The National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts plans to merge its Accredited Valuation Analyst credential into the Certified Valuation Analyst credential, effective April 1.

NACVA said Monday that holders of the AVA may continue to hold themselves out as an AVA through March 31, 2014, after which they must drop the AVA appellation and use only the CVA. AVAs may adopt the CVA appellation anytime between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, but may not use both appellations—they must choose one or the other.

“For over a decade, there has been discussion of merging the two credentials with the CVA remaining as NACVA’s, and the industry’s, premier business valuation credential,” said NACVA CEO Parnell Black in a statement. “Starting around seven years ago, our Valuation Credentialing Board began discussions about merging the AVA into the CVA. To help formulate their thoughts and build consensus, they took a series of surveys to gauge the opinions and emotions of our members regarding the merger. Over a period of years, we saw growing consensus and agreement that merging the two credentials was indeed in NACVA’s members' best interests."

According to the NACVA, some significant reasons cited in the surveys conducted that supported the merging of the credentials were that NACVA created the AVA in the late 1990s at the urging of its CVA members who were building their valuation practices recruiting non-CPAs who brought experience and depth from other business disciplines such as finance and economics. The prerequisite criteria for AVAs, as it was designed and approved by the then-existing Certification Board, was intended to give NACVA the comfort that AVAs were of the same competence level as their CVA counterparts.

Nevertheless, for all intents and purposes, the CVA and AVA mean the same thing as to the qualifications of the credential holder to provide business valuation services. Most candidates have taken the same training and all must pass the same exam to demonstrate their qualifications to provide this service. The only difference being, one possesses a CPA license and the other must prove two years of experience in business valuation or areas related to business valuation.

In obtaining the accreditation for the CVA and AVA from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, a division of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, the NCCA could not readily understand why NACVA had two credentials that meant the same thing, nor had NCCA seen anything like this before in other organizations whose credentials it has certified. Only after providing a persuasive explanation and submitting two applications, one for each credential, did NCCA agree to accredit NACVA’s credentials. According to NACVA, the CVA and AVA are the only valuation credentials to receive certification from an independent, third-party, certifying organization. ICE is recognized worldwide.

Over the years, approximately 50 percent of the applicants to NACVA’s business valuation designation are pursuing the AVA, and approximately 50 percent of them work for CPA firms. Merging the AVA into the CVA will unite NACVA’s designated members.

In 2009, NACVA’s Valuation Credentialing Board approved the merger of the AVA designation into the CVA. NACVA’s Executive Advisory Board also approved the merger. But the merger was delayed due to the economic downturn.

“Though the credential merger was approved by our governing boards in 2009, we were reluctant to effect the merge then, due to the economic recession and feeling that maintaining the status quo through these difficult times was the best course of action,” said Black.

“This merger needed to happen, and it needed to happen now,” said NACVA Executive Advisory Board chair Marc Bello, of Edelstein & Company in Boston. “Both CVAs and AVAs regularly are finding the need to explain the difference between two designations, whether it be in court, while giving presentations, or explaining their credential to a client. This problem is compounded in firms with both CVA and AVA designated members. This is a hurdle many members find annoying and even slightly embarrassing as it makes little sense and is hard to explain.”