Certified Public Accountant

CPA Overview

CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is generally considered as the Topmost Chartered/Public Accounting Designation in the world.

With a CPA you can be an auditor in the United States provided you have a License from the relevant State Board of Accountancy in the US. A CPA can also choose to work as Management Accountant (Finance and Accounting Manager) within the companies. A CPA has high demand especially in the US based MNC s inside and outside India, big-4 international audit firms. The Indian companies, nowadays, value those accounting professionals who have good knowledge in US GAAP and GAAS. So the demand of a CPA is ever increasing in the world job scenario. A CPA will not have to think of finding suitable jobs, jobs chase him or her. CPA opens a huge international opportunity to the careerist.

CPA Administrative Information:

CPA exam is a joint effort of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), National Association of State Board of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric Exam Centers. AICPA is responsible for the CPA exam development; NASBA represents the 50 State Board of Accountancy and 4 districts. Exam eligibility of the candidates is decided by individual Board of Accountancy. Different states of the US have different sets of eligibility criteria and a CPA exam prospect needs to fulfill the eligibility criteria of a given state. The eligibility issue is explained in details in the paragraph ... The relevant State Board of Accountancy releases the Exam score. Exam passed out candidate need to seek the license from the respective State Board of Accountancy.

CPA Eligibility Criteria:

  • For writing CPA Exams one needs 120 Credits.
  • For getting CPA License one needs 150 Credits.

In India, every year of university education is considered equivalent to 30 semester credits of US education.

Hence in India,

  • B.Com = 3 years x 30 credits = 90 credits. (Non-Eligible)
    However, B Com alone has the potential to get 120 credits. (Eligible)
  • B.Com + M.Com/MBA = 90/120 credits + 60 credits = 150/180 credits (Eligible)
  • B.Com + CA/CS/CWA = 90/120 credits + 60 credits = 150/180 credits. (Eligible)

Note: The above picture gives a gross idea on CPA eligibility. As stated above, different states of the US have different sets of eligibility criteria and a CPA exam prospect needs to fulfil the eligibility criteria of a given state. The eligibility is evaluated by CPA evaluation agencies. IPFC helps you thoroughly in the process. Please mail us at cpa@ifcpltd.com with your educational details and job experience.

Reasons behind popularity of the CPA US Qualification:

The CPA (US) is the most popular among all chartered/public accounting qualifications because:

  1. DEMAND: CPA is literally the most demanded chartered accountancy qualification of the world.
  2. COMPACT, GLOBALLY ACCREDITED COURSE: CPA has 4 papers: FAR,AUD, REG, BEC
  3. CONVENIENT EXAM WINDOWS: Exams are available throughout the year in 4 exam windows, viz, Jan-Feb, Apr-May, Jul-Aug, and Oct-Nov.
  4. SHORT TERMED: The 4 paper CPA exam can be completed in 12 months of time.
  5. INCLUSION OF MIDDLE EAST EXAM CENTERS: CPA exams can be written from the US as well as from SOME MIDDLE EAST COUNTRIES LIKE UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Lebanon.
  6. ECONOMIC: The total cost of pursuing CPA US is less than most other equivalent finance qualifications of International Level (except CMA US). Even a national level MBA degree demands 4 times investment than CPA US. But a CPA’s national and international level job opportunity increases 10 times than an ordinary MBA/MCom. Hence pursuing CPA gives you a comparatively higher ROI.

Comparisons:

Other Chartered Accountancy Courses like CA from India/Pakistan/Bangladesh and other countries of the subcontinent take about 4 years to complete, provided that you pass it on time as they have huge number of papers. ACCA (UK) is also a longer version of the Chartered Accounting exam of the United Kingdom. Compared to all other Chartered Accountancy courses the CPA is the shortest yet most demanded of all.

Exam Countries:

CPA exam for residents of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Africa, Egypt, South East and Far East Asia is costlier in view of the fact that the exam candidates have to go to US to take the exam. This increases the total cost to the student. Citizens, Permanent residents and long term residents of UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Lebanon can take the exam in these countries. Also, people from India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Oman can take the exam in the exam locations in these four countries of UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Lebanon. Long term residents mean non-citizens residing in testing countries for the purpose of work, study or governmental assignments and include their dependents. Hence, non-citizens, like Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, Pakistanis and others working in the Middle East can also take the exams in the above 4 countries.

