Goldilocks and the CPAs

In North Carolina, it is currently a crime (Class 1 misdemeanor) for a resident of this state who is a CPA licensed in another state but not currently licensed in North Carolina, to put this credential on a resume, even with a clarification such as “CPA (in SC only).”  This was my status when I moved from South Carolina, where I held SC CPA certificate # 2463 from 1985 until moving to the Tar Heel State in 2003.

For a growing number of corporate jobs in accounting and finance, the recruiters are including “CPA Required” in the mandatory qualifications, despite the fact that these companies are not CPA Firms, and are not engaged in the delivery of CPA services, preparing tax returns for others, attesting to the financial statements of others, etc.  In these companies, “CPA” is viewed not as an occupational license, but as a validation that one has some subject matter knowledge.

When a CPA in another state is no longer working in public accounting, then moves to North Carolina to work as a corporate CFO or controller, there should not be a need to obtain an occupational license as a CPA in this state JUST TO BE ABLE TO APPLY FOR A NON-CPA JOB.

But letting a prospective employer know that you are or were a CPA in another state, or are inactive or retired in this state, is not permitted under current law.

On behalf of members of the Financial Executives Networking Group, a job search oriented networking group for senior financial and accounting folks, I have been searching for a solution.  The NC Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners has proposed a “declaratory ruling”  that would permit a resume to include a phrase such as “CPA licensed in [state] but not admitted to practice and use the CPA credential in North Carolina.”  Or similar with opening of “inactive CPA…” or “retired CPA…” or “received a CPA certificate…”

So now I’m gathering feedback on this proposal to share with the Board.

Some folks in the profession find it too soft.  The status quo is fine for those who have undertaken to get their CPA license in NC and feel this gives them a competitive advantage over the lawbreakers.

Others find it too hard.  Getting a license in NC is too cumbersome and expensive for anyone not actually working in public accounting nor intending to do so.  And the proposed language is tortuous at best and may be perceived negatively by some recruiters.

And still others think it is just right.  Or at least an improvement over the current situation.

Your comments?


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