Professional American accounting and auditing services .

Professional American accounting and auditing services .

All American professional  accounting and auditing services(or accountants) are grouped under the name of CPA (“Certified Public Accountants”), regardless of the services they perform. Thus, the main characteristic of the American accounting profession lies in the absence of distinction between auditors and chartered accountants.

Moreover, the rules on incompatibility between these two functions being more flexible than in Europe, in particular for unlisted companies, the auditors of these entities generally ensure the preparation of the financial statements and the establishment of the tax returns. Consequently, while European small businesses reaching a certain size use two professionals to carry out this work, American small firms only use a single service provider who provides a global service.

The requirements for accessing the CPA are also quite different from the conditions for obtaining the European chartered accountant diploma. Thus, although certain similarities exist, particularly with regard to the educational qualifications and the professional experience required for obtaining the diploma, the spirit of the examination is radically different. The American diploma is in fact exclusively made up of four written tests, which relate to auditing, accounting for businesses and local authorities, the regulation of the profession, taxation of businesses and individuals, management control, and law applicable to companies (Annex VI). Its format may also seem atypical for an European professional  accounting and auditing services ( accountant), since more than 50% of the tests represent multiple-choice questions. This exam therefore assesses more theoretical knowledge than real professional competence. However, the breadth of its content and its high technicality make it a difficult test.

How are the American accounting and auditing services organized ?

The organization of the American accounting  and auditing services and profession is based on the affiliation of professionals to a supervisory body, the AICPA (“American Institute of Certified Public Accountants”). In addition to its functions in terms of accounting standardization outlined above, this body defines the professional standards applicable to all CPAs and has disciplinary power over its members. Given the lack of distinction between chartered accountants and statutory auditors, it therefore represents both the equivalent of the Order of Chartered Accountants and the National Company of Statutory Auditors. In addition, since CPA affiliation is at state level, professionals are attached to the AICPA branches present in these jurisdictions, as are their European counterparts to regional companies and councils.

The intervention of the AICPA in terms of professional regulation is essentially at two levels, since it develops not only standards of behavior, but also work standards defining the diligence to be implemented for the performance of standardized missions. These missions will be discussed in more detail in the next section. With regard to standards of conduct, these are grouped together in a professional charter (“Code of Professional Conduct”) that AICPA members are required to respect under pain of disciplinary sanctions. In particular, they impose requirements in terms of independence and professional competence, and they consider the relationships of professionals with their clients or their colleagues. Compliance with these standards is therefore an essential condition to ensure the quality and consistency of the services provided throughout the territory.

However, membership in the AICPA is voluntary and its sanctions apply only to its members, the disciplinary power of this organization is limited. In addition, it does not have the authority to terminate the functions of a professional whose practices do not comply with its code of conduct, since professional licenses are granted and managed at the level of each state by administrative entities. autonomous (“State Boards of Accountancy”), which alone have this prerogative.

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