James G. Castellano has officially begun his term as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), replacing Kathy G. Eddy. The AICPA has approximately 340,000 members comprising CPAs in business and industry, public practice, government, and education.
Mr. Castellano assumed the one-year AICPA leadership post at the Institute's Fall Council meeting this week in Miami.
In his inaugural remarks, Mr. Castellano defined four priorities for his tenure:
- Reinforcing the value of the profession's assurance services
- Protecting the self-regulatory process
- Student recruitment
- Image enhancement
Elaborating on assurance, Mr. Castellano said, "We will apply our knowledge and wisdom to provide greater value to all stakeholders: investors, creditors, management, management's clients and customers, the public at large." He cited specifically risk analysis, performance measurement, and assurance on real-time financial information.
"All of these services will raise the prestige of the audit professional and the value of the audit to users across the board."
Linking the "incredible privilege" to the CPA profession's reputation for objectivity and integrity, Mr. Castellano reaffirmed the value of the self-regulatory process: "One of the main reasons our publics rely on us, depend on us, trust us, is that they know the rigor of our self-regulatory process, he said. "We developed a standard of self-regulation that defines who we are and how we behave."
Mr. Castellano spoke encouragingly about the developing relationship between the profession and Harvey Pitt, the new Chairman of the Securities and Exchange commission. Mr. Castellano said the AICPA and the SEC will maintain "wide open" doors of communication.
He also addressed the decline of accounting majors in colleges, noting that attracting more young people into CPA careers was key if the profession is to remain vital.
"The disturbing reality is that only one percent of high school students is planning to major in accounting," Mr. Castellano said. "That number alarms me. It should alarm every member of this profession. Without talented young people, we cannot fulfill our public protection mandate."
He called for unity among all sectors of the profession - state CPA societies, academia, and employers - to educate students about the rewards of a career in accounting. He then described the Institute's new student-recruitment program, which commits $5 million a year for five years.
The range of the CPA's skills base was the basis of Mr. Castellano's support of the AICPA's image enhancement campaign, which he affirmed extended beyond the Institute's advertising budget. He said it was a campaign that all CPAs waged in their daily interactions with employers and clients.
"Each of us - CPAs in industry, in government, in public practice, in education - is the living, talking reality of the breadth of our profession," he said. "Let's do our part as individuals by proudly displaying our CPA credential wherever and whenever our names are used."
Mr. Castellano is Managing Partner of Rubin, Brown, Gornstein & Co. LLP in St. Louis. He chaired several AICPA volunteer committees and was a member of the Small Business Advisory Group of the Financial Accounting Standards Board and two FASB task forces. He is highly active in the St. Louis community, serving on the Board of Directors of several local organizations.
Mr. Castellano holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Rockhurst College in Kansas City, MO. He became a CPA in 1976.