Con…What Opponents Say

BY J. CHARLES LANE, DARRELL D. DORRELL, ROBERT L. ISRAELOFF, JASON PALMER AND OTTO SEEMAN

  

SPECIAL REPORT: THE GLOBAL BUSINESS CREDENTIAL

While I understand the driving rationale for the new credential, I am afraid it is not responsive to the marketplace or CPA professionals. Who will hire someone with this credential if they really need specific expertise in areas traditionally far removed from accounting? A client will always look behind the XYZ credential toward the underlying education and primary credentials of the consultant, be it CPA, PE, JD, etc. Would you hire a CPA/XYZ when you really need an IT professional to install/debug a new database system? It won’t work here in the United States and it won’t work abroad.

Why aren’t other professions working on something like this? Are lawyers? Probably not, because their franchise is better protected. Unfortunately, accountants find themselves in a competitive market vis--vis many other talented people—many of whom have MBAs and advanced technical degrees. We should move towards the domestic management consulting service aspect, but that may be about as far as we can stretch our “product line.” The new credential stretches the CPA product line too far; it probably will not attract many professionals from other fields to join in, and it will definitely not appeal to international clients because it will confuse them as to a person’s real expertise.

Few CPAs perform audits anymore and we need to position the CPA credential better toward management consulting. I suggest, however, that the international flavor is overdone. If few of us do audits, how many do international consulting?

J. Charles Lane, CPA
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Rockville, Maryland

T he AICPA’s attempt to introduce a new, undefined credential should be applauded for effort, but redirected towards rebuilding its once-premier global credential, i.e. the CPA. The reasons follow:

The business community is inundated with “credentials” (65!, per James H. Schilt in the March, 2001 Business Valuation Review editorial) and the introduction of yet another would demand extraordinary effort for even a meager return.

The successful introduction of a new credential is a “brand” management exercise, and rebuilding a brand is more promising than creating a new brand.

The AICPA’s track record with new brands is not encouraging. Ignominies include CEA, CFP, “cognitor,” “forensic accountant,” etc. Recall the ABV: despite initial fanfare the result was an embarrassingly diluted also-ran when compared to other valuation credentials. Specifically, would your clients allow you to do their tax return if you completed only 10 every three years?

The AICPA should not be disheartened by the business community’s lukewarm response to the dreary CPA “logo” effort. Despite advertising that reinforces “typical” accountant stereotypes, the business community is “listening” and would welcome strengthening the CPA credential.

Even if the membership supported a new credential it would require at least 3-5 years before initiation of the concept, since curriculum development, training guidelines, trainer selection, testing criteria, exam preparation, participant solicitation, grading standards, CPE requirements, ad nauseum, would put us even further behind where we are now.

The most important action that the AICPA could conduct on behalf of its membership is to redirect its efforts toward rebuilding the CPA to the global position that it once held in the business community.

Darrell D. Dorrell, CPA, MBA, ASA,
CVA, CMA, DABFA, CMC
financialforensics(r)
Lake Oswego, Oregon

T he AICPA should not advance the XYZ designation. This is a solution in search of a problem. There is no marketplace demand for this credential. There is no other group proposing such a credential.

Expanding the scope of the CPA designation to include other professional services is laudable, but a credential that is open to other disciplines isn’t the way because it will inevitably elevate nonprofessionals into a formidable competitive force by granting them professional status. Rather, the AICPA should attempt to expand the marketplace’s acceptance of the CPA as the premier professional brand.

It is simply not true that the CPA brand cannot be expanded to nontraditional services. The Big Five were initially traditional accounting firms; they have expanded their services rather emphatically over the past half-century. Mid-size firms with an entrepreneurial bent have all expanded the CPA’s reach. The AICPA itself has said this could be done.

Furthermore, the proposal could have a negative impact on young people when making a career decision. There is likely to be confusion over the relative roles of the CPA vis--vis the XYZ, which may deter students from becoming CPAs.

Robert L. Israeloff, CPA
Israeloff Trattner & Co., CPAs, PC
Former Chairman, AICPA
New York, New York

T he proposed international designation is nothing more than an attempt to create something from nothing. It has no basis in our educational system, nor does it have governmental recognition. It is a complete fiction.

It is backed by no core curriculum at any institution of higher learning. The accounting profession already has a head start over the proposed designation—accounting is a field of study with a broad knowledge base and instant public recognition.

Nowhere does the AICPA mention anything about any direct benefit to the more than 300,000 existing members with a CPA designation and license.

Jason Palmer, CPA
Palmer Computer Services
Huntington, New York

T he proposed credential appears to be a solution in search of a problem. I am not aware of any “global” demand for a “global” credential; instead I have found in my visits to other countries a satisfaction with the status quo. Each country has its professional and/or licensed accountant designation, and a move to setting comparable standards of education and experience for all accountants worldwide would be more useful than a “global” credential.

If there were one change I could make in our (U.S.) designation, it would be to follow the German terminology and licensing. A German accounting professional is licensed as either an auditor (Wirtschafstpruefer), tax adviser (Steuerberater) or both. In addition, German accountants are permitted to partner with attorneys in order to provide a greater range of professional services within a single firm than are American CPAs. Let’s provide improvement where it is needed, not where it is not needed.

Otto Seeman, CPA
Starr Judson & Co., LLP, CPAs
Valley Village, California

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