CPA Course Contents

Syllabus:

  • Conceptual Framework, Standard Setting and presentation of Financial Statements (17-23%)
  • Financial Statement Accounts: Recognition, Measurement, Valuation, Calculation, Presentation and Disclosures (27-33%)
  • Specific Transactions, Events and Disclosures: Recognition, Measurement, Valuation, Calculation, Presentation, and Disclosures (27% - 33%)
  • Governmental Accounting and Reporting (8% - 12%)
  • Not-for-Profit (Nongovernmental) Accounting and Reporting (8%-12%)

Duration:

4 hours Exam

Question Pattern:

66 multiple choice questions (50% weightage) and 9 short task-based simulations (50% weightage)

Syllabus:

  • Engagement Acceptance and understanding the environment (12-16%)
  • Understanding the entity and its environment (16-20%)
  • Performing Audit procedures and evaluating evidence (16-20%)
  • Evaluating Audit findings, communications and reporting (16-20%)
  • Accounting and review services engagement (12-16%)
  • Professional responsibilities (16-20%)

Duration:

4 hours Exam

Question Pattern:

72 multiple choice questions (50% weightage) and 9 short task-based simulations (50% weightage)

Syllabus:

  • Ethics, Professional, and Legal Responsibilities (15% -19%)
  • Business Law (17% - 21%)
  • Federal Tax Process, Procedures, Accounting, and Planning (11% - 15%)
  • Federal Taxation of Property Transactions (12% - 16%)
  • Federal Taxation of Individuals (13% - 19%)
  • Federal Taxation of Entities (18% - 24%)

Duration:

4 hours Exam

Question Pattern:

76 multiple choice questions (50% weightage) and 9 short task-based simulations (50% weightage)

Syllabus:

  • Corporate Governance (16% - 20%)
  • Economic Concepts and Analysis (16% - 20%)
  • Financial Management (19% - 23%)
  • Information Systems and Communications (15% - 19%)
  • Strategic Planning (10% - 14%)
  • Operations Management (12% - 16%)

Duration:

4 hours Exam

Question Pattern:

62 multiple choice questions(50% weightage) and 5 short task-based simulations (35% weightage),Written communication (15% weightage)

GOOD NEWS FOR ALL INDIAN CPA US ASPIRANTS!!

Now, Indians residing in India can write CPA exams from prometric centers anywhere in Middle East including Dubai. This is as per the latest news release by AICPA w.e.f October 1, 2014.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

A CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, is a financial advisor who helps individuals, businesses, and other organizations plan and reach their financial goals. They work for public accounting firms, both small and large. They are well-respected strategic business advisors and decision-makers. They act as consultants on many issues, including taxes and accounting.

CPA Exam is most suitable for CA, ICWA, CS, LLB, MBA (Finance), M.com and Commerce Graduates (from affiliated University)

  • Most of the states in the US require 150 semester hours in order to apply for CPA. A MCom/PG/MBA Degree from recognized Universities in India is equivalent to these 150 semester hours, so they are eligible to write the exam.
  • If you are a BCom plus CA then you can appear for the exams and register from quite a few states in the US.

Each state has its own laws and rules governing the CPA profession, and each has its own Board of Accountancy that monitors the CPAs that it licenses. For most states, the term “CPA certificate” and “CPA license” is inter-changeable.

The CPA exams are conducted in 4 testing windows (Jan-Feb, Apr-May, July-August, October-November) and the results are declared in March, June, September and December respectively.

A Candidate has to score 75% or more in each of the 4 exams to be a Certified Public Accountant. You will have to clear all the 4 exams within 18 months of exam registration

Every business or organization requires the skills of a CPA. CPAs work mainly in public accounting, business and industry (corporate accounting), government, not-for-profit, and education.

This is a four-section Exam that you must pass to qualify for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license in any of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands).

The Exam is designed to test whether you have the minimum knowledge and skills required for initial licensure.

There are three main partners:

  • The AICPA develops, maintains and scores the Exam
  • The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) manages the National Candidate Database
  • Prometric is the company that delivers the Exam at its authorized test centers

The Exam is provided on behalf of Boards of Accountancy, which have ultimate licensing authority.

You can take the Exam at authorized Prometric test centers throughout the 55 U.S. jurisdictions as well as certain international locations.

