What is the difference between an accounting professional and a professional accountant? It seems that it is just a grammatical difference however the distinction is quite substantial. A professional accountant is an accountant with a designation recognized by the province in which he or she practices. Until recently, these designations were Certified General Accountants, Certified Management Accountants and Chartered Accountants. The three designations have merged across Canada to form a unified designation called Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA). There are rules of professional conduct associated with all of these designations and breaking them can result in a suspension or with the revoking of the Professional Accountant’s right to practice.
Accounting professionals often refer to themselves as “accountants” but are not charter holders or certified. Since these “accountants” do not belong to a governing body they are only accountable to themselves and the law. Why is this important? It is important because it is not illegal to produce poor or inaccurate work unless it is performed in a fraudulent manner. If poor financial information is provided to business owners, banks, investors or anyone else who relies on the accuracy of the information the results can be catastrophic.
The title “Accountant” is not protected in the same way the other professional titles are in Alberta. Engineers, for example, must be members of APEGA and possess an appropriate university degree along with four years of verified practical experience before gaining their P.Eng designation and the title “Engineer.” This paper will discuss what a professional is and why Professional Accounting bodies were formed. We will also outline the d...
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...ose individuals working in a particular profession are properly and sufficiently trained in order to provide information or complete work that can be relied upon (Holmes, 2009). Why is the accounting profession considered to be different and does this difference really matter to society?
It could be argued that much of the general public, accounting students, and even many of the individuals already working in the field of accounting may have never even thought about this as an issue for debate before. Designated titles are protected so where is the issue? To begin the discussion we must therefore determine if there is a material foundation upon which to even build an argument. A prominent court case in the United States helps to illustrate that there is a real and important issue surrounding the use of the term “Accountant” and that it has significant implications.
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