How NOT To Become An Expert
Ahh another great discussion, How NOT To Become An Expert which started its life as “friendly suggestions” to the “Xero Ambassadors” that seem to not understand that if you are a professional such as a Certified Public Accountant [“CPA”] or a quasi-professional such as an Enrolled Agent [“EA”]. YOU DON’T GET TO SELF DESIGNATE AS AN EXPERT OR SPECIALIZED. An additional hint, that certainly includes the phrase “Cloud Accounting Expert” in your Linkedin profile. You don’t get to represent yourself as a “regular member ” of CALCPA if you are NOT a CPA. Why do we care, very simple, the actions violate rules that regulate the practice, and those of us that “play by the rules” should not be at a disadvantage for doing so.
Rather than call out specific individuals or encourage regulatory involvement, it quite obvious who we have in mind, and we will keep an eye open to make sure that the lesson is learned. As it turns out, our efforts seem to have yielded a double benefit, as it appears that those that would appear in the “California Cannabis CPA” space seem to have a similar predilection towards self-aggrandizement. It is a happy coincidence that the same blog post can serve two distinct purposes. Rather than create a 3,000 word tome by presenting an analysis, we choose to present the relveant authority and let those to whom it applies perform their own analysis.
Treasury Circular 230
§ 10.51 Incompetence and disreputable conduct. (a) Incompetence and disreputable conduct. Incompetence and disreputable conduct for which a practitioner may be sanctioned under §10.50 includes, but is not limited to:
(5) Solicitation of employment as prohibited under §10.30, the use of false or misleading representations with intent to deceive a client or prospective client in order to procure employment, or intimating that the practitioner is able improperly to obtain special consideration or action from the Internal Revenue Service or any officer or employee thereof.
AICPA Rules of Professional Conduct
1.600.001 Advertising and Other Forms of Solicitation Rule
.01 A member in public practice shall not seek to obtain clients by advertising or other forms of solicitation in a manner that is false, misleading, or deceptive. Solicitation by the use of coercion, over-reaching, or harassing conduct is prohibited. [Prior reference: paragraph .01 of ET section 502]
CA Board of Accountancy Regs. – Title 16, Art. 9, Sec. 63
A licensee shall not advertise or use other forms of solicitation in any manner which is false, fraudulent, misleading, or in violation of Section 17500 of the Business and Professions Code.
NOTE: Authority cited: Sections 5010 and 5018, Business and Professions Code. Reference: Section 5100, Business and Professions Code.
California Business and Professions Code [“BPC”] Section 5018
The board may by regulation, prescribe, amend, or repeal rules of professional conduct appropriate to the establishment and maintenance of a high standard of integrity and dignity in the profession. In addition to the requirements contained in Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 11370) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code , a copy of the rules shall be mailed to every holder of a license under this chapter at least 30 days prior to a date named for a public hearing held for the purpose of receiving and considering objections to any of the proposed provisions. Every licensee of the California Board of Accountancy in this state shall be governed and controlled by the rules and standards adopted by the board.
California BPC Section 17500
It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association, or any employee thereof with intent directly or indirectly to dispose of real or personal property or to perform services, professional or otherwise, or anything of any nature whatsoever or to induce the public to enter into any obligation relating thereto, to make or disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated before the public in this state, or to make or disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated from this state before the public in any state, in any newspaper or other publication, or any advertising device, or by public outcry or proclamation, or in any other manner or means whatever, including over the Internet, any statement, concerning that real or personal property or those services, professional or otherwise, or concerning any circumstance or matter of fact connected with the proposed performance or disposition thereof, which is untrue or misleading, and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue or misleading, or for any person, firm, or corporation to so make or disseminate or cause to be so made or disseminated any such statement as part of a plan or scheme with the intent not to sell that personal property or those services, professional or otherwise, so advertised at the price stated therein, or as so advertised. Any violation of the provisions of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
Lousiana Board of Accountancy – Use of “Expert” or “Specialize”
Use of the Terms “Specialize”, “Expert”, and Related Terms The Board’s Rules prohibit a licensed CPA or CPA Firm from using statements or communications which state, imply or claim that the licensee has received formal recognition as a specialist or expert or has any specialized expertise in any aspect of the practice of public accountancy without stating from whom the recognition was received. [LAC 46 XIX §1707(F)(1)(f)]
Concluding Thoughts on How NOT To Become An Expert
Accordingly, statements in any advertisement or public communication that include “I specialize in…” or “We specialize in …”, or similar statements, are considered to be violations of §1707(F)(1)(f). The Board understands that licensees and firms may wish to use “specialize”, “expert” or “expertise” to indicate that the licensee or firm provides services in a specific area. However, these terms indicate more than just a specific area of practice, they imply recognition as a specialist or expert, and potentially lead the clients and general public to believe that the quality of the services being offered is exceptional, beyond those of other CPAs or CPA Firms, without informing the public as to the specific training or recognition of the licensee or firm in a given area of practice.