AICPA Announces Plans to Evaluate Specialty Credential Programs
By News Staff

NEW YORK -- The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) announced in a letter Tuesday that it is in the process of evaluating its specialty credential programs in order to “understand how best to allocate resources.”

The letter by Bruce Harper, the chair of the National Accreditation Commission (NAC), said that the AICPA Board of Directors has asked NAC to look at each of the accounting association’s specialty credentials, including Business Valuation, Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) and Personal Financial Planning Specialist (PFS), as part of its annual review.

According to the letter, the evaluation will determine if the specialty programs should be strengthened, should remain the same, should be redesigned or should be discontinued. The AICPA also said it is looking at exit strategies and will be discussing the issue at the March Regional Council and April Board of Directors meetings.

The AICPA’s letter added that the objectives of its analyses are:

  • To understand how best to allocate resources to first build the CPA brand followed by support for specialty credentials;
  • To enhance support needed for those specialty credentials that are most likely to achieve a dominant market position;
  • To assess the market competitiveness offered by each specialty credential to credential holders; and
  • To assess the support and value offered through our membership sections supporting each specialty credential.

Harper’s letter stressed that if changes are made to the credential programs, the AICPA “will make every effort to minimize the impact on our members.”

Reaction to the AICPA’s move came even before Harper’s letter was released.

"They are killing PFS and CITP because they cost too much money," a source told Bowman's Accounting Report released last Friday.

Others directly affected by the announcement were also upset, according to the Electronic Acccountant.

"If this is true, I am saddened and disappointed that this credential has never been given the ability to rise to its potential," wrote CPA/CITP holder Susan Bradley in an e-mail to her fellow credential holders via an online group she pioneered to share ideas and promote the CITP. "It never had its own 'committee.' It never had the champion at the Institute it should have had (or the stature) that should have been given to any credential put forth by the AICPA."

Harley Rubottom, who claims he earned the first specialty designation offered by the AICPA in financial planning, said the reason that specialization is currently being reviewed with an eye toward elimination "is precisely because the AICPA never wanted it in the first place," the Electronic Accountant reported.

"Had the AICPA actively pursued proliferation of specialties, the aborted effort to establish a meaningless universal credential like Cognitor would never have happened," he wrote. "Instead of wasting time and money to justify terminating the specialty programs, the AICPA should be ramping up to have as many meaningful specialties as are necessary to reflect what we do."

The AICPA defended the proposed moves in Bowman's, saying it is trying to offset high costs.

"We are not abandoning them," AICPA board member Harold Monk said. "We are trying to see if we can attrition them into other organizations or continue to make them work in some way. They are terribly expensive to support."

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