NASBA Chair Ted Long reminded the State Board representatives at the June Regional Meetings that they need to be open-minded about ideas being presented at the forums. From the conversations held during the Regions’ breakout sessions, it was evident that the Boards’ members were listening and were convinced that change is necessary to keep relevant the required education for CPAs – but exactly how that is to be accomplished remains to be determined. The Eastern Regional Meeting, June 5-7 in Orlando, FL, had 183 attendees and the Western Regional, June 26-28 in Olympic Valley, CA, had 164 attendees. With guests there were over 200 at each of the meetings, with 51 Boards represented at the two meetings.
The concept of a technology pathway to the CPA, in addition to the traditional pathway, raised many questions. Executive Vice President and COO Colleen Conrad and Vice President – State Board Relations Daniel Dustin laid out the concept for the Boards, but noted as staff and volunteer workstreams were still discussing how the details might work best if ultimately a decision was made to move forward. This lack of specificity in the concept piece coupled with doubts about the market demand for such a pathway resulted in those at the meetings voicing support for the need to change, but doubting that the technology pathway should be given additional study. Among the questions raised following Ms. Conrad’s and Mr. Dustin’s presentation were:
“What would happen to individual and firm mobility if all states did not adopt a second pathway at the same time?”
“When deregulation is being considered in many states, is this the right time to seek to bring more groups under regulation?”
“Why not follow the idea that what accountants need to master is evolving and change the accountancy core skills?”
AICPA Vice President – Examination Mike Decker told the Western Regional: “The AICPA Examinations Team is writing items faster than before, with more than 150 writers now.” He explained that Examination candidates are directed to look at the latest Examination blueprint because the content has changed every quarter since 2006. “To say the Examination will change only every 6-7 years does not work anymore,” he stated. Ms. Conrad noted that the AICPA is looking at ways to be more nimble with the practice analysis.
“We are constantly looking at what is happening in the profession,” reported Richard Gallagher, Senior Director of Content, Examinations, AICPA, at the Eastern Regional Meeting . “There is exponential change. Data analytics is happening.“ Although he did not think the AICPA is ready to begin a new practice analysis yet, he did say they are working up sample items and thinking about using Excel for audit data analytics questions.
Excel came into the examination in April 2018, and Mr. Decker said the launch of this new software was flawless.
NASBA President Ken Bishop told the Western Meeting’s Board Chairs and Presidents: “As I said in my recent ‘Memo’, an organic change in the existing pathway is the most intuitive, albeit with risks of disruption of the pipeline. The feedback from the NASBA Regional Meetings and the AICPA Council meetings is consistent and offers us alternatives to consider. I think it is time for us to refocus on alternative solutions that mitigate the risk as much as possible.”
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