I Only Had a CFF’
JULY 2008 -
In the film The Wizard of Oz, the Lion was seeking courage,
the Scarecrow was seeking a brain, and the Tin Man was seeking a
heart. In all three cases, they thought they lacked something essential.
However, each of them inherently had these qualities from the very
beginning— they just didn’t believe it. Recognizing
that they needed external validation of what they possessed, the
Wizard rewarded them with outward symbols: a diploma, a medal, and
But Why Give CPAs Something They Already Have?
same search for validation can be said to be behind a new accounting
credential. On May 19, the AICPA’s Council announced a new
CPA specialty credential in forensic accounting, the Certified
in Financial Forensics (CFF). According to its supporters, the
credential confirms the CPA’s role as the premier provider
of forensic accounting services. But do CPAs need a specialized
credential in order to provide these services, or are the necessary
experience and expertise already inherent in a CPA’s skill
a CPA is an accounting professional who has satisfied the education,
experience, and examination requirements of his or her jurisdiction
necessary to be certified as a public accountant. This education
gives the CPA a credential that attests to, among other things,
a knowledge base in financial statements, accounting, auditing,
The CPA is
one of the most respected credentials a person can earn. Presiding
judges recognize the expertise the CPA credential represents.
CPAs are trained, first in their preparatory education and later
in their work experience, to use analytical techniques and audit
procedures that will help them recognize the red flags of a potential
to launch early next fall, the CFF credential is designed to combine
forensic accounting expertise with the CPA’s core knowledge
base. The new designation is intended to provide additional credibility
to CPA professionals who are called to testify as experts in court.
But do CPAs need another outward symbol to establish their credibility?
of the CFF is the expansion of AICPA-developed continuing education
courses related to forensic accounting. But if such courses are
in demand and need be created for the new credential, why not
make them available to all CPAs? The purpose of continuing professional
education is to increase the professional competency of all practitioners,
whatever their specialty. These new courses would best serve the
entire profession, not just a small fraction. There is no need
to rebrand a service already offered by CPAs; efforts should be
focused on supporting the already trusted and respected CPA credential.
credential runs the risk of convincing the public that CPAs without
it are unqualified to do what many are already successfully doing.
In fact, the majority of NYSSCPA members practice in small to
medium-sized firms and already provide many of the services represented
by the CFF. But if the public doesn’t know that, this new
credential may prevent some CPAs from continuing to do work they
are qualified to do.
It is not
the number of letters that follow a professional’s name,
but the quality of an individual’s work that is important.
The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion demonstrated the qualities they
desperately searched for throughout The Wizard of Oz.
They did not require a credential to validate their abilities—they
already had what they thought they lacked. Perhaps the same is
true for CPAs.
Publisher, The CPA Journal
Executive Director, NYSSCPA
CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed
publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators,
and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs.
Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals
with the information and news to enable them to be successful
accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.
The New York State Society of CPAs. Legal