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PCPS fills new role as small firm advocate.

At the May 1991 AICPA council meeting, the private companies practice section executive committee of the AICPA division for CPA firms was renamed the private companies practice executive committee, and its role was expanded to represent, act as an advocate for and provide service to all medium-sized and small firms. It was also given responsibility to provide practice management services through the management of an accounting practice committee.

When Arthur J. Renner, AICPA vice-president--division for CPA firms, looks back on the mandate given to the PCP executive committee, he admits to being somewhat awed by the challenge: "Before the change, the committee focused on delivering services to, or acting as an advocate for, its 6,000 members. Now it has a responsibility for an additional 40,000 firms, so it is focusing on the needs of all small and midsized firms in public practice and on how the AICPA can satisfy those needs. At the same time, the committee must continue to recognize the special financial and professional commitment members make to the PCPS program."

Renner says the PCP executive committee still is sharpening its focus on some issues affecting smaller firms but has made progress in other areas. For example, in July 1991, the AICPA board of directors approved a policy statement, largely at the urging of the former PCPS executive committee, emphasizing that no AICPA member firm should be eliminated from consideration for an engagement because of its size. AICPA President Philip B. Chenok said companies seeking or accepting accounting services only from firms of a certain size "clearly discriminate against many accounting firms that are capable of providing quality services."

Also, soon after receiving its mandate, the PCP executive committee decided to provide the financial resources necessary to keep the Practicing CPA newsletter as a separate, freestanding publication designed for small firms. At present, the subscriber list totals 60,000 AICPA members and there is no charge for the newsletter.

Task forces: issues

for future action

Renner points to a number of task forces established by the PCP executive committee to focus on issues requiring future action. In particular, he cites the following:

* Continuing professional education. Are current CPE programs really serving the needs of small firms? What type of CPE programs do local firms not practicing in metropolitan areas need? Are there additional subjects for CPE programs to be addressed?

* State society relations. How can relations with state societies, who are providers of services for small firms, be improved?

* Small firm needs. How are the needs of sole practitioners or firms with two or three practitioners being served? How can the AICPA help these practices?

* Member survey. A planned survey will ask 1,000 PCPS members and 1,000 non-PCPS members how they feel about AICPA and PCPS products and services. The survey also will ask how today's opinions compare with three years ago, before practice monitoring and CPE requirements were mandated under the Plan to Restructure Professional Standards.

Coordinating with MAP

When it received its mandate, the PCP executive committee also became responsible for the management of an accounting practice committee. At present, the committee is attempting to coordinate a number of PCPS programs, such as the ten professionals at most (TEAM) and size eleven to twenty (SET) professionals regional roundtables, with the larger small firm conferences sponsored by the MAP committee. Renner hopes to have a workable coordinated schedule in place by this fiscal yearend.

Technical issues committee

Renner is quite proud of the professional stature of the technical issues committee (TIC), which reviews proposed changes in accounting and auditing standards that may affect local or regional public accounting firms. The entire TIC meets with the Financial Accounting Standards Board annually, and FASB representatives regularly attend its meetings. Last spring, the FASB invited the TIC for the first time to appear and comment at a public hearing on a proposed accounting standard.

Renner says the national accounting and auditing advanced technical symposiums, a TIC initiative that has been cosponsored by the PCPS and the Institute's CPE division each summer, are among the more successful AICPA conferences. According to Renner, the conferences are very well attended and attrach high-caliber speakers.

A never-ending challenge

Renner is not convinced the PCPS program will ever be fully completed. "In a sense," he says, "it will always be taking shape, because that's the nature of our profession. If there is one thing the PCP executive committee knows, it's the accounting profession is dynamic. What worked in 1983 will not necessarily be the best solution in 1992." He concludes, "Our mission is to provide programs to help small firms survive under any conditions. If that means constant change, we're ready for it."
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Title Annotation:private companies practice section of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Words:782
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