Ah, autumn.

The changing of the colors, football pep rallies, brisk climes, Halloween, and, of course, the Fall meeting of Council for the American Institute of CPAs.

Having sanely moved this year’s fall meeting venue to New Orleans — nearly 5,000 miles and a lot of etouffé closer than its 2002 autumnal confab in Maui — this year’s meeting should cultivate more than casual interest from institute membership.

Fall Council will always be a sort of sentimental favorite for me, as it was the first institute-sponsored conference I attended as editor of Accounting Today in October 2000 in Las Vegas.

Never mind the fact that the Venetian Hotel lost my luggage somewhere between the lobby and third floor or that the bellman incredibly awaited a tip despite the two-hour inconvenience. Or that they billed me for three pay-per-view movies as well as a bottle of wine and a six pack from the mini-bar. The fact I didn’t have a key to the bar or that the TV in my room didn’t work, was somehow not a cogent argument in the eyes of Venetian management.

But fast forward to The Big Easy and 2003.

This year, one of the primary areas of interest on the docket — at least to a select and passionate group — will be the Council decision on the future of the institute designations — the Personal Financial Specialist, the Certified Information Technology Professional and the Accredited in Business Valuation.

Will they or won’t they? Vote to keep them, that is.

Last month, in stunning opposition to popular opinion, the institute recommended not only retaining the credentials that most members believed they would drop quicker than J.Lo unloaded her first two husbands, but also requested an additional $16 million in aggregate funding.

The credential holders, particularly those vocal owners of the CITP and PFS designations, had been busy formulating alternative plans to keep the accredidations alive in case Council gives any or all of them a thumbs down, or in the patois of New Orleans, “non.”

In the category of nobody asked me but… I think the institute needs to retain the designations, and the reason for that is two-fold.

First, it will finally help exorcise the XYZ global credential fiasco and all the ugly baggage and lingering resentment that carries. Second, it would help convince skeptical and outspoken members that not all institute programs are executed with the aplomb of a crescent wrench through a casement window.

So when the conference adjourns, many credential holders will either be celebrating on Bourbon Street, or scouring their mini-bars in search of bourbon.

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