CPA, Cognitor, or CTA: It’s Time to Rebrand

accountant desk cpa or cognitorCPA, Cognitor, or CTA: It’s Time to Rebrand

It’s time to rebrand the Certified Public Accountant. Some accounting professionals favor the titles Certified Trusted Advisor (CTA) or Cognitor.

In a recent web search, I found many definitions. Some of them are starting with the basic definition, “an individual who has passed the uniform CPA examination.” Some definitions cover the basic duties of a CPA:

“In reality almost all of today’s CPA firms offer three basic areas of expertise:

  1. Business advisory services
  2. Accounting and record-keeping
  3. Tax advice

There is a fourth area called audit but not every firm offers this service even though this is the one service that only CPA’s can perform by law” (Investopedia.)

Wikipedia adds:

“The primary functions performed by CPA’s relate to assurance services. In assurance services, also known as financial audit services, CPAs attest to the reasonableness of disclosures, the freedom from material misstatement, and the adherence to the applicable generally accepted accounting principles  (GAAP) in financial statements.”

In reality, we need to redefine the term “accountant.”

Technology has changed the name of the game and allowed all accounting firms to automate most the “accounting function or process” of recording, sorting, and summarizing transactions, and placing them in a trial balance on a worksheet. Smart accountants and bookkeepers are becoming more consultative and strategic. That is why I see “Business Advisory” or “Trusted Advisory” becoming the lead service offered as we move forward.

If you look at Deloitte and click on services, you will see that they lead with advisory and as you dig deeper to KPMG you see that they promote a plethora of advisory services.

We can leave the Big Four and take a look at Inside Public Accounting’s BOB, and see that Armanino has a great website that doesn’t have the word CPA or Accountant prominently displayed. However, they stress that they can help their clients become more successful with their help. I particularly like their CFO Evolution service.

I can even look at a website for a smaller firm such as Newvision CPA Group , and see that the smart ones are also promoting their value as a trusted advisor who can help their clients grow.

Bottom line is, it’s time to make sure that when one looks at the definition of a CPA they see statements similar to the following:

“A CPA is an individual who has passed the uniform CPA  examination  administered by the American Institute Of Certified Public Accountants, and who has received state certification to practice accounting  and provide advisory services to assist their clients in becoming more profitable liquid and solvent” (

Reprinted from LinkedIn “Pulse” 


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