The first group of accountants to take the CPA exam under the new continuous testing policy will begin to get scores Friday. Those who passed, will be celebrating. Those who didn’t will, for the first time, be eligible to retake the test almost immediately.

As of July 1, the rigorous 4-part, 4-hour exam for accountants who want to earn the coveted Certified Public Accountant designation is offered throughout the year. The new “Continuous Testing” approach replaces the previous schedule where candidates could take one or more parts of the exam only once during each of the four annual testing windows.

Now, as soon as a candidate gets their results, they can retake the failed part within a matter of days.

Continuous testing has been under discussion by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the American Institute of CPAs for a few years. Supported by college accounting departments, state accounting boards and other organizations, candidates have long asked for a more frequent testing process. The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown spurred the accounting organizations to act.

“Continuous testing has been a goal for some time, and it comes in direct response to feedback from CPA exam candidates and their desire to test more frequently throughout the year,” said NASBA Executive Vice President & COO Colleen Conrad, CPA.

“NASBA is proud to work in collaboration with the AICPA, Prometric (the testing administrator) and the 55 U.S. Boards of Accountancy to continue to ensure the security of the exam and to implement a successful transition,” she said in a statement issued the day the continuous testing program began.

The CPA exam is administered nationwide, however CPA licensing is the function of each state and territory. While most states have approved the continuous testing change, each had to implement the transition. According to NASBA’s testing status map, three states had not yet completed the process, but were expected to by the July 1 start. It is not clear they made that deadline. South Carolina will not offer continuous testing until next year.


Jun 6, 2023

Accountants Worry If They Have the Skills for a Post-COVID World

Corporate accountants say the global pandemic has caused them to shift work priorities and forgo pay or bonuses – sometimes both – as they wonder how relevant their existing skills will be in a post-COVID world.

These are among the findings of a five country survey of finance professionals conducted by the Institute of Management Accounting (IMA). The organization set out to learn how the pandemic has affected the business finance function, surveying 1,481 management accounting professionals who were almost evenly divided among China, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the United States.

The report — The Impact of Covid-19 on the Finance Function — found differences across the globe in staff cuts and pay reductions, but similarities in where the finance function has shifted its focus.

By large margins respondents reported reductions in their organization’s revenue, with those working at companies with more than $10 billion reporting the deepest decline. Tourism and hospitality was the most seriously impacted, while the percentage of those in accounting who said revenue was down somewhat or considerably was the smallest.

While accountants in all countries and all industries reported staffing cuts and pay reductions, US companies were the least likely to have laid off workers or cut the pay of their finance professionals.

On the other hand, the survey found a great deal of consistency across industries regarding the shifting priorities of the finance department.

The largest increase in emphasis was in risk management with 44% of finance professionals reporting spending more or much more time in this area. This was followed closely by those who say they are spending more time in cash forecasting/management.

The biggest decrease was in the time finance previously spent on business partnering and decision support.

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More personally, a quarter of finance professionals expressed concern about the relevance of their skills in a post-COVID world — 12% believe their skills will not be relevant, and another 10% are unsure.

US finance professionals were in the minority here. Just over 5% were unsure or believe their skills will not be relevant. US professionals were also the least likely among those in the other countries to express an interest in upskilling and were also the least likely to have improved their job skills during the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting business with a challenge not seen in recent times,” writes the report’s author, Dr. Raef Lawson, professor-in-residence and vice president of research and policy at IMA. “The impact has been global, affecting every country and organizations of all sizes.”

Soon, he says, the business environment will change again, so “companies need to consider how they will compete in the ‘new normal.’

“One thing is clear,” he concludes, “The field of finance is changing faster than ever, and finance professionals must work to enhance their skills in order to maintain and advance their careers.”

Photo by Carlos Muza


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