Chair's Letter - May 2010 

by Robert R. Harris, CPA/CFF 
Published May 20, 2010

As I travel the country meeting our members, it’s become obvious to me that CPAs today are increasingly being affected by international developments, whether they work in small towns or large cities. To help members remain relevant and competitive in business, the AICPA has begun to bring the international perspective closer into view.

Our international strategy task force has identified several main objectives for our efforts, including continuing to effectively advocate for high-quality regulations and standards at the international level. For one, we voiced our support for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s IFRS work plan now in progress but expressed the need for the SEC to set a date certain if it plans to require IFRS use for public companies, and also have been active in ensuring an orderly transition in preparation for eventual adoption. The AICPA Auditing Standards Board continues to comb through our auditing standards and, under the Clarity Project, align them with International Standards on Auditing. Moreover, the Professional Ethics Executive Committee has started a major codification project involving our ethics rules and interpretations, and convergence with international standards, where appropriate, is a part of that effort. 

Of course, we also aim to enhance the value of the CPA as other worldwide credentials gain visibility. We want to ensure that the CPA remains the most respected and sought-after credential around the globe. In addition, the growing demand for accounting services in our new worldwide economy offers CPAs innumerable possibilities to expand the scope of their services and seize business opportunities. As a result, we are exploring administering the Uniform CPA Examination overseas. Working with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, we are now planning for international administration of the exam using the current state licensure process and exam structure. We expect to offer the exam in 2011 in Japan and locations in the Middle East and more countries may be on the horizon in the future. Candidates who wish to test in international locations will be required to sign an informed consent document stating that upon passage of the CPA Examination, they will pursue CPA licensure in the U.S. Candidates will have to meet state board eligibility and licensure requirements, as they do now. They will also, unlike at present, be required to maintain licensure and to comply with all the requirements that licensure entails.

Not only will this initiative help to reinforce the CPA credential internationally, it will reflect the fact that our country’s demographics are changing. Most young CPAs entering the profession will expect us to demonstrate diversity and an understanding of and respect for cultural differences.

While we want to broaden our outlook, the Institute also continues to focus on the everyday needs of the small businesses that employ or engage so many of you. That’s why we’re very excited about the work of a blue-ribbon panel established to provide recommendations on the future of accounting standards for private companies, which has met twice already. The subject of private company financial reporting has been debated for decades, and it’s gratifying to see that the need for action at the policy level has been recognized. In fact, the globalization of accounting standards for public companies makes it even more important to ensure that the users of private company financial statements receive relevant information that truly meets their needs.

The panel consists of company owners, lenders and investors, as well as preparers, auditors and regulators. AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon serves on the panel. I look forward to giving you updates as the panel moves toward making recommendations by the end of 2010.

This is an exciting time for our profession. With economies around the globe interconnected like never before, a whole new world for CPAs is opening up.


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