XYZ Talk - Global Business Credential Open Forum

Kendall WheelerSusan BradleyXYZ Talk - Open Forum
Presented by Kendall Wheeler and Susan Bradley

Thursday, September 27, 2001

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Workshop Summary

The global business credential, or XYZ, or whatever it will be called, is being touted by the AICPA as the latest and greatest credential to be acquired. Over the past year, the push to get the AICPA membership to vote YES on this credential has been overwhelming.

Is this credential all that it is promoted as being? Are there problems with this credential? Are there problems with the AICPA being involved in this type of venture? Many say that this credential is not needed and that the AICPA has no business being involved in such an outreach. Others also claim that the AICPA is spending their dues money on a credential that could compete against the CPA. Still others feel abandoned by the AICPA because they are not trying to promote the already existing CPA brand.

Kendall Wheeler and Susan Bradley helped workshop participants sort out the issues regarding the global business credential in an online presentation focussing on the problems that face this new designation.

You can read the complete transcript of this workshop.

Concerns and Issues Regarding the AICPA's Involvement with XYZ:

  1. AICPA's purpose is to promote the CPA - not another profession.
  2. Spending money on something that is possibly in competition with the CPA is beyond the scope and purpose of the AICPA.
  3. The education of members regarding the XYZ credential is NOT fair and balanced.
  4. The AICPA needs to focus on promoting and stretching the CPA brand - "Never Underestimate The Value"
  5. AICPA’s record of accomplishment for starting new services has not been good i.e. CITP and WebTrust.
  6. Initial naming of the credential, Cognitor, turned out to be a major faux pas as the name was completely ridiculous and was already being used in at least three different areas of the world already. The AICPA squandered money on a branding company to name the credential because a mere typing in of www.cognitor.com should have told them it was already taken.

Concerns & Issues Regarding the Certification Itself:

  1. Requirements & education for the certification are unspecified.
  2. It is available to Non-CPAs
  3. Not a true global credential as many large countries have dropped out(England, France, Scotland)
  4. Market research regarding students is inconclusive. How could they grasp the concepts and ramifications of a global credential in a short 30 minutes for something that is taking CPAs literally months to grasp ( and some of us
    are still trying to)?
  5. Should the certification pass, current CPAs will be grand fathered into the designation, therefore diluting the designation. Of course, this is just a way for the AIXYZ to gain members into their society in large numbers.


September 27, 2001 workshop sponsored by www.XYZTalk.com



Workshop Transcript

INTRODUCTION

Session Moderator: Welcome everyone, and thank you so much for joining us today. I'm pleased to introduce Kendall Wheeler and Susan Bradley, who will be leading a discussion about the AICPA's proposed global business credential, currently referred to as "XYZ."

Kendall Wheeler is a partner with the accounting firm of Moore Grider & Company in Fresno, California. He provides clients with accounting software installation and support along with other traditional accounting and tax services. He also teaches classes to the public on the use of accounting software.

Mr. Wheeler has been very involved with the California Society of CPAs since 1995 and has chaired the local Fresno chapter Technology Committee along with serving as President of the local chapter.

In addition, he has served as the Chair of the CALCPA State Technology Committee and is currently serving his 5th year as a CALCPA board/council member. He also was part of a panel that was involved in the testing process of the AICPA's Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) certification.

Susan Bradley, CPA/CITP, MCP is a partner in the firm of Tamiyasu, Smith, Horn and Braun Accountancy Corporation in Fresno, California. The firm has as its client base a mixture of "traditional" accounting as well as specializing in litigation consulting.

Ms. Bradley has been active in guiding her firm to the cutting edge of technology without going too far into the "bleeding edge." She guides clients in technology consulting, utilizes technology in making litigation consulting better able to glean information from the data, as well as keeping her firm's network and web site up to date.

In November of 2000, she was featured as an E Commerce Accountant in 21 Hot Career tracks for the 21st Century. She has always believed that smaller firms are in better positions to react to changes in the marketplace. Even though it is obvious that she sees the value in self-education in the recent obtainment of a Microsoft Certified Professional designation, she will always consider CPA as her most treasured designation.

Ms. Bradley is active with the California Society of CPAs and currently holds the position of chairperson of the local technology committee.

Together, Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Bradley maintain the Web site, XYZ Talk, located at www.xyztalk.com, where you can find discussions, links, and tons of information about the AICPA's proposed global business credential. We are grateful to XYZ Talk for their sponsorship of today's workshop,

In order to provide a smooth flow of presentation material and related questions and comments from the participants, Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Bradley will make an uninterrupted presentation, which will last approximately 1 hour. After the initial session, questions will be submitted directly to Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Bradley in an open question and answer forum.

You should feel free to submit questions throughout the presentation - these questions will be compiled by AccountingWEB and posted at the end of the presentation. If there are so many questions that time prevents answering them all today, the extra questions will be forwarded to Kendall and Susan, and answers will be posted on AccountingWEB, along with the complete transcript of this event.

