Competencies—The Differential!

BY KAYLA BRIGGS

What do Accountants On Call, Robert Half and Monster.com have in common? If you answered “competency advertising,” then you are on the right track. Why are competencies the differential? Competencies are the knowledge, skills and attributes a CPA needs to perform successfully in a given position and to solve business issues.

The AICPA developed a competency model to help guide students and CPAs through their career and continuous learning plans. A competency model is a collection of knowledge and skills needed for a particular position. The model covers the following categories:

Personal attributes. The characteristics which enable the finance professional to attract others to well-reasoned and logical points of view and to effectively communicate.

Leadership qualities. The skills that allow the CPA to assume a position of influence by assembling and leveraging a variety of resources that address problems and opportunities throughout an organization.

Broad business perspective. The knowledge that encompasses an understanding of the organization and accounting practices and applicability.

Functional specialty. The technical skills for a particular area (for example, business and industry, audit and assurance, government, tax, PFP).

The AICPA is developing a Web-based competency self-assessment tool —to be launched in October—that students and CPAs can use to assess themselves against a specific model and position (for example, staff accountant or CFO for a Fortune 1000 company) to determine areas of strength and those needing development. In this way students and CPAs can personalize their career development and continuous learning plans at each stage of their career. A CPA who wants to change from one area to another (for example, from business and industry to government) or to specialize in a particular area (for example, personal financial planning, SysTrust, WebTrust, e-commerce, Performance View), can conduct a self-assessment to help focus on the required competencies.

Also under development is a core competency framework to help faculty integrate these competencies into their accounting curricula. This Web-based tool will be available later this fall.

—Kayla Briggs, CPA, competency champion, AICPA

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