The AICPA, that's who! Never one to forego an opportunity to sell CPE educate its members, the AICPA has collaborated with XBRL US to offer the XBRL US GAAP Certificate Program. What'd you say? "That sounds interesting, tell me more."? Okay! [T]he certificate program provides finance and accounting professionals with the information and hands-on training they […]
I intended to get to this yesterday but I was having too much fun rummaging through SEC DCF letters and the day ran out on me. Anyway, NASBA issued a press release to congratulate the Private Company Council for its three proposals for GAAP Lite and they can managed to contain themselves — this time — from telling […]
Although the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page made it abundantly clear that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was way off, giving PwC and other large accounting firms a hard time for their mandatory retirement age policies, the AICPA thought it would be prudent to make its thoughts on the matter known: In a letter to members […]
The ongoing bickering over FRF for SMEs — which went Defcon 4 the other day with a strongly worded press release from NASBA — has just gone nuclear. I come from a single parent household so I don't know what it's like to live in a home with parents who are on the brink of divorce […]
On Tuesday we discussed the AICPA's effort to offer a new OCBOA for small businesses, making special note of the Financial Accounting Foundation's slightly irritated response. While the FAF was fine with Melancon & Co. issuing the new Financial Reporting Framework (FRF) for SMEs, they wanted to remind everyone that FRF was most certainly not […]
Judging by the AICPA's PR blitz, you'd think that everyone was excited about their release of its Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities. Just out of curiousity, I went back and I read three articles on the subject from Accounting Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times to see if there was any dissent on […]
Apparently the excitement started this weekend, a few days ahead of schedule. I received this email Saturday: Hi Adrienne, The latest batch scores have dropped for TN. The tweet has not posted from NASBA yet, but that bright, shining 77 doesn't lie. I thought I would pass along the information! Not wanting to work on […]
Most current CPA exam candidates have no idea how far the exam has come over the last few years. When I started in CPA review back in 2007, NASBA's website looked like it had been designed by the same team that created the original Super Mario Bros and candidates had to use Pony Express to […]
Rejoice! Either you've got Memorial Day weekend off to celebrate or it's back to the books for you, loser. Additionally, the AICPA has released 242 AUD, 154 BEC, 188 FAR and 131 REG scores for international candidates to NASBA. Feel free to share your victories and failures in the comments if you feel so inclined […]
When I attended my first AICPA Council meeting in 2011, I remarked that the room seemed to be filled with the same "old white guys" that have been "leading" the profession as far back as we can all remember. I asked out loud why I seemed to be the only person under the age of […]
The "duh" comes from AICPA Insights: According to a new survey conducted for the AICPA by Harris Interactive, only 39% fully understood the burden student loan debt would place on the future and 60% have at least some regret over the choice of education financing. Furthermore, 75% have made a personal or financial sacrifice–such as delaying […]
Are you irritable? Sleeping less? Impatient with your friends? Putting on weight? Thinking about divorce? Yes? Sorry to hear, you must be going through a stressful time. Oh, wait, are you an American? Yes?! Whew, you're behaving normally then. If you were to read this AICPA press release, you might be inclined to believe that […]
Over the years we have shared a number of stories from people that have suffered from the plight of Prometric. Everything from a runny nose to the metal detectors to questionable written communication to something that might resemble a hostage situation to a very, very, very awkward search. These anecdotes have provided a sense of added […]
Right on cue, NASBA started rolling the scores out on Monday, but sometimes these things fly under the radar. Sorry about that. I'd offer the excuse that I'm losing my touch, but there's really no evidence that I had any touch to begin with. #AICPA released the following scores to #NASBA for the Jan/Feb 2013 testing […]
Oh look, the AICPA put out a press release that says the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation is the "most prominent management accounting credential in the U.S. with 37,864 CFOs, controllers and other finance professionals holding the designation." Plus, it's managed to its way into some of the most prestigious companies in America! U.S. CGMA […]
Busy season is not fun. If you pretend it's fun or if you expect me to pretend it's fun, you're an ass. Now, I get it. Taxes are a big part of the reason I have a job, and I'm glad to have a job. So in a backdoor kind of way, I'm grateful for […]
Remember how Deloitte's AICPA Peer Review finding of "pass with deficiency" was one of the lowliest of low points for the year in auditing? Sure you do. At the time, we learned from the AICPA's James Brackens that from 2008 to 2010, only 8% of the audit firms that participated in the peer review had […]
Barry Melancon speaks on behalf of all the CPAs, CGMAs across this great land who have had it up to here [bridge of nose] with Congress' inability to accomplish anything other than naming post offices: “CPAs in communities large and small and from coast to coast are increasingly troubled by the government’s inability to come […]
Lest everyone spend their holiday break freaking out not only about this whole "noteboard" drama but not knowing when scores will be released in the year ahead, the AICPA has announced its target score release dates for the first half of 2013. So everyone please just settle down: CPA Exam score release timetables have been […]
Back in February, a number of CPAs received a laughably fake email message that stated that "involvement in tax return fraudulent activity [by] one of your employees" could result in the cancellation of their CPA license and "The failure to respond within this term will result in withdrawal of your Accountant status." Any CPA equipped […]
Yes, it's a little ambitious for us to be posting on a Saturday in December, but we're here for those of you that have suffered long and hard for some BEC closure. Plus, NASBA doesn't rest on the Sabbath: #AICPA released the following scores to #NASBA for the Oct/Nov 2012 testing window: 6195 AUD, 4620 […]
For those of you whose lives have been revolving around the chase of the most coveted credential for accountants, it's unfortunate that you had really nothing to share with family and friends over the holiday weekend in the way of interesting life events. NASBA waited until today to drop scores, so presumably you had very […]
Have you guys met Richard Caturano? He's the AICPA's latest chairman; a blue collar kid from one of the most racist towns in America who believes in wonderful things like diversity and the value of the CGMA. God love his spirit. Anyhoo, he wrote a piece for the AICPA blog the other day that trumpets the […]
Anyone that was hopping mad about the delayed release of their CPA exam score due to Frankenstorm Sandy can untwist their undies; you'll only be tortured for an extra week: Barring further complications, scores for test results that were received day 1 – 20 by the AICPA will be released by NASBA to state boards of accountancy […]
The IRS has put a few measures in place to soften the blow from Hurricane Sandy but the ever digilent AICPA says that is not enough. And what about the tax preparers also affected by the storm? The AICPA is on it: The American Institute of CPAs has asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to […]
This just in: Due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy there will be a short delay in the release of the Uniform CPA Examination scores. Scores from test results that were received day 1 – 20 by the AICPA were scheduled to be released on Nov. 5. The release of these scores will be delayed […]
Leaders in the public accounting profession love to proclaim the industry's commitment to diversity. Ask any Big 4 CEO out there – they care about diversity, like, A LOT. "It may be the most important thing to the future of the profession," they might say. Despite the efforts and achievements to be the diversiest career […]
Remember Sunil Kumar? He wrote a piece for Accounting Today that threw out some theories on why CPA exam pass rates are up and mostly got it right, even if I felt compelled to correct him and suggest there was really only one reason. Well he must be on a roll as he also wrote […]
Similar to the Ohio Society of CPAs, AICPA Tax Executive Committee Jeffrey Porter's request of Congress not only to act, but to act quickly, is charming. Charming in an Ernest P. Worrell kind of way, but charming nonetheless. In written and oral testimony, Porter addressed the impact of tax uncertainty in several areas and made recommendations on behalf […]
You've waited and waited and waited and now that the moment of truth is finally here. #AICPA released the following scores to #NASBA from the Jul/Aug 2012 testing window: 6905 AUD, 5201 BEC, 6989 FAR, and 7030 REG. #cpaexam — NASBA (@NASBA) September 11, 2012 Learning your CPA exam score can evoke strong feelings that […]
Today's CPA exam freak out comes courtesy the tip box. Just a reminder to those wanting to freak out via said tip box, please include an email address so we can write you back for more details – in this case, those "more details" would have been the actual email from NASBA. Derp: The NASBA […]
I refuse to become a CGMA. If you are a CGMA, I will pretend to not judge you if we meet in person. But I will be judging you in my heart. The Chartered Global Management Accountant designation has been available since January 31, and the AICPA has been promoting the hell out of it. […]
You've worked hard all summer, given up exotic vacations, BBQs, boozing on patios and everything else awesome about summer just for this moment. Will the sweet taste of victory pass your lips or will you be sent crawling back to your Peter Olinto lectures with your head hanging low? The AICPA released the following scores […]
The AICPA has met their first target release date as announced by NASBA earlier this morning: 6087 AUD, 3561 BEC, 5965 FAR and 5292 REG scores released by #AICPA to #NASBA from Jul/Aug 2012 testing window. Good luck! #cpaexam — NASBA (@NASBA) August 6, 2012 So these results could mean that your day/week/month/career has been […]
If 2012 is the first year you've had the pleasure of taking the CPA exam, you probably have no idea just how torturous waiting for your scores used to be. You'd either refresh on your state board's website incessantly for several weeks or stalk the CPA exam forums hoping some almost-accurate psychic would know the […]
As you well know, the quality of work performed by Big 4 auditors has been called into question aloud on a regular basis since the fall of 2008. Oh sure, you might say that ever since there was a Final 4 (circa 2002) there have been haters, but since we all came to the brink […]
Facing a professional dilemma? Stuck between a rock and a cubicle? Worried that your ambition may be mistaken for desperation? Get in touch and we'll try to walk you through it. Hello GC- I've recently jumped the public accounting ship (hooray for fewer hours!). I've always known I would keep my CPA license up and […]
By now, most of you who are AICPA members in good standing have received your special 125th Anniversary edition Journal of Accountancy. As you thumb listlessly through it, no doubt you noticed that certain firms took out large ads while others – true to their benchwarming status among Top 10 firms – took out small, […]
Anyone remember the poor bastard who was told by NASBA that they lost his entire exam and would have to retake it? Well, he didn't retake it and somehow they managed to track down his missing exam somewhere between Prometric and the AICPA and guess what? He passed! First of all, this candidate was abnormally […]
For those of you that studied for the CPA exam through busy season, today may be the day where you discover that all those extra long hours you put in – working for 10 hours, studying for 2 hours, working for 2 more hours, studying for 2 more hours – were all for naught. […]
It's that time of year again when lobbyists dust off their agendas and head to Washington to represent the voice of America's CPAs and their clients for the spring meeting of AICPA Governing Council. Once again I'll be covering the festivities however since hardly any of you actually care about legislative news or anything serious […]
Wait just one second… didn't they just announce the Elijah Watt Sells Award winners for 2010? I guess the AICPA wasn't kidding when they said the 2011 exam would be graded faster than ever. Somehow, we've got 2011 Elijah Watt Sells winners in record time. Here they are for your shaming. Of 90,000 candidates who took the […]
