The CPA Profession
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The four major services that CPAs provide are:
1. Audit and assurance services Assurance services are independent professional services that improve the quality of information for decision makers. Assurance services include attestation services, which are any services in which the CPA firm issues a report that expresses a conclusion about the reliability of an assertion that is the responsibility of another party. The four categories of attestation services are audits of historical financial statements, attestation on the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, reviews of historical financial statements, and other attestation services. 2. Accounting and bookkeeping services Accounting services involve preparing the client's financial statements from the client's records. Bookkeeping services include the preparation of the client's journals and ledgers as well as financial statements. 3. Tax services Tax services include preparation of corporate, individual, and estate returns as well as tax planning assistance. 4. Management consulting services These services range from suggestions to improve the client's accounting system to computer installations.
The major characteristics of CPA firms that permit them to fulfill their social function competently and independently are:
1. Organizational form A CPA firm exists as a separate entity to avoid an employer-employee relationship with its clients. The CPA firm employs a professional staff of sufficient size to prevent one client from constituting a significant portion of total income and thereby endangering the firm's independence. 2. Conduct A CPA firm employs a professional staff of sufficient size to provide a broad range of expertise, continuing education, and promotion of a professional independent attitude and competence. 3. Peer review This practice evaluates the performance of CPA firms in an attempt to keep competence high.
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board provides oversight for auditors of public companies, including establishing auditing and quality control standards for public company audits, and performing inspections of the quality controls at audit firms performing those audits. 2-4
The purpose of the Securities and Exchange Commission is to assist in providing investors with reliable information upon which to make investment decisions. Since most reasonably large CPA firms have clients that must file reports with the SEC each year (all companies filing registration statements under the securities acts of l933 and l934 must file audited financial statements and other reports with the SEC at least once each year), the profession is highly involved with the SEC requirements.
The SEC has considerable influence in setting generally accepted accounting principles and disclosure requirements for financial statements because of its authority for specifying reporting requirements considered necessary for fair disclosure to investors. In addition, the SEC has power to establish rules for any CPA associated with audited financial statements submitted to the Commission.
The AICPA is the organization that sets professional requirements for CPAs. The AICPA also conducts research and publishes materials on many different subjects related to accounting, auditing, management advisory services, and taxes. The organization also prepares and grades the CPA examinations, provides continuing education to its members, and develops specialty designations to help market and assure the quality of services in specialized practice areas.
Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements provide a framework for attest engagements, including detailed standards for specific types of attestation engagements.
The PCAOB has responsibility for establishing auditing standards for public companies,...
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