Despite Possible Deregulation, the CPA Field is Growing

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Despite rising nationwide concerns about the regulation of CPAs and other financial advisory positions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a highly favorable employment outlook for this field.

The U.S. Accountancy Licensee Database of the National Association of the State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), which does not include numbers for Delaware, Hawaii, Utah or Wisconsin, notes there are currently 664,532 licensees nationwide.

According to the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for those thousands of accountants and auditors is expected to grow at a rate of 10 percent, which is faster than average.

This comes in the face of numerous efforts by state legislators to consider deregulation.

In an article published by the Journal of Accountancy, Skip Braziel, vice president of State Regulatory & Legislative Affairs for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), writes, “It’s not that CPAs are being singled out. Instead, they’re being swept up in a larger political push to reduce state licensing requirements. The bills are written so broadly to bring us into the bills; that’s why we’ve been engaged.”

Still, the regulatory situation may turn on Supreme Court case the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission.

The state’s dental board tried to shut down teeth-whitening businesses, which, in turn, took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The judges decided state regulatory boards were violating anti-trust laws by wrongly trying to eliminate competing businesses.

That, in turn, prompted some states to consider if licensing boards overstep their limits.

“You had this case open the door for an even broader review of what are these boards [are] doing,” Braziel said in the article. “Do we really need all these occupations and professionals regulated through licenses?”

About Terry Sheridan

Terry Sheridan

Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.

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Oct 13th 2018 16:08

While I'm not a licensed professional, I have had many, many dealings with licensed professionals over the years.

In my opinion, licensing doesn't do much for the consumer. By that I mean, just because someone passed an exam - many years ago in most instances - doesn't necessarily mean that that someone is competent. For example: How many CPAs could pass the exam after 5 years in practice? How many lawyers could pass the Bar? How many doctors could pass the boards?

The point is that these "initiation" exams are quite broad and professionals usually practice a niche. Better, I think, that any sort of "licensing" would simply attest to the professional's honesty & integrity (e.g., background checks, court actions, criminal actions. ect.)

Any competitive, competent professional will get some sort of certification anyway, I would think.

One alternative: Have significant testing for the niches, so that if someone has that particular credential, the consumer would then have some confidence in their knowledge. And I think part of that would be that for continuing certification, the CE hours required would be significant each year...say 20 hours per year...and the content would be significant and tested. I know first hand that a lot of CE is merely professional get-togethers at some resort...Not much in higher learning actually goes on in a lot of cases.

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