Happy almost April 17th, people! Home stretch here, home stretch. Those helpful folks at the AICPA have issued some tips for trudging slowly toward tax day that probably won't do most of you any good but might serve some procrastinating taxpayers well. Let's put aside our superiority complex for a moment and share. My useless […]
Finally, a reader question. I've been so hard up for emails from you guys that I've actually considered trolling myself. If you have a CPA exam question, please (and I mean PLEASE) hit me up. Dear Adrienne, I am an avid reader on hiatus while imprisoned for crimes against God and man (taking the CPA). […]
Now, before the trolls rally and start complaining about how this post is stupid and totally useless for 99% of the people who read this website, let us all take a moment to remember that accounting professionals (I use the term loosely) aren't the only ones who read Going Concern. Plus, auditors despise taxes down […]
A tipster sent us a frantic suggestion that the AICPA member list may have been "hacked" but after about 3 minutes of digging (let no one say we're lazy journalists), we easily debunked the emails in question as general spam and nothing for AICPA members to be worried about. If a biologist is getting the […]
You may not know this but AICPA leadership consists mostly of the same old white guys; a complaint you hear often, not something I made up just now. I don't personally have any issues with those old white guys and actually like some of them but it's worth noting that AICPA leadership could use a […]
The AICPA and NASBA managed to hit their score release date under the new timeline without breaking at sweat. [via @NASBA]
Hopefully you guys appreciate the time these folks put together to give you some free advice on putting a little away toward your future. Answers provided by AICPA National CPA Commission members Craig Steinhoff, CPA, Kelley Long CPA, Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, and Leonard Wright, CPA/PFS. Adrienne Gonzalez: How do you suggest young professionals who are also […]
Did you all remember that the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation was kicking off today? No? Shame. For those of you that crave letters behind your name like stoners crave Cool Ranch Doritos, this is EXCITING NEWS, especially if you already have your CPA. Why's that you ask? Because, says the rival Institute of Management […]
We know Going Concern is the preferred accounting "news" provider for accounting students and young professionals everywhere but on the off chance there's a high school sophomore out there who loves GC and wants to win some scholarship money, this post is for you. Last week, the AICPA announced a unique opportunity for high school students […]
For all those interested, NASBA is scheduled to release International Qualification Examination results today. What the hell is that, you say? Glad you asked! From NASBA: IQEX is used to examine the professional competence, from a United States perspective, of accountants from foreign bodies, determined by the U.S. International Qualifications Appraisal Board to have education, examination […]
I should know better than to bring up this touchy subject but I'm only going there due to this email suggestion: I'm amazed that the AICPA kept its promise and released scores on time. Perhaps that could make for good convo on GC. You could also talk about the new anticipated timeline for score releases. […]
You've probably never heard of it (degenerates) but the AICPA Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award recognizes full-time college accounting educators distinguished for excellence in teaching and for national prominence in the accounting profession. The award has a dual function: to extend profession-wide recognition to the recipient and promote role models in academia. The third […]
Isn't it nice know that someone, just like YOU, outside the U.S. has also been anxiously awaiting their score from their third attempt at passing BEC? If you're an international candidate and are unfamiliar with these posts, this serves as your sounding board. For example, did you feel like you just wasted the last few […]
First, I never implied the AICPA Leadership Academy was awful in the first place, I just to make sure we’re clear on that. I only use “awful” because you lot seem like the sort of people who mostly care about money and fulfillment, with neither of those necessarily mutually exclusive. It’s totally fine, we can’t all be leaders.
But one day, you kids are going to inherit the empire (scary, I know). When all the Boomer partners have retired and you’re looking at filing 2025’s tax returns, will you be at the top of the food chain setting the tone or still lingering at the bottom picking up DUIs on Saturday nights? Just think a the following is an account of the AICPA’s recent Leadership Academy in North Carolina by Joshua Partlow. Joshua is a CPA under 40 and a partner at Johnson Lambert & Co. LLP. I share it with you guys only because it’s pretty interesting, which can’t usually be said for a lot of the pro-industry fluff we come across.
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the AICPA’s Leadership Academy—as a member of its third class—in Durham, NC. I was among 33 participants under the age of 36. The Academy started off like many seminars do in this mobile age, with participants glued to our smartphones and somewhat disconnected from our surroundings. But that disconnection would be short-lived.
The mood transitioned quickly to one of collaboration and engagement as the instructors—Gretchen Pisano, president Sounding Board Ink, LLC, Tom Hood, CPA, executive director and CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs and Jeannie Patton, AICPA vice president – students, academics & membership—began the Insight to Action process. We broke up into three groups to tackle three challenging real-life scenarios in business, non-profit and personal relationships. These tasks forced us to focus on the strengths of our characters, utilizing the i2A Strength Based Leadership program that we had been introduced to during our preconference workshops. The program coaches participants for leadership, teaching them self-awareness techniques, how to work from a source of natural strength and how to inspire their team to do the same.
My breakout group was tasked with the personal relationship scenario, helping a large, multi-generational family plan an annual vacation. What we learned was classic succession planning: the matriarch and patriarch of the fictional family had always taken the lead on making flight and destination arrangements and planning day-to-day activities. However, with a new dynamic involving grandchildren and in-laws, it was time for their adult children to step up and take the reins. It was a situation we could all relate to. The combination of strategic thought and the high quality of each and every participant’s contribution was amazing.
Strategic planning within the i2A model allowed us to interact, learn from one another and see, in a creative way, how our scenarios directly reflect what many of us are facing in our careers. We are all roughly the same age and coming into our time as leaders in our firms or organizations. Now, it’s not so much about building accounting experience and achievement (although that certainly plays a role). It’s more about finding within ourselves the courage and ability to mentor, guide and inspire. The experience opened my eyes to think differently—to think like a leader.
Why am I not surprised to see Tom Hood’s name show up?
Anyway, it’s too late to get on board for 2011 but if any of this sounds remotely interesting to you (hint: “leadership” = “getting people to do your evil bidding”), details on the 2012 Leadership Academy will be issued by the AICPA in January.
Oh, the things CPA exam candidates come up with when they should be studying.
This winner of a question comes courtesy the CPAnet forums:
It may sound stupid but I wanna ask….. Is there any particular State where you get relatively easier exam and score good marks?
I’m asking this question because somebody told me that you get most difficult exam in California so I was thinking the other way round!
The asker recognizes the ridiculousness of this question immediately so I’ll resist making any comments on that and slide right into the point of this post. Is it at all possible that candidates in certain states get more difficult exams?
I’m going to have to say highly doubtful. There’s no reason that would make sense, as the “Uniform CPA Examination” implies exactly that, uniformity. While we all know different states have different requirements for licensure based on the determinations of the individual state boards of accountancy, the AICPA administers the exam across the jurisdictions. It is presumed that candidates are assigned questions at random from a single database and I have never read, heard or seen anything that tells me otherwise. Logically, I can’t see a reason for this, and we should safely assume that the AICPA will not do anything that might be an unnecessary burden on the already precarious process of administering the exam.
And even if this were true, wouldn’t California be the easiest? They have some of the most lenient requirements to sit for the exam of all the jurisdictions and boast a longer NTS than other states (because who wants to get off the beach and go to Prometric?), surely they would also have easier questions.
What is the takeaway from this, kids? Don’t listen to what your friends told you about the exam.
According to the AICPA, the news from the CPA exam front lines isn’t all that bad.
Did I read that right? BEC has the highest pass rate?!
Satan definitely ice skated to work on the day this data came out. Nice work, people.
Try not to piss yourselves with excitement, kids.
Time-strapped accountants who need to brush up on a subject area or meet continuing professional education (CPE) requirements have a new, cost-effective option: targeted study programs through CPExpress, an online learning library offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
For CPAs who want to concentrate on specific areas of expertise, CPExpress now offers four specialty libraries: Accounting & Auditing, Business & Industry, Governmental and Not-for-Profit, and Taxation.
These collections—which range from 65 to 175 online courses–are priced at a lower rate than the overall CPExpress library. Topics range from accounting updates to tax planning strategies and fraud detection.
Like the rest of CPExpress, the specialty libraries contain titles put together by leading authorities in the profession. Courses typically last one to two hours, yield up to two CPE credits, and are available round-the-clock for subscribers with Internet access.
CPExpress, which now includes more than 900 online courses, serves as a perfect tool for filling in knowledge gaps and rounding out professional education requirements. And all titles are now viewable on an iPad, giving CPAs even more freedom to burnish skills on their own schedule.
“CPExpress provides great value and convenience for members who need real-time technical information, or those who simply are looking to expand their skills and knowledge,” said Mike Ramos, director of CPE and training for AICPA. “With these new offerings we are hoping to introduce the benefits of CPExpress to those with more specialized knowledge and training needs.”
Discount pricing is available for AICPA members on both CPExpress and the specialty libraries. For more information, visit www.cpa2biz.com/cpexpress.
File this one under first world problems.
I’m starting to think about post-Big 4 opportunities and I am wondering how people maintain their CPE credits after leaving the Big 4. Since we need to take 80 hours of CPE credits every 2 years to maintain a CPA, do most employers offer trainings that give CPE credits? If not, will they give you time off and pay for the classes? I’d be very interested in hearing from you, and from the Going Concern community.
Well considering so many of the country’s employable CPAs somehow manage to meet their board of accountancy’s CPE requirements year after year, there’s got to be a trick to stay current that doesn’t involve firms forking out the cash for “experts” to school their staff on all things billable to the CPE time code. Are you telling me you have somehow escaped the wrath of NASBA and don’t get emailed weekly with new CPE offers? Congratulations.
I spoke to one of my favorite HR people at a reasonably-sized but definitely not Big 4 firm to find out what their CPE policy is and found out that most firms above 50 people pay for CPE in one way or another. According to a national survey conducted by the AICPA and the Texas Society of CPAs, 42 percent of the smallest firms paid for CPE in 2010. So unless you end up working out of some ancient CPA’s basement, you will probably not be expected to pay your own way.
Obviously, smaller firms will not be able to provide in-house CPE but you can likely get your online CPE comped, or get reimbursed for any travel associated with in-person CPE you attend. But seriously?! In-person CPE? Get with the times, man.
If you do end up needing to pay your own way (again, totally unlikely as long as you stay gainfully employed by a real accounting firm, even a tiny one), your state society of CPAs can probably provide information on their CPE offerings, or there is always NASBA (as anyone on their email list will tell you) or the AICPA.