You may be eligible to take the Exam at authorized Prometric test centers in Japan, Bahrain, Brazil, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). To learn more, read the eligibility section on the NASBA website.

No. You must take the Exam in English.

You must pass all four sections of the Exam within 18 months. The calculation of when the 18-month timeframe begins varies from state to state. For more information please visit Nasba.

The Exam is offered four times per year. These are known as testing windows.

  • January 1 – March 10
  • April 1 – June 10
  • July 1 – September 10
  • October 1 – December 10

Exam requirements will depend upon the jurisdiction where you choose to become licensed. You can find links to all Boards of Accountancy at NASBA.

Exam fees will depend upon the jurisdiction where you choose to become licensed. You can find links to all Boards of Accountancy at NASBA.

No. You can take the Exam (and qualify as a CPA) only if you meet the requirements of a Board of Accountancy in one of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions.

No. The basic application process is the same for all candidates. Like U.S. applicants, international applicants must select the jurisdiction in which they wish to qualify and file an application with the Board of Accountancy in that jurisdiction. Any special instructions for international applicants are specified in board requirements.

NASBA’s Candidate Bulletin provides you with detailed information about filing applications, scheduling test sessions, and taking the Exam. You can also find helpful information in the AICPA's CPA Exam Booklet.

CPA Exam is most suitable for CA, ICWA, CS, LLB, MBA (Finance), M.com and Commerce Graduates (from recognized University) • M.com or Post Graduates: Most of the states in the US require 150 semester hours in order to apply for CPA. A MCom/PG/MBA Degree from recognized Universities in India is equivalent to these 150 semester hours, so they are eligible to write the exam. • Chartered Accountants: If you are a BCom plus CA then you can appear for the exams and register from quite a few states in the US.

A Candidate has to score 75% or more in each of the 4 exams to be a Certified Public Accountant. Historically the pass % is approximately 45% globally. You will have to clear all the 4 exams within 18 months of exam registration

You are almost always sure to find a CPA , regardless of where you go in the world of business. CPA's recruiters includes Accounting n Auditing Firms, Research firms, Investments banks, Hedge Funds, Private equity firms, Commercial banks, Mutual funds, Merger & Acquisition etc . A CPA gets similar job opportunities as a CA in India and a CA +CPA further increase their job prospects globally. Let's see some of the popular Roles which you can choose after obtaining your CPA license.
Forensic Accounting: Forensic accounting involves investigating and analyzing financial evidence; developing computerized applications to assist in the analysis& presentation of financial evidence; communicating their findings in the form of reports, exhibits & collection of documents; assisting in legal proceedings.
International Accounting: With Businesses going global, demand for CPAs who've mastered international trade regulations and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Such expertise and skills are essential to international business transactions, foreign trade agreements, and other global financial and economic issue. All the better if you have a deep understanding of the laws, tax structures, and business practices of specific geographies.
Teaching: With a huge number of accounting professors approaching their retirement age, many universities are experiencing a shortage of professors to educate the future accountants. Demand for qualified teachers and professionals at all levels, especially those with real-world experience, is high. There are bunches of Top-tier business schools competing for research faculty members committed to teaching. Auditing and Assurance: An Auditor examines the data, statements, records, operations, and performances (financial or otherwise) of an enterprise for a stated purpose. Based on his examination and evidence, he will help companies to improve functions such as forecasting, risk assessments, performance measurement, systems reliability, and much more.
Information Technology: You can blend your love for gadgets and CPA skills into designing, integrating and implementing hardware and software systems for the financial and other industries. This is one area of specialization that crosses all industries and is sure to remain in high demand with the continual advancement in the field of technology.
Financial Analysis and Planning: The expertise of a CPA in evaluating complex business data, identifying trends, valuing transactions and assessing opportunities makes sure that they work closely with the highest levels of executive management. The ability of Financial Analysis and Planning are also highly sought by consulting and financial services firms serving a wide variety of companies.

The requirements, which are set by each state board of accountancy, include: completing a program of study in accounting at a college or university, passing the Uniform CPA Exam, and obtaining a specific amount of professional work experience in public accounting (the required amount and type of experience varies according to licensing jurisdiction).

All the companies require an accounts professional. As CPA caters to US GAAP & IFRS, all the Big 4's and US Based Auditing firms & Financial companies, Indian MNC's catering to US are hiring US CPA's.

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