With that, I think we're ready to get started. Welcome Kendall and Susan!

PRESENTATION

Kendall Wheeler: Thank you for taking the time to come here today and to hopefully learn a little bit more about this new credential proposed by the AICPA called, for now, XYZ. We hope to help you to make an informed decision when and if the time comes for this issued to go before AICPA members for a vote.

Susan Bradley and I will be tag-teaming our presentation this morning. I will be handling the issues of the AICPA's involvement with the introduction, promotion, and further development of the XYZ credential while Susan will be talking about issues regarding the credential itself.

Some information from each of our presentations may overlap but only because those issues are very important to both of us as they are important to the whole CPA industry.

So, let's get started. The issues I will be covering are the following:

  1. The AICPA's purpose is to promote the CPA - not another profession & spending money on something that is possibly in competition with the CPA is beyond the scope and purpose of the AICPA
  2. The education of members regarding the XYZ credential is not fair and balanced.
  3. The AICPA needs to focus on promoting and stretching the CPA brand
  4. AICPA's record of accomplishment for starting new services has not been good.
  5. Initial naming of the credential had problems

Point 1 - The AICPA's purpose is to promote the CPA - not another profession.

Kendall Wheeler: We will also discuss the spending of money and the scope of the AICPA's involvement.

The AICPA was created to promote the CPA brand. The Certified Public Accountant designation had been around for years before the AICPA was started.

The profession had already begun and CPA was a brand that was making a name for itself. CPAs got together to form an institute to help promote what they had ALREADY made as a valuable credential.

Today, the AICPA wants to start another designation that will, undoubtedly, become a competitor to the current day CPA. Myself, along with a great many others, feel that this creation of another profession would be in direct competition with a CPA.

The AICPA would tell you that this is but a compliment to the CPA designation and that it will open more doors for you much like the MBA. This simply is not true.

At first, the AICPA wants to "pull in" CPAs into the XYZ credential with some kind of "grand-fathering" scheme.

Will current CPAs be allowed to just pay their AIXYZ dues and become an XYZ? No, but the number of current CPAs expected to become XYZs is so high that the assessment procedure for getting in CPAs will be nothing more than a formality of the AIXYZ to say that they have "tested" each applicant.

If current CPAs are already qualified for this new credential then why do we need it? What they are thinking is that this will initially build the profession with trusted, reliable, and tested professionals. Then, XYZ will be opened up to any person that wants to obtain the XYZ designation - sans the CPA designation.

It appears that people who are architects, computer technicians, marketers, and other non-financial professions will have the qualifications to become an XYZ ? that doesn't make much sense to me. Does it to you?

The AICPA has stated that the money spent initially on XYZ is only about 1 ½ - 2% of dues money that would have been spent on other areas of strategic planning for the Institute had XYZ not come around.

Even though this may be true, if the membership does not pass this by-law change, then the money will have been wasted. It seems to me, that instead of spending money on something that is "pie-in-the-sky" that my dues could have been spent elsewhere in areas that would promote the CPA profession.

Supposedly, the money spent to-date on the startup of this credential would be reimbursed back by the XYZ Institute that would be created. Although, this is not a guarantee.

Point 2 - The education of members has not been fair and balanced.

Kendall Wheeler: This, by far, is the biggest failure of the AICPA in educating members about this credential. I hope most of you had a chance to read the last J of A. In it, there was a fairly long article about this credential.

I realize that some of the information was merely introductory information about the credential itself but if you will look, merely from a number of pages standpoint, how overwhelmingly the institute is pushing the positive side of this vote.

I get the feeling when I read it that they just wanted to put in a little bit of the anti-XYZ information to keep people pacified and make it look like they are "fair and balanced."

The issue before had a long fold-out about information about XYZ and everything that would make it a great credential. Was there anything in that fold-out stating problems with the credential? Not that I could see.

I think it is downright shameful for the AICPA to use its "influence" by pushing this credential through the industries' own "official" publication and not offering fair and balanced information on both sides.

Point 3 - The AICPA needs to focus on promoting and stretching the CPA brand

Kendall Wheeler: If you were to talk to those involved with XYZ at the AICPA, you would find that most of them believe that the CPA brand cannot be stretched any further to include all of the things that an XYZ can do - thus the need for an XYZ designation.

They will tell you that the public looks at the CPA as a number-crunching, pencil-pushing, tax-calculating profession and that stereo-type cannot be broken. How far removed from reality is the AICPA task force with this point? Do your clients look at you this way? They don't look at me that way.

Clients call me and my partners about issues that are far beyond the tax-related items. We have a separate pension department, a separate technology department, a separate trust and estate department, and others.

