The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is a premier accounting organization with over 400,000 active members located in almost 150 different countries. The primary mission of the AICPA is to advocate for accurate, ethical and efficient financial practices.
How Did the AICPA Start?
The forerunner organization of the AICPA actually started back in the 1890’s. After a progressive number of name changes and expansions, the AICPA eventually had over a hundred committees. However, they eventually re-organized and streamlined their system into a volunteer task force of over 2,500 people.
Which Financial Standards do the AICPA Set?
One of the primary goals of the AICPA is to set and maintain professional accounting standards. These include setting the industry standards for ethics, auditing, tax practices, quality control and financial planning. However, the AICPA has stepped away from setting certain financial industry standards. For example, the AICPA originally established the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), but they relinquished control to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). In addition to this, the recently formed Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) now oversees financial audits of public companies, while the AICPA oversees private companies.
What Credentialing Programs does the AICPA Offer?
The American Institute of CPAs offers their well-known Uniform CPA Examination, which is the standard certification for public accountants. In addition to this, they also offer other programs, such as the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certification for financial planners and the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) for forensic accountants. Recently they added a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) credential through partnership with the well-known Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
How does the AICPA Advocate for Accountants?
The AICPA is socially and politically active when it comes to financial advocacy. They act as the go-between for private companies, professional organizations and state and federal bodies and policy makers. They maintain a political action association in Washington, D.C. Their main goal is to provide appropriate recommendations and resources to legislators and the public. In addition to this, the AICPA also engages in public outreach and education through their ‘360 Degrees of Financial Literacy’ program. The goal of the free program is to help people of all ages learn about personal finance.
What are the Benefits of Belonging to the AICPA?
The AICPA offers diverse benefits to their members. For example, they consistently advocate for accountants while offering experienced guidance and professional development opportunities. They provide both networking and volunteer opportunities for community involvement. Finally, they offer exclusive discounts through major brand names, such as Dell, Lenovo and Office Depot. They even offer their own member insurance program that includes auto, personal and professional liability coverage.
What Membership Resources are Available?
The AICPA offers a variety of centralized research tools. This includes accounting standards, white papers, blogs, press releases and their Journal of Accountancy. They offer learning opportunities through online and in-person conferences and workshops. The AICPA even has a Technical Hotline that provides free help with auditing and accounting problems. The AICPA also offers career resources, such as their job board and websites designed for high school and college students interested in becoming accountants.
To sum up, the AICPA is the primary accounting industry organization in the U.S. They set financial standards, offer credentialing programs and advocate for accountants. They also offer exclusive membership benefits and resources. The American Institute of CPAs ensures financial accuracy, awareness and transparency is practiced by all accounting professionals.