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Inside the Business Valuation School: Pathway to the ABV

Accredited-in-business-valuation-anniversaryIn July, 2013, I left public accounting and joined the AICPA as program manager for the Forensic and Valuation Services Section. As part of my introduction, the AICPA sent me back to school. I attended the National Business Valuation School from July 15 to 19 in New York. BV School is an intense five-day training program focused on theories, applications, best practices and controversies in business valuations.

For some of my 24 classmates, BV School was their first exposure to valuation education. For others like me, the course was a great comprehensive refresher on the complete Accredited in Business Valuation Body of Knowledge. Some were already practicing in the valuation area and took the course in preparation for the ABV exam. The Roadmap to the ABV Credential recommends BV School as one of several choices for valuation-related education.

The course was developed by James Hitchner and taught by Jim Alerding and Ron Seigneur. Jim and Ron are both practicing valuation analysts who added value to the material by relating real world and practical experience to each learning module. We covered a full range of topics beginning with standards of value and company risk analysis. A full day was spent on the income approach and developing cost of capital, and another was spent on the market approach and valuation discounts/premiums. The final days of class included report writing, specialty areas such as estate and gift tax valuations, valuation of intangible assets and a comprehensive case study, which allowed us to apply the various techniques covered during the week.

The professors at BV School provided great value beyond academic. Jim was on the first ABV exam task force, and related his experiences to the class in taking the first ABV exam. According to Jim, the exam writing team thought they would be exempt from the test requirements. It turns out they had to pass a difficult oral exam to become an ABV credential holder.

Not to be outdone, Ron jokingly described the second ABV exam as the “hardest” exam in response to the high pass rates of year one. It was so tough – Ron remembers a fellow valuation professional breaking his pencils in half and storming out before completing the test!

“Wasn’t that exam graded on a curve?” asked Jim before Ron went on to describe how the ABV exam helped give the credential immediate standing in the valuation community. This was one of many stories they told us about the 15 year history of the ABV credential. Others included the drafting of the Statement on Standards for Valuation Services No. 1, much of which took place in the same conference room we were using.

This year the AICPA is celebrating the 15 year anniversary of the ABV credential. Find more stories about the 15 year history of the ABV credential when we release a digital interactive book, an article, CPA/ABV – The 15th Anniversary, written by Ed Dupke and more. To hear these stories in person, why not attend the AICPA Forensic & Valuation Services Conference this November in Las Vegas? The FVS Section will be hosting a themed reception on Nov. 11 at the conference.

I hope to see all of my BV School classmates there, and wish all of them luck taking the ABV exam in the fall! For anyone interested in learning more about valuations or preparing for the ABV Exam, I highly recommend attending BV School in 2014. Valuation is widely recognized as one of the fastest growing service niches and BV School is a great way for CPAs to gain education in this area.

Paul Wapner, CPA, CGMA, FVS Program Manager, American Institute of CPAs. Paul serves as staff liaison to the ABV Credential Committee.

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