Performance Perspectives Blog

Verifiers should be CPAs … or maybe not!

by | Apr 15, 2010

I just had the opportunity to comment on a discussion that’s taking place in the CIPM (Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement) group on Linkedin. The question that was posed: “What can be done to make the CIPM credential more recognized and respected in the financial industry?”

Someone suggested that GIPS(R) (Global Investment Performance Standards) verifiers should have the CIPM; this suggestion was trumped with the notion that verifiers should be CPAs. A few others agreed with this suggestion. And, you will probably guess that all who did support this idea happen to have CPAs … a rather self-serving suggestion. A colleague of mine from Canada (aka, the 51st state) who happens to be a CA (Chartered Accountant) has made a similar suggestion; one that obviously I take exception to.

I know that we don’t want to get into a debate on the practices of CPA firms and discuss some of the irregularities that have surfaced over the years. And I also don’t want to discuss how a verification is quite different from a financial audit; granted, there are some similarities, but to suggest that one needs to have gone through audit training is a bit ludicrous.

Our firm has replaced several CPA firms for clients; in every case, the prior firm had made numerous errors in their reviews. One in particular, by a very well known accounting firm, had been verifying the client for ten years, and every year giving them a verification report, even though their client didn’t even have GIPS presentations for their composites! Plus, they were missing several composites. So much for the CPA designation.

I find it offensive that CPAs would make such a suggestion. The question that was posed dealt with the CIPM. While I fully support the CIPM program I wouldn’t want to see possessing it be mandatory for a verifier. I would, however, encourage verifiers to obtain the CIPM as it provides them with an extensive knowledge of performance measurement; granted, not accounting, but accounting isn’t part of performance measurement.

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