The American Institute of CPAs was founded in the late 1800s and has developed into an institution that gives its 400,000 members support in their chosen field. There are different levels of membership depending on the requirements of the certified public accountant, but one of the biggest benefits and functions of the AICPA is the Uniform CPA exam.
1. Developing and Scoring the Uniform CPA Exam
The Uniform CPA Examination has to be passed in order for a person to be licensed as a CPA in any of the 50 states or 5 jurisdictions in the U.S. The AICPA has a partnership with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, or NASBA, which ultimately has licensing authority. The examination that the AICPA develops is available across the U.S. and in a few international locations at test centers. The exam covers sections like Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Regulation and Auditing and Attestation. The exam lasts 16 hours with four hours dedicated to each section.
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2. Setting Standards for CPAs
The AICPA has a wide range of influence in the world of accountancy. They help set standards as well as enforcing those standards within the community as well as with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Within the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the AICPA provides support as its needed whether that support is administrative or technical. When it comes to setting standards, the AICPA provides a portal and the required professionals to give each other peer reviews to assure standards compliance as well.
3. Advocates within the Government for Accounting Professionals
There are often many issues in front of the government regarding accounting practices, and the AICPA has contact with the federal, local and state legislators who will impact the world of accounting. Along with having an open dialog with a variety of lawmakers, the AICPA provides feedback to legislative bodies that might require testimony. Proposals like the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act was enabled in 2013 through direct work from the AICPA, which helped support the right language in the bill itself.
4. Publications for its Members and Other Interested Parties
The AICPA provides its members with discounts to products and publications that are available to all accounting professionals. For example, they have a title called On Your Own! How to Start Your Own CPA Firm, which has paperback and eBook editions. Members of AICPA get a discount, but the publications are available to anyone who wants to purchase them. There are other publications that are available for members only. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants also puts out a newsletter with current information regarding legislation, news, programs and initiatives that would impact the accounting professional.
5. Research and Business Reporting
The AICPA helps its members understand changing standards in the world of accounting. They provide white papers on enhanced business reporting as well as private company reporting, which means information on XBRL and IFRS. Private company financial reporting, or PCFR, is covered by the AICPA too.
The AICPA’s members hold a variety of offices within the government as well as influential positions in large corporate entities. They also have important positions within the small business community or non-profit businesses. The American Institute of CPAs holds accounting professionals to the highest standards possible by being advocates as well as watchdogs in the industry, providing support and education to accounting professionals.