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American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA): The facts

Established in 1887 the American institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the national professional body which represents certified public accountants (CPA) in the USA. Presently (as of 01.06.2011), with a membership of nearly 370,000 CPA’s, the AICPA is well represented across every state in the USA. This article gives an overview of the AICPA and its role in America today.

An overview of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

The American institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) began in 1887 with an initial membership of 1,150. In 1897, the first bylaws of the AICPA were established and over the years a number of committees where formed in order to help with its running. In 1999, nearly half of its committees (120 in total), where disbanded and reorganised into a voluntary group model. Currently, there are approximately 2,000 volunteers helping the AICPA do its work.
The AICPA's mission is to provide its members with resources, information and leadership which empower them to provide the general public with the highest level of professional service. The AICPA achieves this by working with State CPA organisations around America. Professional standards setting
The AICPA sets the acceptable standard for CPA's throughout the Country. This was highly centralised until the 1970's, since then, the responsibility for setting Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) has been handed over to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). While these standards are still acceptable for CPA's working in private practice, the lawmakers made a new law in 2002, which was initiated in order to create an independent body to oversee financial audits of public companies.
Sarbanes-Oxley Act & PCAOB
This law is known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and it resulted in the establishment of an independent body which would set and monitor the standards for public companies, which are regulated, by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This new body is known as the Public Company Accounting Oversight board (PCAOB), and CPA's must follow its directions in matters relating to public companies.

Membership of the AICPA

Joining requirements
The AICPA provides several types of membership, which are, as follows: 1.Regular - Anyone who has passed the CPA exam, and who was or still is either certified or licensed. 2.Associate Member- Anyone who has passed the CPA exam and who has not been certified/licensed to practice. 3.College Graduates- College graduates who have not yet passed the CPA exam. 4.International Associate- For non US accountants who are members of an approved international organisation. 5.Non CPA Facility Associate- Any CPA accounting faculty member who teaches at a College or university. 6.Non CPA Section Associate- Any non CPA professional who is employed and sponsored by a CPA firm. 7.Student Affiliate- For college students who are thinking about becoming CPA's.

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