Moving the Profession Forward - and What It Means for Small Firms

May 4, 2016

As a former small firm owner, I know the value, expertise and experience we provide our clients. Across the business and consumer landscape, our profession upholds a reputation for competence and integrity. It was paramount for my firm and partners to communicate the CPA’s qualities to clients and prospects, but it was extremely reassuring for us to be aware of the steps the profession also actively takes to showcase the CPA’s reputation for high standards at home and around the world.

With these thoughts in mind, I want to talk briefly in this month’s Small Firm Solutions about a development I’m very passionate about: the AICPA’s proposal to create a new accounting association with The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), while preserving the membership bodies of both organizations. The proposal would strengthen our profession’s voice on advocacy, and extend our designation’s core values of quality, competency and integrity across the entire accounting profession.

When we at the AICPA talk to small firm CPAs about this exciting proposal, they usually have a number of questions. Here’s an overview to help clarify what will happen if the AICPA and CIMA memberships vote to support this initiative.

  • Within the past decade or so, the reach of small and local firms has expanded, with many using technology to serve clients across the country or around the globe. For smaller firms that are doing business internationally—or who would like to do so—the new association will provide you with a stronger voice on advocacy. It will represent more than 600,000 accounting professionals around the world, giving us all a powerful platform to raise concerns about standards and regulations that may start on the international stage and migrate to the U.S.  
  • The AICPA will continue to serve you as always. Its main function will still be growing and strengthening the CPA in the U.S. and extending its influence. There are many great examples of how we do this, but I’ll point to just one: the CPA Powered Campaign (, which highlights the many ways that CPAs make a difference for small businesses. 
  • The legislative, regulatory and other issues of greatest importance to U.S. CPAs will remain at the top of our agenda. Other issues that will remain critical to us include licensure, mobility, IRS and tax matters and private company financial reporting.
  • You will remain a member of the AICPA and be awarded membership in the new association as part of your AICPA dues. If you are a PCPS member, you’ll find that we will also continue to develop new tools and guidance that help you keep up, and strategies for plotting your firm’s future direction. We’ll still provide overall support for the everyday intricacies of running a practice, too.

The possibilities being explored are exciting for our profession. If put into place, they can help position us for long-term relevance and sustained growth in the future. The AICPA and PCPS will still be here when you need us, and we’ll continue to work behind the scenes to advocate on your behalf. Over the long term, we believe the proposed evolution will strengthen the profession and move it forward in a way that will benefit all of us, allowing us to maintain our influence in the U.S. and around the world. It’s an intriguing prospect, and one that I’m enthusiastic about sharing with small firm practitioners. To learn more and share your feedback on the proposal, go to To vote, look for the email you should have received from “AICPA Independent Tabulator” in mid-April. It contains a link to your unique electronic member ballot. If you didn’t get the email or can’t find it, click here to have it resent.

Carl Peterson, CPA, is the AICPA’s Vice President of Small Firm Interests.  Have questions for Carl? Contact him directly at or 651-252-4618.