Backlash revs up over ABV change; call for boycott

BVWireIssue #191-3
August 15, 2018

business valuation accrediting organizations
AICPA, business valuation profession, valuation certification

During a webinar, opponents of the decision by the AICPA to open up the ABV credential to non-CPAs told the organization that it “hasn’t heard the end of this” and to “watch out for unintended consequences.” After AICPA spokespersons indicated that the organization was sticking to its decision, a call went out to ABV holders to boycott the annual AICPA FVS conference in Atlanta this November.

Face-off: For the first time in a public arena, prominent CPA/ABVs were pitted against AICPA BV committee members who back the decision to allow other qualified professionals (OQPs) to be eligible for the ABV credential. The webinar included Dr. Michael Crain (Florida Atlantic University) and Harold Martin (Keiter), two of the leading CPA/ABVs who signed an Open Letter critical of the change, and Nathan DiNatale (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP) and Bethany Hearn (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP), chairs of the AICPA BV Committee and ABV Credential Committee, respectively. The moderator was Jim Hitchner (Valuation Products and Services), who declared himself “unbiased,” although he was also a signer of the Open Letter. The webinar did not include any AICPA staff members as presenters. You can listen to a recording of the webinar (which is free) and access all of the handouts if you click here.

Hearn and DiNatale explained the AICPA’s position and need for the change. They asked ABV members to look beyond the harsh criticism, which they feel has done damage to the profession, particularly with some “harmful” remarks made on social media. They urged members to pull together and support the move going forward. Crain and Martin rejected this notion and restated the concerns expressed in the Open Letter. They also dissected an “inaccurate and misleading” timelinethe AICPA had published (and since updated) that traced the decision process. They want the AICPA to suspend the decision, redo the decision process properly, and have the AICPA Council (its governing body) revote on the matter. But the point was made that the AICPA is standing firm and the ABV change is a “done deal.”

Conference boycott: On August 9, the day after the webinar, Martin J. Lieberman (Lieberman LLP), a CPA/ABV, sent an email to ABV holders calling for a boycott of the AICPA FVS conference in Atlanta this November. The email notes that “growing numbers” of ABV holders are participating in the boycott and that two prominent speakers have already cancelled their scheduled conference appearances and that more will follow suit. The boycott is aimed at “current management of the AICPA as they tear down what we as ABVs have spent as much as 20 years building up,” the email says. BVWire has seen emails from some ABV holders saying they will not attend the conference in support of the boycott.

When BVWire asked the AICPA for a comment, it responded but did not address the boycott. They gave us this statement:

The AICPA’s annual Forensic and Valuation Services Conference provides valuation professionals, as well as litigation service consultants and other financial and legal professionals of all levels the educational forum for continuing their professional development and ensuring their practices stay current in this rapidly changing business and technological environment. One of the core tenets of forensic and valuation experts is to provide consistent high-quality services to their clients. The education and skills development offered at the AICPA’s Forensic and Valuation Services Conference helps ensure that the clients’ and the public interest are well served.

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