The American Institute of CPAs has begun offering a revenue-sharing arrangement to state CPA societies if they help market the new Chartered Global Management Accountant designation to their members.

The AICPA plans to launch the new CGMA designation at the end of January as part of a new joint venture with the London-based Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. The new credential has attracted some controversy, with a rival group, the Institute of Management Accountants, crying foul over the AICPA’s plan to market the new credential for free to members who have three years’ experience in management accounting during a six-month auto-enrollment period without any educational requirement (see IMA Ready to Compete with AICPA for Management Accountants).

The AICPA plans to charge CGMA holders a $100-$150 annual fee to renew the credential after the six-month period ends in July.

“The CGMA will be launched January 31, 2012,” said the AICPA in a letter to the state CPA societies. “Qualifying members will be enrolled during a free introductory period that extends through July 2012, and will be asked to renew the designation beyond that period for an annual fee of $150. Those acquiring and holding the CGMA through the AICPA who are also members of a State Society will receive a $50 discount off the regular fee of $150, encouraging them to maintain dual membership.”

The letter goes on to say that state CPA societies who choose to participate in the agreement with the AICPA-CIMA joint venture will qualify for “royalty, revenue-sharing and co-branding opportunities.”

To qualify, the state societies need to designate a point person with responsibility for marketing the CGMA to members, and annually sign and return a form indicating the society’s commitment to deploying a specified number of marketing, communication, advertising and outreach tactics during the upcoming year.

In return, the AICPA will provide a variety of electronic and printed marketing and communication materials, host an online community group in which state CGMA marketing liaisons can share marketing best practices, and host periodic conference calls during the first nine months after the launch of the CGMA.

One observer is skeptical about the AICPA’s efforts to quickly build a base of CGMA holders. “I’m guessing the search through the membership database will turn up at least one or two hundred thousand people who have self-reported experience in financial or management accounting,” said Paul B.W. Miller, a professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, who co-writes “The Spirit of Accounting” column for Accounting Today with Boise State University professor Paul R. Bahnson. “What will they receive? You can’t call it a very exclusive recognition because this so-called credential has absolutely nothing to back it up. It’s no more meaningful than an invitation from Who’s Who that requires the ‘nominee’ to pony up for the dubious honor. Sure, some will display their CGMA one way or another, but the vast majority will move on to the next email, only to be surprised when they get billed $150 in July. Bottom line, I’m convinced the AICPA management aims to squeeze more revenue from its members by offering them this worthless bauble. Their plan to bribe state societies into exploiting their members makes the whole thing even more reprehensible.”

AICPA spokesman Gil Nielsen confirmed the existence of the co-marketing program, but declined to provide the specific revenue-sharing arrangement. “The AICPA has numerous revenue sharing arrangements with State Societies and other entities, the terms of which remain confidential to the parties,” he said. “We would not comment on the terms of those agreements.”

He also confirmed the $100-$150 fee after the six-month auto-enrollment period. “The dues for the CGMA will be $150.00 to renew after July 2012 for AICPA members and $100 for members who are both an AICPA and a State Society member,” he said in an email. “The period between the CGMA launch on Jan. 31, 2012 and July 2012 will be free.”

The Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs expects to participate in the program. “The Executive Committee took a look at it and will probably move forward with it,” said PICPA spokesperson Maureen Renzi. “They will let members decide whether they want to pursue it or not.”

The New York State Society of CPAs is still undecided at this point, however. “This issue is going to go before our Executive Committee in February,” said NYSSCPA spokesperson Colleen Lutolf.

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