While members may continue to disagree over whether the American Institute of CPAs should retain the three specialty credentials, the Board of Directors' recommendation to Council to keep all three and work to make them viable is the best decision they could have made.

The Institute has never disputed the fact that it never really put any muscle behind making the Personal Financial Specialist, the Accredited in Business Valuation or the Certified Information Technology Professional marks leaders in the marketplace. If it had, all three might currently have the critical mass and brand in the marketplace that they deserve.

In the Institute’s thorough research into the matter since mention of the credentials’ possible demise at Spring Council, it recognized the organization’s failure to strategically plan to market the credentials, and acknowledged its failure to commit any real funding to the efforts it did make.

So for the Institute to ask Council to commit nearly $16 million over the next five years to promote and strengthen all three is the kind of bold action

The board has also petitioned Council to boost its incremental funding toward the designations, with the PFS credential receiving $4.6 million in excess of revenues through 2006, and the CITP receive $5.6 million through 2008, while $5.75 million would be earmarked for the ABV though 2008.

The AICPA Council will vote on the board’s recommendation at its Fall meeting in New Orleans, Oct. 20-21. The move comes as many holders of the designations were expecting the institute to either jettison some, or all of the titles, or allow them to migrate under the auspices of another organization. “This is welcome news,” said James Shambo, president of the Association of CPA Financial Planners, a group comprised of PFS credential holders who sought to take over management of the credential. “We do, however, recognize that there are details to be worked out and the devil is always in the details. There are key relations issues that have to be resolved, but this opens up an opportunity for us to work together.” However, the board’s recommendation to Council also stipulated that the credentials must reach a financial break-even point — the CITP and ABV by July 31, 2008, and the PFS by July 31, 2006.

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