In an effort to draw a wider population of qualified people into the accounting profession, members of the American Institute of CPAs’ governing council unanimously approved revisions to expand its membership categories.

The changes will be an attempt to be more welcoming to students, young professionals, financial executives and accounting firms. The Council approved all 14 resolutions that were presented during the second day of the Institute’s Spring Council here.

“Not only in the front of the pipeline do we have some disconnects, but we also have some disconnects within the membership association categories,” said Jeannie Patton, vice president of students, academics and membership for the AICPA, adding this is the first time the Institute has holistically looked at membership categories since the 1950s. “The recommendations, we believe, set the stage for the future of the profession. We are facing competition from all kinds of nontraditional sources, international designations, but we also have for-profit and not-for-profit entities that are making inroads into what has been traditionally a nonprofit CPA profession environment. The pipeline is certainly more fragmented than ever.”

Three distinct membership categories have come out of the expansion: Regular/Voting Members, who are individuals with full membership privileges and voting rights; Affiliates, who are non-CPA relationships with non-voting status, including students, CPA exam candidates and pre-college educators; and Associates, CPA peer or professional peer relationships, including international professionals and non-CPA associates.

In addition, the Council authorized a member ballot on a bylaw change that would permit professionals to qualify for admission in the AICPA as voting members if they previously held a valid CPA certificate or otherwise meet the education, examination and experience requirements set forth in the Uniform Accountancy Act. They cannot have had their certificate revoked as a result of a disciplinary action and must be of good moral character.

A new “student affiliate” category has been created, with the goal of opening up new audiences of high school students, in addition to the college and university students now among the AICPA student affiliate members. The “CPA exam candidate affiliate” membership will help provide key decision-making resources and support for individuals who have been accepted to sit for the exam. And now, the broader “associate” category will allow certified individuals who have passed the CPA exam but who may have moved into business, industry, government or education to maintain their membership in the AICPA.

A “non-CPA associate” category will further widen the availability of AICPA membership and benefits to professional staff of CPA firms, or those in business, industry and government who are supervised or sponsored by an AICPA member, and full-time educators.

The “international associate” category will allow peer CPA professionals worldwide to participate in the AICPA’s programs and initiatives.

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