Retired Partner HASKINS & SELLS
IN ALL MY YEARS—CLASSIFICATION OF ACCOUNTING SERVICES
The idea of a classification of accounting services originated with John R. Wildman who was the senior technical partner for the firm of Haskins & Sells during the 1920's and under whose direction the writer was employed fifty years ago. In 1916 Wildman, who was then head of the Department of Accounting at New York University and the author of several textbooks on accounting, along with five other educators founded the American Association of University In-structors in Accounting (later the American Accounting Association) and was elected its first president. Wildman introduced the concept of service classification into the practice of Haskins & Sells in the Fall of 1925 based upon an evaluation of 5,000 engagements. About four years later and after a review of about 20,000 additional en-gagements Wildman presented the matter of classification of ac-countancy services to the American Society of Certified Public Ac-countants and several state societies for adoption.
The American Society of Certified Public Accountants issued its first report on the subject in December 1929. A second report was issued in September 1930 and a third and apparently final report was issued in July 1931. Among the state societies which spon-sored the concept of classification of accountancy services were New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. One of the purposes of classification of accountancy services was to minimize misunder-standings between the accountant and his client as to the services to be performed. Professional opinion on the subject, however, was not unanimous. The American Institute of Accountants (into which the American Society of Certified Public Accountants merged in 1936) issued a report to its members dated October 8, 1931, saying that the matter of adoption of a classification of accountancy ser-vices had been considered by its Committee on Education and its Council, and that the latter had "unanimously resolved that it would be impracticable and unwise for the Institute to issue any classifica-tion of accountancy services at present." This action on the part of the Institute was a deep disappointment to Wildman.