Public Accounting Firm Manager (PAFM) Program

Education and Knowledge

CPAFMA's Public Accounting Firm Manager (PAFM)™ program provides the opportunity to demonstrate you have the knowledge, leadership, skills, and abilities to operate at a high level of expertise in the field of accounting firm management.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does the PAFM designation stand for?
Public Accounting Firm Manager

What is the certification program CPAFMA has created?
The CPA Firm Management Association has created a process and standards to assess and confirm the expertise level of individuals who wish to attain the PAFM Certification. Certification is intended to elevate the status of the accounting manager profession in general within the public accounting community.

Why certification?
CPAFMA certification joins a growing trend within accounting and other professions to recognize and create value for those individuals who have achieved a high level of competency within public accounting firm management. Competency and skills will be verified by a comprehensive process administered by the CPA Firm Management Association.

What does competency mean?
CPAFMA has created an Experience Matrix with 12 core competencies that covers all areas of firm management duties and responsibilities (both performance and supervisory). Each applicant will complete the Experience Matrix to accurately reflect their experience and individual expertise within the listed competencies.

How does becoming certified help the professional managing the firm?
The PAFM designation will identify you as a dedicated and experienced accounting firm manager who understands the unique and challenging issues of managing your firm. Accreditation recognizes that you have achieved a level of expertise within the profession of firm management, exemplifying your professional capabilities and experience. If transitioning between employers, the credential will demonstrate mastery of the skill sets necessary to qualify an individual who has attained an unparalleled level of competence in firm management.

How does becoming certified benefit the firm?
The primary benefit is to demonstrate to your employer that you have a significant grasp of the duties of your profession leading to an overall higher level of productivity for your firm and its associates. Your firm can also take pride in your accreditation as it affirms their success in employing a recognized leader.

Is there an employment and experience requirement for certification?
The minimum period of employment tenure required to seek certification is a total of two consecutive years in the profession of accounting firm management.

Is there an education requirement for certification?
There is no minimum educational requirement to seek certification. Education cannot be substituted for the Employment tenure requirement above, or as a substitute for or supplement to successful completion of the Experience Matrix.

Is there an ethics requirement for certification?
Those who wish to apply for qualification as a PAFM are expected to adhere to the CPAFMA Core Values of an Administrator.

What must I do to become certified?
There is a brief application and a 12-competency Experience Matrix requiring completion by the applicant including review and signature by a Firm Partner. The Matrix is forwarded to the CPAFMA Certification Selection Committee for review and qualification assessment, along with a $50 application fee. Upon approval by the Committee, the applicant will be notified and would submit the appropriate certification fee to CPAFMA within 30 days for the completion of the certification process. The Experience Matrix Application and submission procedure will be available once per calendar quarter (submit by 3/31, 6/30, 9/30 or 12/31 for notification by the following listed date).

How long does my certification last?
The PAFM Certification designation lasts two years from the date of notification by the Certification Selection Committee that the applicant has successfully met all requirements to achieve certification.

What is the program’s Continuing Education requirement?
The certification renewal process will require 40 hours of CPE (continuing professional education) during any two-year period that certification is in effect, with at least 16 hours of the CPE being acquired in any one-year period of time. The CPE can be acquired through CPAFMA webinars, attendance at CPAFMA Chapter gatherings, and at the annual national Practice Management Conference (attendance at which for two years would satisfy the CPE requirement). Other relevant CPE will be considered for credit.

How much does it cost to become certified?
The initial application fee is $50 and is separate from any other accreditation fees that may be established; the application fee includes the processing of the Experience Matrix. The current cost to apply is $299 before any applicable special offers. The annual renewal fee is $99 per year. PAFM’s receive in addition to the benefits of being certified:

What happens if I don’t pass the certification application process?
Individuals who do not achieve certification may reapply in the next quarter or any quarter following the date of their original certification application. Following an unsuccessful application attempt, the applicant will be provided feedback on the areas of focus in comparison with the most accomplished firm administrators.

What constitutes a lapse of Accreditation?
Individuals who do not achieve certification may reapply in the next quarter or any quarter following the date of their original certification application. Following an unsuccessful application attempt, the applicant will be provided feedback on the areas of focus in comparison with the most accomplished firm managers.

What if I am interested in applying for certification?
Applicants may visit the CPAFMA website at www.cpafma.org/pafm to complete the PAFM application, pay the application fee, and complete the certification Experience Matrix. Also, once approved, applicants may remit Certification fees. As always, you can call the national office of CPAFMA at (937) 222–0030, info@cpafma.org.

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