Remember too that if you are attending conferences like AICPA Council, you get CPE for doing so, so maybe those dumb meetings aren’t so pointless after all.
That’s a serious question.
I’ve been to events with lots of accountants huddled up in a room showing off their technology so I am not implying that CPAs don’t care about apps, I’m just wondering if anyone would download an app dedicated to a particular AICPA conference.
CrowdCompass released the AICPA Not-For-Profit Financial Executive Forum app on October 15th and as far as I can tell, no one cares about it.
The description reads as follows:
Between the slowed-down economy and a more stringent regulatory environment, the last few years have led to a “new normal.” Gaining lost momentum and getting back on track with smart new strategies and practical solutions are necessary for success.
This AICPA Not-for-Profit Financial Executive Forum is the solutions-based conference that features top experts and is designed specifically to address these issues and provide the answers for your financial, technical and structural operations. You’ll come away with valuable insights and tools to take back to your organization and implement immediately.
The 2011 NFP FEF (if that isn’t a mouthful…) sounds like a great time for anyone actually interested in non-profits (my unofficial research shows there are about 7 of you). Not-for-profit financial executive staff members, CEOs, CFOs/executive directors and directors of finance in NFP could probably learn a lot and enrich the very core of their work by hanging around at one of these forums. Hey, you can even check in on foursquare from the conference. But the Android app? I’m not sure I see the benefit there.
Does an app make navigating the conference any easier? You still have to remember the name of the person you met three hours ago who you’re being introduced to again and no app can help you with that. It’s not like there are several square miles of territory to navigate as you’re cruising the conference circuit, so is it necessary to have your exact position on the map? Maybe I’m just an old BlackBerry user who doesn’t get it.
Anyway, the conference is from October 27-28, 2011 at the Westin in my former hometown of San Francisco, CA so it isn’t too late for you to register and fly out there to the Land of Fruits and Nuts for some non-profity goodness.
If anyone actually downloads and uses this app, can you please get in touch with me? I’m curious to hear what you did with it. Sorry, that’s kind of lazy but the AICPA isn’t going to sell me the email list of anyone who buys the app so this is the best we’ve got.
New AICPA Chairman Greg Anton doesn’t want you to worry; you’re all still very useful.
In his acceptance speech, Anton detailed the many ways technology is changing the profession. Automation has transformed the way financial information is collected, processed and presented, but a CPA’s value continues to lie in his or her ability to solve problems and identify opportunities for clients and employers, he said.
“As CPAs, we can decipher, disseminate and manage knowledge,” said AICPA Chairman Greg Anton. “This is what a computer or smartphone cannot do.”
If you’ve completely spaced it, the Chartered Global Management Accountant is a new credential that will be jointly offered by the AICPA and the CIMA. We first mentioned it back in the spring and yesterday, JofA informed us that the big coming out party would be January 31. Why the new credential, you ask? Well, mostly because it’s a crazy fucked up world out there, says CIMA CEO Charles Tilly:
“We are in an incredibly challenging world,” Tilley said, citing global economic risks, competitive pressures and demands on natural and other resources. “The world needs management accountants and CGMAs more than ever right now.”
Right! And we can think of at least one operation that is looking for immediate help.
We’re getting lots of great news out of the fall meeting of AICPA Governing Council in Phoenix, AZ – some of which includes the CPA exam – but this little interesting tidbit might actually be something some of you might want to get on.
CPA2Biz (an AICPA subsidiary) announced yesterday it will offer a CPA-branded email service for AICPA members beginning later this fall. Eligible AICPA members will be able to get an email in their own name that ends with the coveted cpa.com address, making it a much more professional alternative to those embarrassing Hotmail and Yahoo address some (allegedly) professional CPAs use for business purposes.
So, if Caleb were not merely an inactive CPA but an actual CPA, he’d be able to hook up firstname.lastname@example.org. He could then use this for everything from his private practice to his, uh, private practice (you know, like Craigslist or Match or whatever it is he does in his spare time when he’s not hitting on girls in the Whole Foods organic bulgur wheat section). Cool!
The benefits here are obvious. First, CPA is a powerful brand, and being able to identify yourself as such in your email address gives that extra bit of authority that you just don’t get from email@example.com (I made that email address up, sorry if that actually belongs to anyone out there). It also makes your email address easier to remember for clients, who should hopefully know your name and at least know that you’re a CPA, making it easy for them to memorize your CPA-branded email address.
AICPA members can order basic email, or step up to a business-class offering that includes premier security, access and easy-to-use management tools. The product was announced at yesterday’s meeting of fall Council.
“This is going to be of significant value to sole practitioners because a majority of them are using consumer email services to conduct business,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA2Biz, the technology subsidiary of AICPA. “Additionally, members of larger firms, as well as those in business and industry, now have the opportunity to own a portable professional email account. Regardless of what firm you work for or which industry you represent, it can serve you throughout your career.”
Pricing and service details will be announced in coming weeks. The offering will be the first of many to be featured on CPA.com, the new firm services solutions hub for CPA2Biz.
Thirty three state CPA societies have reached out to the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) or passed regulations urging it to create a new board to write differential financial reporting standards for private companies. Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming all feel FASB’s current standards setting process does not adequately address the needs of the private company sector.
“In today’s business world it is extremely rare to get an overwhelming consensus supporting one idea. However, the responses from the state societies are another example of the CPA profession’s overwhelming support for an independent board to set differential standards for private businesses,” said Barry Melancon, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) president and CEO. “The message is clear; FAF must do this now or run the risk of missing our best opportunity to make GAAP relevant for private companies.” The thirty three states in agreement on this issue represent some 275,000 CPAs.
These state societies basically told FAF that GAAP has become too complex, and the cost associated with GAAP-based financial reporting has become too much of a pain in the assets for private companies, placing an unnecessary burden on these companies with little benefit to financial statement users as a result of this effort. Personally I think the states here are forgetting that the complexity of GAAP and its esoteric intricacies keep a lot of CPAs gainfully employed, as someone actually has to analyze, manipulate, audit and teach that crap. CPA review instructors need to sell FAR videos. Caleb and I need things to make fun of, like SEC Chief Accountant James Kroeker reminding a PACE University IFRS discussion that the P in GAAP stands for principles. Right. Like we forgot.
Anyway, nearly 3,000 letters have been sent to FAF from the private company constituency in support of this separate board for private company reporting standard setting. Maybe FASB has too much to do and too many clever interns to train. Maybe FASB has lost its public company influence and this is just the first step in the coup to overthrow it. I haven’t heard very many pushing for more FASs directly handed down from (mostly) European accounting standard setters but that’s an argument for a different day.
“The boards of more than half of the country’s state CPA societies, representing more than a quarter of a million CPAs, agree that a systemic problem exists,” stated Paul V. Stahlin, chairman of the AICPA. “After over 30 years of research by numerous diverse and independent groups, the only conclusion is that an autonomous standard-setting body under FAF to set differential standards for privately held companies must be created.”
Must be. There’s no way around that.
And for those interested, here’s a tl;dr PwC report tangentially related to private company accounting standards you can read. Perfect for a Friday.
Over the past month, many of you anxiously anticipated the release of your CPA Exam score like Ralphie and his Red Ryder. The waiting part isn’t so unlike an eternity in hellfire and when NASBA finally does put the official Tweet, there’s no guarantee that your score will be included especially if you’re in one of those pesky non-NASBA states. It’s agony, really.
Starting in the fourth quarter of 2011 the U.S. CPA Exam will begin releasing scores earlier and more predictably. Initially this may not seem very interesting; however, the change will mark a major shift in the U.S. CPA Exam experience and the strategies that prospective CPAs employ as they work toward passing the exam.
The AICPA “initially” thought this wouldn’t be too interesting but when they took a microsecond to remember the post that Adrienne wrote a post back in March that garnered 162 comments, half of them bitching about this very topic and the other half accusing of AG of being a good-for-nothing shill for the AICPA/NASBA that’s never taken the exam, they realized that yeah, people would be interested to know when their scores are released.
ANYWAY, here’s the schedule:
Everyone can relax now. I’m sure scores will be out like clockwork going forward.
Were you aware that over 2,500 letters have been sent to the Financial Accounting Foundation “demanding” the development of private company GAAP as well as a separate independent board to oversee the standards? If no, why not? If yes, why aren’t you feigning rage, issuing press releases with impatient statements by various bigwigs? If you’re the AICPA, that’s exactly what you’re doing:
For almost 40 years, the pleas of private companies to set standards for financial reporting that are more relevant too often have been ignored. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) believes that it is time for the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) to listen to the constituents who have written to FAF demanding differential financial reporting standards for private companies and a separate independent board to oversee those standards. There are approximately 28 million privately held U.S. companies, accounting for more than 50 percent of our economy.
“Ninety nine percent of the letters from the privately held company constituency demanded that the Financial Accounting Foundation create differential standards for privately held companies,” said Barry Melancon, AICPA president and CEO. “We’ve studied this problem for far too long.”
Pick up the pace, FAF. People are getting antsy.
According to one CPAnet forum user, they are. Here’s the note the candidate wrote to the AICPA:
I recently took FAR and noticed I got the same question more than once (exact same question and answer choices) in different testlets. The same instance happened in prior exams last quarter as well, more noticeably in the new content areas outlined in the CSO’s (i.e. duplicated IFRS questions/answers). According to other candidates who’ve taken the exam this year, they have been getting duplicate questions also, sometimes several duplicated questions. Are these duplicates graded and weighted equally, or is one thrown out since it’s a duplicate? It doesn’t seem fair if they are both graded and weighted if you get the question wrong, but could be great if you got them right (essentially getting a free pass on the repeated question since you knew the answer). If both are graded it could ‘jip’ the candidate out of a passing score if they were close to 75 because an alternate question wasn’t asked in place of the duplicate. I’d appreciate any guidance you can give me and perhaps post this situation in the FAQ area since I know multiple candidates have had the same anomaly during their exams.
And here is the AICPA’s response:
You stated that you received the same question more than once. Similar questions may be in the test; however, they are not identical. We have special coding and technology controls in place to ensure that questions are not repeated within a testlet. [Off topic bit about pretest questions that has nothing to do with this candidate’s issue removed]
The candidate went on to take issue with the AICPA’s use of “testlet,” insisting that repeat questions did not appear within the same testlet but within the same exam.
While the AICPA has agreed to look into this candidate’s issue, unfortunately there is no way for him (or her) to review his exam and confirm his suspicions. I’m assuming here that the candidate has not yet received his score for FAR, and even if he did, he would have two options: score and review appeal.
