When talking about the potential merger of the accounting profession in Canada, it is important to remember why we currently have three different professional accounting designations. Over the past few months, I have seen comments on our Forum that suggest the proposed new organization should take on the model or style of one or the other of the existing associations. With today’s blog post, I’d like to address these comments as I strongly believe that for any new organization to successfully meet the needs of today’s marketplace there needs to be a thorough understanding of what the marketplace demands both in accounting education and in the services provided by accountants.
Over time, three dynamic and unique accounting associations developed in Canada. Driven by a competitive environment, each found a market niche, and developed and grew to meet that market need. What is important is that the accountants who came out of these programs were substantively the same. How they got there was different. Now, each association offers customized programs and unique training opportunities that address specific needs of those who want to be accountants.
Why is this important to us now? It’s simple – any merged situation must address market need. We can’t lose the century of experience that is embodied in today’s professional organizations. Each is different and those differences are there because there is a need for alternative paths to get to the end result. The suggestion that we move from a multifaceted model (three associations) to one model is fine, but it can’t just be built on the framework of one association. To do so risks reducing the range of skills available in accountancy and, most importantly, will reduce access to our profession.
More than any other association, CGA-Canada provides students with a flexible approach to achieving their career goals. The CGA designation has always enabled students to pursue a customized accounting career by offering flexible study options, work-life balance or career opportunities. Our association recognizes the pressures of the modern work environment and offers real-world solutions to enable students to pursue an accounting career on a timeframe that works for them.
While we remain open to discussing a possible merger with CICA and CMA Canada, I firmly believe that any merger must be based on an understanding of the unique value each designation brings to the marketplace. A new organization that recognizes the complexity of the accounting profession in Canada is essential to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our clients, members, students and the general public.
Anthony Ariganello is the president and chief executive officer of CGA-Canada