‘I am Acct’ (Part 1 of 2)

I often wonder how medical doctors got to use their  titles of  “Dr.”; attorneys or lawyers their titles of “Atty.”; engineers  their titles of “Engr.”; architects their titles of  “Arch.”; and the other professionals or government officials with their must-have designation of Gen. (for the generals), Cong. (for the congressmen), and many others.  We all have accepted the habit, if not obligation, of acknowledging these persons with these various titles whenever we interact with them.

I have since researched if there are laws in the country that mandate that these badges be used by these professionals (or government officials) in the course of their daily routine.  I believe I am correct that there are no existing laws or rules in our land that prescribe this practice. I also looked into the various guidebooks to proper etiquette to get some insights on the correct way of using these labels. For practically, all of the commonly encountered titles, the etiquette guides do not include these in their accepted list of honorific titles. Our more commonly used dictionaries (Oxford and Merriam Webster) do not list these titles in their hallowed pages. The only abbreviations listed in these directories are  Ms., Mr., Mrs., Fr. and Dr. Apparently, the use of the titles by our  colleagues in the other professions came about in practice over time or by tradition.

For accountants, the use of the professional designation is prescribed In the Accountancy Law (Republic Act 9892).  In the said law, Section 26 provides that, “No person shall practice accountancy in this country, or use the title ‘Certified Public Accountant,’ or use the abbreviated title ‘CPA’ or display or use any title, sign, card, advertisement or other device to indicate such person practices or offers to practice accountancy, or is a Certified Public Accountant, unless such person shall have received from the Board a certificate of registration/professional license and be issued a professional identification card or a valid temporary/special permit duly issued to him or her by the Board and the Commission.”

So, in practice, accountants use the abbreviation CPA by attaching these at the end of their names. Thus, Mr. Rafael Torres, a certified public accountant, designates his being a professional accountant in the following manner:  Mr. Rafael Torres, CPA.

It is interesting, if not puzzling, why us, accountants, prefer to profess our professional attainment by prefixing our title CPA at the end of our names and not in front of our names. Our colleagues from the other professions proudly declare themselves as Dr. Reyes, Atty. Suarez, Engr. Pineda, Arch. Aquino, all preferring to introduce themselves by inserting their professional titles upfront before their names.

It appears that we, accountants, are not too enthusiastic in proclaiming to the world that we are accountants. But I am sure this is not actually the case.  Accountants are proud that they have attained this status of being CPAs after undergoing a very vigorous process of completing a four-year (oftentimes five-year) course, undergoing further review or post-college studies, and successfully passing a complicated licensure examination process consisting of seven (soon to be six) subjects.

CPAs are recognized as being main contributors to the economic mainstream of countries.  Accountants are prominent and successful in all sectors of society and the community.

So, definitely, it is not a case of us, accountants, being ashamed, or having no right, to display our professional title in front of our names. Rather, it is simply a case where we, accountants, have not been able to organize and agree among ourselves that it is high time that we start using an appropriate title that we can use to introduce ourselves to the rest of the world.

So, fellow accountants, how do we move forward and address this unfortunate situation?

(To be continued)

Notice: The article was written by Joel L. Tan-Torres, the Chairman of the Board of Accountancy. This is an article from the Debit Credit column published by the Board of Accountancy. Permission was obtained to published this article in this website.

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