Many are not aware of how a CPA is different from a bookkeeper, tax preparer, financial planner or other accountants. The CPA designation is one of the most widely recognized, respected and highly trusted professional designations in the business world. CPAs are distinguished from other finance and accountant professionals by strict qualification, experience and licensing requirements.
We have worked hard to obtain our CPA, CA designation, and we are committed to working even harder to deliver the value that it conveys. On average it takes a minimum of 7 years from the first year of university all the way to graduation, passing the exams considered some of the hardest in Canada to pass and accumulating the required hours to then be granted permission to use the CPA, CA designation.
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As CPAs, we are regulated by the CPA national and provincial professional body’s. Regulation by a professional body is usually one of the main reasons clients seek CPA advice, they want to make sure they are dealing with true professionals that can be held accountable for their actions if ever the CPA code of ethics isn’t respected or for any other dispute between the client and the CPA. As CPAs we have a rule of professional conduct and code of ethics that we must abide by, if we deviate or fail to respect the code we would have to face sanctions by the professional body of CPAs which can include monetary penalties all the way to a permanent expulsion from the order of CPAs. Every 3 years, we are required to get audited (professional inspection) by CPA Ontario. During that inspection, they make sure that the CPA firm is up to date with current accounting rules and practice.
As CPAs we required to get yearly training related to our field of expertise. The minimum of hours required is 25h a year, and a minimum of 120h of structured continuing education over a 3 year period. We at the office have been averaging over 100h of training a year by each of our CPAs. This means that you can trust that we will always be up to date with the most updated accounting and tax changes affecting you.
As CPAs we are required to have a minimum of $1,500,000 in professional liability insurance. Non-CPA firms, or bookkeeper firms do not have such requirement, therefore if a non-CPA firm provides accounting or tax work and were negligent in their work, a client might not be able to recover their loss caused by improper advice, or to make a complaint to a professional body.
Review engagement and audits
Only CPAs who are licenced public accountants are allowed to perform audits or review engagement.
When banks require financial statements, even a simple notice to reader (NTR), they will require or expect a CPA who is a licenced public accountant to have signed the NTR report. This is common when a business as a commercial loan, or line of credit and the bank needs yearly financials.
Most CPA's have a very broad knowledge base in addition to tax and accounting which can greatly benefit clients. When you see a CPA at our firm, you can expect to not only receive expert advice in both accounting and tax, but also in financial planning, estate planning, trust planning, basic knowledge of laws that govern those areas and plenty more. We have CPA’s that have CFP designation, TEP designation, Pl. Fin designation and even a master’s in tax. Therefore when you meet with a CPA, you can expect an in-depth discussion about the overall picture of your situation.