When thinking about whether or not to go for a professional designation, there are three areas that a person should consider—benefits to yourself, benefits to the profession and benefits to the public.
The benefits to yourself are pretty obvious.
Once you pay the incredible sum of money for the many years of education and self discipline that it takes to achieve a designation, not only do you have the privilege of putting letters after your name, you also have a great sense of accomplishment.
In most cases, there is also the ability to make an incredible income, be the master of your own destiny and make a difference in the world. Your job is no longer ‘just a job,’ but a career, a way of life and can be extremely satisfying. Most professional organizations teach ethics and by the time you are at the end of your studies, you have picked up a great code of ethics and practice it in both your professional and personal lives.
Those benefits carry over into the benefits to the profession, as you will belong to an elite group of people who are like minded and are committed to upholding the ethics, integrity and dignity of the chosen profession.
Included in the by-laws and code of ethics might be items such as a commitment to life-long learning, performing the work of your chosen profession with due diligence and care and treating your clients, other members and your employees fairly.
And you need to be mindful that you do not become involved in anything that might discredit your profession.
What a terrible waste that would be after spending all that time and money to achieve your designation, that you become involved in something illegal and lose it all.
Your profession might also require periodic reviews of your work.
In exchange, your professional organization will continually strive to advertise and educate the public about the profession and the professionalism of the organization.
As for the benefits to the public, they mainly concern the issue of trust.
The public can trust that since you have the designation, you are probably a person who is highly educated, self-disciplined and are committed to upholding professional standards on a daily basis.
The public can understand that your position is not just a ‘job’ but a life long ‘career,’ and that you are interested in doing the best job for your client which is not always necessarily in-line with achieving your bottom line profit.
They will know that you operate according to an established fee structure and should they wish to enquire about their bill, you would be able to provide the details.
The public would know that in order to have received your designation the professional organization would have verified your education and determined that you have the required work experience.
In order to continue to be a member in good standing, you would be required to continue to upgrade your skills as well as pay your professional dues and professional liability insurance.
So by hiring someone with a professional designation, the public achieves piece of mind because they are confident that you can navigate your way around the maze of numbers and paperwork that is before you utilizing your professional skills to the fullest.
The public can also be assured that you would not be involved in anything illegal because that would jeopardize your designation and discredit the profession.
Confidentiality and independence is also a huge issue in most professions.
Doctors, lawyers, accountants and financial planners and other professionals need to follow specific rules regarding protecting the confidentiality of their clients.
For example, in order to remain objective and practice professional objectivity, accountants need to remain independent of their clients’ affairs and cannot use anything they have learned about their clients for their own personal advantage.
One of the biggest differences between a professional and a non-professional in action is the paperwork at the beginning of any engagement that outlines the terms and scope of the engagement so that the client knows exactly what they will be responsible for and what is the responsibility of the professional.
For more information specifically about the Certified General Accountants Association, please refer to their website www.cga-bc.org.
Gabriele Banka is a certified general accountant and the owner of Banka & Company Inc.