Major Changes Ahead
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) have been working on a joint initiative to change the CPA licensure process. They sought feedback from various sources and considered many alternative ideas to update the licensure process. The current model under consideration focuses on core competencies all candidates must master.
Also, the model introduces three areas of specialty, with the CPA candidate specializing in one of them. The core competencies are audit, technology, accounting, and tax, and the three specializations, also called pillars, are tax compliance and planning, information systems and controls, and business reporting and analysis.
The changes proposed here offer some great benefits to future CPAs:
- The CPA license will continue to hold its high-standing and appeal to employers as CPAs will still be considered extremely skilled and competent. Candidates will be highly qualified for various accounting and finance-related careers with an in-depth knowledge of the fundamentals of audit, technology, accounting, and tax and the ability to apply their knowledge to complex situations.
- Candidates can now choose an area to specialize in. The ability to hone in on a field is a great advantage and offers the ability to become an expert in an area. Experts are highly desirable as employees, managers, and consultants and enjoy increased job security and satisfaction. Moreover, experts are less likely to have their jobs automated or outsourced, whereas accountants with only necessary skills and knowledge may find their jobs disappearing shortly.
- Overall, this change indicates the willingness of the profession to continue to adapt to changing needs and trends to remain competitive and relevant in the business world.
An in-depth knowledge of the subject must be complemented by a continued drive to learn and adapt to a perpetually changing business environment.
Under this system, there is still only one CPA license. There are not three different licenses, only three different specialties all housed under the CPA license.
It is also worth mentioning that once a candidate chooses a specialty, they don't have to only practice within that field. With the proper experience and supervision, CPA candidates can practice in a wide array of areas and gain competencies in other specialties as well, without having to test again.
Changes to the licensure process are expected to be finalized in the summer of 2020, complete with a multi-year implementation plan. Educational facilities and CPA courses will need to keep up with the changes on time and update their curriculum accordingly to stay competitive and adequately prepare their students.