A score review is a waste of money that almost never results in a changed score, and involves an automated process that essentially confirms exam quality control procedures. Since the advent of the computerized exam in 2004, less than 1 percent of score reviews have changed a failing score in a candidate’s favor.
The second option, an appeal, could be completely useless or incredibly insightful, depending on how the candidate answered the questions he feels were duplicates. An appeal is a slightly more involved process but would allow the candidate to view the multiple choice test questions or objective simulation problems that he answered incorrectly together with his responses. Appeals are not available in all jurisdictions.
For all the time and effort the AICPA puts into administering the CPA exam, I’m going to guess that the candidate mistakenly believed very (read: VERY) similar questions to be exactly the same. Anyone studying for the exam knows that just one word can change a question completely.
Just in time for President Obama’s jobs conversation to a joint session of Congress, the AICPA has released its latest quarterly economic outlook survey results. Long story short: sentiments aren’t high among financial professionals surveyed.
The outlook for the U.S. economy turned negative in the third quarter for the first time since 2009 as prospects for recovery waned and concerns about a second recession rose, according to the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey of Chief Financial Officers, Controllers and CPAs in executive and senior management accounting roles.
The CPA Outlook Index, a broad-based composite index that captures the expectations of CPA financial executives and management accountants, declined 8 points to 58 this quarter, down from 66 in the prior period. The survey, conducted in August, tallied 1,305 qualified responses from CPAs who hold leadership positions, such as chief financial officers or controllers in their companies.
“For the second consecutive quarter, the CPA Outlook Index declined as turbulence in the political and economic environment eroded the sense earlier this year that a recovery was taking hold,” said Carol Scott, AICPA vice president for business, industry and government. “A majority of our CPA members in executive financial roles now fear a second recession may be likely.”
The decline in the CPA Outlook Index was fueled by a sharp drop in sentiment about the U.S. economy.
A whopping 61 percent majority of respondents said they think it is “somewhat likely” or “very likely” the U.S. will fall into a double-dip recession. Only 9 percent of CPAs serving in executive positions expressed optimism about the U.S. economy in the third quarter, down 24 percentage points from 33 percent who were optimistic in the second quarter.
It is reasonable to point out here that though the CPA Outlook Index turned negative this quarter, it is still above the 4-year low of 32 in the first quarter of 2009.
U.S. economy optimism plummeted a whopping 28 points from 53 to 25. Of the major index components, none changed positively quarter-over-quarter for 2011.
While the outlook for respondents’ own organizations is not as rosy as it was earlier this year, it has not dropped as sharply as the outlook for the US economy. Optimists also still outnumber pessimists, with 41% of the CPA decision-makers indicating that they are optimistic about the outlook for their own organizations over the next 12 months, while only 21% are pessimistic. Expectation for expansion also dropped again this quarter but a majority of respondents (53%) still expect to expand at least somewhat in the next 12 months. This is down from 61% who expected expansion last quarter.
Executive summary of the survey results can be found here.
Are you an accounting undergrad interested in forensic accounting and cold hard cash? If you are, you might be interested in the 2011 AICPA Accounting Competition, which asks college students to flex their fraud and forensic skills in advising a fictional client on a major overseas expansion. The top three teams will strut their stuff in Washington D.C. on the AICPA’s dime, and the one that does the best job keeping the project on track — and on the right side of the law — gets a very legal $10,000. Legal if you pay taxes on the prize money, of course.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has launched its second annual case competition, challenging college students across the country to test their fraud and forensic accounting skills in a complex scenario that will earn the top performing team a $10,000 award.
The 2011 AICPA Accounting Competition, which unfolds in three stages, focuses on a fictional Texas company looking to expand its business into the Nigerian oil fields. The competition is open to undergraduate students at 2-year and 4-year degree institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Because this contest is open to any 2 or 4 year accounting students, this would be a great opportunity for a few future fraud fighters from smaller, less prestigious accounting programs – so if any enthusiastic professors happen to see this, please pass it along.
“The competition is an opportunity for students to get a hands-on, real-life understanding of one of the fastest-growing interest areas in accounting: fraud and forensics,” said Jeannie Patton, AICPA vice president for students, academics and membership. “Those who participate will hone their teamwork and leadership skills, deepen their understanding of financial risks in international business strategy and potentially bring national attention to their college or university.”
Participants in the competition must work in teams of four students, two of whom must be accounting majors. One of the accounting majors must serve as team leader. First round submissions, which are due September 30, will be evaluated to determine a pool of 10 semifinalists. Those semifinalists will compete for three finalist spots, a chance to travel to Washington, D.C. for the final round and three cash awards: $10,000 for first place; $5,000 for second; and $2,500 for third.
Entrants will be expected to outline, in 750 words or less, double-spaced, the top three fraud risks for High Prairie Construction’s plan to expand into the Nigerian oil fields. Would this move increase the risk of fraud within the company? Are there factors within the company’s culture that leave it vulnerable to fraud? Is High Prairie exposed to risk under the FCPA and UK Bribery Act? All of these are considerations you’d make in your summary.
For once, we have a heartwarming story of a person who set her mind to accomplishing a goal in spite of more than her fair share of adversity and challenge. This should shame all of you C students into at least pretending like you are grateful for what you have, at least until next semester.
Last week, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants announced that Ms. Hefgine G. Fils-Aime, a spring 2011 graduate of the University of South Florida, has been awarded Beta Alpha Psi’s Medal of Inspiration Award. The award, sponsored by the AICPA, is bestowed upon a student who has experienced extreme hardships in his or her life and who has demonstrated an unusually high level of success d y. The award includes a $5,000 cash stipend, which Ms. Fils-Aime plans to use to help continue her education by pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in accountancy at Wake Forest University.
Ms. Fils-Aime’s story is one of overcoming persistent obstacles. In the mid-2000s, her parents sent Fils-Aime and her sister to Florida to live with relatives, fearful that their young daughters were in danger if they remained in Haiti. Then 14-year-old Fils-Amie, a native French and Creole speaker, had to learn English immediately and was enrolled as a junior in high school due to having skipped a grade in Haiti and the differences between the Haitian and American school systems. Fils-Aime graduated high school at age 16 and enrolled in the University of South Florida.
While the other 18 year-olds in the dorms were partying and trying to get her to take that route with them, she chose to remain focused on her education. As if that weren’t challenging enough, her biggest challenge arrived on Jan. 10, 2010, when Haiti was hit with a 7.0 earthquake. It would be days before she knew what happened to her parents and younger brother. Her mother did not survive the earthquake, buried in the rubble of their home when it collapsed. Port-au-Prince was so damaged that she could not fly in to attend her own mother’s funeral. Somehow during all this, she stuck to school and her extra-curricular activities, which included serving as student project support assistant at the Business Systems Reengineering Department, a candidate for Beta Alpha Psi and the Brothers Points coordinator for Alpha Kappa Psi. She attended PwC’s Florida Leadership Adventure in the summer of 2010.
“The winner of this year’s Beta Alpha Psi Medal of Inspiration Award, Hefgine G. Fils-Aime, is a shining example of a person who overcame extreme hardship, and a language barrier in a foreign country, to achieve success,” said Jeannie Patton, AICPA’s vice president of academic and career awareness. “Her dedication, motivation and courage to continue offers inspiration and hope to every one of us who has thought about quitting when the going got tough.”
Fils-Aime was presented the award on Friday at Beta Alpha Psi’s 2011 annual meeting in Denver.
“Hefgine Fils-Aime’s life story is an inspiring one for everyone who is part of Beta Alpha Psi,” said Mary Stone, president, Beta Alpha Psi. “For members, it is a story to remember when life seems overwhelming or unfair. For faculty advisors, forum members, and staff, it is a story to remember when confronted by the media stereotype that today’s students don’t work hard. For all of us, it is reminder that great challenges can be overcome with hard work, perseverance and good humor.”
Fils-Aime graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting with an overall GPA of 3.89 in May of 2011 and received a full-time offer from PwC. She was recognized on the College of Business’ top 25 under 25 and had been active in Beta Alpha Psi, Alpha Kappa Psi and Beta Gamma Sigma.
Current BAP students may vote for either themselves or another BAP student who they feel meets the criteria for this award, which is given out annually. There are two criteria whereby students can win. First, they may have experienced extreme hardships in their lives in pursuing their education, and demonstrated an unusually high level of success in spite of that adversity. Or, second, they may have done something particularly inspirational in the course of their young lives that had tremendous impact on someone else’s life. Either path is acceptable. Students are encouraged to participate in the program, not to bring honor or glory to themselves, but to inspire students to want to affect on the world around them in a positive way.
The AICPA, NASBA and Prometric yesterday announced the successful launch of the U.S, CPA Examination in international locations – the first time in history it has been administered outside of the United States and its territories.
On August 1, the first candidates took the exam in Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Throughout the remainder of the month, 1,165 candidates will sit for 2,065 examination sections. Future month-long testing windows will take place in November, February, May, and every third month thereafter.
The U.S. CPA exam is offered internationally as a service to foreign nationals in response to escalating international demand for U.S. CPA licensure. In 2010, more than 10,000 international candidates traveled to the U.S. to take the U.S. CPA exam, a 22 percent increase from 2009. Nearly one-third of international candidates came from Japan.
The international exam, offered in English, is the same as the U.S. exam administered by the AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric in the United States. Licensure requirements for international candidates are the same as for U.S. CPA candidates, meaning candidates must meet the qualifications of the jurisdiction in which they apply.. Along with passing the Uniform CPA Examination, international candidates must meet educational and experience requirements as mandated by U.S. state boards of accountancy.
In the United States, state boards have the governmental legal authority to award the U.S. CPA license. Applications may be made through certain U.S. state boards of accountancy offering eligibility for international candidates. A list of participating state boards and information about fees is posted on the NASBA website at www.nasba.org.
Testing in the new international locations is open to citizens and long-term residents of the countries in which the exam is being administered. In the Middle East, citizens of Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia may take the exam in one of the Middle East locations. U.S. citizens living abroad are eligible to test at any location.
Practice mobility has always been a big issue for CPAs, more so in these turbulent times when qualified individuals have to pack up and go a la Tom Joad just to find paying work in a reasonable market sometimes. So it makes sense that the AICPA and NASBA have jointly released a new online tool to help CPAs do what they do best from state to state.
Until all 55 jurisdictions can truly band together and agree on a uniform requirement across the board for all CPAs (never going to happen), this is the next best option.
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants today announced the launch of CPAmobility.org – an online tool designed to help Certified Public Accountants navigate the new practice privilege requirements that allow CPAs to more easily practice across state borders.
