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Stuart Kessler, incoming chair of the AICPA, in his address at the annual meeting of the AICPA on October 21, 1997, spoke of and defined the "New CPA." In Kessler's view, the profession is at a pivotal time and must reshape itself and in the process decide "what basic elements of our professionalism should be melted down and recast into new forms of the same solid materials." What will emerge is the New CPA, the CPA who is no longer a number cruncher, not a recorder of historical information, but rather "a forward-looking assurer of the integrity of real-time, customized data." The New CPA, in Kessler's view, keeping in mind the institute's 160,000 members that are in business and industry, will also be a valued employee, adding value as a key decision maker contributing directly to the bottom line. Kessler wondered if the CPA designation of the future, to reflect the New CPA might better stand for certified professional advisor.

Kessler stated that an important aspect of shaping the New CPA will come from the CPA Vision Project, which will be the number-one priority of his year of leadership. This is the profession's grassroots initiative to create a comprehensive vision of what it will look like in the next millennium. "It is a genuine, grassroots effort to direct a new course for the profession in response to the realities of a radically new business environment." Kessler, a senior tax partner of Goldstein Golub Kessler & Company, P.C. in New York, was elected to the AICPA's highest elected office at the 110th fall meeting of its governing council and annual members' meeting. He succeeds Robert Mednick of Andersen Worldwide in Chicago. The AICPA Council also elected Olivia F. Kirtley as vice chair of the board. Kirtley is vice president of finance and chief financial officer with Vermont American Corporation in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kessler set forth the balance of his agenda which will include --

* a continuation of the image enhancement campaign with a strong emphasis on the expansion of the nature and value the CPA brings to the competitive table.

* the production of a network television show built around "high energy CPAs who deal with human interest stories." Kessler views this as the only effective way of making
a change in the public's perception of the CPA.

* implementation of the six pack of recommendations
of news services from the assurance services committee. The CPA WebTrustSM service is the first of the services to be packaged and ready. Still to be fully implemented are the elder care quality, health-care effectiveness, systems reliability,
performance measurement, and risk-assessment bundle
of services.

* assistance to CPAs in business and industry in entering the world of what the AICPA labels "the New Finance." This is the notion of the CPA fully equipped to fill an expanded role as decision-maker, directly contributing to the successful operations of the business entity.

* an expanded focus on accreditation and specialization. A special committee under the leadership of Robert Israeloff will report this year on its recommendations in this area.

* continuing to speak out on tax matters that affect the public interest.

* a hard look at the very nature of continuing professional education with the idea of reengineering it to make it more relevant.

* a program of outreach to the academic community to build a stronger relationship with the profession.

* continued support for the small and medium-sized public accounting firms. Kessler feels that as skills are broadened and brand and market permissions established, these firms have increased opportunities that the profession must help them avail themselves of. "Niches by small firms tied with strategic alliances give them the opportunity to be service partners in the one-stop shopping environment."

Kessler closed by challenging those present to use the CPA designation with a sense of pride--use it in the signing of correspondence and wear it on your lapel in the form of a pin. And he challenged them to get involved in the AICPA and in their state societies. *

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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