What is CPA?
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a license issued in 55 states or territories of the United States that authorizes the holder to practice as a CPA in that jurisdiction. To earn the prestige associated with the CPA license, an individual is required to demonstrate knowledge and competence by meeting high educational standards, passing the CPA exam, and completing a specific amount of general accounting experience. The two most important aspects of becoming a CPA are passing the Uniform CPA Exam and meeting licensing requirements in the state where you want to practice.
Why pursue CPA?
A CPA serves as a trusted financial advisor that helps businesses thrive. A CPA holds mastery over accounting areas such as tax preparation, financial statements, financial planning, auditing, financial consulting, etc. – one of the significant reasons why all sorts of professional organizations and industries seek the assistance of CPAs. With academic content organized over just 4 parts and the designation achievable in less than 12 months, the CPA designation offers an extensive value proposition:
Globally Recognized Qualification – CPA is an internationally recognized accounting license. Holding a CPA license is often referred to as having a black-belt in accounting. It is sought after by most finance professionals, commerce graduates, and by those who want to make their careers in the finance, accounting, taxation, business law, and regulatory fields. The key factor for global credibility is the fact that the CPAs will have knowledge of both US GAAP and the IFRS – the two accounting standards/languages of the world.
Strong Knowledge Base – The beauty of the CPA course is the exam contents and sections that the professionals get to learn. These exam contents/sections – Auditing, Accounting (US GAAP & IFRS), Finance and Tax, namely, make up the whole accounting world! Holding a CPA license yet proves the strong knowledge base one has in these fields. Possessing a deep understanding of such contents opens doors for numerous opportunities.
Significant Career Progression – The US laws mandate that to conduct an audit of American businesses, a person has to hold a CPA license. Hence, the major international accounting firms – the Big 4s (Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC), as well as several leading international accounting, finance and consulting firms such as Accenture, Genpact, Capgemini and JP Morgan Chase, BDO, Grant Thornton, etc., offer great job opportunities to CPAs. Furthermore, CPAs are competent enough to serve as company management and hold executive positions such as Chief Accounting Officer (CAO), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Controller and Director of Financial Operations (DFO), to name a few.
Great Respect and Admiration – Since the CPA is among the most reputed qualifications for accounting professionals, it gives you a great value enhancement and provides an international perspective of the accounting processes in different countries. Further, it gives you an opportunity to join an elite professional network of accountants transcending international boundaries. Apart from the knowledge enhancement, CPA also cultivates leadership skills as you get to work in diverse teams often consisting of members from different ethnic communities and lead overseas projects.
International perspective (Aus and Canada MRAs) – If you hold a US CPA credential, you may be eligible to obtain the Canadian and Australian CPA designations, alongside many other accounting designations with accounting bodies of different countries via the MRAs. MRAs are the Mutual Recognition Agreements, often signed between the accounting bodies of different countries and the US International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB), representing the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
US CPA as a great designation for Indian students – US CPA would be one of the best accounting qualifications for the Indian students to pursue. Along with the advantages and value propositions listed above, the Indian students can start their preparation for the CPA exam early in their careers. Generally, most Indian commerce undergraduates are eligible to take the CPA exam. With the number of MNCs and US firms increasing in India, the demand for CPAs has also seen a significant rise.