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'Cognitor' Professional Label Shot Down by Accountant Group

February 15, 2001|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

An attempt to create a new designation for financial and other types of professionals worldwide has stumbled shortly after being introduced.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which had hoped to name the new designation "Cognitor," said it is throwing in the towel on that tentative name, although not the concept behind it.

The problem? CPAs hated the proposed title, a play on "cognition," which the dictionary describes as "the process of knowing in the broadest sense."

"We're hearing everybody loud and clear," said Judy Trepeck, a manager of the institute's global initiative, of the decision to look for a new name to go with the credentialing concept. "We wanted to take that barrier away so people would pay more attention to the essence of it and not let the name get in the way."

The group's "new vision" is intended to recognize changes in the economy by creating an umbrella designation for a variety of professions, including CPAs, lawyers, management consultants, human resources professionals and engineers. The designation would be in addition to a professional's other credentials.

The CPA association is the latest financial advisor group that has attempted to create a new designation in hopes of broadening its influence.

Two years ago, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards abandoned plans to create an "Associate CFP" license after members protested the move would dilute the CFP trademark.

A proposal by the National Assn. of Personal Financial Advisors--a small trade group representing fee-only financial planners--to create a new credential also touched off strong member protests.

Among those opposed to Cognitor--the name as well as concept--is Michael Rosedale, a Wantagh, N.Y., CPA and founder of CPAdirectory.com, who said the AICPA should not be backing a designation that would apply to such non-CPAs.

"I feel we got the snowball rolling," said Rosedale, whose Web sites have encouraged CPAs to speak up. "This is only the first step. The name doesn't make a difference really. It's the theory of non-CPA participation that's wrong."

Another opponent is Bob Goldfarb, a Woodbury, N.Y., CPA and president of the National Assn. of CPA Practitioners, which has challenged the institute on a number of fronts. "We're still hoping that the whole concept is not worth their effort and that the council will vote against it in May when it comes up for a vote," said Goldfarb, who acknowledges that the odds of that happening are "about 500,000 to 1."

Once the governing council gives its approval, the group's 340,000 members will vote, probably in the fall. In the meantime, a market research firm, different from the one that came up with the Cognitor label, is exploring other names for the global credential and could propose alternatives in about a month.

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