BDO Seidman Contacts AICPA Members re Global Credential

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Accounting firm BDO Seidman, having been provided with access to the AICPA membership mailing list, has dispatched its position letter on the proposed global business credential, the Strategic Business Professional (IISBP).

This is the text of that letter:

Subject: Please Vote NO on Proposed Global Credential

To our Colleagues:

We find ourselves at a critical professional crossroads. The road we take depends on how each of us votes on the AICPA initiative to establish a new interdisciplinary Global Credential now called Strategic Business Professional.

By now, all AICPA members have been inundated with information about the proposed SBP Credential. That communication blitz may have clarified many of the questions swirling around this contentious issue since a growing number of State CPA Societies have taken strong positions against the SBP, reflecting the overwhelming opposition of their members. However, the votes have not yet been counted, so it remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved.

While BDO Seidman agrees with the AICPA Vision's goal of enhancing the skills of CPAs to deal effectively with the increasingly complex global business environment, we strongly disagree with the top-down approach taken by the AICPA leadership to accomplish this goal through the ill-conceived Global Credential.

In our view, the AICPA's action to date in aggressively fostering the Credential may already have irreparably tarnished the self-image of all CPAs, regardless of whether they practice in industry, public accounting, government, or academia. What's more, the persistence with which the AICPA has pushed for the Credential in the face of serious adverse views among its constituency does not bode well for this initiative or for the relationship between the AICPA and its membership. A program with such a potentially dramatic effect on the CPA profession should have broad support of its membership. Anything short of that is simply unacceptable.

In arriving at our position on the Credential, we were disturbed by a number of troubling questions:

  1. Why would the profession want to dilute its invaluable “trusted advisor” reputation by sharing it with others who are not similarly grounded in a long-standing code of ethics and a tradition of objectivity?
  2. Why is the SBP necessary if the marketplace already recognizes the capability of CPAs to perform non-traditional services?
  3. Why is the involvement of non-CPAs considered necessary for the credibility of the Credential, particularly since its proponents believe the vast majority of SBPs will be CPAs? (Are increased dues the real objectives?) In that regard, why are the Credential requirements so low?
  4. Wouldn't alliances with entities having strategic business expertise be a workable alternative to opening the Credential to individuals in non-CPA firms?
  5. Is it realistic to believe that any one individual could possess the broad knowledge spectrum of an SBP in addition to the increasingly complex areas of accounting and tax?
  6. Isn't there a danger of our precious student resources being diverted to the easier SBP road given its low Credential requirements, lucrative prospects, and narrow CPA image painted by the AICPA's initiative?
  7. Wouldn't the International Institute of Strategic Business Professionals create an unnecessary bureaucracy and confusing overlay of new and possibility inconsistent ethics rules?
  8. If SBP is to be a truly global Credential, how can it succeed without the support of the UK Institute?
  9. Wouldn't the AICPA's resources be better devoted to efforts to upgrade the CPA credential and to the Forum of Firms' efforts to improve worldwide audit quality?
  10. Are the revenue assumptions included in the AICPA's business plan for 2002 realistic in view of the significant plan infrastructure and marketing costs?

Finally, and of paramount concern, the AICPA's promotion of the SBP Credential denigrates the image of the CPA. The resulting stereotype perpetuates the myth which is contradicted by practice. As such, we believe the AICPA has undermined its constituents.

Accordingly, we strongly urge you to VOTE NO on the AICPA proposal.

If you have misplaced your ballot or you do not recall having received one, you can obtain a new one at the following AICPA website If, based on your further evaluation of the issues, you want to change your vote from that previously submitted, we understand that you can do so by submitting a new ballot, bearing a notation directing the tabulators to change your vote to that indicated on the new ballot.


Wayne Kolins
National Director of Assurance
BDO Seidman, LLP

For more information about the AICPA's proposed credential, the Strategic Business Professional (IISBP), visit AccountingWEB's Global Business Credential Resource Center

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