In all the current events that have been dominating the news lately, a recent important announcement may have missed your radar. The announcement came from the AICPA indicating that they will be merging with an international accounting organization to form a brand new association.
AICPA is AICPA. Wait, What?
The new organization is cleverly being called the The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. This is not to be confused with the AICPA (American Institute Of Certified Public Accountants) which will continue to be a distinct organization... say what? So the AICPA is still the AICPA but there is a new organization also called the AICPA which represents all accountants in the world, instead of just CPAs, and you don't have to be a CPA to join?
(Screenshots and AICPA quotes in this article come from the video by Tim Christensen, CPA, CGMA, Chairman of the Board for AICPA)
Who the Heck is CIMA?
The merger is between the AICPA and an organization called CIMA, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. This organization covers all professional business accounting professionals, not just those who have passed their CPA exam. While CIMA does offer its own certification, the CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant), this certification is far less stringent than the CPA. To date, only about 10% of current CPAs have also gotten this certification.
From the AICPAs perspective, this merger opens the doors to the rest of the world, that represents all accounting professionals, not just those who have passed the CPA exam. Potentially, this could mean a much larger membership pool and a lot more money for the organization. Other benefits come from shared resources, that allows the merged organization to have more lobbying power, more resources for research, and less overhead from administration functions. From both the AICPA and CIMA's perspective, it's a match made in heaven.
Many CPAs are Critical
But many CPAs are critical of the change, prompting them to speak out, or even drop their membership in the AICPA. (Membership in the AICPA is not required to maintain a CPA designation in the US.) Critics of this 'merger' are voicing concerns that the general public may become confused over the differences between a CPA and a non-CPA member of the AICPA, not only diluting the CPA brand, but more importantly, misleading and potentially damaging organizations by allowing non CPAs to perform duties like taxes and audits that are traditionally performed by CPAs.
How is this merger relevant to your community association management company?
Mostly, this merger won't affect your life right now. But you do need to be vigilant. The AICPA promises that the organization will continue to promote and create a strong brand for the CPA designation. While that remains to be seen, CAM professionals should be cautious when hiring accounting professionals who are not CPAs for tasks traditionally performed by CPAs. Specifically, any audits you commission for the communities you manage, and any complicated tax filings should go through a licensed CPA.