While the largest accounting firms in Arkansas look at automating audit functions, two Arkansans are part of a national effort to rework the licensing of certified public accountants.
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Jimmy Corley, the executive director of the Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy, and Mike Watts, a former University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor, are members of the American Institute of CPAs’ Board of Examiners.
Right now, that board is going through a process called a practice analysis, which means the exam is being re-evaluated.
The board’s preliminary research “indicates that the body of knowledge required of newly licensed CPAs is growing rapidly. New content will have to be added to test deeper skill sets in areas such as critical thinking, professional skepticism, problem-solving, understanding business risks and controls and data management and analysis,” Corley said in an email.
“At the same time some content will have to be removed from the exam so that it remains manageable. We want to keep the exam at 16 hours,” he said. “Another part of the practice analysis involves identifying what content on the exam is now obsolete or can be set aside to make room for testing of the higher order skills.”
Corley said the state accountancy board is already seeing a slight increase in technology-related education hours on the transcripts of candidates seeking CPA licenses. “But I suspect we’ll see more of that as colleges and universities in Arkansas update their curriculums to account for the changes that are happening in our industry,” he said.
Requiring those seeking CPA licenses to take tech courses “is a very distinct possibility” that could happen within the next five years, Corley said.