NEW YORK (April 24, 2009) – Am I an “investment adviser” as defined by the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 or state securities laws? Are my investment services incidental to my practice such that I can rely on the accountant’s exclusion to the “investment adviser” definition? If I am an investment adviser, where and with whom do I register? The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Personal Financial Planning Specialty Area is providing guidance on these and other questions with “The CPA’s Guide to Investment Adviser Registration,” now available as a complimentary resource to all AICPA members at www.aicpa.org/pfp.

“The deliberation as to what constitutes an investment adviser is more intricate than many practitioners realize,” said James Metzler, AICPA vice president – small firm interests. “Every adviser involved in estate, tax, retirement, insurance or investment planning should understand thoroughly how the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency responsible for interpretation and enforcement of the Advisers Act, and state securities regulators define investment advice. The question isn’t, do I consider myself an investment adviser, but rather, does the SEC or the state in which I do business define me an investment adviser?”

“The CPA’s Guide to Investment Adviser Registration” helps readers determine if they qualify as investment advisers under SEC and state regulations. In its 32 pages, the guide answers these, among other, questions:

  • Are CPAs exempted from registration as an investment adviser?
  • Do I need to register with the SEC or the states in which I do business?
  • How do I register?
  • What does it mean to be a fiduciary under the Advisers Act?
  • What is the solicitor’s rule and what do I need to be aware of if I am referring clients to investment advisers?

As of March 31, 2009, 11,291 investment advisers registered with the SEC. This figure differs from the number of advisers registered at the state level.

“This guide comes at a critical time for our members,” Metzler said. “An AICPA/Moss Adams study of CPAs practicing in the financial planning arena confirms both that CPAs are entering the field in greater numbers and, more important, CPA financial planners and advisers on average have seen higher levels of growth than their industry peers. We attribute these trends to our affirmation that CPAs enjoy a collective reputation as being among the most trusted professionals and, therefore, a preferred source of financial planning counsel.”

The AICPA estimates that approximately a third of its 340,000 member CPAs offer financial planning services at varying levels. The Institute offers a specialty credential, Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), to members who have demonstrated experience in and commitment to financial planning as a practice discipline. More than 4,100 CPAs presently hold themselves out as CPA/PFS, the only financial planning credential that requires the holder to be a licensed CPA.

About the AICPA

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (www.aicpa.org) is the national, professional association of CPAs, with more than 350,000 members, including CPAs in business and industry, public practice, government, and education; student affiliates; and international associates. It sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for audits of private companies; federal, state and local governments; and non-profit organizations. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination. The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Durham, N.C., Ewing, N.J., and Lewisville, Texas.

Media representatives are invited to visit the AICPA Online Media Center at www.aicpa.org/mediacenter.