Bob Graham paid a visit to the American Institute of CPAs' Spring Council Meeting last month to learn more about what the profession was doing, especially in the way of education for the newly approved forensic accounting credential as well as international accounting. A former U.S. senator, Florida governor, and presidential candidate, he recently opened the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida. Sen. Graham spoke to WebCPA about his views on education in the accounting profession.

Q: You mentioned at the AICPA conference about educational efforts in the accounting profession. Could you tell me more about your involvement with that?

A: Our conversation came up in the context that the [AICPA] Council was going to consider, which it did and favorably approved, an additional specialty practice in forensic accounting. The question I had raised was, what are going to be the core competencies expected of accountants during the professional life of the young people studying to be the next generation of accountants? Are things like forensic accounting and the issue of speculation in international accounting, are those going to be the kinds of skills expected of all accountants? Therefore should we be thinking of these specialties as being transitional to the time when it will be expected that accountants will be competent to deal with multinational business transactions?

Q: Does there need to be more education of accountants?

A: There needs to be more serious thought about what are the competencies expected of accountants. Twenty-five or 30 years ago, it probably was not considered likely that accountants would need to deal with the globalization of the American economy. Today that's a reality for a significant number of accountants, both in the specifics of accounting and in the cultural aspects of participating in commercial transactions or non-commercial transactions that have an accounting dimension across national boundaries. [That requires] some notion of the cultures of the world in which they are likely to be participating, increased knowledge of languages, and some knowledge or study abroad while the student is in his accounting program.

Q: Do you think that's going to be important for forensic accountants, to be able to examine transactions in international banking, for example?

A: The case is not as strong in forensic accounting as with international accounting, but from what I understand this is becoming a more significant expectation, that accountants will be alert to indicators of inappropriate behavior.

Q: I understand you're involved in an educational program of your own in Florida. Will accounting play a part in it?

A: I am involved in a program at the University of Florida in preparing students for civic and public leadership. [That's] one of the directions that this may take, with at least some of the more targeted training for people who have decided what will be their professional career track, for students who will be studying accounting.

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