The Illinois CPA Society Board of Directors voted to strongly reaffirm their opposition to the AICPA’s proposed XZY global credential at their September 26, 2001 meeting. The Board also voted further to encourage Illinois members to support their position and to vote against the XYZ initiative should it come to a member ballot.
The Board’s action was based on direct feedback from Illinois CPA Society members. In February 2001, a random survey of Illinois CPA Society members found that only one in four saw any value in the AICPA’s proposed global credential. Those members who described themselves as having a clear understanding of the concept were even more negative in their sentiments. The results were nearly identical to a study conducted by the New York CPA Society.
In September 2001, after an extensive AICPA educational campaign, Illinois Society Member Forums were held across the state as a way to provide members with the latest information on the proposed XYZ global credential, as well as to listen to thoughts, concerns, and support for or opposition to the XYZ concept. Of those members attending, 93.4% opposed the AICPA’s development of a global credential.
Specifically, members and the Board oppose the proposed XYZ credential for the following reasons:
XYZ Creates a Competitive Credential and Diminishes the Value of the CPA. The narrow definition and description of the CPA designation being used in pro-XYZ materials diminishes the public perception of CPA’s broad competencies and consulting services.
- The CPA brand has already proved to be expandable and successfully offers myriad consultative and strategic business advisory services domestically and internationally.
- The proposed credential is in direct conflict with the CPA Vision Project that states, "CPAs are the trusted professional advisors who enable people and organizations to shape their future." Further, the Vision Project never contemplated, nor asked participants to consider, the need to franchise non-CPAs with these same attributes under a new shared credential.
- The hard won CPA image of integrity and ethics could be tarnished or trivialized through association with the XYZ credential. It would be impractical to fulfill the promise to establish and maintain a rigorous self-regulatory ethics process under a single set of standards that would embrace non-CPAs from a multitude of occupations.
- A non-CPA XYZ is a direct competitive threat to CPAs. With only a minority of CPAs indicating an interest in even considering becoming an XYZ, there may be an incremental marketing value to those CPAs. But as proposed, the XYZ concept is not complementary to the CPA profession as a whole. Non-CPA XYZ people with no previous credentials are raised in perceived status to directly compete with CPAs for consulting services.
XYZ Would Further Shrink the Student Pipeline. Since a CPA credential is not required in order to pursue an XYZ designation, coupled with the impact of the XYZ designation diminishing the value and appeal of the CPA, the proposed credential will confuse students and could actually serve to further shrink the pipeline.
- The XYZ credential is not required for CPAs to be global in reach. Not only are CPAs already recognized globally, but many foreign university students currently come to the U.S. to sit for the CPA exam and obtain their CPA title. The pending introduction of a computerized CPA exam will allow even more foreign graduates to make the CPA title their global credential of choice.
AICPA Membership Funds Should be Spent on Enhancing the CPA Brand.
- The XYZ concept should not be the AICPA’s highest strategic priority. Higher priorities include the declining number of accounting majors, the member demand for expanded CPA image campaigns, and insufficient funding and support for the Institute’s current specialty credentials.
- The market need and willingness to pay for such a credential is overstated. The AICPA sponsored interview-based research is of questionable value as neither State Societies nor few others have seen the questions/scripts used to generate answers for this research. It is simply too easy to ask questions in a manner that leads to a desired result. Even with an approximately 25% positive response to a telephone survey (very high if selling products!) this level of surveyed interest does not justify the more significant level of inherent risks to CPA's careers and to their consulting business services that would result by introducing a new credentialed competitor.
- The substantial amount of staff time, outside consulting fees and other financial resources already devoted to marketing the XYZ credential has prompted former SEC chief accountant, Lynn Turner, to publicly question the AICPA’s lack of focus on issues relating to the public trust in the credibility of the CPA brand.
The AICPA Council will be reviewing its latest research and state society member forum feedback at the October 2001 Council meeting. Unless Council acts to rescind a member ballot or reconsiders the non-CPA component of the credential, AICPA members will likely be mailed a ballot and asked to vote on a question similar to the following:
"Should the AICPA create a separate, self-funded organization to develop the infrastructure for the new global business credential and the opportunities that go with it?"
The Illinois CPA Society Board of Directors has listened to its membership and recommends a "NO" vote on the AICPA's proposed global credential. This issue will undoubtedly change the face of the CPA profession. The Board of Directors encourages all Illinois CPA Society members who are also AICPA members to exercise their votes and to let their voices be heard. Be assured however, that regardless of the ultimate outcome, the Illinois CPA Society Board will continue to work to protect the best interests of its members.
For more information on the XYZ issue, including the Illinois CPA Society Board of Directors resolutions, membership surveys, and Forum results, visit the Illinois Society's Web site and the AccountingWEB Global Designation Resource Center.