In a vote at its Spring Meeting, the Governing Council of the American Institute of CPAs authorized the board to offer the institute’s credentials overseas.

Senior vice president and COO Anthony Pugliese explained that the credentials would be offered to members in good standing of any non-U.S. accounting body recognized by the Board of Directors, which would be “organizations like us,” Pugliese said. “We would be sure to work with organizations with similar ethics and professional requirements as we do.” 

He cited CPA Canada and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, as well as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, as the sorts of groups that would qualify. Groups would also have to be international associate members of the AICPA.

The move was prompted by both the growing importance of specialty credentials to the profession, and the opportunities -- and competition -- developing abroad.

“Specialization is driving growth in accounting services,” Pugliese said. “It’s actually outpacing growth in core services many times over, from the largest of firms down to the smallest of firms.”

At the same time, he noticed, “Competitors, including those based in the U.S., are going international. However, other organizations have not been as successful as we have been in developing credentials. The CPA brand is well-positioned to expand credentials internationally. We’ve proved that with the CGMA credential, and with the success of offering the CPA Exam internationally.”

 

Concerns

Feedback from regional Council meetings held earlier in the year focused on two main points. 

“We heard, ‘Do not dilute the CPA brand,’” Pugliese said. “We heard that loud and clear.” He stressed that the institute would use the expansion to promote the value of the CPA credential, not to dilute it.

While the approved resolution would allow up to 25 percent of any credential committee to be composed of non-institute members or non-CPAs, the goal would be allow representation to countries that might take up the credentials. “This is not offering our credentials to non-CPAs in the U.S.,” Pugliese said. “This is offering to CPA equivalents outside the U.S.”

The other main element of feedback regard the urgency of the move: “Almost 75 percent of Council members said it’s important to do this now,” Pugliese said.

 

The pilot

The process will likely start with pilot programs involving CPA Canada and CIMA. 

CPA Canada has been looking to outsource its IT and forensics credentials, Pugliese explained, so it will make a good pilot: “Canada would present an immediate opportunity because of the need to replace their two credentials.” In addition, they recently completed a merger that brings their total number of members to 133,000.

 

For more from the Spring Meeting of Council, see: 

• AICPA Votes to Allow Revised Definition of Attest Services

• CGMA Exam Details Emerge

Melancon Keynote Highlights Transformation

Institute in Good Financial Health

AICPA Aims for Greater Diversity in Accounting

CPAs Try to Get Congress to Do Something