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The American Dream Extends Beyond Our Borders

Rich-caturano-brazilWhen I became chairman of the AICPA Board of Directors a year ago, my first blog post addressed several key issues for the profession. But mainly I talked about the accounting profession as a path to the American Dream. That’s my life experience – humble beginnings and following my role-model neighbor who was the first CPA I ever knew. Having represented the United States accounting profession at a Brazilian conference in August, I now fully understand that the American Dream is a universal desire and our profession is a way to achieve it.

The illuminating moment for me was sitting on the dais at a conference in Brazil called “Doing Business in the United States.” The Brazilian accounting organization that sponsored the event was so honored to include a representative from the U.S. accounting profession that it flew our country’s flag next to its own in front of its office building and played our national anthem as well as Brazil’s at the start of the ceremony. The experience showed me just how important it is that we commit to a quality global profession, reinforce the U.S. CPA’s worldwide reputation for trust and integrity (Brazil is the testing site for the U.S. CPA exam for all of South America), and further open the profession to anyone who wants to do what’s necessary to succeed and fulfill their life’s goals.

As a boy, I certainly couldn’t have imagined that one day I’d represent the United States at a business conference in South America and in one of the world’s largest economies. And yet, there I was, living beyond my dreams because of what the CPA profession has meant to me.

I want such a moment to be shared by all who aspire to have it. Diversity and inclusion was a top priority of my term as chairman. I am gratified that the AICPA National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, formed in September 2012, is developing resources to help firms and companies boost diversity recruitment and advancement efforts. Most importantly, diversity must be part of an organization’s strategic priorities for programs to receive the level of support needed for them to be effective. I am looking forward to further contributing to this critical profession-wide initiative.

Diversity also exists in the services CPAs provide and the environments in which they work. CPAs with the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation are shaping the future of management accounting. The CGMA has become the most prominent management accounting designation in the U.S., with more than 42,000 CPA CGMAs part of a worldwide community of 140,000. I use my CGMA designation proudly along with my CPA.

Our profession also is committed to supporting Main Street businesses as trusted advisers. The AICPA Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities, released in June, offers America’s small business community a new non-GAAP accounting framework that provides relevant, cost-beneficial information in a consistent, reliable, simplified way. Early signs show the framework is gaining marketplace acceptance.

Given that our profession largely functions within a patchwork of regulations, it’s important for the Institute to actively monitor and be a resource on legislative or regulatory efforts that would affect CPAs and those we work for or serve. A recent victory is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ruling on registration of municipal advisers that exempts CPAs providing certain services; last Congress the House of Representatives passed a bill with an even broader exemption for our profession. These steps ensure that we can sustain and build on our profession’s strong foundation, and keep it an attractive career choice for future CPAs.

As I finish my term as Institute chairman, I am confident that we are well-positioned to identify opportunities in change, shape the challenges we face and set the profession on a course of continued success. I pass the baton to Bill Balhoff, CPA, CGMA, who will take you on a journey to the profession of the future. 

Richard J. Caturano, CPA, CGMA, Chairman of the Board of Directors, American Institute of CPAs.

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