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CPAs' road to global opportunities: Stay or take a leap

FOR some time now in the Philippines, the accounting profession, particularly those involving certified public accountants (CPAs), has been contemplating on taking the road to the global arena through the initiative of the Philippine Regulatory Board of Accountancy (PRBOA). Igniting the engine to make our accountants gain international acceptance, or even dominance, may take a determined leap not only on the part of regulators but also of the stakeholders. As an academician, public practitioner and entrepreneur, I am not inclined to stay but to take the leap toward globalization due to the continuing evolution of our beloved accounting profession.

Taking a leap entails necessary changes, one of which is reforming the existing Licensure Examination for Certified Public Accountants (Lecpa) in the Philippines. In line with this, the PRBOA formed a task working group (TWG) per CPA licensure exam (CPALE) subject represented by well-regarded CPAs both in the academe and public practice to take part in the review of the existing syllabi for the Lecpa. Also, there is a need to propose necessary reforms with the objective of not only meeting the global standards for CPA licensure examination but of the entire accounting practice in various sectors. PRBOA envisioned to pattern the Philippine Lecpa with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (Aicpa) Evolution Examination that was formulated to address the skills and competencies of new CPAs that are required today and in the future. I took part in the review of the existing Lecpa syllabi as a member of the taxation team.

The subjects in the proposed revised syllabi for Lecpa in the Philippines based on Aicpa Evolution Examination are as follows:

– Financial accounting and reporting (FAR)

– Auditing

– Taxation

– Regulatory framework for business transactions

– Business analysis and reporting (BAR)

– Information system and control (ISC)

The salient features of the proposed revised syllabi for Lecpa are as follows:

– The two financial accounting subjects in the existing CPALE syllabi, namely the FAR and the Advance Financial Accounting and Reporting, are now merged into one subject only, which is FAR. Hence, this subject covers the candidate's knowledge of the concepts and principles of basic, intermediate and advanced financial accounting and reporting, and the practical application of these concepts and principles. Candidates are expected to know and understand the provisions of the relevant Philippine Accounting Standards, Philippine Financial Reporting Standards and Philippine Sustainability Reporting Standards. The examination is divided into two parts: Financial Accounting Theory and Problem; and Advanced Financial Accounting Theory and Problem.

– The Management Advisory Services in the existing CPALE syllabi has been renamed into BAR. The subject covers the candidates' knowledge of the concepts, techniques and methods applicable to advisory services, financial analysis and reporting, financial operations, management and emerging reporting frameworks, such as integrated reporting and sustainability reporting.

– A new subject is introduced under the proposed revised CPALE syllabi, the ISC. This subject covers the candidates' ability to demonstrate understanding and remembering of concepts, frameworks, principles, standards, criteria and regulations relating to the following areas: and information systems and data management, information technology (IT) objectives and controls, auditing IT as part of audit of financial statements and service organization controls.

At first glance, the contents of the proposed syllabus per subject may seem challenging to some stakeholders, especially for new subjects to be added such as BAR and ISC. The rest of the subjects are already part of the current Lecpa. However, taking an objective view of the contents of each proposed Lecpa syllabus, the required knowledge for CPA candidates in the competencies required per subject is that of an entry-level accountant only. This means that CPA candidates only need fundamental knowledge and requirements to be able to address the various needs of stakeholders that the CPA candidate will be interacting professionally in the future.

The thought that the proposed reforms will pave the way for CPAs in the Philippines to be recognized abroad and highlight our expertise internationally, surely thrilled me and made me feel hopeful for the future of the profession. The road to reforms, as expected, is not smooth and is without public scrutiny. Setting aside personal bias as a member of the TWG, I am confident that the proposed reforms are necessary and timely in order to take the leap toward globalization.

The output of each TWG per CPALE subject are merely recommendatory and still subject to the approval of the PRBOA. As a member of the TWG for taxation, I trust the PRBOA to take a leap in bringing the Filipino CPAs to the international arena. Hopefully, with this intended leap, we can bring back the interest and excitement of our students to aspire to become future CPAs here and abroad.


Enrico D. Tabag is the managing partner of EDT & Co., CPAs and an assistant professor at the University of Santo Tomas Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy. He is also the chairman and CPA reviewer in taxation of PRIA-ARC CPA Review Center. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of these institutions.

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