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CPA credentialing: The times they are a-changin'

January 23, 2020  |  Linda Wedul

CPA credentialing: The times they are a-changin' It’s no surprise that technology is significantly impacting the accounting profession. Some of the technologies changing the very nature of how accounting is done include robotic process automation (RPA), blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, data analytics and machine learning. Every year, new technology solutions to automate routine processes are released, making accounting more efficient and allowing more time for innovative and entrepreneurial activities. The times, they certainly are a-changin’.
And speaking of change, the AICPA and NASBA began a conversation last summer on whether the expanding use of technology in the accounting profession should be incorporated into the requirements to become a CPA.
As you know, the current credentialing model requires a bachelor’s degree with a specified number of accounting credits as part of the total 150-college credit requirement, passing the CPA exam and an ethics exam, and one year of work experience. So far, the discussions between the AICPA and NASBA have focused on changes to the CPA exam. The proposed exam model under consideration would reduce questions focused on advanced accounting and tax concepts, especially in areas that are rarely addressed by a first- or second-year accounting candidate, and increase technology content. 
Here are some of the questions they’re considering:
  • If added, what is the appropriate amount of technology-related topics to include in the exam?
  • Should the exam remain 16 hours or should the exam length be expanded?
  • If the exam isn’t expanded, what content should be reduced in order to add technology?
  • How do changes to the exam impact candidates’ decision to take the exam and the perception of the credential by the general public? 
As proposed, all candidates would test in core areas that include accounting, audit, tax and technology. In addition to testing on a common core, candidates would test in one of three discipline areas: business reporting and analysis, information systems and controls, or tax compliance and planning.
It is still early in the process and details regarding the number of exams, exam length, education and experience requirements are being discussed. You can read more information about the model at www.evolutionofcpa.org.
I recently held focus groups with educators, young professionals, business and industry CPAs, and current and past board members to gather their feedback about the proposed model. As the project moves forward, the MNCPA will continue to discuss and be engaged in the process to keep the CPA credential relevant. As you hear more about this ongoing transformation, please share with me your thoughts and observations. 

Topics: Professional Certification, Technology

Linda Wedul

Linda Wedul is president and CEO of the MNCPA. She’s usually spotted at MNCPA events, introducing herself to members with a warm smile and memorable laugh. Mixed among the Footnotes, accounting journals, leadership books and three monitors in her office, you’d be surprised to see a dog kennel. Her unpaid job is volunteering as a foster family for service dogs in training through Can-Do-Canines. She and her husband have two adult children and live in Farmington. Linda can be reached at 952-885-5516 or lwedul@mncpa.org.

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