AICPA logoThe origin of this question is the plan by the American Institute of CPAs and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants to set up a new management accountant designation, the Chartered Global Management Accountant. That would put a certificate in the field to rival the one administered by the Institute of Management Accountants. The market will choose between them and that's not the point of this question.

The question centers on the AICPA's status as a standards-setting body. I made this point when the organization issued Service Organization Control reports regarding cloud computing and praised its own subsidiary, CPA2Biz and some of its allies as leading cloud vendors. And I'll repeat the key description from the AICPA's home page that sets it apart from the average nonprofit running a for-profit gift shop.

"The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for audits of private companies, non-profit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination." Not only does it set standards, but in the functions surrounding the CPA exam it is acting as an agency of state governments.

If it wants to do all this, it shouldn't be allowed to sell and market its own products and services through a for-profit unit. Separate the standards-setting and if the AICPA doesn't do that voluntarily, some government agency should force the issue. And I hold generally, that the standards-setting role doesn't belong with a membership organization.

The CGMA is expected to debut next year. Those with enough experience might want to call it "Son of Cognitor" since it is a logical follow up for the proposed global credential that was voted down in 2001 by AICPA members. This rendition certainly has much greater merit since it doesn't try to lump all financial professionals under the same designation.

I have nothing against the AICPA's continuing ambitions for worldwide influence. What I do have an issue with is its trying to be way too many things to too many people and a monopolistic mindset.

By the way, the IMA has the registered Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential. If the conflict involved companies with competing products, I'd think there would be a good case that the use of CMGA produces a serious opportunity for confusion. Credentials? I don't know. I'm not a trademark lawyer. But imagine the opposite, that the IMA had proposed to form the "American Institute of Chartered Management Accountants, the AICMA."

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