Clients look at the CPAs in our firm as the "god" of all that IS "information." If we don't know about it, it isn't worth knowing about. What will adding an XYZ designation do to enhance that perception out clients have? Nothing, because they won't understand what it is.

A few years back, the AICPA came out with a marketing slogan, "CPA - Never Underestimate the Value." It appears that they have not listened to their own advice. CPAs are valuable - we are not a dying breed - the potential to stretch the CPA brand is virtually limitless.

The public already knows that the CPA is a trusted professional - what will they know about an XYZ?

Point 4. The AICPA's record of accomplishment for starting new services has not been good.

Kendall Wheeler: Let's take a look at a couple of the new credentials and services the AICPA has started up that have been uneventful to say the least. I talk about these two because I have personal experience with both of them:

The first one was WebTrust. I took the first class ever given on WebTrust in San Francisco and came out of that class thinking that this would not fly. It was too expensive and it was marketed to the wrong people.

On top of that, to be able to perform a WebTrust service, I would have had to pay $5000 to join the program and that money was to be used to promote and enhance the service.

Anyone know where WebTrust is today? There are only a handful of sites that have the WebTrust seal and many are dropping it as the seal expires. They told us they did market research and this is something that consumers and businesses both wanted.

In the end, neither businesses wanted it nor did consumers rely on it. Also, I didn't see much promotion of the service.

The second item is the CITP or Certified Information Technology Professional designation. I have obtained this designation and it has been available for almost a year. There has yet to be hardly any marketing of the designation.

Also, the AICPA had promised that the website would have a "members-only" area but that has yet to be seen. Even though I have been a CITP for 8 months now and receive mailings regarding the designation, my name has yet to show up on the list of CITPs on the website where people can go to find a CITP.

Susan Bradley's name has been misspelled since day one even though numerous requests by me have been submitted to add my name and to fix Susan's.

With a track record such as this, does the AICPA think they can do much better with a designation that will require even MORE effort on their part than both CITP and WebTrust combined? I think not.

Point 5 - Initial naming of the credential

Kendall Wheeler: Lastly, and a point that is so small in its nature but large in the scope of how things get done at the AICPA, is the naming of XYZ. Initially, a person obtaining the new designation was to be called a Cognitor.

Again, money was spent on market research for this name along with additional monies spent with a branding company to come up with the name Cognitor.

What they called "market research" failed in two areas:

First, this name was completely unacceptable and was perceived by not only accountants but those outside the accounting field as a joke.

Was anyone going to take seriously someone that is descriptively called Cognitor? Obviously not, since the name was dropped fairly quickly after it was first announced.

Secondly, the name Cognitor was "researched" to be a unique brand name. Go to www.cognitor.com - Enough said.

Kendall Wheeler: This concludes my portion of the program. I would now like to turn over the virtual microphone to my friend and colleague Susan Bradley.
Susan Bradley: Thanks Kendall.

Susan Bradley: I'll cut to the chase. I am personally against the XYZ. But I'm not out to necessarily change your mind. I do, however, want to ensure that all CPAs have the chance to read, evaluate, and perform our "due diligence" on this issue. I strongly feel that the AICPA is not and more importantly cannot provide a balanced presentation of this issue. They have an inherent bias. We are a profession that prides itself on independence. Fair reporting on this issue has not been done.

We have provided as many varied and diverse sources of information regarding the XYZ credential on the web site located at http://www.xyztalk.com . I would like to particularly thank Jimmy Williamson and Andrew Blackman who provided the web site with a wonderful resource that all should read. Their point/counterpoint papers will give readers the opportunity to consider both sides of this issue.

I would also like to point out that Kendall and I are prime examples of "expanding the brand." We are known to our clients as "geeks" as helpers in their technology solutions. We are known as their trusted advisors for INFORMATION on their business!

But here are some of my personal concerns: Firstly, because this credential must obtain a "critical mass" of support from the "supply" [i.e. those people who want to hold the credential] and "demand" [those people who want to hire credential holders], the admission requirements that have been discussed on the Global Credential web site are still a work in process.

It clearly states in the business plan that "attracting and retaining a critical mass of professionals as XYZ credential holders" in the business plan. I am hesitant to support a credential that is too vague and ambiguous.

Next concern: It has been stated that this credential will be available to non-CPAs. I have seen in the business plan the following professions listed as being part of the XYZ: Actuary, Marketing, Information Technology, Accountancy, Finance, Engineering, Management Consulting, Executive Management, Architecture, Law, Human Resources, Risk Management and Economics. Is this a credential or a list of departments reporting to the chairman of a company?

Let me state for the record that I would be for this credential if it was available just for CPAs

I am a CPA, my sister is a CPA, my father is a CPA. We are all bound by a code of ethics, of independence, of objectivity. These professions that are listed in the credential do NOT share our same sense of ethics. An Attorney thinks nothing of backdating a legal document. Do we want to be considered as having the same ethics as Attorneys? Who has more "lack of ethics" jokes? In Shakespeare's Henry the IV, a character states "The first thing we do kill all the lawyers." Do we really want to be so judged?

