CPA Evolution

Rick Reisig, CPA – CEO of Anderson ZurMuehlen, past-president of MSCPA, past-chair of State Board of Public Accountants for Montana, current Treasurer and At-Large Director for NASBA Board of Directors.

For the past several months, a joint project of the AICPA and NASBA has been underway to redesign the CPA licensure model to better position the profession for our ever-changing business environment.  The CPA Evolution initiative was adopted to focus on the different skillsets, competencies, and knowledge, specifically those related to technology, newly licensed CPAs will need to possess to succeed in the marketplace of today and in the future.  The initiative targets two areas for change within our current licensure model – the structure of the Uniform CPA Examination and a CPA candidate’s educational background.

Regarding changes to the CPA Exam, technology topics will be introduced throughout all sections.  While the “new” Exam would continue to require the passage of four sections, the structure of the four sections would change.  The CPA Exam will require a candidate to demonstrate proficiency in each of three “core” areas of accounting, auditing, and tax, as well as one of three “disciplines” – tax compliance and planning (TCP), business analysis and reporting (BAR), and information systems and controls (ISC).  So, the four sections requiring passage will be each of the core sections along with just one of the discipline sections.

The core sections are to cover those foundational areas that all newly-licensed CPAs should know pertaining to accounting, auditing, and tax, while the discipline sections allow the candidate to display a more in-depth level of knowledge of the topics included within that discipline.

The TCP discipline is targeted to candidates interested in advanced individual tax compliance and planning, personal financial planning, and entity tax compliance and planning.

The BAR discipline is targeted to candidates interested in assurance or advisory services, financial statement analysis and reporting, technical accounting, and financial and operations management.

The ISC discipline is targeted to candidates interested in assurance or advisory services related to business processes, information systems, information security and governance, and the IT audit.

The first phase of the CPA Exam practice analysis has already begun, with subject matter experts providing insight into the skillsets and knowledge newly licensed CPAs will need to possess in the future.  Public comment will be sought when the exposure draft of the practice analysis is issued, so please be willing to provide feedback.  The AICPA points to a January 2024 launch date for the new Exam.

In concert with the changes suggested for the CPA Exam as described above, changes are also being suggested in the educational background of a CPA candidate in response to the identified skillsets, competencies, and knowledge expected to be required of the newly licensed CPA.  As part of the CPA Evolution initiative, a model accounting curriculum has been developed to assist colleges and universities in structuring course content geared towards preparing students for the changing demands of the profession.  Model curriculum task forces, consisting of practitioners, regulators, and college/university faculty, were established to focus on the Core and each of the three Discipline areas to develop education modules, topics, and learning objectives for faculty to consider in aligning their curriculum with the needs of practicing CPAs.  I feel privileged to have served as the co-chair of the Core curriculum task force.  Under the proposed model curriculum, core courses would consist of 18 credit hours, while the discipline curriculums would consist of 6 credit hours each.

The new CPA Evolution Model Accounting Curriculum will be introduced by the AICPA, NASBA, and the American Accounting Association (AAA) at a two-day launch event on June 15-16, providing attendees with a thorough overview of the model curriculum.  The event is open to all who are interested.  Task force members who developed the curriculum will give in-depth presentations, walking through emerging topics and learning objectives while also addressing how accounting programs might prepare students for the TCP, BAR, and ISC disciplines.

It’s an exciting time in the profession!  Please stay engaged, and continue supporting efforts to keep our wonderful profession relevant in this ever-changing business environment and the CPA as the most trusted, and most valuable, business advisor.

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