Business

Banka: Three accountant groups begin merging process in 2013

Beginning in January of this year, accountants began receiving documentation with respect to the possible merger of all three accounting bodies in Canada.

These three accounting bodies are the Chartered Accountants (CA), The Certified General Accountants (CGA) and the Certified Management Accountants (CMA).

Structure

Each of these three accounting groups are structured in a similar manner.

Under the structure of the Certified General Accountants, there is a national body and then each province also has its own governance run by a board of governors.

Each province also has its own legislation called the Accountants (Certified General) Act as well as a set of bylaws and a code of ethical principles and rules of conduct.

Merger reasons

One of reasons is that the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in the U.K. is aggressively seeking global expansion.

The ACCA has legally challenging the CA profession’s legislated rights to the exclusive use of the name ‘Chartered Accountants.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and the ACCA have both filed European trademark applications to control the CPA designation.

In the U.S., the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is also aggressively seeking global expansion, having opened up examination centres outside of that country.

The CPA is emerging as the largest accounting designation around the world, used by more accountants than by any other designation.

The Vision

In order for Canada to merge, each provincial body as well as the three national bodies all need to come to some sort of an agreement on how to merge or unify everyone together. The basic vision consists of eight basic principles:

1. To evolve to a single designation of Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

2. The current members continuing to have the ability to use their existing designations.

3. The unification would protect all the existing rights of all its members and not provide an expansion of rights just due to the merger. For example, in Ontario the CGAs just received their rights to perform assurance engagements such as reviews and audits. If that had not happened, and the accounting bodies had merged, then those CGAs still would not be able to perform assurance engagements without completing programs to bring them up to the correct professional level.

4. Since all three Canadian accounting bodies have different qualifications to become certified, there needs to be some sort of agreement on the certification process going forward. In recent years, the CGAs and the CMAs have both adopted the CA’s requirement for a  unified final exam before receiving their certification.

5. Once a qualified CPA, the accountant could then specialize in a certain area as doctors and lawyers currently do.

6. Once the CPA designation is launched, all the advertising and branding would focus on that designation and away from the other three designations.

7. There will be a common code of conduct, regulation and practice of public accountancy developed for the new CPA designation.

8. The existing governing bodies would be combined at the provincial and national levels.

Current Progress

As we go across the provinces, there have been some stumbling blocks in trying to merge the 40 governing bodies down to 14.

Since each province is governed by a provincial act, any change must have the agreement of the three accounting bodies in each province and must be changed through the legislative process. This will take some time.

According to CMA Canada, the CAs and the CMAs of Canada have decided that Jan. 1, 2013, will be the start date for the development of the certification process for the new CPA designation.

In Quebec, the three  bodies merged together in the spring of 2012 and are already operating as CPA Quebec. For the rest of Canada, all the CA bodies except for Alberta and all CMA bodies except for Ontario have voted in favour of the merger.

The only CGA body in favour of the merger in its current form is CGA Alberta.

In B.C., we have an upcoming election in May 2013, which in all likelihood will postpone any legislative changes.

It is estimated that the legislation may be in place in B.C. by 2016.

As of Dec. 4, 2012, CA Alberta has re-entered the merger discussions in that province while Ontario CA members are voting to ratify the Ontario merger on Feb. 28, 2013.

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