AICPA proposes forming global association with CIMA

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
May 3, 2016

The AICPA is putting to a membership-wide vote a proposal to partner with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in creating a new association—the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA)--that would represent the entire accounting profession—including CPAs—on a global scale.

“With the combined strengths of the [Institute] and CIMA, we’ll have an even stronger voice at home and abroad to defend against burdensome regulations increasingly originating overseas that aren’t in the public interest. We’ll have a broader platform to promote your designations and accelerate the development of resources, research and services relevant to you and your clients. Above all this proposal better positions the profession to remain relevant and maintains our unwavering commitment to promoting, protecting and growing the CPA,” according to the AICPA website.

CIMA is a worldwide organization that represents the interests of 229,000 management accountants in 179 countries worldwide, according to its website. Combined with the AICPA’s membership, the new, international accounting association would boast a membership of 600,000 professionals in public and management accounting, according to the AICPA.

At the same time, both the Institute and CIMA would retain their own distinct membership bodies. This means that, while members will be automatically enrolled in the new association, they will also keep their memberships in their respective organizations, along with the benefits that go with them, and without paying any additional dues as a result. Both organizations would also retain their own separate governance bodies, and continue to carry out their original mandates—in the case of the AICPA, to support and advocate for the CPA profession in the U.S.

The new association would be governed by a CEO—initially the Institute’s CEO and president, Barry Melancon, who would lead both organizations at once—and a board composed of an equal number of public accountants and management accountants. It would also integrate the AICPA’s and CIMA’s strategies, management and operations, the Institute said. This integration would be done over the course of several years, and would focus on creating efficiencies, driving greater agility and finding ways to leverage the respective strengths and resources of each organization. For example, with a single association, best practice models with regard to technology will openly need to be developed once, rather than twice.

While the AICPA did not go into specifics about how the two organizations’ resources would be apportioned in creating this new association, it said that the Institute would “continue to make sure budget is appropriately allocated to maximize benefit for CPAs.”

The AICPA considers the new association an evolution from a joint venture it started with the CIMA in 2011, which was formed to establish and promote the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) credential globally. Rather than limiting the CPA’s competencies to the accounting community as a whole, the AICPA sees the move as extending the CPA’s core values of quality, competency and integrity across the entire accounting profession.

In an FAQ about the proposal online, the AICPA said that creating a larger, global advocate for the accounting profession 600,000 members strong was a necessity in order to remain relevant in a world where countries increasingly adopt regulations that have implications far beyond their borders, increased complexity requires more specialized and strategic skills and an evolving marketplace makes bigger demands of accounting practitioners.

“The reality is, change is coming at us whether we want it to or not, and so every day we’ve got a choice: we can either wait for change to happen around us and hope things work out okay, or we can take the wheel and be in the driver’s seat and decide where the profession will go,” said AICPA Chair Tim Christen in a video on the AICPA’s website.

AICPA members received their personal and confidential ballots the week of April 18 from a third-party vote administrator, under the name, “AICPA Independent Tabulator.” Members have until June 16 to vote.

The NYSSCPA Board of Directors in December voted to support the AICPA/CIMA joint venture after a lengthy discussion on the issue.

“I’m very proud of our board, for their leadership and the manner in which they vetted the AICPA/CIMA proposal,” Falbo said. “By no means was this an easy decision, but after extensive debate and education on the issue, the board came to an overwhelming consensus to support the AICPA with this initiative; 32 members in favor, 2 opposed, and 3 choose to not take a position.”

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