BY JOHN M. NEUMAYER PARTNER, KANSAS CITY OFFICE
Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Accountants, Seattle — September 1956
Professional competence has been a topic of discussion at several meetings of the Committee on Professional Ethics. At the present time the Rules of Professional Conduct of the American Institute of Account -tants are silent on this subject although they deal generally with pro-fessional responsibility.
It appears logical that the general public as well as bankers and others having to do with financial statements and reports prepared by Certified Public Accountants should assume that any practicing accountant,
who has had the proper accounting educational background and passed the uniform Certified Public Accountant's examination, is competent.
In Chapter 2 of Mr. Carey's new book "Professional Ethics of Public Accounting" he refers to a fundamental principle of law which establishes the requirement of competence and quotes from T.M. Coo-ley's "Treatise on the Law of Torts" as follows:
"In all those employments where particular skill is requisite, if one offers his services he is understood as holding himself out to the public as possessing the degree of skill commonly possessed by others in the same employment, and if his pretensions are unfounded
he commits a species of fraud upon every man who employs
him in reliance on his public profession." During the past ten years the scope of a public accountant's prac-tice has broadened to a considerable extent. In prior years his prac-tice was about limited to annual audits of the accounts of corporations and other organizations and bookkeeping and tax services. Today the accountant is expected to perform many specialized services such as systems work, management services, consultant in reorganizing and refinancing corporations, and installation of electronic processing equipment.
Before accepting an engagement for any of these special services, the accountant must be assured that his education, training, experience