Former Chairman of the SEC Levitt was concerned that when we serve two masters, a public obligation to shareholders and a professional duty to management, the two often come into conflict and the independent audit may be compromised. It's clear to me that the XYZ and the CPA trying to serve two masters will end up damaging the very core of our "trusted advisor" status.

Next....the designation as a global credential...

Currently only the AICPA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Italy's two accounting institutes are members of the Global credential steering committee. Currently, France and South Africa are guests of the committee. This is NOT a global committee. Clearly absent are Japan and Germany for a start.

Think of the International Accounting bodies out there.....seven nations are not even close....

In the USA, the State Boards of New York, New Jersey, Nebraska, Washington, Vermont, Massachusetts have stated they are against the credential, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Colorado's Societies have voted for this credential

Even our own State Societies have clear reservations about this issue.

I would recommend viewing the opinions of BDO Siedman and Price Waterhouse regarding the credentials. This can be viewed on http://www.xyztalk.com by clicking on the link called "who's for - who's not."

My next concern goes to the basic foundation of their research.

I have read the market research that was performed on this credential and I am concerned about it's foundations. The Taylor group performed a 20 minute interview of College students regarding the XYZ credential. However, the Taylor Groups states that they did not include an appealing MBA concept as a point of further comparison with XYZ and CPA. In my humble opinion, this is a serious design flaw.

In a second study, randomly selected "C-level" executives [CEO, CIO, CFO] were interviewed along with other senior executives. Question that I pose to all - what size is most of American [and world wide] business? Who employs more people? That's right - SMALL BUSINESSES.

Need support for this.....check out the SBA web site at www.sba.gov!

Do Small businesses have "C-Levels?" Some have no "levels." Again, in my opinion, another design flaw of this study: The people interviewed are not representative of the bulk of businesses

Even members in industry probably do not have a great deal of "C-levels" in their firms.

In another study cited in the Journal of Accountancy, knowledge services commanded the highest average fee of $575, while financial services garnered the lowest at $125. Please, once again, I am a doubting Thomas, I would love to see the source of the data.

Would your clients be willing to pay you $575 for advice while they pay you $125 for the tax return?

Clients want actions and results not words.

Bottom line, this credential is first a foremost a revenue generator. According to the business plan they anticipate 600,000 members of the AIXYZ. Currently the AICPA has 300,000 members

The InterPublic Group of Companies state in their research that one of the concepts of the XYZ will be the required commitment to continuing learning and assessment. Plain and simple, folks, this means a revenue stream.

I realize that the profession needs to be pro-active, forward thinking. We nearly blew it with our late start on the business valuation credential.

Thus WE DO need a global credential. We need a global ACCOUNTING credential, one that embraces the International accounting standards, the global economy and all that it stands for. We do not need a "think out of the box" strategic planner.

This is really what this credential is.

It does not have our ethics, our integrity, our commitment.

I am going to quote the Former Chairman of the SEC, Arthur Levitt in his remarks to the AICPA:

"One generation of accountants passes on the light of independence to the next. That light sustains the profession's life through a culture of integrity, a mission of objectivity and an ethic of responsibility. You have been handed a precious legacy. What you do with it will determine the future of this profession. It is a heavy burden but an awesome privilege. Lift the light far and wide for the next generation of accountants to see. Lift the light far and wide for America's investors to see. And, lift the light far and wide not just as a profession -- but as individuals -- committed, passionate and resolute to a fidelity that is as much about the profession's past as it is about the profession's future."

Susan Bradley: Wow...that's pretty powerful isn't it.!

Let's all remember what the Vision plan stated: CPAs are the trusted professionals who enable people and organizations to shape their future

Combining insight with integrity, CPAs deliver value by communicating the total picture with clarity and objectivity, translating complex information into critical knowledge, anticipating and creating opportunities, and designing pathways that transform vision into reality

Let's not forget who we are...we are CPAs!

That's the end of my comments. Thanks.

Session Moderator: Susan and Kendall - thank you so much for this presentation! I will now begin posting questions and comments submitted by participants.

QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION

Linda Miller: Kendall, you mentioned earlier that the articles being put out by AICPA are not telling us of potential problems with the XYZ credential. If the credential were only to be limited to CPA's, what potential problems would you foresee with this issue?
Kendall Wheeler: Having the XYZ as a subset of CPA would not bother me as much as creating a new profession. Although, is this just the first step to putting it under a CPA credential and then offering it to people outside the profession.

