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Is a non-reporting CPA license worth it?

Hello, I have never had audit experience, and with my current career track, I don't think I will ever get it. I still want to be certified. Would having a non-reporting CPA license make sense and worth it if I don't work in public accounting? Thank you

Answers

Anthony Pascente
Title: CFO
Company: TWFG Financial Services
(CFO, TWFG Financial Services) |

I never worked as an auditor either. I passed my CPA a long time go and received my certification about 10 years ago. Take into consideration that the States have different requirements to give you your certificate. So you may pass the CPA in NY but because NY may actually require that you have experience in public accounting you may not be able to get your certificate from NY. Another state may not require that as long as you have experience working under a licensed CPA. You can apply for license in a different state from were you actually live. I assume that this is still in effect, again I did this 10 years ago.

If you did pass the CPA is always nice to have that certificate.

Hope this helps.
Tony

John Cook
Title: Independent Consultant
Company: Consultant
(Independent Consultant, Consultant) |

Check out the NASBA website (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy). Anthony is correct - states have different licensing requirements for what are called "attest" licenses - which give the CPA the ability to sign-off on financials and perform other attest services, but you can also get a general or "non-attest" license which still carries the CPA designation, you just can't sign off on financials or perform attest services (the fact is that unless you are in private practice, many CPA's never use their attest). I live and work in California but believe that most states have a reciprocity agreement whereby if I am a licensed CPA in one state, then I can practice in another state that I move to as long as I register and meet other requirements of that state's board (typically registering, paying a fee, and perhaps passing their ethics exam). My recommendation would be to get through the process and get the license even if you don't have the audit experience. You should also check out what services or experience qualifies as "audit" as you might find that you will do that in the future, and then a CPA could sign off on your attest experience.

Here is a site answering some of the questions if you live in CA.

http://www.calcpa.org/cpa-licensure/licensing-faqs/work-experience-requirements

Anonymous
(Controller) |

I recommend applying through another state and then getting reciprocity to get your license in your state. I never had public accounting experience either, so I went through another state first and then my state.

Anonymous
(Financial Reporting Analyst ) |

Hi, which state did you get your license from at first? I'm in MA, and I'm planning to work here, at least for the immediate future.

Linda StClaire
Title: VP Finance
Company: Extron Inc.
(VP Finance, Extron Inc.) |

What are you trying to accomplish? You didn't give many details, but it sounds to me that the CMA certification may be more appropriate, if you do not plan to work in public accounting.

Anonymous
(Financial Reporting Analyst ) |

Hi, I want to the certified even though I don't want to work in public accounting because, first, it seems to me that CPA credential is always "preferred" in almost all accounting/finance jobs, whether they are public or private sectors. Second, I do think that the CPA is valued for a reason, I don't want to pass it just to have it. I want the exam preparation process and the exam itself to make me a very solid accounting/finance professional.

In the far future, I want to hold positions that are not solely accounting. They should be combination of accounting, finance, and perhaps also data analysis.

I did think about taking the CMA at first. But it seems to me that CMA is more applicable for manufacturing companies' accountants. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thank you.

Anonymous
(Financial Reporting Analyst ) |

Hi, I want to the certified even though I don't want to work in public accounting because, first, it seems to me that CPA credential is always "preferred" in almost all accounting/finance jobs, whether they are public or private sectors. Second, I do think that the CPA is valued for a reason, I don't want to pass it just to have it. I want the exam preparation process and the exam itself to make me a very solid accounting/finance professional.

In the far future, I want to hold positions that are not solely accounting. They should be combination of accounting, finance, and ideally also data analysis.

Anonymous
(Financial Analyst, FP&A) |

The CPA appears to be a well-respected signaling mechanism throughout all industries. I completed an internship in equity research and my Managing Director and multiple analysts held a CPA. I remember some of them explaining how they never worked in audit, and were issued a CPA certificate and/or a non-reporting license.

