Illinois CPAs Give 'Thumbs Down' to XYZ Designation

The Board of Directors of the Illinois CPA Society has voted unanimously to oppose any further development of or investment in the XYZ credential, the financial credential that has been touted by the AICPA as the global designation of the future.

The designation, which has been referred to as "XYZ" and "Cognitor," has met with obstacles on an international level as well. Last fall, all of the accounting organizations in the United Kingdom pulled their support from the designation.

The Illinois group cited four reasons for its decision to oppose the credential:

  1. A random survey of ICPAS members shows strong opposition to the concept. The results are nearly identical to a study conducted by the New York society.
  2. Advocacy of the XYZ credential (or even a neutral stance) by ICPAS means the disregard of the opinions of most of our members and an abrogation of our responsibilities as a representative organization.
  3. The negative reaction of our membership toward the AICPA's initiative is spilling over to ICPAS to the extent that the two are perceived as complementary organizations.
  4. In pushing this initiative, the AICPA has put the ICPAS in the position where only strong public opposition will mitigate the risk of a substantial loss of state society memberships

In particular, the Illinois CPA Society expressed the following concerns:

  • When asked by Council to conduct research on the opinions of members, the AICPA used a public relations firm to launch an educational campaign and interview only 400 members including officers and leaders of state Societies and Council members. That means the opinions of practitioners who use the CPA title every day in their business activities were heavily discounted and ignored
  • CPAs want their dues invested in their credential, not in one that gives a select few a competitive advantage over them, and certainly not in one that is widely open to non-CPAs.
  • A bottom-up education and discussion process, such as that used in the visioning program, works well with professionals. A top-down process, such as this one, suggests arrogance and is being resisted.
  • The AICPA routinely allocates matching funds to state societies for CPA image enhancement. However, when a state like Illinois determines that the real need for focused image enhancement is among students, proposals for even modest amounts are rejected. Such myopia is evidence of an association that is increasingly disconnected from its constituency and CPA firms.
  • The vigor of the opposition to this proposal suggests the loss of a significant number of members to organizations which are positioning themselves as better attuned to the goals and aspirations of those in the profession.
  • The anger reflected in the written comments of 750 members over the AICPA advocacy of the XYZ credential is startling. It is evident that such advocacy is draining the reservoir of goodwill and support among the small firms and sole practitioners that we need to ensure the success of the portal.
  • Were a ballot on the credential to be distributed today, 75% of Illinois members would vote to reject the concept.
  • Those survey participants who describe themselves as "clearly understanding" the XYZ concept were even more negative about the credential than respondents who knew less about it. This fact suggests that an educational campaign will only solidify the opposition.
  • The sole practitioner segment in Illinois is the most knowledgeable about the concept, the most adamant in their opposition to it and the most resentful of the extension of the credential to non-CPAs.
  • The premise of the initial questions in the study commissioned by the AICPA is the "working with sister organizations in other countries…" In fact, nearly all sister organizations in other countries have withdrawn their support.

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