Washington (April 29, 2003) - The American Institute of CPAs’ council revived hope Tuesday that its specialty credentials won’t face the firing squad when members overwhelmingly approved an amended resolution that deleted references to "exit strategies," replacing it with plans to "enhance" all three designations - the Personal Financial Specialist, the Certified Information Technology Professional and the Accredited in Business Valuation.

The original resolution recommended by the National Accreditation Commission and approved by the AICPA’s board of directors, sought permission to investigate "possible exit strategies…to transition" just the PFS and CITP credentials outside the AICPA.

Prior to the vote, National Accreditation Commission chairman Bruce J. Harper released the results of an informal "straw poll" taken at regional council meetings last month, which showed "overwhelming support to pursue external strategies for PFS and CITP." ABV was spared the ax, with a majority supporting "further development of ABV."

Harper said that two strategic partners were being considered to take over stewardship of the CITP credential, while three have been identified for PFS.

During debate on the motions, Colorado council member Marvin Strait complained that on the one hand, the council meeting was focused on solidifying its 1998 vision process that promoted moving into areas like financial planning and technology, and then on the other asking members to jettison its specialty credentials.

"We have a saying in Colorado, you can’t suck and blow at the same time," he said. "We’d better decide what it is we’re doing."

Another council member said that if any specialty credentials were eliminated, it would provide more ammunition for other non-CPA designations such as the Certified Financial Planner to promote their services as superior to ones provided by CPAs.

The Council’s amended plan will still allow NAC to move forward on all strategies, including a possible spin-off, including visiting with possible strategic partners before the July board of directors meeting, circulating an "invitation to comment" detailing its recommendations to all credential holders, presenting a final plan for all three credentials by the September board of directors meeting "including the strategy for continued efforts in the related disciplines and membership sections," and presenting a final plan for all credentials to Fall Council for a formal vote.

"We need to resolve the uncertainty that exists surrounding status of these credentials and minimize any disruption for our credential holders," said former AICPA chairman James Castellano.

Rumors over the past few months that the Institute might end support for the CITP and PFS have angered credential holders, who claim the AICPA never gave the programs the kind of support necessary for them to create brands in the marketplace.

-- Tracey Miller-Segarra

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