Tuesday, January 31, 2012

APD (Another Pointless Designation)

Today, Barry Melancon, President and CEO of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, announced the first-ever availability of the new CGMA designation, the Chartered Global Management Accountant, a joint venture of the AICPA and CIMA, or Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.  An introductory video is here ...

CGMA Announcement

So, you watched the video, but you're still not sure exactly what a CGMA is?  Join the club.  It sounds good, kind of important but in a really vague way.  Clearly, it IS Global, so there's always that.  I see Mr. Melancon is already a CGMA. Wow, that was fast!  Isn't there an examination or something?  Nope, just the ability to write a check.  Exams won't come until 2015, at which point the AICPA will have a better handle on whether or not folks are buying into the whole concept.

We live in a world of professional designations.  For example, in a former life I worked in the world of business valuation.  The oldest designations were ASA (Accredited Senior Appraiser - American Society of Appraisers), CBA (Certified Business Appraiser - Institute of Business Appraisers), CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst - CFA Institute), etc.   Then, along came the upstart CVA (Certified Valuation Analyst - National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts), which was marketed specifically to CPAs.  Not to be outdone, the AICPA countered with ABV, or Accredited in Business Valuation.   Which designations were worth pursuing?  "Get them all" was the advice at conferences.  It mattered to an expert witness to be more credentialed than the opponent's expert, and it mattered from a marketing perspective (I have more professional designations than my competitor, so obviously I'm smarter).

Otherwise, it didn't matter.  You were either a serious student of the art and science of business valuation, or you weren't.  I took the ASA's 4 weeks of training, the AICPA's Certificate of Educational Acheivement in Business Valuation program (all 8 days of it), and NACVA's training (all 5 days of it), and I can tell you the ASA program is far superior to the others.  The big differences were not to the valuation practioner; the big differences are the certification fees and annual professional dues, the primary revenue stream for any professional organization.  The AICPA now can boast not only the CPA (regular, several levels of Associate, and several levels of Affiliate) , but also the PFS (Personal Financial Specialist), the ABV, the CFF (Certified in Financial Forensics) and now the CGMA.  Ka-ching.

Of course, there is resistance to the whole CGMA concept (in addition to the fact that it's a pointless designation).  The Institute of Management Accountants, for example, is a rival designation grantor, and is understandably upset that the AICPA is trying to steal its revenue stream.  Perhaps the IMA will up their game, and transform into the GLOBAL Institute of Management Accountants.
In any event, the IMA shouldn't underestimate the AICPA.  From selling professional standards by which members must adhere, bombarding members with solicitations from "affiliates" selling everything from copiers and computers to cheap car rentals, cross-selling insurance from professional liability to life and disability, spinning off CPA2Biz to sell CPE (a good subject for another blog), the AICPA has made it clear that it will do whatever it takes to make money. 

Back in the day, the AICPA stood for professionalism, ethics and honor, and CPAs consistently placed at the top on each year's "Most Trusted Profession" list.  Of course, back then, Arthur Anderson's reputation for integrity was legendary.

Now, not so much.