|Purpose||Accounting and Finance Certification and Membership|
|Headquarters||Durham, North Carolina|
President & CEO
|Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA|
|Tracey Golden, CPA, CGMA|
|Affiliations||Association of International Certified Professional Accountants|
|USD $361.37 million (2020, including CIMA)|
|Expenses||USD $324.89 million (2020, including CIMA)|
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) is the national professional organization of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the United States, with more than 428,000 members in 130 countries in business and industry, public practice, government, education, student affiliates and international associates. Founded in 1887 as American Association of Public Accountants (AAPA), the organization sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for audits of private companies, non-profit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It also develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination. The AICPA maintains offices in New York City; Washington, DC; Durham, NC; and Ewing, NJ.
The AICPA and its predecessors date back to 1887, when the American Association of Public Accountants (AAPA) was formed. According to the AICPA, "in 1916, the American Association of Public Accountants was succeeded by the Institute of Public Accountants, at which time there was a membership of 1,150. The name was changed to the American Institute of Accountants in 1917 and remained so until 1957, when it changed to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, in 2021 the AICPA changed its name to Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. The American Society of Certified Public Accountants was formed in 1921 and acted as a federation of state societies. The Society was merged into the Institute in 1936 and, at that time, the Institute agreed to restrict its future members to CPAs." The AICPA's mission is to "power the success of global business, CPAs, CGMAs and specialty credentials by providing the most relevant knowledge, resources and advocacy, and protecting the evolving public interest."
In January 2012, the AICPA entered into a joint venture with their equivalent in the UK, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), a partnership that produced the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation. In 2014, the AICPA and the CIMA co-created the Global Management Accounting Principles (GMAPs).
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants launched in 2017 as a separate join venture between the AICPA and CIMA to combine both public and management accounting. The AICPA and CIMA membership bodies remain and provide all existing benefits to members.
In August 2019, the AICPA proposed a new standard aimed at fostering skepticism among auditors. This comes in the back drop of widespread problems in audit industry including the big four and other small auditors not being skeptical about their clients' statements. The new standard aims to supersede an earlier statement on auditing standards SAS no. 122 section 540, auditing accounting estimates, Fair Value Accounting Estimates, and Related Disclosures, and amend several other sections of the AICPA Professional Standards.
According to the AICPA, "use of committees began even before the AAPA was formed in 1887. At the first meeting of what would become the AAPA on December 22, 1886, those present authorized the appointment of a committee to draft rules and regulations. Beyond this first preliminary committee the first Bylaws of the AAPA in 1897 established three committees: Finance and Audit Committee; Committee on Elections, Qualifications and Examinations; and the Committee on Bylaws. The number of committees grew continually over the years. In the 1940s, there were 34 committees. By 1960, there were 89. By 1970, the number had grown to 109.
In 1999, the nearly 120 existing committees underwent a re-organization with approximately half of the standing committees being replaced with a volunteer group model that placed an increased emphasis on the use of task forces. The increased use of task forces allowed for more targeted efforts with the task forces being given a specific assignment then disbanding upon completion of that assignment. Also in 1999, the first tracking and management of task forces began." Currently, 1,700 volunteers fill more than 2000 seats, each helping to fulfill the AICPA's mission.
The AICPA sets generally accepted professional and technical standards for CPAs in multiple areas. Until the 1970s, the AICPA held a virtual monopoly in this field. In the 1970s, however, it transferred its responsibility for setting generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) to the newly formed Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Following this, it retained its standards setting function in areas such as financial statement auditing, professional ethics, attest services, CPA firm quality control, CPA tax practice, business valuation, and financial planning practice. Before passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley law, AICPA standards in these areas were considered "generally accepted" for all CPA practitioners.
In the early 2000s, federal public policy makers concluded that where independent financial statement audits of public companies regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are concerned, that the AICPA's standards setting and related enforcement roles should be transferred to a government empowered body with more enforcement authority than a non-governmental professional association, such as the AICPA could provide. As a result, the Sarbanes-Oxley law created the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) which has jurisdiction over virtually every area of CPA practice in relation to public companies. However, the AICPA retains its considerable standards setting, ethics enforcement and firm practice quality monitoring roles for the majority of practicing CPAs, who serve privately held business and individuals.
The AICPA offers credentialing programs in certain subject areas for its members. The credentials are similar to state board certifications for attorneys, which also recognize subject matter-specific expertise. The AICPA offers the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) credential, the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential, the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential, the Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) credential, Certified in the Valuation of Financial Instruments (CVFI) credential, and the Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations (CEIV) credential.
The AICPA, along with CIMA, issues the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation. Based on global quality standards for ethics and performance, CGMA designees maintain distinct credibility of advanced proficiency in finance, operations, strategy and management.
The AICPA also runs public interest programs, including the Feed the Pig campaign and the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy site. Feed the Pig, a national public service campaign sponsored by the AICPA and the Ad Council, provides personal finance resources for young Americans. 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy is a national volunteer effort of the nation's CPAs to help Americans understand their personal finances and develop money management skills.
The AICPA has a Washington office and a political action committee. On behalf of its members, the AICPA monitors and advocates on legislative and other matters that affect the accounting profession. Working with state CPA societies and other professional organizations, the AICPA provides information to and educates federal, state and local policymakers regarding key issues. Whether serving as an information resource or offering recommendations, the AICPA represents the profession while protecting the public interest.
The AICPA is an affiliate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean.
Members of the AICPA must attest annually to meeting the requirements for their membership types, complying with the AICPA's bylaws and upholding the AICPA's Code of Profession Conduct. Members are subject to audit and, if found to be non-compliant, may be expelled from the AICPA.
Since Q3 of 2018, AICPA has been publishing the personal financial satisfaction index on a quarterly basis that indicates the general understanding of economic factors affecting the financial standing of a typical American. The Q3 2019 score indicates the Americans were financially satisfied.