Leadership / Management | Training & CPE

Maryland counts on CPAs!

What does it mean to be a CPA?


I have been talking about this with members in our town hall meetings around the state, and I am starting to see others talk about it in many places. It is like that red Miata you buy; suddenly, you see them all over the place.


Here is what a few people I have come across recently have had to say about CPAs:


Dsc06600_2 Comptroller Peter Franchot, addressing the MACPA’s tax professionals at our annual Comptroller holiday luncheon last week as he looked out over the Inner Harbor from the top floor of the Hyatt.


He praised CPAs for “the professionalism we bring to activities that result in spectacular revitalization projects” like Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. “(The Inner Harbor) came about from financial expertise that is the domain of the CPA profession.”


Dsc05507Then there is Secretary Thomas E. Perez, head of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, who made these remarks at the new CPA swearing-in ceremony hosted by the MACPA on Sept. 24. Secretary Perez is in the photo next to MACPA Executive Committee members Art Flach (left) and Bill Riley: “CPAs are in the accountability and integrity business. What would our country and our community be without accountability and integrity?”


One of my favorites comes from Carol Kirwan, CPA, and the MACPA’s retired director of regulatory affairs and technical services: “Certified Public Accountant: Public is our middle name!”


Jim_collinsBest-selling business author Jim Collins told me this at an Association Digital Now Conference: “You (CPAs) are very important; CPAs are the discipline in business!”       


CPA Vision Project report, 1998:“CPAs…making sense of a changing and complex world.”                                               


William Hood, 12 years old, who wrote on a flip chart on my office door: "CPAs ROCK!"


Wow! These people really do get it!  Don’t these really capture the core purpose of our profession, our reason for being?


CPAs have been licensed in Maryland since our CPA legislation was signed into law by Gov. John Smith on the evening of April 10, 1900. That law was controversial, as it was said to create a new “class” of professionals around the discipline of finance, and thus another profession was born. The legislators argued that the public interest of the growing industries and markets in Maryland required a new set of licensed and regulated professionals. It is funny that this is being brought up again by unlicensed accountants as they probe for recognition and licensure and maybe even relevance in today’s increasingly complex marketplace.


Fast-forward 107 years and look at the body of Regulatory_structureknowledge and infrastructure of laws, rules, regulations and standards that CPAs must understand, and you can see why our profession has more public attention and interest than ever before. One only has to look at the plethora of new standards, regulations and laws, or the congressional subcommittees, or the Treasury’s  new Committee on the U.S. Competitiveness in the Capital Markets. I believe the public interest has grown immensely in the 107 years since our law was passed. To consider a second-tier licensed designation puts the public much more in harm’s way.

All of these point to one clear position: The business and economic world are more complicated than ever before and the profession that is licensed to understand, report and opine on this information is more important than ever before. Even as a career choice: The CPA profession is one of the hottest majors and career opportunities in the country! See our post on the latest on CPA careers by clicking here.

The problem is that another licensed accounting designation would force the public to understand the significant differences in the two designations with respect to their understanding of taxes, business and accounting standards. What would happen if the business grew to the next level: Would the newly licensed accountant give up that client because they lacked the competence or experience? The risk of a business using an insufficiently qualified professional in a large economic deal far outweighs the benefits of considering these low-level licensed designations. The public-interest risks of large economic transactions being mishandled are simply more important than the public interest of adding another licensed financial professional. Just like our forefathers decided over 100 years ago: We need a licensed and regulated professional to keep up with the economic and business changes of our free market and we have that: It is a CPA.


That is why we say Maryland counts on CPAs, who have been licensed to serve Marylanders since 1901!


Should we be licensing and regulating these other levels? Isn’t the public protected by the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Complaints and the Comptroller’s enforcement of exsiting laws?


What do you think about this?