The Institute of Accounts: Nineteenth Century Origins of Accounting Professionalism in the United States

By Stephen E. Loeb; Paul J. Miranti Jr. | Go to book overview

5

Decline of the IA

The rise of public accounting in the U. S. and the establishment of accountancy laws to regulate these new professional endeavors contributed to the decline of the IA by disrupting the unity of its many specialist groups. Although, as discussed later, the IA played a leading role in promoting public accounting legislation in New York State, its actions ironically helped to crystallize new attitudes among its members about the purposes of professional organizations. The competition with the AAPA over accounting legislation demonstrated the importance of professional and political objectives over considerations of fellowship and mutual assistance that had figured so prominently at the IA’s founding. Moreover, it was such an emphasis on professional and political objectives that likely motivated the IA’s dynamic public accountants to try to enhance their own professional status by helping launch two highly specialized institutions, in 1897 the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) (Committee on History, 1953a) and in 1900 NYU’s SCAF (Committee on History, 1953b, p. 262). These new institutions, in part, may have been the result of a decision of the leadership of the IA to retain its traditional programs, but to move to a national venue and not to participate in the CPA movement. The programs of these new entities gradually drew members away from the IA and further differentiated public accounting from other parts of accounting practice in terms of status, function, and expertise.

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