New IFRS Certificate Program Helps CPAs Demonstrate Expertise in Global Marketplace

April 2011
from AICPA Communications

Businesses from Wall Street to Main Street are increasingly being affected by the global business environment. That’s leading many CPAs to seek opportunities to broaden their knowledge of International Financial Reporting Standards. With IFRS expertise and experience, CPAs can carve out a niche with multinational corporations or companies doing business abroad, both public and private. The AICPA’s new IFRS Certificate Program presents a solution to help CPAs meet the financial reporting demands and gain a competitive advantage.

A Vital Role

For several decades, the AICPA has been a leader in supporting the goal of one set of high-quality global accounting standards and stands ready to support a smooth orderly transition from U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (U.S. GAAP) to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in the U.S. for public companies. Since 2008, the AICPA has stepped up its efforts to help prepare CPAs for the eventuality as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) studies possible incorporation of IFRS into the U.S. financial reporting system for issuers. The SEC is progressing on its IFRS Work Plan and has said it will announce its decision on IFRS use sometime this year.

The new certificate is designed to enable CPAs to play a continued vital role in financial reporting around the world. Private companies in the U.S. may use IFRS (the AICPA governing Council recognized the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) as an international standard setter under the Code of Professional Conduct’s Rule 203 in May 2008 (PDF)) and some U.S. multinational companies use IFRS for foreign subsidiaries, as do U.S.-based subsidiaries of foreign companies. More than 120 countries and reporting jurisdictions permit or require IFRS and the list continues to grow. As more countries and organizations turn to IFRS, it’s clear that knowledge of these standards will be critical in the global marketplace.

For many CPAs who are interested in taking part in this rapidly expanding service opportunity, the challenge has long been how best to arm themselves with the knowledge they need to succeed. The new AICPA certificate is awarded for the completion of a comprehensive, integrated curriculum of 25 online self-study training courses. The multimedia courses are interactive, engaging and scenario-based, with nearly 50 IFRS experts involved in their development. CPAs who successfully complete all the courses in the curriculum receive a Certificate of Educational Achievement and approximately 42 hours of continuing education credit. Non-CPAs receive an Award of Educational Achievement after completing the program.

A Unique Program

The certificate reinforces CPAs’ commitment to quality performance in a growing practice area, but it also serves to distinguish those who earn it as knowledgeable about IFRS. Current and potential clients and employers will look to the certificate as a measurable standard of IFRS competence.

“The hallmark of the CPA profession is a commitment to expert professionalism and increasingly for many that means having a working knowledge of IFRS,” said Arleen Thomas, CPA, senior vice president for member competency and development. “As more and more countries and companies adopt IFRS or begin to incorporate IFRS in their financial reporting systems, CPAs need to demonstrate their knowledge of IFRS to employers and clients. This new IFRS Certificate Program is designed to fill that marketplace need.”

All courses qualify for continuing professional education credit. It is not necessary to have a detailed background in IFRS, although a basic understanding is advisable.

The IFRS Certificate and CPE credit are not the only benefits of the program. Active participants also are enrolled in eIFRS, which provides online access to IFRS and International Accounting Standards (IAS) as well as additional educational materials and advanced electronic search capabilities. They also receive access to IFRS Connection, a library of podcasts featuring practical advice from experts on IFRS application, as well as discounts on other AICPA IFRS products, including conferences, publications, webcasts and other training courses.

The IFRS Certificate Program marries marketplace demands with CPAs’ financial know-how in a landscape where IFRS is covering more and more ground. For more information on the educational opportunities, visit IFRS.com.

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Copyright ©2011. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.