The American Institute of CPAs has introduced a new course of study leading to a Certificate of Educational Achievement in International Financial Reporting Standards, demonstrating IFRS competency to employers, firms and clients.

The new IFRS Certificate Program is a comprehensive, integrated curriculum of online courses for CPAs and other accounting professionals that provide a measurable standard for evaluating competence in understanding and applying international accounting standards.

"It's more than just training," explained Mike Ramos, director of CPE and training for the AICPA.

"These courses are case study driven, a fully immersed learning experience. It's going from recall from what you learned to being able to apply what you've learned."

The AICPA said it supports the goal of one set of high-quality, globally accepted accounting standards and has been promoting a smooth transition from U.S. GAAP to IFRS for public companies.

“The hallmark of the CPA profession is a commitment to expert professionalism and increasingly for many that means having a working knowledge of IFRS,” said AICPA senior vice president for member competency and development Arleen Thomas. “As more and more countries and companies adopt IFRS or begin to incorporate IFRS into their financial reporting systems, CPAs need to demonstrate their knowledge of IFRS to employers and clients. This new IFRS Certificate Program is designed to fill that marketplace need.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is currently undertaking a one-year “work plan” to analyze how IFRS should best be incorporated into U.S. financial reporting. Since 2008 the AICPA has been working to prepare American CPAs, both in business and industry and in accounting firms, for possible use of IFRS for public companies as soon as 2015 or 2016. The SEC is supposed to decide later this year on whether to proceed with accepting IFRS sometime in the next few years.

The AICPA’s IFRS Certificate Program is an integrated curriculum of 25 online, on-demand self-study training courses. CPAs, chartered accountants or the equivalent who successfully complete all courses in the curriculum would receive a Certificate of Educational Achievement and approximately 42 hours of continuing education credit for CPAs.

IFRS is already in use in the U.S. and is gaining wider acceptance. More than 120 countries and reporting jurisdictions permit or require IFRS, and more than 100 companies with recognizable names use IFRS for their U.S. financial reports. Shares of these companies are bought and sold daily by American investors on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.

Increasingly, U.S. CPAs are being asked to prepare financial reports for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies in IFRS or for U.S. multinationals with foreign-based subsidiaries. The AICPA’s recent IFRS Readiness Tracking Surveys show 13.5 percent of AICPA members say they or their clients are adopting or actively preparing to adopt IFRS. An additional 45 percent of members say they already have a basic knowledge of IFRS.

The cost to complete the entire program of approximately 42 CPE credits is $1,195 for AICPA members, $1,695 for non-members. Online registration and frequently asked questions are available at www.ifrs.com/certificate.

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