A joint project of the AICPA and NASBA, the new CPAmobility.org website provides helpful information, updated regularly, on state practice privilege requirements for CPAs, commonly referred to as “mobility” laws, for all 50 states and 5 U.S jurisdictions. In four simple clicks online, CPAs can learn whether their existing home state registration is mobile and allows them to work in other jurisdictions without additional notice, or whether further paperwork is required. In most cases, additional registration is no longer required because mobility statutes recognizing CPA licenses granted by other states and jurisdictions have been enacted in 47 of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions.
“CPAmobility.org is a valuable service that allows CPAs to take advantage of the benefits associated with state mobility laws with confidence. We are happy to offer a free tool that will assist CPAs in determining whether or not they can exercise mobility in a particular jurisdiction at the click of a button, on their laptop or mobile device,” said Ken L. Bishop, executive vice president and COO of NASBA.
“Mobility has become a reality for CPAs and accounting firms from coast-to-coast and it is now time to open the system for business,” said Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the AICPA. “We are very pleased to be able to offer this free service to CPA firms together with NASBA, which was a key partner in developing the technology and information to power the website, CPAmobility.org.”
The site works by posing three targeted questions to CPAs interested in exercising cross-border practice privileges. Those are:
Where is your principal place of business?
Where are you going to perform services (target state)?
What type of services will you perform?
Information on licensing and registration requirements is then produced allowing CPAs to move quickly to address new business opportunities. CPAmobility.org offers immediate access to the site through a mobile application, an attractive benefit for CPAs needing to confirm eligibility requirements while they are on the road or away from their offices.
NASBA and the AICPA have been longtime advocates of mobility, providing support and resources to state boards and state CPA societies seeking changes to current rules. As additional states continue to embrace mobility, the need to educate CPAs on the requirements is growing.
CPAmobility.org will feature useful links to NASBA and AICPA resources. To learn more about mobility or to research cross-border practice privilege requirements, visit www.CPAmobility.org.
At first glance, the new site features a slick interface (if you ignore the obnoxious Helvetica header) that asks you three simple questions: where do you practice normally, where do you plan to practice and what type of services will you perform? Once you answer those, it will tell you the rules for individuals and firms based on your responses.
Not unlike the overachiever that sits in the front row of class waving their outstretched hand like some ecstatic cruise ship passenger, the eager beavers at the AICPA have put the IRS on notice that they are willing and able to help out with the registered tax return preparers (“RTRPs”) exam.
As the national professional organization of certified public accountants comprised of approximately 370,000 members, the AICPA is well situated to provide input to the IRS on the technical issues related to developing and administering competency examinations. AICPA members provide services to individuals, not-for-profit organizations, and small and medium-sized businesses, as well as America’s largest businesses.
The AICPA offers to assist the IRS build on the Service’s already significant experience with the Special Enrollment Examination. Our own experience with the Uniform CPA examination has shown us that there are a number of critical steps in the test development process, including: (1) defining the material to be tested; (2) developing the test questions; (3) pre-testing or trying out test questions; (4) constructing and reviewing test forms which require that the final test be fair to all candidates regardless of which test form they take; (5) reviewing candidate comments on test questions; (6) protecting the security of the examination (including the examination questions and candidate data); and (7) conducting an annual review of the quality of the examination.
Despite the hint at a compliment (e.g. “Service’s already significant experience”), you can’t help but think that AICPA doesn’t quite trust the IRS to pull this off. What with the security issues, lack of warm bodies and beating terroristic threats off with a stick.
This survey was done by the Institute of Management Accountants, so of course the AICPA would encourage you to wait for the CGMA to get a dual certification but if you just can’t wait, then the CMA should work fine.
IMA’s Annual Salary Survey explores salary trends of accounting and finance professionals and reveals that certain industries are faring better than others. Public accounting ranked first in terms of average salary, at $125,488, and second in average total compensation, at $153,395, both in 2010 and 2009. The survey was mailed to respondents last December, and the results have just been released this month.
“The CMAs in this year’s study make a little more than the CPAs,” said Dennis Whitney, senior vice president of certification at the Institute of Certified Management Accountants. “For the younger professionals, it’s a little more per year. The number does seem to go up as you get older, but generally it’s a couple of thousand dollars. But the thing that’s the most dramatic is that people with both the CPA and the CMA fare the best.”
For those with both certifications, the difference can be not only $27,000, but $35,700.
“Dual certification is definitely worthwhile,” said Whitney. “It broadens your competencies. You have not only the financial accounting and auditing skills, but also the financial planning, analysis, and control skills and decision-making, which are very important today.”
We were wondering about Benjamin Bankes’ employment status with the AICPA, a non-profit professional trade organization, the trade being (loosely) the CPA. They fiercely defend the CPA designation’s legitimacy as a world-recognized credential and work for their members by offering themselves up as experts for legislators who have no idea what they are unleashing with a simple tax tweak. It’s a pretty good deal; we get reasonable security that our financial experts are at a minimum trained in the skills necessary to function at the entry level and the AICPA gets the notoriety that comes with being a 360,000 strong organization with a long history of protecting the integrity of its most precious asset.
So when we found Benjamin Bankes’ picture among AICPA headshots on Flickr, we wondered what kind of employment status he enjoys with the AICPA. Independent contractor? Full-time, taxable employee? Spokespig? I mean he’s right up there with Barry, so it’s got to be a pretty secure gig.
Just wondering. It’s a damn awesome picture.
Straight from the horse’s mouth, or, in this case, the CPAs:
According to the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, chief financial officers, controllers and CPAs in executive and senior management accounting roles are far less optimistic now about the direction of the U.S. economy than they were in the first quarter of 2011.
The CPA Outlook Index, a broad-based composite index that captures the expectations of CPA financial executives and management accountants, declined three points to 66 this quarter, from 69 in the prior period.
“The flush of optimism we experienced earlier this year has given way to more moderate expectations for the U.S. economy,” said Carol Scott, AICPA vice president for business, industry and government. “While the CPA Outlook Index is still positive relative to the dark days of the recession, our members are concerned about rising energy costs and inflation, health care costs and continuing weakness in demand.”
The pullback in optimism follows an upbeat assessment in the prior quarter and signals the two-year-old U.S. economic recovery has lost momentum, Scott said. The survey shows that expectations for corporate expansion and hiring have moderated and the outlook for revenues and profits declined. Concerns about inflation continued to rise, driven by higher energy costs. The outlook for capital spending remained largely flat with information technology the only sector enjoying improvement.
It’s worth noting that while optimism for the US economy declined sharply this quarter, it is still higher than it was for the 4th quarter of 2010. Slightly more than one quarter of respondents (27%) expressed a pessimistic outlook for the US economy, driven by concerns about unemployment, government debt and rising prices.
Check out the full survey here, Valium not included.
Note: I am choosing not to spell or grammar check this letter A) because last time Braddock dared to do the same, you guys slaughtered him for being a dick and B) as much as I hate truly awful grammar (a few steps below the typo-filled crap Caleb we writes here), I think the point is sufficiently expressed if you can simply ignore some of the obvious errors. In fewer words: we get it.
The following rant is presented without comment. Please note that its publication here does not constitute an endorsement ssed therein. Caleb took the exam back in the day with stone tablet and cave drawings of journal entries and I, as we all know, have not and will not sit for the CPA exam so neither of us have the experience to draw from here to form an opinion. Over the years, I have heard of issues at Prometric but usually along the lines of minor software failures that did not really impact the candidates’ experiences. I would be curious to get feedback from you all, the dedicated capital market servants, who have had examination snafus seriously impact your momentum.
For this guy, it was enough to get him to quit.
I remind you all here that a lot has changed since 2007. The AICPA and NASBA are getting better at communicating and always looking for ways to improve that process.
May 19, 2011
Subject: Uniform CPA Exam (glitches & bugs in exam software)
To Whom This May Concern,
My name is Matthew Grosso, former C.P.A. exam candidate back in 2007 who had experienced tremendous difficulties with the software that powers the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam (or “C.P.A. exam”) as well as various communications with NASBA (National State Board of Accountancy). My hardship has been well documented in a section below, titled “Timeline”….however, first, I would like to explain the nature and intent of this letter. In short, this letter is a call to action — a voice if you will — of many frustrated C.P.A candidates who have studied long and hard to attain the prestigious C.P.A designation, but have tragically fallen short because of undocumented barriers to entry into the profession; specifically, “software glitches and bugs” in the C.P.A. testing software package as well communication hurdles with NASBA.
Although I withdrew my candidacy a couple years ago, I continue to read and hear about candidates’ exam hardships (and, I’m not referring to passing difficulties). The fact is, candidates adversely affected by C.P.A. software issues are focused more on passing the exam rather that drafting grievance letters. Moreover, many distressed candidates are uncertain to who exactly they should contact regarding the nature of a testing issue…..is it NASBA, the State Board, the AICPA, Becker Convisor, or the Prometric Testing Center? The C.P.A. is daunting enough on a stand-alone basis, but for a candidate to experience a computer failure and have to blindly navigate a maze of reporting lines, in hope of finding answers to complex questions, is something entirely different. Because candidates are more concerned with “candidacy” and long busy season hours (as they should) and less so with detective work and grievance letters, is in my opinion, the reason difficulties with the software powering the Uniform C.P.A. exam has been grossly understated. Still, even if a handful of grievance letters had indeed made its way upstream to NASBA, The State Board Committee (SBC), The AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE), I’m curious why the C.P.A exam governors failed to address the software glitch/communication issues in an expeditious manner……or have decided to pull the plug on computerized testing altogether? Even if these issues were still in the discovery phase, I would have expected NASBA/AICPA to have contacted current and former candidates regarding the pervasiveness of the issue; the quality control time needed to correct the issue; and more importantly — a remedy.
Given consideration of the facts mentioned above – as a former (unlicensed) candidate, I’m left wondering whether the BOE has specific controls in place to detect issues with the software powering the C.P.A?, If so, whether the controls are working as designed with issues being sufficiently and timely communicated up the reporting hierarchy? I’m certainly aware of the pervasiveness of the exam software issue (and have facts to support it!), but perhaps the BOE isn’t! Perhaps the BOE is aware of the software issue, and has considered the issue to be statistically, De minimus. Even if the later was true, why weren’t candidates (like myself) notified of the shortcomings of the computerized testing approach and the potential for its effect on licensure?
Given my understanding of the imperfections of the Uniform C.P.A. exam and the organizational structure of The AICPA, NASBA and its affiliates, I’m under the impression the COE and its working cabinet has grossly underestimated the frequency of the glitches and bugs in the C.P.A. software – specifically the essay portion. Having made a significant time and financial investment in the program, I firmly believe my experience would have been different had the operational deficiencies in exam software been attended to, and NASBA – Candidate communications (via “NASBA Candidate Care”) fostered stronger ties.
