Like many of you who were once college freshman, I can vividly recall my first formalized session of “orientation,” those mandated get-togethers where a group of impressionable 17-and 18-year-olds receive a veritable laundry list from upperclassman and administrators of the do’s and don’ts in academe.
Sadly, about the only thing I took away from my first hour-long session was a dire warning from residence hall officials not to smoke pot in our dorm rooms. However, if we had an overwhelming craving for cannabis, we were encouraged to reconvene on the hills behind the school and fire away at our own risk.
Since my parents were footing the bill for tuition, I knew they would probably be a lot happier if my time were spent in the classroom and library rather than on a dewy hillside in the dark of night.
I’m sure a slew of newly minted CPAs in New Jersey were sure their days of orientations were well behind them.
However, Richard Codey, while serving as acting governor of the Garden State (Governor Jon S. Corzine was recovering from an auto accident) -- recently signed a bill requiring CPAs in New Jersey to attend an orientation program within six months of receiving their credential.
The as-yet undetermined curriculum will be structured by Jersey’s state board of Accountancy and, as of this writing, would tentatively include courses on New Jersey law and, of course, the CPE offering of the 21st Century -- ethics.
Since the summer of 2005, New Jersey has mandated a somewhat tailored version of the 150-hour rule, which allows accounting students to graduate with 120 hours of study and join the workforce before obtaining the added 30 hours required for CPA licensure.
Officials at the state board, as well as the state society apparently felt that the freshman CPAs would do well to receive CPE on state law or ethics before unfortunate circumstances dictate they receive a crash course in either.
I don’t view New Jersey’s new CPA orientation mandate as an unnecessary exercise, and given the litigious climate today’s CPAs operate in, familiarizing themselves with the laws of the state is not necessarily a bad thing.
At the same time, I’m sort of on the fence about the ethics portion of New Jersey’s mandate. Ethics education is something that should have begun at the feet of your parents. By the time you receive a CPA credential, it should be ingrained.
I equate the definition of ethics to what the great Louis Armstrong once told someone who asked what jazz is: “Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know.”
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