Con ... What Opponents Say

Article excerpt

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-a-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

The 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 museum, 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. …