In a knowledge economy, having a license to back up your expertise can be the difference between getting the job (or gig, or client) and not. According to NASBA “licensure reassures the client that an individual has kept pace and is, therefore, more capable, reliable, and trustworthy to that client.” (http://tinyurl.com/NASBAlicense)
Why are we bringing this up? Last week Phil listened to a podcast that asserted (to paraphrase) "you don't need a CPA license as long as you provide good service" and boy did it get him hot under the collar. In fact, he did TWO live videos about the topic. We won’t mention the podcast that he was listening to ;) but we will say this – the general point, that good service can differentiate you from others, is not incorrect. If you are adding value, that’s always going to set you apart from others in your field, regardless of what field you are in.
Where the CPA designation makes its worth known is that an IMMEDIATE differentiation happens between CPAs and non-CPAs. There isn’t quite as much of an uphill battle to prove that you are a value-added member, because licensure is one way to demonstrate your commitment since “those who aren’t passionate about their profession usually don’t wish to do the hard work of becoming licensed” (NASBA). With the halo effect of that license, you may not have to work quite as hard to get that new client, or that new job. And, since getting a NEW client / job is the hardest part for many people, easing that struggle is a great benefit, allowing more time to focus on keeping that client / job and provide great service.
One of Phil’s big points in his videos was that a CPA license can also open doors to opportunities that you may have otherwise not had. In fact, he will (and did) tell you his life story; if he had not gotten his CPA license he never would have started Yaeger CPA Review and discovered how much he LOVES helping people pass the exam. And… it’s true. I write that not only as a CPA who used Yaeger to pass, but as a CPA who works remotely for Yaeger (and have from multiple continents), with the flexibility to choose when and where I work – an opportunity that may not have been available if not for those three little letters. I found out about the opportunity at Yaeger through another CPA, and having a CPA license meant that there was a level of trust in my knowledge and expertise that would not have been there otherwise.
TL/DR: Providing good service matters. Having a CPA license matters. If two people compete for the same job / client, and both provide good service, but only one has a CPA license? The CPA gets the client.
P.S. - If you have time, check out the rest of the NASBA article - it was a good myth buster for many of those pesky little things that people believe about professional licensure.