AICPA Council supports advancement of new CPA licensure model

By Ken Tysiac

An effort to transform the CPA licensure model took a step forward Wednesday when the AICPA governing Council voted to support its advancement during its virtual spring meeting.

Council voted to support the CPA Evolution initiative, which is being undertaken by the AICPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to ensure that the CPA credential will continue to reflect the rapidly changing skills and competencies that accounting professionals need today and will need in the future.

If NASBA’s board of directors votes to support the initiative at its virtual meeting this summer, the new model will become the framework for CPA licensure in the future.

The model would require each CPA candidate to exhibit core skills in accounting, auditing, tax, and technology (see the graphic, “Proposed Model: Core Plus Disciplines”). Each candidate also would be required to show more in-depth skills and knowledge in one of the following three areas:

  • Tax compliance and planning;
  • Business reporting and analysis; or
  • Information systems and controls.

The proposed changes are designed to ensure that CPAs are in a position to deliver services that are appropriate and useful in the business environment far into the future. Despite the different disciplines that can be chosen, the proposed model would result in one CPA license.

The model was the product of outreach to more than 3,000 stakeholders across the CPA profession and was designed to:

  • Enhance public protection by producing candidates who have the deep knowledge necessary to perform high-quality work, meeting the needs of organizations, firms, and the public.
  • Be responsive to feedback, as it builds accounting, auditing, tax, and technology knowledge requirements into a robust common core.
  • Reflect the realities of practice, requiring deeper proven knowledge in one of three disciplines that are pillars of the profession.
  • Be adaptive and flexible, helping to future-proof the CPA as the profession continues to evolve.
  • Result in one CPA license.

The AICPA and NASBA are hoping to finalize their approach for revisions to the CPA licensure model this summer, at which point the two organizations will establish implementation plans for what is expected to be a multiyear effort.

If the NASBA board approves the new model, a new design for the CPA Exam would be an important component of the new licensure requirements. Although specific new exam content and structure have yet to be determined, the goal is to launch the new exam by January 2024.

For more information on the CPA Evolution project, visit EvolutionOfCPA.org.

Proposed model: Core plus disciplines

Proposed model: Core plus disciplines

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editorial director.

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