Pro…What Advocates Say

BY BRENDAN O'CONNELL, JOHN T. SCHIFFMAN, ROBERT H. BREWER, BRIAN ROWBOTHAM AND PARNELL BLACK

  

SPECIAL REPORT: THE GLOBAL BUSINESS CREDENTIAL

The range of services required by our clients has increased dramatically in recent years. I feel the proposed XYZ designation provides our profession with an enhanced opportunity to access the fast-growing consultancy work available in areas such as business strategy and IT. If accountants do not broaden their skills and obtain qualifications that recognize those enhanced skills, they risk losing these opportunities to other professionals. At the university level many schools now struggle to attract students to major in accounting because it is no longer viewed as a value-added, exciting career when compared to areas such as computing, international management and finance. The XYZ designation provides an opportunity for accounting professionals to apply their skills to a variety of value-added tasks. Clients will increasingly seek professionals with a broad skill base as certified by this designation. I believe this qualification will provide an excellent complement to our successful CPA brand. Moreover, this designation will be globally transportable, a great advantage in our increasingly international marketplace. We need to move with the times!

Professor Brendan O’Connell
Accounting Department
University of Richmond
Richmond, Virginia

L istening to the XYZ debate reinforces my sense of being an XYZ, so I support the concept. I’m a sole practitioner, acknowledged rainmaker and a working CPA on whom clients rely for support, advice, and solutions. Like most sole practitioners, I’m a generalist who enhances revenue with some specialties. My clients acknowledge that I listen, evaluate and seek beneficial solutions as their financial gatekeeper.

Success is dependent upon traditional CPA core competencies, which I use in bringing solutions to the marketplace. These tools allow me to analyze, communicate and explain financial data to many diverse stakeholders. I utilize 80% of the core competencies on a daily basis to generate my revenue.

All CPAs will not desire to become XYZs, but for those who do, attainment will position their services in highly competitive markets. I know there are “naysayers” in major cities that don’t accept the value XYZ will bring to AICPA members who step up to the opportunity. To them I say you cannot fight market forces, just “go with the flow.” When I obtain the XYZ credential in 2003, the marketplace may not be totally ready for the concept. Like the PC, it may take time to achieve acceptance. Professional success is like life—not a sprint but a marathon, with many challenges and opportunities. Yes, market acceptance of the credential may be slow, but possessing the XYZ will enable CPAs to better define our skills in a new century.

John T. Schiffman, CPA
Schiffman & Company, P.C.
Hanover, New Hampshire

I strongly feel the global credential is a positive step for the profession. During our committee meetings we would consistently consider the global ramifications of our decisions. The importance of the global economy is rapidly increasing and touches on every aspect of our profession. The CPA is recognized as the premier credential in the United States, but globally we receive formidable competition from other organizations, such as the Chartered Accountants. The CPA is an important credential that has helped my career, but the MBA, which was paid for by the Fortune 500 company I worked for, was considered equally important. There is competition for “our space,” and we can either accept this and competitively challenge our competitors, or allow them to take over. This is the primary reason I feel that members in business and industry and public accounting need to support the global credential.

Robert H. Brewer, CPA, MBA
Office Depot
Del Ray Beach, Florida

T he global credential expands the horizons for the accounting profession. For existing CPAs, the additional education and training can only increase one’s sense of accomplishment, which leads to retention of key people.

Many CPAs express concerns about the devaluation of the basic CPA certification. But I believe the generalist/specialist combination preserves and enhances the CPA qualification and also gives the profession a great opportunity to bring other professionals into the consulting arena within one firm through the global certification.

Brian Rowbotham, CPA
Rowbotham & Co., LLP
San Francisco, California

T he preponderance of published letters and articles regarding the XYZ credential denigrates the idea and questions the AICPA’s motives and vision. They ask, “Why doesn’t the AICPA focus its energies promoting recognition of the CPA rather than confusing the consumer by adding another credential?”

Another side to be considered: The credential looks to the future and direction of the industry. Traditional CPA firm partner composition is changing from predominately CPAs to a mix of professionals with various backgrounds and credentials. This is taking place to:

Address expanding needs of clients

Gain continuity in client services

Capture business previously referred

Build firm revenues

Replace traditional services lost to PCs

Support client needs with higher expertise

Offset declining available CPA staff

In 10 years, traditional CPA firms could likely be staffed with 20% CPAs and 80% nonCPAs. Firms of the future will find it difficult to promote themselves as CPAs, and considerations for ethics, client perception and nonCPA partner preferences will affect the decision.

The XYZ is intended to put partners of the future on one playing field—all experts designated as meeting a certain caliber of knowledge and experience, yet each with a special expertise, i.e., CPA, JD, CFP, CVA, etc.

The XYZ is visionary and addresses a growing “identity crisis.” What is already happening is a communication crisis. It has been an uphill battle to break through the barrier and educate clients as to the breadth of today’s firms. The XYZ credential could break down the client communication barrier.

Parnell Black, MBA, CPA, CVA
National Association of Certified
Valuation Analysts
Salt Lake City, Utah

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