Andrew Blackman: After reading the recent issue of THE CPA LETTER, I came away with the impression that the AICPA has a PLAN B to bring XYZ to fruition, your comments?
Kendall Wheeler: Andrew, the Plan B is to possibly redesign the XYZ credential to be a subset of CPA rather than it's own designation. Again, I would have far less problems if a person wanting to obtain an XYZ would be first and foremost a CPA.
Susan Bradley: Andrew...once again the ethics of the CPA are much stronger than any other profession out there today.

Linda Miller: Kendall, in your opinion do you think that CPA firms are already utilizing the type of knowledge and services that will fall under this certification? How many more problems will this create for those already implementing it? Will they have to stop until they are certified?
Kendall Wheeler: Linda, I believe they are. As was stated before, we know that many of the large firms have different areas of expertise as do most ALL smaller firms.
Susan Bradley: Linda - as a small firm member myself...I am a strategic thinker, planner, IT director, bottle washer - you name it!
Susan Bradley: Smaller firms already are XYZ'ers - they just call it being a CPA!

Linda Miller: Is there any person that can retain a fluent knowledge about all aspects this XYZ is to cover? It sounds more like a 'Jack-of-all-Trades' and 'Master-of-none' type of situation. What are your comments on this?
Susan Bradley: In a word...Linda...I agree totally!
Susan Bradley: There is a graphic on the Canadian web site with an umbrella that shows actuarial, finance....bottom line kitchen sink of every profession out there!

Andrew Blackman: If the XYZ is scaled back to CPAs only, Which Susan might favor, might not the AICPA would turn around and try to expand it to non-CPAS too once XYZ exists?
Kendall Wheeler: Andrew, as with any designation the AICPA starts, it would be possible to take it outside the profession. A battle for another day.

Session Moderator: I find it fascinating that the AICPA continues to approach and align international bodies as part of the global initiative supporting this credential, and then claims they will abide by the vote of the membership and not go forward with the credential if they do not get a majority. How can they continue to seek out international support when they have yet to get support here in the states, and in fact it seems that if a true vote occurs, there will not be enough support for the measure?
Susan Bradley: Furthermore, seven nations are NOT an international group!
Kendall Wheeler: They are just trying to get backing to build the perception of a global credential and that the world backs it - pretty good strategy!
Susan Bradley: We need a portable accounting credential....a ACCOUNTING credential not a strategic thinker!

Linda Miller: Would there be a possible cultural problem when it goes global?
Susan Bradley: There are always issues when nations go beyond boundaries.
Susan Bradley: Think of the recent naming of our terrorist initiative...we had to rename it.
Susan Bradley: Therefore, cultural issues will ALWAYS be there

Sonya Graywolf: You say Colorado's society has voted for the credential. I am a member of the Colorado Society and have not been informed of this or asked my opinion. It would be interesting to note that Wayne Harding, our society's president also works for CPA2Biz in management. Do you think this reflects a conflict of interest?
Kendall Wheeler: Sonya, the Colorado vote was by the board of directors
Kendall Wheeler: I don't believe a membership vote for the state has been taken but as a Society - you are for this.
Susan Bradley: Sonya - I have posted a link to the Colorado resolution [it's in PDF format]...go to www.xyztalk.com, click on Who's for it Who's not and click on the underlined "Colorado" for full details.
Kendall Wheeler: And yes, there is a conflict of interest.

John Hoag, CPA: is there any way to scroll back to pick where I was earlier. I had to leave part way through Kendall's presentation.
Session Moderator: John, the entire transcript will be posted on the AccountingWEB site by tomorrow.
Susan Bradley: And as always... I will put the link on xyztalk.com!

Andrew Blackman: Based on a recent discussion with an AICPA employee, it is likely the AICPA is avoiding foes of XYZ in their survey populations. Is this a surprise to you?
Susan Bradley: I have been asking for details of their surveys....I don't have any details yet to give any kind of answer on that. Sorry Andrew.
Kendall Wheeler: I have no knowledge of the types of people they are talking to so I couldn't make a stab at them for this.
Susan Bradley: And once again.....thank you Andrew for the great point/counterpoint articles on xyztalk.com! If everyone hasn't read them please do!

Linda Miller: Do you think this new designation is something the AICPA is doing to try to increase the number of people entering the accounting field?
Susan Bradley: I think if we added [as the SEC proposed] more "forensic" accounting testing in the auditing environment....we would have increases in the auditing profession.
Susan Bradley: Let's face it - ticking and tying is BORING! But it has to be done!
Kendall Wheeler: Linda, actually, it appears to me that this will make people shy away from the accounting field because the problem with becoming a CPA, the AICPA says, is that students don't want to go through the "eye of the needle"; that is, the audit side. Having something that they didn't have to do accounting information with but still be a trusted professional, the AICPA thinks would be great.

