Protecting the public: Why professions matter

By Lori Mathison
Mar 18, 2021
Photo credit: Andranik Hakobyan/iStock/Getty Images
Why are professions regulated? Well, imagine trying to find a doctor if doctors weren’t regulated. How would you verify that they have the right credentials and training? Would you feel confident that they were staying up to date with the latest knowledge in their field? How would you know that they are competent if there’s no oversight of their practice?

Now imagine that you’ve sold a piece of property and are facing financial and tax implications, including a potential capital gain. If the accounting profession wasn’t regulated, how would you know that the accountant you’ve hired is properly trained and qualified to offer expertise in this area?

Whether you’re seeking critical services for your medical or financial health, you want to know that the person helping you has been trained to meet provincial standards and is required to keep their professional skills and knowledge up to date. You also want to know that there is oversight to ensure their competence.

In other words, you’re looking for a professional. Professionals—such as doctors and designated accountants—are required to have extensive training and education and to conduct themselves in a manner that serves the public interest. They also have to ensure the ongoing development of their professional skills and knowledge to maintain qualification standards and competencies. In addition, they must adhere to a code of ethical conduct designed to protect the public and maintain the public’s trust.

CPABC is the only regulator of the accounting profession in British Columbia. Only CPAs are able to call themselves professional accountants. Only CPAs are part of a regulated profession. This matters.

We recognize that many unregulated accountants play an important role in the province’s economy. However, these individuals should not be marketing themselves as holding a designation of any kind or of being part of a regulated professional body. At best, this could lead to confusion; at worst, it could lead to harmful advice.

For this reason, CPABC works diligently to protect the public and provide clarity in the market. It does so by enforcing the Chartered Professional Accountants Act to prevent non-members from stating or implying that they are professional accountants.

CPABC is proud of the role we and our members play in supporting the province’s stable and well-regulated financial system, which is the foundation of our competitive economy. When employers hire a CPA, they can rely on CPABC to ensure that the CPA is staying up to date with their professional knowledge, skills, and proficiencies in the practice of accounting.

Again, this matters. It matters to individuals, to organizations, and to BC’s economy. It’s safe to say that most major financial decisions are made with the consultation or involvement of a CPA. Financial markets depend on information being prepared, recorded, and presented consistently. There is simply no substitute for a professional accountant.

For more information visit bccpa.ca.
Lori Mathison, FCPA, FCGA, LLB, is the president and CEO of the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC).