Examination of Pre-Certification Education

Article excerpt

An NYSSCPA White Paper and additional commentary

The NYSSCPA Quality Enhancement Policy Committee prepared the following white paper on the occasion of New York's forthcoming adoption of the 150-hour requirement to sit for the CPA Exam, in order to stimulate discussion about what form pre-certification education should take and what skills and knowledge successful CPAs should possess. It was approved by the Society's Board of Directors on April 4, 2008. The paper represents an official policy position of the NYSSCPA.

The committee was chaired by Sharon Sabba Fierstein, CPA, of Marks Paneth & Shron LLP. The committee's members were Brian A. Caswell, CPA, of Caswell & Associates CPAs P.C.; Andrew Cohen, CPA, of Weiser LLP; Gerald L. Golub, CPA; John J. Kearney, CPA, of Jaeckle Kearney & Lepselter, David A. Lifson, CPA, of Hays & Company LLP; Vincent J. Love, CPA, of Kramer Love & Cutler LLP; Joel C. Quall, CPA, of Knight Capital Group Inc.; Robert E. Sohr, CPA, retired from Deloitte & Touche; C. Daniel Stubbs, Jr., CPA, of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Inc.; Stephen P. Valenti, CPA, of Stephen P. Valenti, CPA; and Margaret A. Wood, CPA, of Grant Thornton LLP. John H. Eickemeyer, Esq., of Vedder Price Kaufman & Kammholz P.C.; and H. Stephen Grace, Jr., PhD, of H.S. Grace & Company Inc., serve as public members of the committee.

The white paper presented below contains minor editorial changes from the final version available at www.nysscrja.org. Also presented along with the paper is a commentary from the NYSSCPA's Higher Education Committee, chaired by Cynthia Krom of Marist College, which provides the committee's viewpoint on the relevant issues.

Executive Summary

The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountant's ("NYSSCPA") Quality Enhancement Policy Committee ("QEPC") is entrusted with the responsibility of advising on policy and overseeing the peer review, ethics, and education processes to meet the standards and challenges of the CPA profession.

This paper examines pre-certification education for Certified Public Accountants ("CPAs") in light of the impending 150-hour pre-certification requirement to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination. With the additional 30-hour requirement, the QEPC recognizes the unique opportunity to develop CPA candidates with broader and deeper skill sets. This will become even more important in an increasingly global economy where CPAs will be required to think critically, have appropriate communication skills, and demonstrate proficiency with increasingly sophisticated concepts.

Committee members discussed the attributes of a quality CPA and explored the characteristics that accounting education should develop to further that goal. The Committee believes that the following attributes are essential for a successful CPA:

* The ability to think critically

* A keen analytical sense

* Effective communication skills, both written and oral

* A foundation of technical knowledge in accounting theory, auditing principles, finance, tax, business law, and management principles

* Well-developed research skills

* High ethical standards

The QEPC has agreed that partnerships between practitioners and academics must be forged to result in a balance of theory, application, and critical-thinking skills throughout the accounting curriculum. The Committee explored the obligations and responsibilities of both accounting students and accounting faculty, as well as those of practitioners in public accounting, government, and private industry.

The most important recommendation of the Committee is that the expanded curriculum should culminate in a graduate degree.

The Committee reminds all CPAs that pre-certification education only provides a foundation of knowledge. In order to truly be an accounting professional, learning must be a lifelong pursuit. At the outset of their careers, CPAs must have a basic understanding of, among other things, accounting, auditing, tax, and business law. …

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