The CPA profession must embrace these changes to maintain its strength and support evolving business needs while continuing to serve the public interest.
NASBA and the AICPA want your feedback. Share your thoughts.
Your input will be crucial as we work toward a new licensure model. NASBA and the AICPA want everyone’s voice to be heard—and that includes yours.
These organizations developed 5 guiding principles to inform a new CPA licensure model:
- The CPA profession must adapt quickly due to the technological disruptions in areas such as data analytics, robotics, artificial intelligence and more. As such, the competencies, services and attitudes of CPAs need to continually evolve in order to protect the public interest.
- The CPA profession and state boards of accountancy recognize that technological and analytical expertise are essential to performing assurance work, as well as the other services that are currently, or will be in the future, core to professional accounting.
- The CPA profession and state boards of accountancy acknowledge that sustaining the profession and continued public protection require rethinking initial licensure requirements.
- The profession, and therefore entry into the profession, must be redesigned to attract individuals with technological and analytical expertise. This includes non-CPA professionals whose technology and analytics skills are critical to the performance of assurance and other core services, as well as non-accounting major students. All must demonstrate minimum required competencies necessary to perform professional accounting services as a CPA.
- The changes must be rapid, transformational and substantive without negatively impacting candidates currently in the pipeline.
In addition, NASBA and AICPA volunteer leadership developed the following specific concepts that support the guiding principles:
- This means candidates with different degrees would all be required to have education around a common core of both accounting and technology, as well as elective coursework that aligns with the work they are interested in performing as a CPA.
- The existing accounting graduate would need a greater understanding of technology, and the existing technology graduate would need a greater understanding of accounting.
- This may necessitate reducing educational requirements on certain existing concepts and adding educational requirements on other concepts.
We need an exam that tests a common core of accounting and technology, and that allows candidates to demonstrate knowledge in their chosen area of study and interest.
- One examination would serve all candidates, with variations allowed within exam sections that correspond to area of study and interest.
- Using the current exam structure, significantly modify the breadth and depth of the exam based on future looking practice analyses.
- Certain advanced and unique accounting and auditing concepts currently required for licensure are applicable to only a segment of practicing CPAs, while knowledge of systems controls and emerging technologies is increasingly relevant.
CPA Evolution FAQs
Q: What is CPA Evolution?
A: The CPA Evolution initiative aims to transform the CPA profession and its licensure model in recognition of the need for rapidly changing CPA skills and competencies necessitated by constantly escalating technological disruption. It is a joint effort of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Q: Why does CPA licensure need to evolve?
A: The environment in which CPAs operate is changing at a rapid pace.
Innovations in artificial intelligence, automation and data analytics are creating new opportunities for CPAs, both in terms of the types of services they perform and in how those services are delivered.
At the same time, clients and organizations are demanding services that require expertise in technical areas such as information technology, cybersecurity, system and organization controls (SOC) reporting, IT governance and data analytics.
The profession must embrace these changes to maintain its strength and be prepared to support evolving business needs while continuing to serve the public interest. That’s why NASBA and the AICPA are working to evolve licensure requirements for new CPAs: so the profession can continue to effectively meet the needs of organizations, employers and the public.
Q: What are some examples of the skills new CPAs will need?
A: NASBA and the AICPA have heard from stakeholders across the profession that CPAs increasingly need new skills and knowledge in areas such as, but not limited to:
- Business intelligence
- Data analysis and reporting
- Data management
- Predictive analytics
- Cybersecurity risk management
- IT governance
- IT audit
- IT risks and controls
- Information security governance
- System and Organization Controls
- Information systems development
When talking about the expertise CPAs need, it is also important to note what skills are not relevant. Specifically, the CPA Evolution project does not include IT system design and maintenance, software development or coding within its scope of future CPA skills.
Q: Will current CPAs have to be relicensed once a new licensure model goes into effect?
A: No; current CPAs will not have to be relicensed. Any licensure changes made through CPA Evolution will only affect initial CPA licensure. Current CPA licenses will be unaffected by these changes.
Q: What is being done to help current CPAs gain skills and competencies in emerging technological areas?
A: To help CPAs learn more about emerging technologies and services, the AICPA, state societies and others have developed (and will continue to develop) free content, including thought leadership pieces, podcasts, videos, toolkits and other resources.
A few AICPA resources include:
- An audit data analytics webpage with links to articles, videos, an audit data analytics to traditional procedures mapping guide and more information
- A white paper (developed in partnership with CPA Canada and the University of Waterloo) exploring blockchain and its potential impact on the audit and assurance profession
- A “Go Beyond Disruption” podcast in which finance professionals from across the world discuss trends in emerging technologies
- A Cybersecurity Resource Center that provides tools and information for organizations (including CPA firms), CPAs providing advisory services and CPAs providing assurance services
For more FAQs, and to submit your feedback, visit www.evolutionofcpa.org.