Andrew Blackman: Remembering that one of the charges in the bylaws is to unite CPAs, what type of job has the AICPA done lately considering this divisive issue of XYZ?
Kendall Wheeler: Andrew, simply the AICPA acknowledging that this is a bylaw change to the purpose of the Institute should tell you that it goes against all that the AICPA is for.
Susan Bradley: Andrew in my firm we have three camps: the "for" it , the "against" it, the I couldn't care less and what are they doing" camp.
Susan Bradley: Both Kendall and I were at a presentation where a motivational speaker pointed out that the gen'xer's want to belong....groups are increasing in membership in that age bracket not decreasing. Is the AICPA tapping into this new trend?

Janice Maiman: How would you feel about having other CPA credentials available to non-CPAs, such as the CITP?
Kendall Wheeler: If some other organization would like to offer other designations - I say go for it. But the AICPA is for CPAs - I'm a CPA and they are for me! Taking any of these credentials outside the CPA profession I believe is a detriment to my profession.
Susan Bradley: On the 'other shoe' side...other organization are concerned that we are stealing into their areas of expertise. Consider that!

Andrew Blackman: Do you think Barry Melancon's goal is to "graduate" one day to the leadership position in a newly formed Global Institute?
Kendall Wheeler: Andrew, I don't know what Mr. Melancon thinks.

John Hoag, CPA: One of the arguments advanced for xyz is the notion the CPA brand cannot be "expanded." What are your thoughts in this regard?
Susan Bradley: Kendall and I are prime examples that the CPA as a "Brand" can be easily expanded!
Kendall Wheeler: Imagine that! Your own institute thinks you are not marketable!

Paul Bjorklund: 1) Has the AICPA ever launched a global credential before? 2) For specialty credentials such as ABV and PFS, how successful has the Institute been in gaining global or even national recognition? 3) If the AICPA has little or no track record in successfully launching credentials, why do they believe they are capable for doing this for the XYZ?
Susan Bradley: The ASA and the NACVA organizations have a strong following in the BV arena.
Susan Bradley: The AICPA came in late and has had to catch up.
Kendall Wheeler: Paul, there was some information about the AICPA's track record for new credentials in the presentation and I would refer you to that transcript.
Susan Bradley: I know that they were delayed in rolling out some of the promised benefits. In the CITP arena, we are still awaiting some of the benefits a year later.

Andrew Blackman: In the September issue of THE CPA JOURNAL, 2 retired partners of D&T termed the XYZ a business oriented premise and not a professional one. Comments?
Susan Bradley: The XYZ is a "C-level" executive in a corporation.
Susan Bradley: It is not a profession as is accounting.
Kendall Wheeler: I would say it fits more with a member in industry rather than a CPA for a public accounting firm.

John Hoag, CPA: Another argument for xyz has been that the xyz institute will own and control the designation, while (an allegedly bad thing) the CPA designation is owned and controlled by the various states in the U.S. How do you reconcile these two radically different circumstances?
Kendall Wheeler: I think it comes down to revenues - they can do what they want with it and charge what they want and no one has any say but the institute.
Susan Bradley: If you control the designation, you control the name, the CPE, the continuing education, the t-shirts, the promotional materials, etc. etc.

John Kennerson: I agree with many of the people posting here that we in small firms are already doing what I have seen as being the domain of the new XYZ. A question to all - are there ANY proposed limits on what an XYZ would do? Can we be all things to everyone?
Susan Bradley: John, the main focus of the XYZ is a global strategic thinker. I would strongly recommend that you read the business plan.
Susan Bradley: However, as the credential is still in the design phase and thus must reach a "critical mass" to make it work, there is an element of this "be all things to everyone".
Susan Bradley: By the way, as always, the link to the business plan is on http://www.xyztalk.com

Andrew Blackman: OK..so f the XYZ is scaled back to CPAs only would you vote for it after the campaign that has been waged and all its implications about ulterior motives?
Kendall Wheeler: Andrew, I would have to look into it more and change my thinking on the subject in that direction. Honestly, right now, I couldn't tell you how I would vote on that.

John Hoag, CPA: Many professionals question the motives of the proponents of xyz as being primarily about money, that is, abandoning the AICPA (relegating it to minor importance) and building a new trade association with an immensely larger potential revenue base. Any thoughts on this?
Susan Bradley: When I first heard about the XYZ I thought it was a global accounting credential and was for it......again WE NEED A GLOBAL ACCOUNTING credential....I would have to consider the revised business plan.
Susan Bradley: The business plan states that they anticipate 600,000 members.
Kendall Wheeler: I think there are some honest and good people that are behind this - I think there are also some people behind it that think the AICPA and its membership is going downhill so they want to start another profession. Is revenue the driving force - probably more than 50% - yes!
Susan Bradley: The AICPA is currently at 300,000. To that I say...make up your own mind with merely looking at the numbers.

