Las Vegas (Jan. 6, 2004) -- The American Institute of CPAs, at its Personal Financial Planning Technical Conference unveiled a number of initiatives related to its financial planning division --including one to bolster the number of members that hold its specialty credential in that area.

In a move that members hope will help swell the ranks of CPAs who hold the Personal Financial Specialist credential, the AICPA is temporarily waiving the $400 PFS application fee for members in good standing who apply during the Personal Financial Planning Technical conference, which runs through Wednesday.

In addition, the institute has temporarily streamlined the process for members who are also Certified Financial Planner designees in good standing who apply to become PFSs under the multiple entry points system. The promotion, also good through Wednesday, waives the $400 fee and reduces the amount of paperwork applicants must complete.

“There’s no reason for people not to apply – it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Randi Grant, CPA/PFS, CFP, and a partner at Miami-based Berkowitz, Dick, Pollack & Brant.

Under a resolution passed at the Fall meeting of Council, the AICPA must grow the number of PFS holders to 3,600 by July 2006 to reach a financial break-even. The AICPA currently has just under 3,200 PFS holders.

“It’s really important that the AICPA look at ways to grow the number of PFSs, and this is one way to make it easier to apply,” said Phyllis Bernstein, CPA/PFS, of Phyllis Bernstein Consulting in New York.

Robert Harris, chair of the institute’s National Accreditation Commission, said plans are in the works to roll out similar strategies for the other specialty credentials.

In addition, Anat Kendall, head of the institute’s PFP division, said the AICPA is adding 2 additional staff members dedicated to the specialty credentials which brings the total to 10 staff – roughly three each for the PFS, Certified Information Technology Professional and Accredited in Business Valuation credentials.   Andrea Carella, who became director of accreditation effective Jan. 1, will oversee the nine staff members. Kendall said the AICPA would increase the number of PFP division staff members by five in August.

The AICPA is also rolling out an enhanced Web site devoted to personal financial planning, www.aicpa.org/pfp, that includes sections for AICPA PFP section members and for PFS designees. That site includes a new discussion forum for PFP section members and PFSs. The site will become part of a larger portal within the AICPA site devoted to the discipline of financial planning that will be unveiled later this year.

-- Melissa Klein

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