having
inadequate communication skills and wondered why firms don’t
speak out about the problems with writing, speaking, and reading
comprehension at the high school and elementary school levels.
By the time the students get to college, it may be too late to
develop these fundamentals. Susan Hamlen, from the first panel,
reiterated that learning those skills is best done before college.
George Victor added that many firms are reticent to tell colleges
that their graduates are deficient in certain areas.
Member Bill Gradison noted that the concern about accountants’
writing skills has surfaced in the area of PCAOB inspection reports.
He said that the PCAOB has several staff members with writing
responsibilities and their skill in this area is neither underestimated
nor taken for granted. He suggested a process of giving accounting
students or staff writing tests that would be graded by two people—first
on technical merits, and then on the quality of the writing.
Dorsa, from the first panel, stressed that her graduate-school
experience was very important in helping her to develop communication,
critical-thinking, and other skills. That, she said, is a major
benefit of the 150-hour requirement. Although there is no standard
for what colleges and universities include in those additional
courses, and there will undoubtedly be differences among schools,
she believes educators and employers will start to see improvement
in those skill sets over time.
Academics and Practitioners Can Work Together
Perspective from an Educator with Private Industry Experience
I began my professional life in public accounting, I spent most
of my career as an executive in industry, and for the past three
years I’ve been a professor of accounting. In that context,
I’ve observed that the profession’s academic side
is sometimes separated from its other constituencies. Yet in a
rare assemblage, The CPA Journal Forum on Education brought
together participants from large, medium, and small CPA firms;
business and industry; higher education; regulatory agencies;
professional associations; and recruiting firms. In short, the
broad spectrum of the profession was represented in one room.
Discussions were open, vigorous, relevant, and meaningful. Topics
were debated with multiple points of view. In the context of diversity,
I offer some personal perspectives on five topics discussed at
of accounting professionals. Notwithstanding rising
enrollments of accounting majors in most business schools, CPA
firms are concerned about demand exceeding supply. I can corroborate
certain experiences at our university with those presented by
both practitioners and other professors at the forum. For example,
the following trends were noted with respect to accounting majors:
of accounting majors on college campuses is growing;
- Of all
college majors, accounting has the highest number of offers
for employment at graduation;
- A significant
percentage of accounting majors already have jobs in the fall/winter
of their senior year;
internships for accounting majors are growing dramatically;
salaries are steadily rising.
of all sizes are responding in a variety of ways, including as
the number of college campuses they target for recruiting;
their on-campus recruiting visits;
or expanding their college internship programs; and
No one at
the forum appeared to believe that the shortage of accounting
professionals will abate any time soon.
students. While my primary role as a college professor
is teaching, an important secondary role is advising students.
In this capacity, I found the forum particularly helpful. At the
school where I teach, each student is assigned an academic advisor
to assist in course planning and career counseling. The advisor
is a full-time professor in the field of the student’s major.
For me, encouraging students in the accounting profession is very
rewarding. It is particularly pleasing to see a student’s
excitement upon receiving an accounting internship acceptance,
or the exhilaration when a student gets that first job offer.
issue facing accounting graduates today is the time and cost of
the extra 30 credits needed to obtain the CPA license. Some undergraduate
students want to “get it over with” right after they
graduate. Others prefer to begin their career first. Advising
students on which is the better course of action depends upon
their personal preferences, their financial situation, and the
state in which they expect to be employed.
The one universal
piece of advice that I give students is this: If you’re
going to take an additional 30 credits over and above what’s
required for your baccalaureate degree, you might as well earn
a graduate degree.
advice to students on CPA licensing and the 150-hour requirement,
the comments from Dan Dustin, Executive Secretary of the New York
State Board for Public Accountancy, were particularly helpful:
- For candidates
who took the CPA exam: 35% of those with advanced degrees passed,
versus 27% without advanced degrees.
- The CPA
experience requirement in New York is two years for candidates
with a bachelor’s degree, but only one year for candidates
with a graduate degree.
- The experience
requirement does not have to be met before taking the CPA exam
in New York.
- New York
State does not permit a candidate to take the CPA exam before
the 150-hour education requirement is completed.
said that the only specific course requirements stated in the
New York State regulations are 33 hours for accounting, 36 hours
for general business, and whatever liberal arts and sciences hours
are required according to the type of degree conferred. He offered
that this was done purposely to allow universities flexibility
with their curricula for the content of business courses to meet
the 150-hour requirement.
differences are crucial when advising students. At our university,
the highest percentage of students come from New York, followed
by Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and other Northeast
states. Students from across the country and international students
compose the balance. Nick Mastracchio of the National Association
of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) listed some state differences
regarding the 150-hour requirement and CPA exam eligibility. From
his presentation, I extracted the following list for states in
states that require 150 hours to take the CPA exam: New York
(effective August 1, 2009).
states that require 150 hours but permit taking the CPA exam
after 120 hours: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey,
and Rhode Island.
states that do not have the 150-hour requirement (only 120 hours
required): Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New Hampshire.
to students for obtaining the MBA degree was also thoroughly discussed.
Key issues include the following:
- The financial
burden of MBA tuition and expenses is a real barrier to entry
for CPA candidates, particularly those who are already weighed
down with student loans from their undergraduate degree.
- CPA firms
are generally not reimbursing full tuition for the MBA. (Note:
Some firms are providing tuition reimbursements for a master’s
degree in taxation.)
assistance offered by CPA firms includes limited fixed-sum grants,
loans (which may be forgiven at some point), time off, and early
leave from work to attend classes.
Financial Reporting Standards. The opening remarks
from PCAOB Board Member Bill Gradison concerning International
Financial Reporting Standards were particularly important for
both academics and practitioners. While the multiyear negotiations
over GAAP/IFRS convergence may have given many in the profession
the sense that they could safely put off confronting the issue,
Gradison’s comments served as a wake-up call. He strongly
urged universities to integrate IFRS into their accounting curricula.
Recognizing that there are few currently available textbooks on
the topic, he prodded business schools to locate other resources
and noted that many accounting firms in Europe are well-versed
in IFRS. He advised college professors to obtain training materials
from those accountants who have been using it. At universities,
accounting curriculum decisions need to be made regarding whether
IFRS should be a separate course, or integrated with existing
graduates’ lack of writing skills. Although
writing skills was not a scheduled topic at the forum, when George
Victor observed that his firm’s young accountants lacked
business-writing skills, a surprising groundswell of agreement
emerged. Viewed as a societal problem, there was no shortage of
opinions as to its cause, including: over-reliance on, or misuse
of, technology; what is (or isn’t) taught in elementary
and high schools; or insufficient reading assignments. Some CPA
firms are trying to cope by providing in-house training. With
no universal solution at hand, clearly this issue needs to be
addressed at many levels in the education system.
common theme. Despite the diversity of representation
at the forum, I sensed a common theme: We all care about our profession.
We care about licensing credentials and ethics, professional standards
and accounting education, public confidence in our services and
what it means to be a CPA.
I came away
with a sense of confidence that despite all the substantive issues
facing the profession, future accountants will find being a Certified
Public Accountant as rewarding a career as ever.
Scarpati, CPA, CLU, ChFC, is a professor of accounting
at the John F. Welch College of Business at Sacred Heart University,
Fairfield, Conn. He is a member of the NYSSCPA’s SEC Practice