Birth of the Association
The story of the Certified General Accountants Association begins in Montreal in 1908 when John Leslie, then assistant comptroller of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), was approached by two CPR staff accountants who asked him to lend his name to the formation of an association that would promote the development of their accounting skills. By 1913, the Association had grown to 83 members from more than 50 companies.
Official recognition of the new Association came on April 14, 1913, when the Canadian House of Commons passed an act incorporating the [Certified] General Accountants’ Association as a self-regulating professional organization.
The Program of Professional Studies
Education, examination, and professional development were the three cornerstones of the CGA organization as far back as 1910; it established its first formal partnership with an educational institution, Shaw College in Toronto, shortly after its inception.
The CGA Association continued to work with educational institutions across the country over the next four decades as interest in the CGA Program of Professional Studies increased, and in the 1950s introduced a standardized, nationwide curriculum developed in conjunction with the University of British Columbia.
Today, there are more than 25,000 students worldwide enrolled in the CGA program. Technology-based learning techniques, distance education, mandatory professional development, and new partnerships with Canadian universities give students the skills and hands-on practical experience they need to succeed.
The Association spread out slowly but steadily from its Montreal headquarters; branches opened in regional centres across the country to support an ever-growing number of members and students. By the end of World War II, there were offices from Halifax to Vancouver.
During the post-war era, the Association solidified its position in the Canadian accounting landscape and continued to expand its membership. Along with that growth came changing regional requirements that saw provincial branches lobbying for, and receiving, their own charters.
In 1991, the Association entered a new era when an affiliation agreement was signed between the national organization and the provincial Associations. The agreement defined the roles of each party, and has strengthened the CGA designation at the provincial, national, and international levels, allowing it to better meet its mandate on all fronts. It also provided the foundation for CGA Associations to collaboratively work toward the goal of full public practice rights for CGAs in every province.
Early on, CGA leaders recognized the value of technology to the accounting profession. While computer-based learning was introduced in the late 1980s. CD-ROMs and online course material and other on line learning strategies are now integral components of the Program of Professional Studies. Trained on industry-standard software applications, students are able to meet the demands of today’s high-tech work environments.
In 1993, the CGA Program of Professional Studies was launched in China, in partnership with the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. Today CGA-Canada continues to support the National Accounting Institute (NAI), which offers continuing professional education for accountants in Beijing and Shanghai. In addition, the CGA program has been offered in Hong Kong since 1989, in conjunction with the School of Professional and Continuing Education at the University of Hong Kong.
As well, CGA offices in Hong Kong and the Caribbean were established to deliver the CGA program in their jurisdictions. CGA-Hong Kong gained affiliate status in July 2003, giving it the authority of a provincial or territorial CGA Association.
There are now more that 3,100 international CGAs and students in Bermuda, the Caribbean, China, and Hong Kong.
In 2007, the CGA Association signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) of the UK, representing over 350,000 members and students worldwide. This marks another significant step forward for the CGA Association as an internationally recognized, and desired, professional accounting designation.
Today and the future
Today, there are more than 68,000 CGAs and students around the world. Professional development requirements, an internationally recognized education program and designation, and a commitment to the highest ethical standards all allow CGAs to meet the challenges that are increasingly part of today’s business climate, ensuring the CGA designation will be recognized as a leading national and international accounting designation in the future.