In closing, as a friendly recommendation I would appoint a “Director of Customer Support” to research candidate concerns and help implement corrective action. This appointment would certainly enhance communications inside and outside the organization, thereby protecting the interests of candidates and prevent undue hardships in the C.P.A. community.
Matthew M. Grosso
So? Would anyone else care to share their “undue hardship” with the class?
Back in March, we reported that the AICPA and CIMA were kicking around the idea of working together on a new global management accountant credential. Today, the two organizations have officially rolled out their plans.
[T]he two accounting bodies will create the new CGMA designation to give management accountancy a higher profile in the United States and promote the professional development of management accountants across the globe. Backing the new CGMA designation will be an AICPA-CIMA joint venture with international resources and experience in management accounting and business.
This will compete with the IMA’s CMA designation which has proven to be a valuable credential, although not a very sought-after one. The CGMA won’t be available until 2012 but the press release doesn’t give a lot of details about how the designation will be earned:
It is proposed that the new CGMA designation will be issued to members early in 2012. AICPA voting members with at least three years working in management accounting or a financial management role would qualify for an accelerated route to obtaining the new designation. CIMA members, all of whom hold either an ACMA or FCMA, will be entitled to use the letters ACMA CGMA or FMCA CGMA if they wish to.
Those holding the new designation will commit to a program of developing and maintaining competency in management accounting as well as leadership and strategy. This knowledge base will be derived from an expert-panel assessment of skills and competencies needed to succeed in various career paths in management accounting.
The new CGMA will be issued by the AICPA and CIMA through a license with the joint venture, with membership remaining with the existing organizations.
So, anyone interested?
[via AICPA, CIMA]
We’re sure no one wants to see a repeat of the first quarter’s scoring debacle but since we didn’t enjoy being called lots of names last time we dared to bring it up, we’re not going to discuss that.
Instead, let’s see the email NASBA sent out to candidates last week. It’s good to see them making the effort exactly as the AICPA told us they would, and we hope that this will cut down on any confusion/insults/whining in the two quarters left before the new, faster scoring system is in place.
Score Release Reminder, April/May 2011
Dear CPA Examination Candidate:
This message is to remind candidates of the score release timeline for 2011.
Because of the significant changes made to the content and structure of the Uniform CPA Examination in 2011, there have been comparable changes to the scoring process, all of which require more extensive psychometric analyses of both test questions and candidate performance for the first three windows of this year. Sufficient data needs to be aggregated for the required additional analyses and the data must come from actual, operational exam results. For each testing window, we have to acquire a sufficient sample size of exam results in order to perform the required analyses and score the exams properly. This process takes time. Therefore, for the first three testing windows of 2011, scores will only be released after the end of each window.
For candidates who have tested in the April/May 2011 testing window, barring unforeseen circumstances, the AICPA will release the scores to NASBA within a 7-10 day period beginning the third week of June 2011.
We anticipate that by the October/November 2011 testing window, we will have aggregated enough data so that the additional analyses won’t be necessary, and scores can be processed on a rolling basis, and hence more frequently. We encourage candidates to visit the Psychometrics and Scoring page on the Exams Web site for reliable information about score release and the scoring process. The AICPA does not endorse or support any other Web site or forum for disseminating information about the Uniform CPA Examination.
We won’t take that last bit personally since we are pretty sure it was not a dig at us; we try our best to keep you guys informed and always pointed towards the AICPA’s own material on any CPA exam subject we cover here. Well, except on the subject of drugs, there’s no candidate bulletin on getting hopped up on doctor dope to study for the CPA exam (rightfully so).
I’m 97% sure most CPA exam candidates are confused by the CPA exam’s psychometric scoring, either because it is supposed to be that way or they haven’t done their research. Either way, I once again got the chance to speak with John Mattar, Ed.D., Director of Psychometrics and Research and Mike Decker, Director of Operations and Development, both of the AICPA’s examinations unit. This time we focused on how the CPA exam is scored. Remember that most of this information is already available on the AICPA’s website, check out How the CPA Exam is Scored and the Psychometrics and Scoring section for more detailed, less sarcastic information than what you might find here. That being said, we appreciate John and Mike taking time to humor us anyway.
Of course, no discussion about how the exam is scored would be complete without rehashing last quarter’s somewhat tardy score release issue. John and Mike compared it to buying a new car but driving home in your old car, meaning scoring is going to be a broke down Toyota Tercel for just two more quarters but if you all can be patient, you’ll be spinning around town in that shiny new Lexus by December. “We’re doing everything we can to administer a quality exam, including communicating with candidates,” Mike told us. They also let us know that they will be using NASBA to push out timely information to candidates in the quarters ahead. See? Told you they were listening to candidates’ scoring concerns.
When talking about how the CPA exam is scored, it’s important to remember that candidates take different but equivalent exams. “It’s not possible to say what each testlet is worth because everyone is taking different exams,” said John. That being said, we did manage to get them to tell us that, contrary to popular belief, candidates are not compared to each other when they are scored. How do we know? While we still don’t know how many points each question is worth, John told us “we can say with 100% assurance if two different candidates get the same question, they will both get the same amount of points or credit for getting that question right.” This whole exam scoring thing is feeling less and less insidious by the minute, isn’t it?
For the final time: the CPA exam is not graded on a curve, nor are you compared to everyone who did better than you, nor are you compared to everyone who showed up to Prometric that day or week or month. “The way the exam is scored, candidates are compared to a fixed ability level. They are not compared to each other. If in the next window candidates maybe aren’t as well-prepared, fewer people will pass. They are being compared to a fixed level of ability,” John told us. Twice. Just to make sure we all got it. Got it? Let’s go over it one more time (from the Scoring FAQs):
The CPA Examination is NOT curved. Every candidate’s score is entirely independent of other candidates’ Examination results.
The CPA Examination is a criterion-referenced examination which means that it rests upon pre-determined standards. Every candidate’s performance is measured against established standards to determine whether the candidate has demonstrated the level of knowledge and skills that is represented by the passing score. Every candidate is judged against the same standards, and every score is an independent result.
Are we clear on that? Awesome, moving on…
Pretest questions make up fifteen MCQ in AUD/FAR and twelve in REG/BEC, one task-based simulation in FAR, AUD and REG and one written communication in BEC. The problem with gaming this system is that you can’t, since you have no way of knowing which questions are pretest and which are operational. So just guess equally on all of them as if every single one counts, mmmkay? Pretest questions will resemble operational questions since they are testing whatever is in the Content Specification Outline, meaning IFRS wasn’t tested on a pretest basis last year. What this means for candidates is that nothing outside of the CSOs will EVER be pretested. Maybe not a life-changing piece of information but really useful to know if you are prone to asking “what should I be studying?” and are familiar with the CSOs.
So what’s with the score report you get when you fail that compares you to those who scored between 75 and 80 in that window? Why not compare you to the CPA exam superstars who pulled down 99s without breaking a sweat?
“If you compared [failing candidates] to people that got all the way up to 99, it’s not as useful,” John said. “We want the basis of comparison that is going to be the most meaningful to the people who failed and that group is those that got closest to passing. If I got a 62 and the comparison group includes all the people who got above 90, that isn’t going to help me as much. Most of the people who pass are between 75 – 80.”
While we appreciate the AICPA taking the time to speak with us, we feel it’s important to point out that, at the end of the day, they are the best source of information for candidates. Answers to most of your questions can be found on their website. If you’re having trouble finding something or have a specific question related to the CPA exam, get in touch and we’ll do our best to do the Googling on your behalf.
Correction: We regret to inform readers that no such assistance actually exists, the following is only meant for tax-stumped reporters who need help figuring out tricky tax rules.
Have no fear, little taxpayer, the AICPA is here to help you out if you’re stumped as to how to add up items H, K, L minus M x .412.
This year’s April 18 tax filing deadline is 13 days away, but approximately 59 million taxpayers still have to file their returns, the Internal Revenue Service said on April 4. These taxpayers are still collecting records, wrestling with forms and struggling to get answers to their last minute tax questions.
Edward Karl, vice president of taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and other members of the AICPA tax staff are available to answer questions for end of tax filing season stories about credits, deductions, errors to avoid, what to do if you can’t pay the taxes you owe and what to consider if you need to file for an extension. Taxpayers should be sure to remember that their tax bill is due and must be paid on April 18, even if they file an extension; otherwise penalty and interest fees apply.
The IRS said about 58 percent of the approximately 141 million returns it expects to be filed this year have been filed. About 20 to 25 percent of returns are filed in the last two weeks and about 7 percent of taxpayers will file for an extension. The IRS’s numbers are based on filing statistics as of March 25.
If you are a taxpayer who needs help
you’re more of the self-service type and prefer interacting with a website over an actual human being, check out the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Taxes for tax tips and suggestions. We found the Help! I can’t pay my tax bill article to be especially helpful for those who are in the delicate position of owing a bunch of money to the IRS but not actually having any to pay the piper. While the suggestion to take out a loan or borrow from family to pay a due tax bill seems offensive at first, it’s reasonable given that a bank loan will probably carry a smaller interest rate than fees and penalties associated with not paying the IRS promptly.
Now is your chance to tell the AICPA exactly where you think the industry is headed in the future. CPAs don’t get many chances to be this candid about their chosen profession, so please make it count.
CPA Horizons 2025, coined “the profession’s effort to anticipate and plan for the future,” is a short survey that seeks to get professionals’ opinions on where the industry is going and the challenges it faces to get there. Participants are faced with the following directive:
Growing global competition, rapid technological development and increasing regulation are impacting the CPA profession today and will continue to in the coming years. As a result of the changing environment, how can the profession remain competitive? Will services being requested of the profession change? Will the profession’s core values, core services and core competencies remain the same or need to change to allow the profession to continue to best serve its clients and employers?
CPA Horizons 2025 is about your future and the future of your profession. It’s about forging a path to ensure both remain competitive in a rapidly changing world. Your participation in this profession-wide endeavor is vital in helping shape our collective future.
We are soliciting the thoughts of thousands of CPA’s along with other voices via this interactive survey, online discussion forums, in person forums and direct outreach to AICPA committee members, leaders in the profession and beyond. We ask for 15 minutes to help map out the next 15 years. Your 15 minutes will be on a limited # of questions that is a subset of a larger group of questions which will serve to identify what is on the Horizon impacting the profession. Your participation is important. What may the future hold? Help tell us.
Beyond answering simply yes or no questions based on pre-determined criteria, you will have the opportunity to write in your answers regarding trends, opportunities and challenges facing the profession. You will also get an entire box to fill in what you think the profession should do to remain relevant, a huge opportunity for those of you who feel the current food chain just isn’t doing it for you.
