January 2012 AICPA Board Meeting

The AICPA Board of Directors met January 18 – 20 and continued to explore a number of areas critical to the future of the CPA profession.  Major topics included such diverse subjects as the CGMA Launch, Private Company Financial Reporting, IFRS for Public Companies, Standards for CPE programs and the three-year strategic plan for the AICPA.  Let’s hit a few of these.

The Board received an update on the FAF proposals on Private Company Financial Reporting.  7,700 letters have been sent to the FAF with a vast majority supporting the position that the Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations need to be implemented in full.  That would mean a separate Board from the FASB that would result in differential standards for private companies.  The comment period has closed and the FAF is now conducting a series of 4 roundtable sessions across the country to gather even more detailed feedback.  The first session already took place in Atlanta and the last session will take place in Boston.  We should hear more from the FAF on the impact of this input on their proposals sometime in March.   I know this is a very important issue to many of you so I will continue to keep you updated as additional information becomes available.

We spent most of Friday morning reviewing, discussing and providing feedback on the AICPA’s three year strategic plan.  As I discussed in last weeks blog, the AICPA really does turn the strategic plan into concrete actions and goals. Those actions and goals and then assigned out to various direct reports to the CEO of the AICPA.  They are then measured, rated and compensated based on the achievement of those goals.  The strategic plan is the starting point for a whole performance management process.

The Board heard a proposal from the Personal Financial Planning Executive Committee on the possibility of granting standard setting authority to the committee.  With increasing regulation in this area, it is more important than ever to show that CPAs already have the right standards and processes in place and don’t need any additional regulation.  This topic will be discussed further at the regional council meetings in March and then again at a future Board meeting so there is plenty of time to give your input on the idea.  And if standard setting authority is granted, any standard would go through a full exposure and comment process before it was adopted.  Please feel free to share your thoughts with be directly or as a comment to this blog. 

Next week the AICPA and CIMA will be launching the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) credential.  This credential will be a game changer for CPAs working in the B&I space.  It will be a way for you to build on your CPA designation in differentiating yourself from other accountants and finance professionals in the workplace.  In conjunction with the launch, the AICPA-CIMA JV will issue a number of thought leadership papers and tools covering a variety of topics from risk and innovation to business models to the skills and talents needed to continue to be successful in your career.  In addition, the AICPA and CIMA will be there with practical ways to help your business and therefore your career. Please look for a blog covering the CGMA after it is launched.

The variety of issues the profession is dealing with can be mind boggling, but with the help of a great staff and great volunteers, the AICPA will continue to be there to serve you no matter what part of the profession you are in.

Making Horizons 2025 Real

The AICPA held a special meeting bringing together about a dozen committee chairs in order to bring to life the vision brought forth in the Horizons 2025 initiative. We started the day with an overview of the Horizons 2025 results.  As noted in other articles and blogs, the Core Purpose of the profession has withstood the test of time and remains unchanged.  In case you never heard of the core purpose it is “CPAs…making sense of a changing and complex world.”  The core values also remained substantially unchanged. The core values are:

Lifelong learning
Commitment to excellence
Relevance in global marketplace
The core competencies have evolved and include:
Communication skills
Leadrship skills
Critical thinking and problem solving skills
Anticipating and meeting needs
Synthesizing intelligence to insight
Integration and collaboration

Most interesting is that Technology is no longer listed as a discrete core competency. This is not because understanding and using technology is necessary for CPAs.  The change is because it no longer is considered a significant differentiator.  We live and work in a world where using cutting edge technology is the norm and not being able to do that means you never even make it through the door anymore.

The meeting focused on the key insights and what the AICPA is doing and needs to do to make sure we are delivering the future for our members.  The key insights included:

Pre-Certificaton and Lifelong Learning
Worldwide Profession
Market Permission
Trusted Attester
Pride in the Profession
Demographic Shifts
Trusted Advisor
Value Proposition

We came up with a list of concerns, ideas and actions around each of these areas.  Now the AICPA staff will incorporate this feedback into their plans to provide services and support to the profession.  One of many examples is around the impact of outsourcing.  This is enabled by changes in technology and creates challenges and opportunities around controls (the entity outsourcing the work is still responsible for the controls) and our role as trusted attester (through SOC reports).  It also creates a role for the CPA as trusted advisor in determining what makes sense to outsource and what does not. Some initiatives already exist in these areas and others we be developed as we go forward.  This is just one example of many that were developed in the meeting. The point is that at the AICPA, the strategic plan is not some document that sits on a shelf and gathers dust until the next time someone wants to update it.  The strategic plan is a living process that impacts everything the AICPA does through the volunteers to the staff, and that is the way it should be.