AICPA and NASBA Form Working Group to Explore Alternative Approaches to CPA Licensure

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Nov 30, 2018
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The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) have formed a new working group to explore alternative approaches to CPA licensure that could include certain technological proficiencies, according to Accounting Today. The goal of the CPA Evolution Working Group, composed of representatives from state boards of accountancy, state CPA societies, firms and accounting academia, is to think of, and eventually recommend, strategies for how to incorporate technology skills, such as data analytics, into CPA curricula and the CPA exam. 

“Technological innovation and changing client demands are rapidly transforming the skills accountants need to thrive,” said working group chair Cathy Allen, a managing member of Audit Conduct LLC and a member of NASBA’s board of directors. Allen, who is also a member of the NYSSCPA and serves on the New York State Board for Public Accountancy, added, “We want to reimagine the CPA learning and licensure approach. Working Group members recognize the critical role of technological and data analysis expertise needed in firms and businesses today. Our goal is to recommend a strategy that provides the guiding principles for how to build related knowledge and skills into accounting curricula and how to test for those proficiencies on the CPA Exam.”

In a June speech, AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon advocated for an alternative licensure approach, which would account for the growing role of technology in the profession.

Melancon said that, over the years, what accountants learn to do and how they think of themselves will have to change, as the skill set is shifting away from just being technical experts in GAAP, GAAS and the tax code. As new services develop around technologies such as blockchain, the profession will need to develop new skills to best understand the technology behind these service offerings. With this in mind, he said "maybe future candidates will take different parts of the exam based on the pathway they took to becoming a CPA." He said that, for example, the future CPA may not necessarily need to demonstrate how to do a compilation, as that may not be a part of their job at all. 

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