Accountants help to maintain businesses that operate across all industries, but professional associations for accountants are where these workers turn to for support.
Accounting professional associations often provide targeted informational resources about best practices and regulations that pertain to the most challenging issues faced by today’s accountants. Accountants also gain knowledge about changes in industry standards from professional associations, and some of these organizations consult with government agencies to help draft any changes to the national accounting standards.
Besides gaining access to publications and journals, accountants join professional associations for the career development resources that they characteristically offer to members.
Here are some of the top professional associations for accounting and finance professionals.
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), which was founded in 1887, is one of the oldest and most prominent professional societies for accountants working in the United States. AICPA was uniquely responsible for establishing the high academic requirements, professional standards and strict ethics that are associated with today’s licensed public accountants. All types of accounting professionals choose to join AICPA, but most are CPAs or aspiring CPAs. In fact, AICPA is the primary organization that provides training, information, advice and other support for those who are preparing to take the CPA exam. According to the organization’s mission and vision statements, AICPA has aspirations of working with international leaders in the discipline to help shape global accounting standards and best practices.
Institute of Management Accountants
The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) was founded in 1919 and primarily supports accounting and finance personnel who are responsible for internal accounting functions. The organization is recognized around the world for providing training and certification opportunities that strengthen professional skills and enhance career options. For example, IMA administers the Certified Management Accountant designation that can be earned by its 70,000 members who work in accounting and finance positions across the globe. While IMA has its headquarters in New Jersey, the organization currently has a global presence with offices in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Professional Association of Small Business Accountants
Some CPAs specialize in supporting the accounting needs of small businesses, and the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants (PASBA) provides them with resources about best practices so that they can help their clients in the most efficient ways possible. The organization was founded in 1982, and it encourages members to establish their own CPA firms instead of just working as independent contractors or accounting freelancers for small businesses. PASBA membership includes informational resources, networking opportunities at national and regional conferences and a mentor program. Members are also eligible to be listed in the organization’s database that small business owners can use to locate reputable CPAs in their local areas.
American Association of Finance and Accounting
Many CPAs join professional associations for career development opportunities, and some professional associations for accountants offer limited job search benefits to its members. However, the American Association of Finance and Accounting (AAFA) is dedicated to helping qualified accounting and finance professionals find rewarding positions throughout the country. The organization, which was founded in 1978, is a group of executive level headhunter firms that attract talent for their numerous nationwide business contacts.
Professional societies of accountancy have played critical roles in maintaining excellence in the discipline, and their efforts have impacted all of the industries that are supported by accountants. It will be interesting to see how these professional associations for accountants continue to be viable for members who play on the global stage as national economic lines blur in favor of globalization.