Not All CPAs Cover the Same Territory

BY ROBERT LUKEY

After reading “Who Are We as a Profession—and What Must We Become?” ( JofA, Feb.00, page 81) I’m very concerned.

At this point, to be a CPA is to be multidisciplined. However no one person can be fully knowledgeable in all aspects of the profession. The point of the article seems to be that the world should see the CPA as the one “go-to” professional.

Isn’t it time that “CPA” had more designations? For example, I wouldn’t go to an MD without finding out whether he was a general practitioner or a heart or other specialist I might have a need for.

Currently the populace believes the CPA is someone they can go to for any accounting needs. However, not all CPAs understand to the same degree the varied issues. Most CPAs select one or two areas of interest and acquire an in-depth understanding of them. All other areas are of lesser interest, and CPAs may never update their knowledge base in some of them.

However, there are CPAs willing to provide a service for their clients without the education to do it justice just because the client relies on them.

I hope somewhere in the new vision there is an objective to educate the public that not every CPA has the answer to all their accounting or financial problems.

The accounting profession must be a leader of leaders in showing professionals of varied expertise how to accept their own limitations and in educating the public about the questions to ask to select the right CPA. Large CPA firms can provide multiple areas of expertise. However, the individual the client is directed to needs to be the right one for the job at hand. Small CPA firms cannot provide all the same services and should be held accountable when they imply—through omission—that they can do everything when talking to prospective clients.

Robert Lukey
Mesa, Arizona

Editor’s note: Accreditation of specialized practice areas is one of the key mandates of the CPA Vision. The National Accreditation Commission (NAC), an AICPA committee formed to provide a means for identifying and advocating new areas of specialization that warrant an accreditation program, now offers the following accreditation programs with more to come: Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Information Technology accreditation (IT) and Personal Financial Specialist (PFS). For more information, see the AICPA Web site at www.aicpa.org and click on Accreditation and Specialization.

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