And then you get to watch a video. Frankly I’ve got to say this video was pretty depressing, showing how the U.S. is falling behind in the global scheme of things, continuously getting spanked by India and China when it comes to science, math and the economy. Ouch.
Take the survey here.
Commence to partying (or reapplying with your state board/CPAES)!
Since the last time I dared to bring this issue up I was insulted personally and professionally, I’m going to approach this very carefully. Starting with a few statements of my position:
First, I have the utmost respect for those who first suffer through a college accounting education and then decide to pursue a CPA. It’s not an easy thing to do and the experience only gets worse when you add kids, work and a life to the mix. I get that. I’ve suffered through it at the side of thousands of CPAs in the last four years and, empathetic jerk that I am, I absolutely feel their pain. I’ve been the crying shoulder and the therapist as well as th aring that with CPA exam candidates has been a real joy in my life. Mostly because I’m not the one who actually has to go through it.
Second, I believe 18 months is plenty of time to get through the exam. For those who have struggled 2, 3, even 5 years with this thing, it is not at all unreasonable for me to suggest that perhaps you should find another line of work. That doesn’t mean struggling candidates shouldn’t be offered support but at some point, you have to ask yourself if the Universe is trying to send you a very strong hint. That’s fine, the AICPA is doing their job if not everyone can pass. This isn’t a kindergarten playground exercise in how everyone deserves a trophy no matter how bad their performance, this is a professional license and it is a privilege, not a right.
That being said, I was not expecting the floodgates of CPA exam candidate hell to come bursting forth on Monday when I addressed a note the AICPA wrote to candidates. In trolling NASBA’s Facebook page and getting additional feedback from candidates (beyond the “screw you, AG, you’re not a CPA” comments), it’s clear candidates are livid about this whole scoring thing. There’s no other explanation for otherwise reasonable future CPAs lashing out like they did, since we all know professionals aren’t prone to that kind of behavior out of habit.
So the first thing candidates should be doing instead of snapping at NASBA, the AICPA and me is to write down their thoughts and send them to the AICPA and NASBA. The first three quarters of 2011 are basically practice for a new, improved scoring process the AICPA hopes to debut at the end of the year and if candidates stick to yelling at accounting bloggers, the important people who can really make a change aren’t hearing them. Be clear, be concise and be honest. What would you like to see changed? What do you feel is unfair? How do you feel about this entire process? Try to keep emotion out of it (save that for your therapist, your spouse or your best friend) but be explicit about the stress this has put on you if you feel it is necessary. Remember that complaints are easy but offering solutions or feedback that can help them improve stands the best chance to change things. I assure you all that the AICPA and NASBA are listening, they just might need to block it out if it’s mostly profane vitriol and hardly any common sense. I highly doubt that either agency planned for this to get so ugly, and if they are at all like me, probably didn’t expect it would be the meltdown it was. So keep that in mind when you are yelling at them like the intelligent professional I’m sure you are.
Speaking of which, we caught up with a real live intelligent professional who asked to keep her firm name out of this but wanted to weigh in regardless. A seasoned professional when it comes to the CPA exam from her work as an HR manager for a mid-sized Bay Area accounting firm, she is also a CPA exam candidate and has been vocal in expressing her dissatisfaction with this scoring debacle.
To her, the issue is customer service and communication, or rather lack thereof. She told us:
I advise candidates on everything about licensure (e.g. application process, review courses, changes to the exam, score releases, and serve as the unofficial firm “nag” reminding people they need to get or stay on the licensure path). In both roles, it is my duty to stay informed and I really try my very best to do so. To that end, this is why I felt so frustrated with NASBA’s recent post on Facebook. I didn’t receive the AICPA memo about the delay of scores for Q1-Q3 back in October of 2010. I went through my emails and see I have only received 3 email messages from NASBA and nothing from the AICPA. One was a 11/18/10 email from Prometric and NASBA about adding additional time slots in Q4 of 2010 to accommodate the high volume of candidates scrambling to avoid IFRS, and one on 1/4/11 announcing CBT-e was launched on 1/1/11. The last message contained 6 links, including sample tests, a tutorial, and a link to their October 21, 2010 message [a letter to the state boards that explained the new scoring process]. Obviously, I didn’t click on all the links until today. I was more focused on the tutorials.
Nowhere in the body of the message does it read the scores would be delayed. My bad for not reading the ‘footnotes’ but, in my humble opinion, later scores is a material item that should be separately stated in the ‘financial statements’/email message.
The communications from NASBA need more empathy. These candidates are overachievers who are probably failing at something for the first time in their life; emotions are automatically running high. Candidates are spending a lot of time, money and now even more money because they had to go out and buy brand new materials to be ready for the 2011 exam. We were sold on the idea that these changes would result in faster score reporting – God knows we were already at our wits end that it took so long for a machine to grade the old CBT- and here we are slapped with another round of delays. And they have the audacity to say they told us this back in October. Really?
The issue continues and we will happily continue covering it here so long as you all care. Any and all input (including gripes and general bellyaching but not insults towards the author or this website) is welcome in the comments.
It’s been two days since they released FAR so at this rate, all scores should be out by Tuesday. Who wants to bet unforeseen circumstances delay BEC a tad longer? Just a guess.
Anyhoo, you’ve waited weeks (or months) for ’em, here they are.
All 32 CPAES states should have scores posted online within 24 hours (though preliminary candidate feedback is that this process is faster than it used to be). The only CPAES states which may take 24-48 hours to release online are Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska & Puerto Rico. Check with your state board of accountancy if you are in a non-CPAES state.
It’s been quite some time since we brought you Five Questions as we’ve already asked just about everyone worth asking to participate. But we’ve got a serious bacon fetish and a penchant for saving our pennies, so when we got the chance to interrogate Feed the Pig’s Benjamin Bankes, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
In case you aren’t familiar with his work, BB is th��������������������f the AICPA’s Feed the Pig campaign, inspiring saving across the country through PSAs, tweets and other similar awareness campaigns. His people got in touch with us and sent his official bio thusly:
Although he comes from a long line of investment piggy bankers, Benjamin once toyed with the idea of playing professional football (he wanted to be the ball in a Super Bowl game). Once he realized he would have no life with that career, the idea quickly boared him. Then, he discovered the alarming state of personal finances in this country and Benjamin realized his true life’s mission.
Bankes attended Sowthwestern University, where this little piggy went to marketing classes. Though he has never been known as a party animal, he does enjoy the occasional mudslide. In addition to his sharp business sense, Benjamin is also a very talented fiction writer who goes under the pig-pen name of H.W. Hogfellow. Other interests include: long trots on the beach, watching television (his favorite show is Squeel of Fortune), viewing movies (favorite movie is Martin Boarsese’s epic, The Hogfather), and listening to music (favorite song is “Pigs Don’t Lie” by Shoatkira). Benjamin currently resides in the minds of 25 – 34 year-olds everywhere who need proper financial guidance.
Feed the Pig’s hard work is definitely working. According to a survey conducted by The Advertising Council:
Respondents who recalled seeing or hearing the Feed the Pig PSAs were more likely to claim they always take certain actions to save money, such as:
o Keeping a budget of their expenses (33% vs. 19%)
o Saving for long-term financial goals such as education, a house or retirement (30 vs. 18%)
o Bringing a bagged lunch to work and/or eat leftover meals (29% vs. 21%)
o Comparison shopping for the purchase of most items (49% vs. 23%)
o Increasing savings when they receive a salary increase (27% vs. 16%)
Respondents who recalled seeing or hearing the Feed the Pig PSAs were more likely than those who had not to report that in the past six months, they have taken action to learn more about managing their finances. Reported activities include:
o Discussing ways to save money with friends and family (84% vs. 67%)
o Visiting a website to get more information about how to save money (62% vs. 34%)
o Calling a toll-free number to get more information (32% vs. 4%)
Side note: this interviewer slipped an extra $20 in her piggy bank after writing this piece.
We’d like to say we sat down with Benjamin but good bacon would have gotten hurt in the process, so instead we caught up with him via email and asked all the sizzling questions we could come up with.
AG: Does it hurt having that slot in your head?
BB: Only when it’s empty.
AG: When we think of financial literacy we think of you but what are some other resources for those interested in learning how and why to save?
BB: Of course I recommend my website, www.feedthepig.org as well as another financial literacy website from AICPA, www.360financialliteracy.org. In addition the state CPA societies have wonderful financial literacy sites and offer programs in their communities. Here’s a sampling:
Texas Society of CPAs: http://www.valueyourmoney.org/
California Society of CPAs: http://www.calcpa.org/Content/Financial_Literacy.aspx
Virginia Society of CPAs: http://www.vscpa.com/Content/financial_fitness/default.aspx
AG: Do you read any accounting blogs and if so, which do you like?
BB: Do I sense a leading question? You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on Benjamin Bankes.
AG: Fine, we won’t send you a FREE I heart Jr Deputy Accountant bumper sticker then. Moving on, even though financial literacy is important, we all deserve a splurge every now and then, especially if we are being diligent about saving our money. How do you splurge?
BB: I put ice cubes in my tap water.
AG: Sounds like you missed your calling, you would make a great CPA. Lastly, are you going to be visiting Capitol Hill any time soon? Seems like America as a whole has really embraced your message but Washington could really use your help. You can stay at my house to save a few bucks on a hotel room.
BB: I don’t have any trips planned right now, high gas prices and all, but follow me on Twitter (@feedthepig) and I’ll let you know when I’m there.
Rejoice! Despair! Whatever.
According to the NASBA Twitter feed, they’ll have scores for 32 states up with a few others taking 24-48 hours to appear.
One of our favorite sources of CPA exam info, This Way to CPA, has put together a very helpful list of suggestions for candidates trying to conquer the CPA exam. Just a few of the tips (many of which we have shared with you here previously):
Know your strengths. Confidence is good, but so is honesty. Know where you’re good – and where you need to improve. From there, you can design a study plan that works harder for you.
Write out a plan. What are you going to study, how are you going to study, and when? Maybe it’s all in your head, but it can’t hurt to write it all out to make sure you stick to the plan.
Use the free stuff. You can spend a lot of money getting ready for the exam. Which is perfectly fine. But don’t overlook the totally free tutorials, sample exams and other tools provided by the AICPA. After all, we make the test.
Our favorite was “get a lucky charm or something,” which shows us that the AICPA is not above superstition. That probably should be taken as an admission that the exam is part crapshoot, part dedication but we’ll save postulating on that for another day.
For where to find the “free stuff,” check out our previous comments on the topic and get to clicking.
