In Australia, accountants practice as chartered accountants or CPAs. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA) has begin an aggressive media campaign to promote chartered accountants at the expense of CPAs there. Ads have appeared during television programs such as "Business Sunday" and "Meet the Press" and in full-page displays in daily newspapers.

To give you an idea of the tenure of the ads, one was reported to read as follows: "Research has indicated confusion between chartered accountants and CPAs. These are not the same. The chartered accountant qualification is a graduate diploma. The CPA qualification is not. The chartered accountant qualification is credited towards UK registered auditor status. The CPA qualification is not. Over 60% of CFOs in Australian Top 500 companies are chartered accountants. Put simply, a CPA is not a chartered accountant."

Commentators are having fun with all this, suggesting the ads are the beginning of a war between the ICAA and CPA Australia, the organization representing CPAs down under. Individual chartered accountants and CPAs are making public comments both applauding and criticizing the campaign. It has also been suggested in the Australian press that the ICAA's advertising campaign will help it avoid reporting a big surplus in the fiscal year that just ended.  According to one commentator, the ICAA reported a surplus of $2,648,000 in the previous year, which is equal to 9.2% of the total receipts from members' subscriptions. In addition, there is a concern by some that clients will react negatively to the ad campaign. This so-called branding campaign by the ICAA doesn't appear to be having its desired effect.

Probably as no surprise, Australian accounting firms, which may employ chartered accountants and CPAs, are facing staffing problems similar to those that are experienced by U.S. accounting firms. I would think the money being spent on the ad campaign could be better spent on addressing the staffing problems of the accounting firms.

All this reminds me of taking my children when they were toddlers to the park to play in the sandbox and instructing them as they started to bicker to "Please play nice." The same admonition can be made to the organizations representing chartered accountants and CPAs in Australia. But then again, that might not work as often my kids kept fighting despite what I said.

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