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What is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants?

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  • Written By: S. Frost
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) formed in 1887, and was originally named the American Association of Public Accountants. The AICPA consists of over 360,000 voluntary Certified Public Accountant (CPA) members, and is the largest association for CPAs. Its CPA members work in almost every sector of the profession, including government, public accounting, education, business, and industry. The organization addresses issues in the accounting profession on a national level.

The mission of this organization is to educate and provide leadership for the CPA community so they can better serve consumers. CPAs with the knowledge, support, and leadership of a national organization are generally better able to meet the needs of their clients. The organization emphasizes professionalism and integrity within the CPA profession, while maintaining high standards for Certified Public Accountants.

To accomplish its mission, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provides a variety of services to members. It serves as a national advocate for CPAs, providing representation with the government and other organizations. The AICPA also communicates with the general public about the CPA profession. The recruitment and education activities of the AICPA focus on generating interest in the profession as a career choice. The organization also offers courses allowing members to reach the required 120 hours of continuing education every three years.

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Regulation of the field is another aspect covered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Before its formation in 1887, there was little definition for the role and requirements of a CPA. The AICPA strives to set certification and licensing standards to increase credibility and performance of CPAs. The organization sets standards for the profession and monitors CPA performance to ensure the standards are met.

Each state handles its own CPA licensing, but individuals must pass the Uniform CPA Examination, created and graded by the AICPA. States also have their own CPA associations, which are separate from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The AICPA does support the state CPA societies through initiatives relevant on a national, regional, or individual level.

The AICPA also works with other regulatory boards and organizations, including the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). Together, the FASB and GASB set the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which guide the accounting field. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers technical support and guidelines in support of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

The organization also reaches beyond the U.S. accounting profession. The AICPA is a founding member in both the International Foundation of Accountants and the Global Accounting Alliance. Also, the International Accounting Standards Board, which regulates financial reporting, includes members of the AICPA.

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