For the longest time, the professional designation for accountants in Singapore had been CPA, or Certified Public Accountant.
In 2013, this designation was replaced with CA, or Chartered Accountant, and at the same time, the pathway to obtaining this title was also changed. Though this change was four years ago, we still find many people in Singapore that is outside the industry to be unaware of the change. Many are surprised that we no longer have CPAs in Singapore, just CAs.
Although the official reason for this change was to re-brand the profession, I believe another reason for the change was to clear the confusion between CPA and PA (Public Accountant).
Before PA was created, the audit reports are signed off with just the "Certified Public Accountant" designation. However, after PA was created, the audit reports have to be signed off as "Public Accountants and Certified Public Accountants". One can imagine the confusion as to why it wasn't the other way round, i.e. "Certified Public Accountants and Public Accountants". After all, logically, shouldn't a "certified" person bear more significance than a non certified one?
The problem was in actual fact, the Public Accountant, or PA, is more "certified" than the CPA. This designation was created and granted by ACRA to distinguish practicing CPAs from the non practicing ones. But for some strange reason, they felt dropping the "Certified" from CPA would be a good way to distinguish the practicing ones from the non practicing ones. Hence it was not possible for the audit report to be signed off with "Certified Public Accountants and Public Accountants".
But with the new CA designation, this conundrum is removed as the audit report is now signed off as "Public Accountants and Chartered Accountants Singapore". While the audit report sign off now reads more logically, the fact that many people can't tell CPAs apart from PAs and CAs can only mean one thing :
Most people don't read the audit report.