Want to Add to Your Professional Portfolio? The Proposed Global Credential—An Option for CPAs

Businesses today expect professional service providers to offer a broad business perspective and deliver value-added solutions to an expanding array of opportunities. There is a clear market need for professionals who can manage a rapidly changing business environment and provide solutions that integrate broad strategic business issues.

Many CPAs have eagerly entered this dynamic arena of knowledge-based advisory services and would like to complement their existing credential—which is exactly the intent of a new global credential under consideration by an international consortium of accounting institutes. By combining the unique value of the CPA with an additional credential that is global and interdisciplinary in nature, individual professionals would have the opportunity to further validate their business advisory capabilities and increase their value in a new economy.

Professionals who choose to obtain the credential would be distinguished by their proven ability to integrate knowledge from many functions and disciplines and thus develop strategic business solutions that create economic value.

The proposed credential—also referred to as the “XYZ” credential—is the focus of an initiative sponsored by the AICPA, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand. Other international accounting bodies are expected to join the effort in the near future.

Designed to stand alongside existing graduate degrees and certifications, the proposed credential has distinctive characteristics:

First, it is interdisciplinary , requiring that applicants integrate knowledge from a variety of business disciplines and cultures.

Second, it is experience-based , requiring that applicants have several years of real-life working experience.

Third, it would be globally recognized .

Fourth, it requires continuing learning and assessment .

Fifth, it includes a strong emphasis on high ethical standards .

Finally, the new credential would complement and not replace existing credentials such as CPA, IT Professional or Business Lawyer.

The Proposed Global Credential: A Closer Look

The new credential will be interdisciplinary. Credential holders will have the proven ability to integrate knowledge from a variety of business disciplines and cultures. Although it is expected that many of the initial credential holders will be CPAs, the new credential also will be open to individuals who possess the requisite educational background, skills and work experience, and, eventually, pass a thorough exam. Those individuals who seize the opportunity early, during an interim period, will be able to obtain the credential by completing a rigorous self-assessment, subject to random audit, rather than an examination.

The new credential will be global. In a knowledge-based global economy, geographical boundaries are becoming less important. The new credential will be globally recognized—comprising a set of globally consistent competencies and values.

The new credential will complement and not replace existing credentials. The CPA brand will continue and the AICPA is committed to strengthening its value in the marketplace. Business experts who wish to be further recognized for their abilities to help people and organizations achieve their objectives through the strategic use of knowledge or knowledge management systems are likely to seek the new credential. Although some may choose to use the new credential on a stand-alone basis, it is expected that most will use the credential in conjunction with the CPA designation, a law degree or some other professional accreditation.

The new credential is not related to financial reporting nor will it have an impact on U.S. GAAP. The CPA will retain the exclusive license to perform attest in the United States. The XYZ credential in fact is not a license to perform services of any kind; the credential is instead based on the recognition of a competency platform.

The new credential will require mastery of a concrete and identifiable body of knowledge. An international consortium is developing requirements that would invest the global credential with the body of knowledge it needs to be effective. Initially, professionals who possess these competencies and a requisite educational background and work experience will be able to acquire the new credential by submitting a comprehensive self-evaluation and a declaration of their work experience and commitment to the credential’s ethical and professional development standards. Ultimately, the entry process will include an online examination.

The new credential will include continuing education and assessment requirements and require compliance with the highest ethical standards. These requirements and standards will be similar to those required of AICPA members, and the educational content will be broader. And there will be periodic self-evaluations of a person’s qualifications to retain the credential.

The new credential will be administered by a global organization and not the AICPA. This newly created private organization would authorize national credential grant-ing bodies to oversee admissions, professional standards and the code of ethics. It is important to note that the AICPA is and will remain the home and principal advocate for the CPA, with its focus on enhancing the image and value of the CPA continuing unabated.

The new credential will be funded by dues paid only by those individuals who voluntarily choose to obtain the XYZ credential.

Member Information Initiative

The AICPA has begun implementing a comprehensive member information effort for the credential as requested by Council. To coordinate and drive the effort, the Institute has launched a Member Information Center. Among other activities, the center maintains a dynamic Web site, www.globalcredential.aicpa.org . The Web site features a description of the credential; links to the consortium’s white paper and an article on how the credential adds value to the CPA profession; frequently asked questions; and a feedback section where members can share their views. It also will include results of comprehensive research into the supply and demand for the credential, as mandated by Council.

Questions, concerns or suggestions regarding the credential, Web site or presentation support can be transmitted by calling the information center at (202) 434-9263 or through e-mail at globalcredential@aicpa.org .

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