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What the CPA Evolution blueprint tells us about the way forward for accounting



In 2019, the American Institute of CPAs launched a analysis report whose findings had been alarming for the accounting career.

In keeping with the report, hiring of recent accounting graduates declined 11% for the reason that earlier tendencies report in 2016, with the quantity having fallen a whopping 30% throughout the earlier two reviews. However this did not replicate much less hiring amongst CPA companies; non-accounting hires in public accounting companies elevated by 11 share factors to almost a 3rd of complete employees. This development displays the evolution of the accounting career, which requires accounting companies to rely closely on know-how and knowledge evaluation. The narrative gleaned from these findings was that accounting curricula — and the CPA examination itself — had been behind the occasions and the wants of the trade itself. 

The AICPA and the Nationwide Affiliation of State Boards of Accountancy responded with a “hole evaluation to find out particularly the areas which might be turning into more and more necessary to the career, discovering these areas embody knowledge analytics and IT audit, however much more so cybersecurity, IT governance and Techniques and Group Management engagements. This culminated with the discharge final month of the AICPA’s long-awaited publicity draft detailing its proposal for the construction and content material of the brand new CPA examination, which can launch in 2024. Because of this present accounting college students graduating after 2023 will likely be taking the brand new examination, as will some other college students who could graduate earlier than then however take it after 2023.

The method by which the proposed new examination was devised known as CPA Evolution, an initiative by the AICPA and NASBA to determine an important tendencies and abilities gaps within the accounting career. The proposed CPA Examination Blueprint tells us not simply what the long run CPA examination will appear to be, however the path during which the career itself goes and what the general public accountant of the approaching decade will likely be doing. Earlier than we discover the larger image, although, let us take a look at the main points of the publicity draft. 

Accounting school and employers, in addition to college students who will take the CPA examination in 2024 and past, must be intently reviewing the publicity draft, particularly because the AICPA’s public remark interval ends on Sept. 30.

The proposed modifications to the examination construction benefit consideration, with a shift from the present 4 examination sections to a few “Core” sections: Monetary Auditing and Reporting (FAR), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), and Taxation and Regulation (REG) plus three “Self-discipline” tracks, of which a CPA candidate must go one. These tracks are as follows: Enterprise Evaluation and Reporting (BAR), Info Techniques and Controls (ISC), and Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP).

This variation may seem like including extra to the CPA examination, however on the Core degree these modifications symbolize a streamlining of the content material at the moment coated on the examination, which can make it simpler to review for the Core exams and permit candidates to give attention to tougher and career-specific content material on their chosen Self-discipline examination. 

The proposed modifications to the examination content material are additionally notable. One is that know-how and knowledge are extra totally built-in into the blueprint than ever earlier than — each within the necessary Core sections and within the Self-discipline tracks. This will likely be completed by testing the candidates’ understanding of the position of information in IT methods, utilizing that knowledge to make key selections, verifying the accuracy of information and utilizing the outputs of automated instruments, visualizations and knowledge analytic strategies.

As well as, there may be an elevated give attention to IT audits, particularly SOC engagements. Information-derived choice making can also be emphasised, and so is choice making extra broadly. Moreover, there may be now a Private Monetary Advisory Companies module within the TCP Self-discipline, which is indicative of elevated demand for tax planning round private wealth associated to property, reward, belief and retirement points. 

So, what do all these modifications say concerning the accounting career as we go into the mid-2020s and past? How is our discipline altering, what are the weaknesses and alternatives, and what competencies will CPAs want sooner or later? 

First, the long run accountant will likely be extra specialised. That is mirrored within the plan to switch the 4 necessary sections with three necessary Core sections after which considered one of three Self-discipline sections. College students considering a profession in accounting however involved concerning the breadth of the CPA examination ought to welcome this alteration; it can permit them to higher give attention to the profession monitor and/or the kind of group during which they wish to work, in addition to pursue a monitor that matches their abilities and pursuits. This could be a game-changer for college kids involved about their capacity to grasp all 4 present sections; it means they are going to be capable to higher tailor their research to what they’re good at, that means much less stress over programs and the examination itself. And companies cautious of hiring CPAs they could see as generalists will be capable to choose extra specialised and centered new hires primarily based on what Self-discipline monitor they pursued.

Secondly, passing the CPA examination will present the newly licensed CPA has the tech abilities anticipated right this moment. The heavy emphasis on know-how, knowledge and IT audit within the AICPA blueprint is aimed squarely at overcoming the present hole that makes accounting companies look past the CPA pool for workers. Consistent with the examination modifications, the AICPA launched the CPA Evolution Mannequin Curriculum, which outlines the subjects accounting packages ought to embody of their curriculum to higher acquaint college students with the newest subjects and know-how used within the discipline, permitting CPAs to do extra within the tech area than ever earlier than, or at the least to higher perceive how know-how and knowledge can be utilized to glean insights for choice making. 

College students and instructors alike could also be cautious of those modifications, however they’ve been crafted with the path of the career in thoughts and embody the way forward for accounting. They can even in some ways make issues easier for aspiring CPAs, as they streamline the preparation for the examination along with introducing new competencies. And for the career as a complete, it represents shifting with the occasions to repeatedly evolve consistent with the wants of a altering world.

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