Here’s a trivia question. What does the number 58 mean in relation to the CPA profession? If you guessed the number of organizations, associations, and governmental entities and agencies that oversee or in some way have an impact on Indiana CPAs, you were right!

The INCPAS Board of Directors earlier this week at their annual retreat completed an exercise in which they identified and described all 58, and grouped them under four major categories: other associations (besides INCPAS of course), standards, self-regulation and government. It provided some clarity to what is often viewed as an area of confusion. Not only who or what each of these groups are, but what they do, and how they relate to CPAs.

AcronymsThere’s no doubt we missed a few, so the actual number is even larger than we discussed. But, you get the picture. And at the end of the exercise, everyone did too as post-it notes were placed on a large poster to depict just “how the profession works.” Now everything’s crystal clear. Or not.

A majority of the groups use acronyms, or initialisms (the difference being an acronym is something you actually say as a word while an initialism is saying the letters). Regardless, the poster looked more like four bowls of alphabet soup when it was all done, albeit colorful ones at that. And while the exercise was educational, it reinforced the notion that there is a lot of complexity in the profession, and likely some misunderstanding.

In addition to the associations (which, by the way, did not include at least individually all of the other state CPA societies or associations for other professions that CPAs may work in or serve as clients), standard setting and self-regulating organizations, and government entities and agencies, we also included accounting-related designations (as a group in the exercise).

According to various sources, there are at least 50 and possibly as many as 75 specialty designations that CPAs have or may have an interest in. This article summarizes about 15 of them. But there certainly are many, many more. Now we’re talking about specialization and hyperspecialization, but that’s a whole other blog!

Back to the exercise, here are a few examples, uh, acronyms:


  • IIA – Institute of Internal Auditors. An international association with nearly 200,000 members.
  • NAFA – National Association of Forensic Accountants. For CPAs in forensic accounting.


  • IAASB – International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board. Sets international standards for auditing, quality control and other assurance services.
  • PCC – Private Company Council. Determines modifications to U.S. GAAP for private companies.


  • PEEC – Professional Ethics Executive Committee. AICPA senior committee responsible for Code of Conduct interpretations and rulings.
  • IIRC – International Integrated Reporting Council. Global coalition created to develop an internationally accepted framework for integrate reporting.


  • IPLA – Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. Agency that licenses all professions in Indiana including CPAs.
  • GAO – Government Accountability Office. Independent, nonpartisan agency that ensures the accountability of the federal government.

The point is, there are a lot of groups out there that play a role in the profession. Advocating for it, providing resources, setting standards, effectively regulating it, monitoring it, and using it for help with services and guidance for business and the public.

It’s a good idea for all CPAs to learn a little more about these groups. Sure, there may be some that will never have an impact on you. But there will be quite a few that do over the course of your career.