It’s almost ironic that 20/20 has long been a benchmark for vision clarity, given how the pandemic helped us focus on rapidly and nimbly serving the profession and our members. For more than a year, you — our members — have worked around the clock to lead your organizations, clients, small businesses and communities through unfathomable uncertainty and complexity and help them emerge stronger.
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants® (the Association) — the combined power of the American Institute of CPAs® (AICPA®) & The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants® (CIMA®) — couldn’t be prouder to serve as the trusted partner for CPAs, CGMAs, ACMAs, FCMAs, CPA firms and businesses on the forefront of economic sustainability and recovery.
Our recently released 2020 Integrated Report, titled Adapt + Thrive, details the many ways we’re delivering value to you. We’re providing the guidance, knowledge, learning and capabilities needed to not only adapt to today’s fast-changing environment but also position you and the profession to thrive for years to come.
Here’s a snapshot of the top 10 achievements of 2020 taken on your behalf to power trust, opportunity and prosperity worldwide.
- Advocated successfully for COVID-19 relief and economic recovery across the globe
As the most influential body of professional accountants, we submitted recommendations to aid economic stimulus and recovery in the U.K., Hong Kong and South Africa. Additionally, we advocated for tax filing and payment relief in the U.S. and led a small business funding coalition to advocate for small business support and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) guidance.
- Became a go-to resource for COVID-19 news, tools, guidance and learning
This past year's uncertainty drove rapid change from one day to the next, making it hard to keep up. The Association helped clear the noise and provided you with the timely, relevant insights and tools you needed most. Through the launch of Coronavirus Resource Centres, town halls, webcasts, publication articles and podcasts (Journal of Accountancy and FM) and more, we served as the leading knowledge hub for our members, the profession and other key stakeholders.
- Expanded access to our professional qualification exams and supported career progression during the pandemic
In partnership with Pearson VUETM, we launched remote testing for CIMA exams, making us the first accounting professional qualification to offer its entire program online. And we worked with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric in the U.S. to shift the CPA Exam testing window model to continuous testing, which allows candidates to take the Exam year-round. We also expanded CPA Exam testing globally to Egypt, India, Jordan, Nepal and South Korea.
- Gained stakeholder support to transform CPA licensure in the U.S.
As part of our joint CPA Evolution initiative with NASBA to transform CPA licensure for rapidly changing skills and competencies, the AICPA Council and NASBA’s Board of Directors each voted to support advancing a core + discipline licensure model. Future milestones include developing model curricula and course content for academia in 2021 and launching a new CPA Exam in January 2024.
- Rolled out a new online pathway to the CGMA designation globally
The CGMA® Finance Leadership Program (FLP) is a new pathway to the CGMA designation that combines the learning and assessment in a fully digital, self-guided learning experience. Previously launched in the U.S., the program expanded globally in June 2020.
- Supported audit quality during the pandemic while continuing to innovate the audit for the future
In the U.S., we reprioritized our Enhancing Audit Quality initiative goals to focus on aiding members with COVID-related issues, including remote auditing, fraud risk identification and response, and noncompliance with laws and regulations (including U.S. Paycheck Protection Program loans).
And in October 2020, we delivered a minimum viable product (MVP) for feedback to U.S. public accounting firms participating in the Dynamic Audit Solution. This is a multi-year initiative with CPA.com and our technology partner, CaseWare International, to develop a data-driven, technology-enabled, new audit solution methodology that will enhance the efficiency, quality and value of audits.
- Continued to support the profession’s central role in environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting, assurance and risk mitigation
Association CEO Barry Melancon signed the Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) Call to Action in Response to Climate Change as part of our commitment to provide training and support to members and sound advice to policymakers to address climate change in an integrated multi-stakeholder approach that aligns business, societal and government efforts. In addition, we’re working with key organizations to advance guidance and learning on the role of the profession within key ESG areas.
- Worked to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the profession
Recognizing the critical importance of tapping into the diverse people, cultures and backgrounds that reflect the global communities the profession serves, we develop awareness and inclusion programs — such as the Accounting Inclusion Maturity Model that assesses and measures DEI progress, as well as our newest unconscious bias training — to promote diversity within corporate finance teams, their organizations and CPA firms.
We also focus on building a diverse pipeline of next-generation CPAs and CGMAs. In 2020, we awarded $788,000 in scholarships to help ethnic minority students complete their accounting education and obtain their CPA license. And we partnered with the Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority (FASSET) in South Africa to offer 77 economically disadvantaged individuals free access to our student pathways.
- Transitioned to digital-first conferences and events to deliver the knowledge, insights and skills you need most
We quickly pivoted in 2020 to offer virtual versions of the events members value most, which helped more members access the high-quality insights and learning than ever before. Webcast attendance in the U.K. increased 440% since 2019, while a virtual roadshow allowed more than 2,600 members to connect with Association leadership.
Additionally, AICPA & CIMA ENGAGE, our premier U.S. event, transformed into an immersive digital experience with a virtual exhibit hall and opportunities where more than 3,700 attendees built skills, networked and exchanged ideas from home. In 2021, we are launching new conferences around the globe, including ENGAGE events in Europe, Africa and Asia.
- Launched a new, secure top-level web domain exclusively available to CPAs
Through CPA.com, we launched the .cpa (dot cpa) domain in the U.S. for CPAs to connect with their clients and the public with greater trust, security and verification. More than 90% of firms in the AICPA Major Firms Group and over 80% of the top 500 firms secured the new domain during the early registration phases. The domain will be offered globally to CPAs in select countries in 2021.
Learn more about these and the many other activities underway to power your success and forge the future of the profession in the Association’s 2020 Integrated Report. And through the power of the Association, you can expect to see even more value delivered in the months and years ahead through enhanced member experiences, personalized content, innovative learning and an even stronger voice with governments and regulators around the world.