AICPA recently published a new framework for acquiring a CPA license.

The core reason for the proposal is that the knowledge required to practice as a CPA has evolved. By “evolved” they mean CPA’s have to know more than ever before.

After canvassing CPA’s and other stakeholders in the summer of 2019, AICPA came up with a new proposal for the CPA license.

First of all, AICPA is not proposing to change the CPA exam part of the licence. The CPA license requirements are not projected to change any time this year.

However, AICPA proposes that CPA’s choose an area of concentration. This would be like choosing a major in college.

The three areas of concentration would be:

  • Business reporting and analysis
  • Information systems and controls
  • Tax compliance and planning

As part of the new CPA license, you would have your base CPA title and you would have a specialty. This specialty would be used in your marketing materials. As the profession requires more knowledge AICPA appears to be aware that branding is incredibly important. You do not want a CPA performing duties or functions that they are not competent to perform. The profession is far too complex. You do not want social media to be inundated with reports that a “CPA screwed this or that up.”

Furthermore, AICPA has floated the idea that some topics will change sections.

For example, we could envision that advanced accounting topics such as business combinations, derivatives and foreign currency translations would move to the business reporting and analysis discipline. Advanced tax topics, such as AMT and estate and gifts tax, could move to tax compliance and planning. Advanced information systems topics, such as cybersecurity and information security and privacy, could move to the information systems and controls discipline.

These are some of the ideas that AICPA is proposing for 2020. As a CPA student, there is nothing imminent that you need to worry about. The exam is the same structure as 2019.

The CPA exam experienced a fairly radical redesign in 2017. I do not anticipate that there will be another similar change until 2022 at the earliest.