I have spoken with a lot of execs and if I mention the CMA, many of them have no idea what I'm talking about. If I mention CPA, they know it is "the" finance/accounting. And most of the guys in ops or sales or other non-finance functions often lump accounting and finance together.

One downside here is the CPA does not teach of adequately convey the attributes you mention at the end of your post. There are other designations (e.g. the FP&A certificate, the CMA) which will be more useful for learning finance and data analysis, however you can learn those items on your own more efficiently. Much of preparing for these exams is learning to take the text, not just learning the content.

I don't think the CMA or FP&A will unseat the CPA as the premier finance designation, and for that reason I am also pursuing a CPA license (non-reporting). Additionally, with a Masters in accounting/business/finance, once all 4 exams are completed I will be issued a non-reporting license and become a "CPA," whereas CMA/FP&A/CFA all require 2-3+ years of experience after writing the exams.

Ultimately I believe the value of all certifications/designations will fade over time, so I wouldn't over-analyze it. If you can get it, unless you can benefit from networking or doing something else with your limited time, then you should do it now.

Rich Robins
Title: Accountant
Company: Tec
(Accountant, Tec) |

I'm in a similar situation. I'm going to take the CPA exam summer of 2016. I'm hoping that I'll find a small CPA firm to take me on. Or at least have a boss that is an ACTIVE CPA the self. I'm in CA and I believe the exam scores expire after 5yrs of passing the last part. So the clock starts ticking at that point! BTW and FYI Attest is nice. But not necessary for what I wanna do.

Ross Anderson, CPA, MBA
Title: Controller
Company: TFS Capital
(Controller, TFS Capital) |

I got mine without audit experience. I recommend applying through a state that does not have a residency requirement nor audit experience requirement and then later applying to your current state through the reciprocity rules.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

Absolutely do this.

Many employers in my area - the SF Bay Area - have no idea what a CPA is. But they are sure they want you to have one for any finance related position. Or, at least the gatekeepers do. And actually, so do the hiring managers..................if they have one themselves. They want to help members of their own club. Particularly if you met your experience requirement at the same firm they did.

I've had it proven time and again in interviews I've been subjected to, either by the interviewer asking stupid questions about the designation or by their making statements that show that they have little idea of what it actually represents.

I was most recently asked by a city manager why I didn't get my "CPA Degree" while I was in college rather than the Business Management degree I have.

I've had more than one business owner tell me they wouldn't consider me further without a CPA because they thought if they hired someone who was certified, they wouldn't have to pay for an independent auditor! That's how ignorant they are.

They also frequently believe it makes one a tax expert. (Only if one specialized in taxes while earning that CPA!) I know CPAs who don't prepare their own tax returns!

But, in any financial related position from analyst to CFO, they're requiring a CPA and usually an MBA. There is a glut of both in the SF Bay Area. You won't make it past the first screening without both of these. Experience and knowledge are hard to judge. A parchment document means that someone else already did it for them.

I've fought this - you need a CPA - my entire career. Early on, after initial career success, I couldn't afford to downgrade to an audit position in an audit firm to meet the two year experience requirement. Then later, when I decided to do whatever it took to join them since I couldn't beat them, I was over forty and found the audit firm doors shut in my face. Nothing like being "overqualified" for everything.

Now surprisingly, my CPA auditor friends say there is a drastic shortage of auditors and qualified staff today and they're scrambling to find them. Many have offered me the opportunity to get meet my experience requirement without working 90 hour weeks.......at 1/3 my current salary of course

In response, the CA experience requirements have been substantially altered to allow for more options to meet the requirements. It's no longer the college degree - minimum two years slave labor at audit firm while trying to pass the exam.

So, go ahead and do whatever you have to to obtain the certificate, even if you're never going to audit in your life - which I wouldn't blame you for. You've got the chance now. It will get you in the door later. It reduces the barriers to entry for so many finance jobs.

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