The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board has introduced a new credential for accountants and other professionals who deal with sustainability issues.

The Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting, or FSA, credential provides education and training for professionals who are responsible for evaluating and analyzing sustainability issues that impact a company's bottom line.

The FSA Credential is designed for professionals involved in financial reporting, investing, law, sustainability and assurance.

Although it is not an official standard-setter in the same way as the Financial Accounting Standards Board, SASB is an independent 501(c)3 organization that issues industry-specific standards for use in disclosing material sustainability information in filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its board members include former SEC chair Mary Schapiro and former FASB chair Robert Herz.

“The markets need professionals who can identify what sustainability information is material to a company, and who can use that information to make better decisions,” said SASB CEO Dr. Jean Rogers in a statement. “But until now, there’s been little available training. We developed the FSA Credential to meet this market need.”

Divided into a two-part test, the FSA Credential includes a Level I exam, which focuses on principles and practices of sustainability accounting, and the Level II exam, which emphasizes  application and analysis of sustainability accounting. Nearly 130 professionals in a wide range of fields took the beta version of the Level I exam, which helped to set the pass/fail score. The Level I exam is now publicly available, and the Level II exam will be launched in 2016.

The FSA Credential was developed with the help of more than 20 subject matter experts with experience in investment analysis, financial reporting, sustainability, accounting, assurance and securities law. The credential is based on SASB’s provisional standards, which are the outcome of a standards-setting process that involved more than 2,800 individuals.

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