June 2002

Global Demand for the CPA Exam: A View from the Other Side

As a foreign chartered accountant who once navigated the choppy waters to ultimately obtain permission to sit the CPA exam (and pass at my first attempt), I was interested in your December 2001 article, “Global Demand for the CPA Exam.” I agree with everything the authors propose but I believe they miss a couple of important points.

With an ever-increasing list of foreign companies trading their securities on U.S. exchanges and having to prepare U.S. GAAP financial statements or reconcile their local financial statements to U.S. GAAP, it is surely in the interests of the U.S. capital markets to encourage foreign accountants to take the CPA exam. Only by increasing the number of CPAs abroad can there be any hope of these foreign registrants (and their auditors) finding the expertise necessary to prepare and audit reliable U.S. GAAP information for their SEC filings.

When I inquired about writing the CPA exam, only one of the 54 jurisdictions was prepared to look at my professional qualifications as opposed to my college education. Surely the state boards should be encouraged to allow professionally qualified accountants from foreign countries, some of whose education requirements are more demanding that any U.S. jurisdiction, to at least sit for the exam based on their professional qualifications. This is not to suggest exemption from parts of the CPA exam or special treatment in any way, only to recognize that foreign licensing bodies know something about the education a prospective professional accountant should receive.

Robin Fryer CA (SA), CPA, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu

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