ABV credential still going strong, Town Hall attendees told

When the AICPA first introduced the CFF credential just four years ago, it was hoping to admit 1,000 practitioners with the certification in financial forensics. Instead, it registered 3,000. Since then, the CFF credential has “taken off,” according to Ralph Stephens (Postlethwaite & Netterville), who addressed the FVS Town Hall at the Orlando conference on Monday.

In fact, the most recent AICPA Forensic FVS Trend Survey identifies financial forensics as one of the fastest growing practice areas for accountants, valuation analysts, and computer investigators. In terms of engagements, the growth areas for forensic specialists appear to be divorce, economic damages, and financial statement fraud. “For valuation professionals, the areas with greatest jumps in demand within the past year included shareholder/partner disputes, contractual disputes, family law, and gift and estate issues,” says the survey’s executive summary. Respondents also ranked the top five challenges for forensic professionals over the next two to five years:

  • Attracting and retaining qualified staff (25% of respondents);
  • Keeping abreast of regulatory changes (14%);
  • The economy (13%);
  • Competition and fee pressure (11%); and
  • Technology (9%).
In the meantime, ABV certification is still seeing an annual growth rate of about 24%, according to Bill Kennedy (FTI Consulting), who also addressed the FVS Town Hall as chair of the ABV credential committee. Currently, approximately 3,000 professionals hold the Accredited in Business Valuation credential, with just about 250 new registrants every year. “We want to continue to drive these numbers,” Kennedy said, in large part by supporting members’ FVS practices. Both the ABV and CFF committees oversee a “champion” program, in which individual practitioners actively promote the respective credentials to their state bar, CPA, and other professional associations; and both committees are revisiting exam and other educational requirements with an eye toward continuous improvement.

The FVS executive committee has also had a “busy year,” said Eddy Parker, senior technical manager for the FVS division. For instance, Parker met with the SEC’s Paul Beswick to discuss the latter’s desire to see a more unified valuation profession. The committee also drafted “robust” comment letters in response to recent proposed revisions to USPAP as well as international accounting ethical standards (see item below). All in all, “you are in the right place,” Parker told the conference room full of CPAs, ABVs, and CFFs. “You are on the cutting edge.”