Protect the public? You have their word.
CPAs don't have to take an oath before launching their careers. Someone must have figured that a college degree, a tough exam, a year of experience and lifelong learning were plenty of requirements without tacking on a ceremonial oath as well.
In Maryland, though, they take an oath anyway.
Sure, it's ceremonial. It's also a hugely important and powerful reminder of a CPA's responsibility to protect the public interest.
On June 16, following Day 1 of the Maryland Business and Accounting Expo, nearly 100 new Maryland CPAs vowed to "uphold the honor and dignity of the accounting profession and abide by the rules of professional conduct" during the third annual swearing-in ceremony for Maryland's newest members of the profession.
Earning a CPA license "truly is a major accomplishment," MACPA Executive Director Tom Hood told the new CPAs, "and we think it's probably more important now than in any other recent time, because of what's going on in the marketplace. This event puts the exclamation mark on our public-interest responsibilities, and that goes for all CPAs."
Mark Olson agrees. The outgoing chair of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, was on hand to congratulate the new CPAs ... and to drive home the purpose of the event one last time.
"In joining the profession, you have an obligation to uphold the highest ethical and professional standards and are responsible for ensuring that trust in the CPA profession continues," Olson said. "Taking this oath is a reminder of the trust that the public places in CPAs and your commitment to uphold that trust."
I love this event. Not only does it give new CPAs and their families an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments, but it forces those attending to actually verbalize their commitment to serving the public. Earning your license is one thing. Actually standing in front of state and federal regulators, raising your right hand and promising to do the right thing is a powerful step. I'd be willing to bet it's one they'll remember when faced with professionally and morally difficult decisions.
Welcome to the profession, folks. Now make us proud.