Learning: PD highlights — June/July 2014

A look at a new agreement between CPA Canada and the American Institute of CPAs that (AICPA) that gives accountants in both countries access to the same resources and certification standards for North American credentials in forensics and technology. Plus, lessons learned from Gazelles leadership programs and CPA Canada’s conference for audit committees.

NEW AGREEMENT

Crossborder Credentials

If you specialize in forensics or technology, your potential client base just got a whole lot bigger. A new agreement between CPA Canada and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) gives accountants in both countries access to the same resources and certification standards for North American credentials in these fields. Provided they meet requirements set by the AICPA’s national accreditation commission, CPA Canada members can now earn a certified information technology professional (CITP) or certified in financial forensics (CFF) credential previously available only to members of the AICPA.

"We did extensive research and found that many of our members in forensic accounting, for example, are being asked to do engagements outside of Canada," says Frank Colantonio, CPA, CA∙IT, CITP, CPA Canada’s director of professional learning and development. "This [agreement] will make it easier for clients to identify financial professionals across North America who meet the highest bar of competency in these areas."

Under the new agreement, members of CPA Canada have the opportunity to tap into a broad range of specialized practice aids, webcasts and online forums available through the AICPA’s forensic and valuation services and its information management and technology assurance sections. They can also use AICPA’s resources in business valuation and personal financial planning.

"There’s tremendous value in combining credentials," says Toronto CPA Peter Dent, a forensic accounting expert who is a commissioner with the AICPA’s national accreditation commission. "From a Canadian perspective, we get to share resources that we would only dream of having, given our smaller professional base." In turn, he says, the US can draw on Canada’s longer history of providing more formalized certification structures in areas such as forensic accounting.

Dent says this collaboration is also the first stage in what will hopefully become a global accreditation process for accountants who specialize in a given area. "It’s an exciting opportunity for us all to work together to create standards and a body of knowledge for those who want to study forensic accounting around the world."

Jeannette Koger, vice-president for member specialization and credentialing at the AICPA, says that in the US and Canada, the CPA designation is already recognized as a "beacon of discipline, objectivity and capability." But this partnership further reinforces the profession’s potential to rapidly grow in highly specialized practice areas.

Rosalind Stefanac is a freelance writer based in Toronto.

SEEN AND HEARD

CPA Canada’s conference for audit committees

When: November 28-29, 2013

Where: Sheraton Centre Toronto

Audit committee chairs and members, CFOs and CEOs from across the country gathered for this ninth annual conference. Some key takeaways:

1. Beware of corruption in all its guises: within Canadian operations and foreign subsidiaries, emerging markets, supply chains and with cyber breaches.
2. Address the gaps between research and business success; we should be focusing more on translating innovative academic ideas into solid business models.
3. In mergers and acquisitions, the audit committee needs to go beyond technical issues and due diligence to take part in decisions at the strategic level.
4. Investor activism poses a real risk: ensure you fully understand your company’s vulnerabilities.

PERSONAL PICKS

Gazelles leadership programs: http://www.gazelles.com

"Thanks to the best practices learned at [Gazelles] events, Nurse Next Door has grown from a small Vancouver home healthcare company to an international brand with 85 locations across North America. And Rosemary Rocksalt [a bagel company] has avoided about five years of growing pains faced by most startups."

— Ken Sim, CPA, CA, cofounder, Nurse Next Door and Rosemary Rocksalt.

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