Head to This Way to CPA for the rest of the tips but remember that all candidates are not created equal. Some can do better with a study buddy or the support of like-minded individuals while others prefer to isolate and be miserable (or make others miserable with their miserableness).
Some of these tips may or may not apply to your personal needs, which can only be determined by you and not any CPA Review Swamis out there or random folk on the Internet who have never stared into your bitter little 10-key-pounding heart. So my first suggestion would be to look long and hard at your own personal needs before you go looking for ways to improve your experience and succeed.
The AICPA shared a note on Facebook the other day that was also shared by NASBA and brought up an interesting conversation full of frustration, anger and misunderstanding. The comments by candidates show how important it is to take information at face value and be sure you are not reading too much into what is shared by those who don’t have all the answers.
Before we get to that, let’s get to the note:
Thanks again to everyone who has been asking about the score release timelines. It’s an important topic and we appreciate the feedback. As a reminder, for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to visit our website, over the past year we ��������������������to state boards, scoring timeline FAQs, and provided an in-depth white paper describing how the Exam is scored, all available at the CPA Exam website. And if you’re interested in a refresher about the eligibility requirements, including the 18 month timeline and instructions for scheduling your Exam, the updated Candidate Bulletin from NASBA contains the information you need.
It also appears that there is some confusion about what it means to administer a “high stakes” test. For those of you who don’t know, the Uniform CPA Examination is a high stakes test. That means that there is a direct consequence of passing (or failing) the Exam – in our case, that consequence is meeting one of the requirements to obtain your CPA license. Becoming a licensed CPA carries with it legal authority, and an obligation to protect the public interest. That’s why the Exam must make valid, accurate assessments of examinees. The outcomes are too important.
Making those valid, accurate assessments is what this scoring process is really about. In high-stakes testing, any time an exam undergoes a major revision (as with the introduction of CBT-e), best practices dictate that scoring must be revised as well. That means that sufficient data needs to be aggregated for the required additional analyses (of both test questions and candidate performance) that must take place. This data must be taken from actual, operational exam results.
To our candidates, like you, this means that we have to acquire a sufficient sample size of actual exam results in order to perform the required analyses and score the exams properly. This process takes time and that’s why we are only able to release scores at the end of each window, for the time being. After three windows, we will have aggregated enough data so that additional analyses won’t be necessary, and scores can be processed on a rolling basis, and hence more frequently.
We hope this information provides the clarity that many of you are looking for. Thanks again for engaging in this conversation.
The AICPA was very clear long before the beginning of 2011 that scoring would be changing this year and has let us all in on its plan to accelerate the scoring process for the last window of the year. This information is freely available on the AICPA’s website and is digested here on Going Concern for those of you “too busy” to check for yourselves. But for many, this simply isn’t enough. Candidates who cut the 18 month window too close feel cheated and some are even expecting some sort of accommodation by the AICPA. What they seem to be missing is that even if they get their scores at the end of this month, they are not getting them any earlier or later than they could have under the Wave 1/Wave 2 scoring rules.
While many of us are in the business of helping candidates make sense of the wealth of CPA exam information out there, it is imperative to remember that some of what we do involves making educated guesses. Case in point, earlier this month Jeff Elliott at Another71 predicted scores would be out March 17th. Up until now, he’s been pretty dead on about score release dates so while there is no reason to believe he’d be wrong this time, it’s important to keep in mind that his score predictions are just that, predictions. He isn’t privy to information the rest of us aren’t, he has simply been doing this long enough to have a good sense of what to expect.
When March 17th came and went, candidates were outraged that they still didn’t have their scores. Some even took to NASBA’s Facebook page to complain. Said one candidate “A piece of advice for next time, don’t come out with this statement and expect us CPA candidates not to be frustrated and angry when you yourselves stated ALL SCORES would be released March 17th when you obviously knew that was never going to happen!”
But the AICPA never said that.
As of this morning, scores still haven’t been released and candidates are likely still pissed off that they were told March 17th but that isn’t the AICPA’s fault and it isn’t Jeff’s fault either. Such is the nature of the beast and surely candidates know going into this that anything can and will happen.
The AICPA and the London-based Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) are proposing forming a joint venture to develop and promote a new global management accounting designation. The joint venture is designed to give management accounting a higher profile in the United States, advance the science of management accounting worldwide, and promote the U.S. CPA designation as a worldwide standard of professional excellence in accounting, according to a press release from the organizations. [JofA]
Note from AG: We know it’s busy season and the last thing you’re thinking about is the exam but just in case you’re one of the lucky ones who has nothing else to do but sit for BEC for the fourth time and have a question for us, get in touch. I’ll cover anything from how to prepare to what to do on test day but sorry, I am not available to take the exam for you.
If you are a CPA exam candidate and haven’t, at a minimum, tried a quick Google search to gather everything you need to know to conquer the exam, you probably deserve the 50 you’re going to get when you bomb research, do simulations wrong or blow off multiple choice because you don’t realize that the exam is on a plus point basis. But for those of you who have done your due diligence and are still feeling a bit lost, This Way to CPA has put together a decent list of items you must check out.
First, the CPA Candidate Bulletin. This handbook covers everything from scheduling to application and includes contact information for the state boards of accountancy so you know who to pester when your application takes 10 weeks. This is a good place to start and a must-read for anyone even considering taking the exam. Reading through this will help you put together a framework of what to expect when you start testing, and will help you ask better questions when you start looking for a review course or additional guidance.
Second, while the actual content of the CPA exam is proprietary and guarded closer than the gold bars that may or may not be in Fort Knox, the AICPA publishes a comprehensive list of topics covered, and also gives you an estimate of how many of those types of questions will appear on your exam. Check out the Content and Skill Specification Outlines, which have always been readily available on the AICPA’s website, for this information as well as a breakdown of skills tested in the CPA exam.
Third, while most review course software is good practice, since the exam is property of the AICPA, no review course is allowed to copy the exam environment exactly. That’s where the tutorial comes in. You can do 5 practice questions (including sims) for each section and familiarize yourself with the exact exam environment as it will look when you take it. This way you aren’t thrown by that weird pencil icon and can practice flagging the many multiple choice you will probably have to go back and guess on. The AICPA recommends all candidates use the tutorial before exam day, no exceptions.
A few months back, we got a few moments with the AICPA examinations unit for insight on CBT-e and, most notably, the updated score release plan for this year.
Now it looks like the AICPA has updated their 2011 score release timeline with more details on changes to scoring later in the year, specifically an improvement that will allow them to release scores earlier for the October/November testing window which we first told you about in January. At that time, we were forbidden from telling you how frequently the AICPA wanted this to be but now that they’ve updated the FAQ, this information is all yours to enjoy:
Q. When can I expect to receive my scores after October 2011?
A. During the 2006-2010 testing windows , candidate scores were released in two rounds: The first round approximately one week before the end of the testing window, and the second approximately two weeks after the end of the testing window. In addition, not all candidates who tested early in a window were eligible for the first round of score release. Candidates who took test forms with new test content that required additional analysis and review before scoring were not eligible for the first round of score release.
With CBT-e, improvements have been introduced into the process. Beginning with the October/November 2011 testing window, scores will be released faster and more frequently.
The first round of score release will be approximately one month after the beginning of the testing window. Subsequent score releases will be made every two weeks after the initial release.
In addition, with very few exceptions (see below), candidates who test early in a window will be eligible for the first round of score release.
What are those exceptions? Amazingly, those taking BEC should not expect to get their scores early. The AICPA states that candidates taking BEC will have to wait a little longer for their scores just in case their written communication problems need to be analyzed by the AICPA’s skilled team of robots and/or human beings. They have always been (purposely?) vague about how written communication is graded and we will have to wait for a later talk with their examinations unit to see if we can get more insight on this process, specifically whether or not it will be changing with CBT-e.
Q. Are there any differences in score release by Exam section (AUD, FAR, REG, BEC)?
A. Yes. Candidates who take the BEC section may get their scores in a subsequent release due to additional analyses that may be required for the written communication tasks. Also note that written communication tasks now appear in the BEC section only.
Don’t get disappointed; overall, changes to scoring will improve over previous years and this is a work in progress, meaning the AICPA is working to tweak the candidate experience for the better based on their analysis throughout the year and beyond.
For those of you interested in taking the CPA exam in wild locales such as Bahrain or Kuwait, wait no longer, the CPA exam is officially international beginning August of 2011.
Initially announced along with CBT-e, international testing appeared to be slated to begin in January but security issues and further testing necessitated the delay.
So far Bahrain, Kuwait, Japan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the only countries in which the exam will be administered. After a long two year analysis, NASBA, AICPA and Prometric determined those areas to meet their stringent safety and security guidelines.
We know what you’re thinking. Bahrain?! According to the three agencies, candidate volume demand as demonstrated by candidates from those countries taking the exam in the United States was a huge factor in deciding where to administrate the exam. Sure, Japan seems like a no-brainer but up until now, international candidates have been forced to obtain a visa to physically appear in the United States for their exams, often for marathon sessions of more than one test in a two or three day period.
Other factors in deciding which countries included:
• The ability to deliver the Exam without legal obstacles.
• Security threat to the Exam (both physical security at test center and intellectual property security of Exam content) assessed at levels equivalent to those presented domestically.
• Existence of established Prometric test centers.
Other countries were analyzed ahead of this announcement but I know of at least a handful that were determined unfit for test administration based solely on security issues in those countries. Being proprietary and more heavily guarded than Colonel Sanders’ 11 herbs and spices, protecting CPA exam content was likely one of the largest concerns involved in taking the exam international.
While candidate volume and interest in the exam is also high in countries like India and Korea, security concerns are equally as high (if not higher), therefore excluding these areas for the time being. My understanding is that the AICPA is open to expanding international testing in the future and just with CBT-e, will be monitoring the situation closely after launch, ready to adjust based on results. International candidates will still have to apply with the state board of their choice and are invited to use NASBA’s Accounting Licensing Library to search for a jurisdiction in which to apply.
From February 9th to 24th, they may have been.
A CPA Outlook Index put together by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the University of North Carolina rose to its highest level since the third quarter of 2007 — before the recession took hold. That was largely due to a big jump in optimism over the U.S. economy, but the 1168 accountants surveyed were also felt better about their own firms and expect stronger sales, profits, spending and hiring. The survey was conducted between Feb. 9 and 24 — a period that captures the resignation of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, growing unrest in Libya and rising energy prices. That offers evidence that, thus far, the tremors in the Middle East and North Africa haven’t seriously unsettled U.S. businesses.
Possibly related – CBS had just suspended Two and a Half Men on February 24th, thus, this survey may not accurately reflect the effect this loss has had on our nation.