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Here’s What You Need to Know About the New Proposed CPA Licensure Model

As you may recall (or not, as I barely do), last summer NASBA and the AICPA reached out into the abyss hoping to get feedback on a new CPA licensure model. You see, the future is coming and fast, and in atypical fashion, The Powers That Be realized maybe it might be important to test CPA competency in areas other than Ability to Digest a 50 Pound FAR Book and Written Communication That We Stuck in BEC Because No One Really Cares. After all, if y’all are going to be the tech-savvy gatekeepers of the future economy, maybe it would be good to round out the ole testing regimen just a tad.

“The model we are proposing reflects the realities of practice today. When you look at the profession 20 or 30 years ago, it’s evident that the demands of CPAs have grown,” said Bill Reeb, CPA/CITP, CGMA, the chair of the AICPA. “… As our body of knowledge has expanded, we’ve stretched the exam and curriculum to cover more and more material, but that approach isn’t sustainable. We need a licensure model that is flexible enough to evolve with our profession.”

Apparently the process of soliciting opinions on this urgent need to revamp the exam went well (more than 2,000 responses!) and the process of finalizing a shiny new licensure model is chugging forward.

The Journal of Accountancy reported last week that under the proposed licensure model, candidates would pick one of three areas in which to show advanced skills in addition to being tested on competency in the familiar core areas of general accounting, auditing, and tax.

The three “bonus” areas to choose from are as follows:

    • Tax compliance and planning.
    • Business reporting and analysis.
    • Information systems and controls.

Sounds kind of interesting as a concept, will be interesting to see how they implement this. The direction they’re going with this is pretty much what we have now (e.g., everyone gets tested in audit concepts even if they don’t plan on being an auditor), just with an added “specialization.”

Writes the JofA:

The proposed model is designed to still result in one CPA license with strong required core knowledge in accounting, auditing, tax, and technology while facilitating candidates’ ability to develop a deeper understanding of one specialized area. Regardless of the candidate’s chosen discipline, the model leads to full CPA licensure, with rights and privileges consistent with any other CPA.

Additionally, the JofA says a few areas were of special concern to respondents who took last summer’s prompt for comment as an opportunity to weigh in on the new licensure model:

  • Support for changing the licensure model. The most common comments stated that a bigger emphasis on technology skills and knowledge is needed and that evolving the model would bring important skills to the profession, position the profession for success in the future, and protect the public interest.
  • Belief that all newly licensed CPAs should display strong core competencies. A strong core of accounting, auditing, tax, and technology was preferred.
  • Implementation questions. Respondents asked how core CPA knowledge would be defined, how education requirements might change, and how licensure changes would be achieved in the current legislative environment.
  • Belief that technology is not the only consideration. The impact of technology on the profession was the impetus for the CPA Evolution project, but other factors also are disrupting the profession.

So there you have it, you’re all caught up for now. The benevolent overlords of the profession hope to have this thing knocked out by next summer, and we’ll of course keep you updated as more information is available. You can find out more about the proposed licensure model at the CPA Evolution website in the meantime.