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Canadian students wishing to enter the accounting profession have always had three distinct paths to choose from—chartered accountant, certified management accountant and certified general accountant—that is until now. Canada’s accounting bodies have agreed to merge under the banner of Chartered Professional Accountant.
Prior to the merger, each designation held a unique standing within the accounting realm. CAs typically worked in public practice as dedicated number crunchers destined to land work with accounting giants like KPMG. CMAs were considered to be corporate leaders, their studies akin to an M.B.A., focusing on business strategy and management. CGAs represented professionals who wanted to beef up their resumes with an accounting designation. This path was the only way into the profession that did not require applicants to have a university degree to start the program (although one is required to finish).
The idea sprouted in Quebec, where government officials sought to merge all three designations under common regulations following an internal review. The idea prompted accounting bodies across the country to think about setting aside their differences.
The merger required the support of 40 accounting bodies, including the regional and national associations for CAs, CMAs and CGAs, as well as approval in Bermuda, where accountants are regulated under our Canadian standards. In Ontario, the idea was met with some trepidation on behalf of CGAs who were worried about equal treatment among other issues including international recognition.
Eventually, final approval was announced midway through June, 2013. Under the agreement, 185,000 accountants set aside their differences—which had become increasingly blurred over the years—and joined forces under the new title of Chartered Professional Accountant.
What about those interested in becoming an accountant? A new national educational process has been put in place, the CPA Professional Educational Program (CPA PEP). To gain admission to the program, prospective students must have an undergraduate degree and specific subject area coverage.