Andrew Blackman: Is there a common thread in the states that have "supported" XYZ, as I note that Judy Trepeck (from Michigan) is the COO of the Global Steering Committee?
Kendall Wheeler: Hmmm....haven't looked at that but you could be correct. J. Clarke Price is a very active member of the Ohio CPAs - hey, you may be on to something here!
Susan Bradley: All of the states that have come out with a position [and that I could track down a definitive source for] have been identified. I personally do not know of the agendas of anyone state.

John Hoag, CPA: (with regard to the previously-discussed issue of the non-vote among Colorado Society members): Wow, this Colorado situation really smells badly. Good thing the prevailing wind blows west to east. If I were a member in Colorado, I would be clamoring for a vote by the rank and file members.

Session Moderator: Andrew Blackman: word has it the fact that I was selected for a survey caused quite a fuss....
Kendall Wheeler: I don't know how they chose survey participants.

John Hoag, CPA: Isn't the thinking a little fuzzy to think that 1. create an xyz credential that does NOT require that you be an accountant, and then 2. expect that its existence is going to attract students into accounting?
Susan Bradley: John, I was also concerned that the undergraduate students were not comparatively polled with MBA as another option.
Susan Bradley: The XYZ is merely another word, another name for MBA.
Susan Bradley: That brand is already well marketed and well known.

Session Moderator: One of my concerns is the amount of money and time that current CPAs who add the XYZ designation will need to devote to maintaining certification in both areas. Doubling the course load for annual CPE and paying the costs of a second licensing procedure, as well as costs to be a member of whatever new global organization is created, will serve to weed out many small professionals who will not be able to devote those resources to the credential.
Kendall Wheeler: There could possibly be an overlap of CPE that would be applicable to both as is the CITP designation. But it would be a separate membership you would have to pay for besides your annual AICPA dues.

Pamela: I too believe the idea of a global credential has merit and would be respected by the market. However, the business plan does not appear to support that purpose. The credential needs a complete overhaul to succeed, not just chipping away at sticking points like allowing non-CPAs to obtain the credential.
Susan Bradley: Currently at my firm we have two people who are ABVers, one who is a CVA and two others going for their CVAs. Trying to track Governmental, A&A, Ethics and Business valuation CE courses that must be done is getting quite cumbersome.
Susan Bradley: The plan requires recertification [called reassessment] and CPE....revenue stream.
Susan Bradley: Pamela: We need to align ourselves with the already established International Accounting Standards Committee to properly realign a global credential.

Andrew Blackman: Do you think this "back door" to amending the bylaws after XYZ is passed is the behavior emblematic of a CPA or some slick legal counsel?
Kendall Wheeler: Andrew, we do not know what the thinking is on this as we have no direct communication with their legal counsel/

Sonya Graywolf: Kendall, you say that college students want something that they don't have to go through the auditing side of the CPA firm. I have always worked in tax and was able to get my CPA in both Texas and Colorado. Are there ways to change accountancy laws in states so that auditing experience is not required? Or did the AICPA try and couldn't get every state legislature to agree?
Susan Bradley: Sonya they are changing
Susan Bradley: There is currently a bill in the State of CA to have a "audit" CPA and a non Audit CPA.
Session Moderator: Do you mean the states are changing, one-by-one, or is there a concerted effort to change on a national level?
Kendall Wheeler: Sonya, the UAA which has yet to be adopted, I believe gets rid of the 500 hours of audit requirements.
Kendall Wheeler: At least it has not been adopted in California so we still have the audit requirements.
Susan Bradley: Each state must change and run a law through their legislators to get this accomplished.

Andrew Blackman: Is not XYZ attempting to emulate the model created by the CFP (as in a borderless credential without any governmental regulation)? while this suits CFP will it suit us?
Susan Bradley: Andrew, let's face it. We have to deal with regulation.
Susan Bradley: Part of our job is to assist our clients in understand regulation.
Susan Bradley: The XYZ is trying to be regulated only by their own governing body.
Kendall Wheeler: Sometimes, regulation is not a bad thing - sometimes.
Susan Bradley: If you control the rules, you control the revenue stream.
Susan Bradley: Congress does that all the time!

Linda Miller: Susan, how do you think they came up with 600,000 anticipated members?
Susan Bradley: Linda, I don't remember the word that was used in the business plan but the used a projection methodology that was devised.....Please read the plan!
Kendall Wheeler: In other words, they guessed!

Andrew Blackman: With or without evidence, does not the fact that so much about XYZ smells like an "inside job" or that the "fix is in" trouble you about appearances of a conflict?
Susan Bradley: The AICPA states that the XYZ came out of the vision plan. The vision plan is wonderful.....but something went wrong between the plan and the action taken as a result of the vision plan!
Kendall Wheeler: The XYZ credential I believe was created out of the AICPA rather than from the members or the market. It was based on the Vision plan but went awry somewhere along the way.
Susan Bradley: The vision plan sounds like our "brand" can be stretched.
Susan Bradley: Now they tell us we are Edsels

Andrew Blackman: As to the bylaws end run....do you agree Kendall that is a case of shooting first and asking questions later?
Kendall Wheeler: Andrew, I think that they have told us that there was an overwhelming response for the credential but over the past few months, they have seen support either fall or have come to the knowledge that it never WAS supported in the first place. This could be an easier way for current membership to stomach the XYZ pill.
Pamela: CPAs should not let others tell them what their brand is. It is up to each CPA to determine their brand, live their brand and market their brand.

