A Talk with Barry Melancon

Journal of Accountancy, July 1998 | Go to article overview

A Talk with Barry Melancon


Recently, AICPA President Barry Melancon sat down with the Journal news staff--for the first of a series of periodic talks--to share his thoughts on issues ranging from the CPA Vision Project to derivatives legislation. From his unique vantage point, what does he see in the immediate future for the profession?

Journal: What are the major items on your agenda at this moment?

Melancon: CPA WebTrust is an immense project, of course, and the Institute is committed to making it successful. I'm also very pleased with the CPA Vision Project. In one year, we put together 200 full-day forums, which over 3,000 members attended. I think even a for-profit company would have had trouble doing as much so quickly. I am pleasantly surprised that international issues appear to be very important even to smaller firms and companies. Businesses everywhere are going to be interacting much more internationally.

Journal: The Institute has two accreditations--PFS and ABV. Are any more under consideration?

Melancon: Council just approved a new approach to accreditation on the basis of a report from the special committee on accreditation of specialization, chaired by Robert Israeloff. It requires us to be more proactive, and we're planning to dedicate staff to manage the expansion of the accreditation program. The eldercare assurance service, too, may lead to a new accreditation.

CPAs may need to think differently about specialization than they have in the past. First, practitioners should consider accreditations as being tied closely to the CPA designation: You're not a PFS or an ABV--you're a CPA/PFS or a CPA/ABV. You build on the "CPA." Some small firms may think specialized accreditations work against them because they can't possibly specialize in every area--and thus earn every new designation we issue. However, by specializing in one or two areas, a small firm can gain a reputation among the general public and other CPA firms for expertise and thus become part of a one-stop shopping network. Here's an example: A former partner of mine has his own firm now and does only high-level tax consulting work.

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