State Board Report
How will State Boards answer complaints about services which are performed by CPA firms but are being performed by others over whom the Board has no authority? That question was posed by AICPA President Barry C. Melancon to the NASBA Annual Meeting in Orlando.
“I think we have to imagine what the profession will be doing and what is the right regulatory balance,” Mr. Melancon said. Attestation is evolving very dramatically, he stated, with CPAs being asked to look at the broader footprint of companies. Individual judgment will be involved, but the use of technology is going to change what the audit process will look like. The definition of “attest” in the Uniform Accountancy Act has a bias toward financial information, while other business information is becoming increasingly important, he explained.
“If we want to redefine ‘attest,’ the time is today. ‘Now’ is a relatively short period of time. We can’t take forever to make the decision. This is real world, what is happening in the marketplace. What is emerging has implications on how we best protect the public interest,” President Melancon said. “In the context of a changing world, we have to look hard at the definition of ‘attest’ and we think it should encompass the footprint of financial and business information.”
Careful consideration needs to be given as to whether and, if so, how to limit the restrictions of practice to subject matter areas for which CPA competencies best apply and public interest protection is most needed, he advised. President Melancon cautioned that services should be restricted in such a way that mobility objectives are not compromised.
“The world we live in is very complex, to regulate and work in, and the opportunities and risks are great,” Mr. Melancon observed. “Throughout the ranks of our profession people want to do the right thing, want to serve the public. It is important to evolve a framework in which people can continue to do the right thing. You cannot find a better group of ethical people than the 450,000 CPAs.”
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