To ASA or not to ASA?

So now I’m in BV201 class at the ASA Conference in Washington DC. We’ve only been in class for four hours, and half of that was intro. So I don’t know how in-depth this is really going to be.

Being a CFA Charterholder (kinda–just waiting on paperwork), I wonder whether or not the actual ASA designation will be very useful. As far as I know, CFA is good enough for federal tax valuations, which will probably be 95% of my work.

ASA will be another set of CE to do (on top of CPA and maybe the FINRA stuff, if I ever get around to it) and another annual fee (which is actually probably pretty insignificant). You have another set of ethical standards. You have another set of business standards (on top of CPA and CFA). You have to take the 7-hour USPAP update every so often. And so on and so on.

I suppose on the plus side, I would get some additional alphabet soup to put behind my name, and the additional “prestige” of being an ASA, for what that’s worth. I would also get the “numerous resources available to me as an ASA member”, whatever that means.

So I guess my question is this–Even though I don’t have to make the decision today, I’m curious about whether I should follow this through to the end, or just get what I need and move on.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated, especially if there are other ASA’s out there.

Greenman - I used to do some estate and gift tax valuations in a prior life. In valuation world, the ASA and CPA were the best designations to have. The CFA is nice to have (and very well respected and plenty of valuation professionals have it), but the ASA is more relevant to federal valuations and private company valuation which is what you will be doing for the most part. Honestly, if you have the CFA and CPA, I would not do the ASA (it is overkill). However, if I just had the CPA I would do the ASA as an additional valuation credential.

For any kind of valuation work that may end up in tax court or other litigation (divorce), ASA is the preferred designation (by the court) over the CFA.

If you’re concerned about your job marketability, I’d argue that CFA is more valuable b/c all valuation practioners are aware of both the CFA and ASA, and the respective amounts of effort required to earn each. I’d prefer to interview a charterholder over an ASA, all else being equal.

As a CFA ASA, I’ll chime in. I agree with thommo. I don’t have a CPA. If I was a CFA CPA, I’d probably just go with the ABV as opposed to the ASA and call it a day. That being said, the ASA is singularly focused on what you’ll be doing. You will learn things going through the ASA program that you would probably only learn through that avenue. I’ve been to a few of the annual conferences and it seems like most people are also CFAs or CPAs and quite a few are all three.

Also, while the ASA is time consuming from the standpoint of having to go to the four classes and submit a sample report, it isn’t that difficult so you might as well just do it.

In the court’s eyes, is finishing the ASA coursework the same as being a “real” ASA? (EG - “I’ve done all the work, but I don’t pay the dues or do the CE.”)

Or is being an ASA binary, like being pregnant? (You either ARE pregnant, or you are NOT. There is no “kind of” pregnant.)

Go get it!

If you are going to complete the courses, you might as well get the designation, which also requires USPAP. Frankly, it’s like saying you completed Level III but you just don’t feel like submitting the work experience to CFAI.

The CE is not at all laborious, you should be fine attending the annual conference every other year, which frankly is good practice for anyone who’s primary mandate is valuation work.

Your employer should be more than glad to pick up the couple of hundred dollar annual association costs to have an ASA.

Also keep in mind that you need 5 years of valuation experience to qualify for the ASA designation.

I did the home study USPAP as opposed to going to a USPAP class. I had to listen to a couple of days worth of babble on CD and then take a proctored test. It wasn’t difficult. More of a beating than anything.

In regards to the. CE, if you go to the annual advanced business valuation conference each year, you’ll meet your five year requirement. That’s how the few of us who are ASAs at my shop do it. It’s a good excuse to get out of the office for a few days and mix in a round of golf or two. They also offer fairly regular webinars that allow for an hour or two here or there for CE if you can’t make the annual conference.

Actuary > 98.9 % of Finance

This will probably never happen. It seems like the annual conference is always in early October, which is the absolute worst time in the world for a tax accountant. From Oct 1-15, all you do is eat, sleep, and breathe 1040’s.

All in all, it seems like there’s a lot of value in the knowledge, and I really think I’ll benefit from finishing BV202-204. But I’m leaning against getting the actual initials, simply because ASA is not “friendly” to the CPA’s of the world. EG - As a CPA, I have to comply with SSVS-1, and the ASA course barely mentions it. And there are plenty of differences between ASA’s standards and SSVS-1, such as the difference between ASA’s “appraisal, limited appraisal, or calculation”, where SSVS-1 has “valuation engagements and valuation calculations”. I don’t know if there is any real difference between the two, but right now it seems like a PITA to have to reconcile the two.

I think that if the CFA Charter doesn’t suffice for valuation, I can always take the ABV exam and get certified that way. ABV will certainly be more friendly for the CPA’s of the world.

If anybody has something to add, or if I’m 100% wrong, let me know. These are just some musings as I go along the course.

It seems like every year they have panels and talk about the convergence of CPA standards and ASA standards. It still doesn’t seem like that big of a deal though. I think it’s like with anything in this regard, you just go with the more strict standard in each instance of difference. I would bet at least half of the ASAs are CPAs at the annual conference and they somehow seem to manage. I think they get CE for both designations as well but I could be completely wrong on that.

Well, I took the test. I figure there’s no harm in at least taking the test. Someday, in ten years, I might want or need the initials, and then I’d be kickng myself for not taking it.

You can say that about every other designation you haven’t done yet. Just admit it, you can’t stand spending too much time with the family.