Disclosures and Designation Definitions
We have provided definitions for all of the member affilations and designations mentioned on our website. Designation definitions are written in "plain English" in order to communicate as clearly as possible the educational and business background of our shareholders.
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CPAs are licensed and regulated by their state boards of accountancy. While state laws and regulations vary, the education, experience and testing requirements for licensure as a CPA generally include minimum college education (typically 150 credit hours with at least a baccalaureate degree and a concentration in accounting), minimum experience levels (most states require at least one year of experience providing services that involve the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills, all of which must be achieved under the supervision of or verification by a CPA), and successful passage of the Uniform CPA Examination.
In order to maintain a CPA license, states generally require the completion of 40 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) each year (or 80 hours over a two year period or 120 hours over a three year period). Additionally, all American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) members are required to follow a rigorous Code of Professional Conduct which requires that they act with integrity, objectivity, due care, competence, fully disclose any conflicts of interest (and obtain client consent if a conflict exists), maintain client confidentiality, disclose to the client any commission or referral fees, and serve the public interest when providing financial services. The vast majority of state boards of accountancy have adopted the AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct within their state accountancy laws or have created their own.
The PFS credential demonstrates that an individual has met the minimum education, experience and testing required of a CPA in addition to a minimum level of expertise in personal financial planning. To attain the PFS credential, a candidate must hold an unrevoked CPA license, fulfill 3,000 hours of personal financial planning business experience, complete 80 hours of personal financial planning CPE credits, pass a comprehensive financial planning exam and be an active member of the AICPA. A PFS credential holder is required to adhere to AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct, and is encouraged to follow AICPA’s Statement on Responsibilities in Financial Planning Practice. To maintain their PFS credential, the recipient must complete 60 hours of financial planning CPE credits every three years. The PFS credential is administered through the AICPA.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) established the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) Credential program in 1998 for CPAs who specialize in valuation. The ABV Credential is granted exclusively to CPAs who demonstrate considerable expertise in valuation through their knowledge, skill and experience. To obtain the ABV credentials, a candidate must hold a valid and unrevoked CPA certificate issued by a legally constituted state authority, pass the ABV examination, upon passing the examination, and accumulate business experience and continuing education specific to business valuations.
The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation is a new global management accounting designation that recognizes the unique role played by men and women at organizations around the world who are guiding critical business decisions and driving strong business performance.
Created through a joint venture of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the CGMA designation elevates management accounting and recognises the competencies and expertise of management accountants who are leading the world's most successful organizations and providing employers with the best professional management accounting talent to drive sustainable business success. It demonstrates management accounting expertise in such areas as leading strategically with management to make more informed decisions; helping organizations manage change, risk and uncertainty; protecting corporate assets; and promoting operational efficiency and effectiveness. In addition, the CGMA designation advances management accounting while supporting and growing the U.S. CPA and the global reach of CIMA.
Management accounting combines financial accounting—reporting financial performance, understanding the framework of financial laws, standards and regulations and providing a compliance perspective—with additional management skills that help drive business decisions, including managing business opportunities, providing a framework of solutions and best practices and guiding strategic decisions.
Management accountants are business professionals at the heart of decision-making, who "connect the dots" and recognise how the different parts of the business need to come together to create value. Management accountants add value by supporting and driving the right decisions in all areas of the organization to achieve sustainable success for the business. They help their colleagues understand income and costs, and risks and opportunities. Management accountants have an understanding and experience of business that goes well beyond financial accounting. They are trained to monitor and oversee all performance and focus on the organization's future prospects and past performance by using a wide range of information. Some management accountants work in the finance department. Many put their broader business training to use across the business, culminating in board roles such as chairman and CEO.
Construction Industry Financial Professionals, Inc. (ICCIFP) is a not-for-profit corporation established to promote the highest standards of construction financial management through the credentialing of construction financial professionals. ICCIFP is an independent, separately incorporated entity affiliated with the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) that issues credentials to individuals who successfully meet ICCIFP standards.
A national survey of construction financial professionals was conducted to define the scope of practice for construction financial professionals and determine the content areas appropriate for the exam. Based on the data, they identified the core work activities and essential knowledge associated with fundamental competency in construction financial management. The content of the exam is derived from this information and reflects the day-to-day practices of construction financial professionals nationwide.
The Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence. CFEs are trained to identify the warning signs and red flags that indicate evidence of fraud and fraud risk. CFEs around the world help protect the global economy by uncovering fraud and implementing processes to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.
To become a CFE, an individual must pass a rigorous test on the four major disciplines that comprise the fraud examination body of knowledge:
- Fraud Prevention and Deterrence
- Fraudulent Financial Transactions
- Fraud Investigation
- Legal Elements of Fraud
The CFF credential is granted exclusively to CPAs who demonstrate considerable expertise in forensic accounting through their knowledge, skills, and experience. The CFF encompasses fundamental and specialized forensic accounting skills that CPA practitioners apply in a variety of service areas, including: bankruptcy, insolvency and reorganization; computer forensic analysis; economic damages calculations; family law; fraud prevention, detection and response; financial statement misrepresentation; and valuations.
The CFF Credential is exclusively granted by the AICPA to qualified CPAs. To qualify, a new CFF applicant must:
- Maintain AICPA membership in good standing, have at least five years of experience in practicing accounting and meet minimum requirements in relevant business experience and continuing professional education.
- Hold a valid and unrevoked CPA certificate or license issued by a legally constituted state authority.
- Pass the CFF Examination and complete the CFF Credential application.