Andrew Blackman: Before we dismiss auditing (see earlier discussion about licensing non-audit CPAs), while I ultimately left it too, I thought it provided a great foundation that I still use today. What are your thoughts about this?
Kendall Wheeler: I, too, use my skills that I learned during my audit hours to think about how I approach technology issues with clients. So, I think it is a needed portion of the CPA license.
Susan Bradley: The Business Valuation arena sites auditing and tax as foundational education.

Fred Shelton, Jr.: The AICPA management keeps comparing the xyz to an MBA. Ms. Eddy went to great lengths at the town forum to explain how the MBA was in some ways the inferior of xyz. Why has the management not been challenged on this point? I seriously doubt that xyz will be accorded status similar to an MBA in the marketplace, especially with the early adapter concept in place.
Susan Bradley: Fred....I couldn't say it better myself!
Susan Bradley: That's why I was concerned that when they called those undergrads they didn't ask them to compare the XYZ to the MBA.
Susan Bradley: Ask yourself....think of yourself at 21 years of age...you want to be an XYZ or MBA...which would you choose?
Susan Bradley: A degree or a newly formed credential that you have to explain what it is to everyone.

Andrew Blackman: Will XYZTalk consider a project to match influential insiders in support of XYZ with the states that came out in favor? There sees to be as link (CO, MI, OH?)
Susan Bradley: The web site reports the information....I would prefer not the influence anyone conclusions.

Andrew Blackman: I think we are all early adapters...but not early adopters!
Susan Bradley: In Tech we call it bleeding edge
Susan Bradley: We want to be cutting edge not bleeding edge!

Andrew Blackman: Is the relationship of influential insiders with states that support XYZ not information we should be seeing?
Susan Bradley: If you can find independent information from a reliable source like....accountingweb.com....send me the link

Session Moderator: Wow! Great job, everyone! Thank you all for your time. Thank you Susan and Kendall for all of your insights, and for providing the xyztalk.com where we can all share ideas and comments about this hot issue. Just a reminder - the complete transcript of this workshop, including all the answers to the questions, will be posted on AccountingWEB tomorrow.

Andrew Blackman: thank you
John Hoag, CPA: Nice job, Kendall.
John Hoag, CPA: Susan, brilliant, as usual. Thanks for doing this.
Linda Miller: Thanks guys, you did a great job !
Kendall Wheeler: Thanks for attending!
Andrew Blackman: nicely done
Andrew Blackman: VOTE NO ON XYZ!
Andrew Blackman: thanks for providing this "open" forum...
Kelly McRae: Good bye, and thank you.


Biography

Kendall Wheeler

Kendall Wheeler is a partner with the accounting firm of Moore Grider & Company in Fresno, California. He provides clients with accounting software installation and support along with other traditional accounting and tax services. He also teaches classes to the public on the use of accounting software.

Mr. Wheeler has been very involved with the California Society of CPAs since 1995 and has chaired the local Fresno chapter Technology Committee along with serving as President of the local chapter. In addition, he has served as the Chair of the CALCPA State Technology Committee and is currently serving his 5th year as a CALCPA board/council member. He also was part of a panel that was involved in the testing process of the AICPA’s Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) certification.

Mr. Wheeler has a B.S. from Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City, OK, became a Certified Public Accountant in 1994 and became a CITP in 2001. He was born and currently lives in Fresno with his wife of 13 years and their seven year-old daughter. He enjoys umpiring softball and is very involved with his church.

Susan Bradley

Susan Bradley, CPA/CITP, MCP is a partner in the firm of Tamiyasu, Smith, Horn and Braun Accountancy Corporation in Fresno, California. The firm has as its client base a mixture of "traditional" accounting as well as specializing in litigation consulting.

Ms. Bradley has been active in guiding her firm to the cutting edge of technology without going too far into the "bleeding edge". She guides clients in technology consulting, utilizes technology in making litigation consulting better able to glean information from the data, as well as keeping her firm's network and web site up to date.

In November of 2000, she was featured as an E Commerce Accountant in 21 Hot Career tracks for the 21st Century. She has always believed that smaller firms are in better positions to react to changes in the marketplace. Even though it is obvious that she sees the value in self-education in the recent obtainment of a Microsoft Certified Professional designation, she will always consider CPA as her most treasured designation.

Ms. Bradley is active with the California Society of CPAs and currently holds the position of chairperson of the local technology committee.

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