Like all of you, I spent a lot of time, money and effort to obtain my CPA license. I paid a metric shit ton of money to go to a good school, where I spent countless hours studying, writing papers, taking tests, etc. Then I went into public accounting and busted my ass to obtain the experience I needed to advance in my career and earn that coveted CPA certification. Now that I have my license, I continue to spend a lot of time, money and effort to maintain its active status. Besides for required CPE and license fees, I pay dues to be a member of a national society of CPAs (the AICPA). So why is that national society now trying to devalue the CPA license I worked so hard to obtain and now maintain?
I’m sure the AICPA response would be “we’re not devaluing your CPA license…we’re just giving you the opportunity to enhance your value with the addition of the CGMA certification.” But doesn’t the CGMA certification water down the value of my CPA license? In essence, the AICPA is saying that a typical CPA doesn’t have the expertise, experience or knowledge necessary to properly serve his/her clients and stakeholders. Nowadays, the AICPA implies, one must also obtain the CGMA certification to do these things.
There’s a few reasons I can think of for why the AICPA (an organization that actually has “CPA” in its title and is supposed to represent the interests of CPAs) is doing this, and they all involve money. The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) offers the CMA certification, and the AICPA seems to be entering into a direct competition for the IMA’s “customers”. Why should the IMA make money by offering a certification (or why should the IMA even be allowed to exist for that matter) when the AICPA can offer a “better” certification, and collect the dues. Also, CPA licenses are issued by state boards of accountancy, which means the AICPA doesn’t make money off of those licenses either. The CGMA partially solves that problem. And finally, once the AICPA has eliminated the IMA and established the CGMA as a “must have” credential, they can continue to profit off of it with new applicants through examination fees and existing CGMAs through CPE and other required fees. I thought the AICPA was supposed to be a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the accounting profession, but maybe I’m just naïve.
What additional value does a CGMA really provide that a CPA and/or CMA cannot provide? If CPAs need additional skills to succeed in the modern world, shouldn’t we just require them to obtain those skills rather than create a whole new certification? What justification does the AICPA have for devaluing my CPA license? I ask these questions as a paid member of the AICPA and someone who expects my CPA advocacy organization to act in my best interests as a CPA.