Numbers that count

Starting on Tuesday, July 10, a total of 2,842 new Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) will be taking their oath as professionals at the Philippine International Convention Center, and thereafter, in other venues.

These CPAs come from a batch of 9,830 examinees in the May 2018 Licensure board examinations, which translates to a 28.9-percent passing rate. These passers came from 466 schools throughout the country, which I believe, makes the Philippines the country with the largest number of accounting schools in Asia. Since the time I assumed the chairmanship of the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy in 2014, the BOA has been giving examinations to an average of about 21,000 examinees annually. The average passing percentage during this period was about 34 percent. Annually, an average of about 7,250 new CPAs join the profession to service the needs of the local and global communities.

This batch taking its oath in the next few days is the first group of CPA exam passers in 2018, the year that the BOA is celebrating the Philippine accountancy profession’s 95th year anniversary. In 1923 accounting was legally recognized as a profession in the country when the sixth Philippine Legislature approved Act 3105 on March 17, 1923. To commemorate this grand event, President Duterte issued Proclamation 464 declaring the period of March 17, 2018 to March 16, 2019 as the Year for the Celebration of the 95th year anniversary of the BOA.

From my research, it appears that the Philippines has the “oldest” accountancy profession in Asia. Compared to the other “oldies” in the region, Japan Accountancy is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, while CPA India is 74 years old. The Philippines also may have one of the largest number of qualified professional accountants among Asian countries. To date, per records of the Professional Regulation Commission, there are 188,203 CPAs in the roster of the BOA. This is a very significant jump in number since I passed the board examination in 1979 as the 39,500th (more or less) CPA.

Among Filipino students, there is great interest in accountancy as a profession. Statistics from the Commission on Higher Education show that from 2015 to 2017, there were about 160,622 enrollees in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy in 572 schools registered with the CHED. For the same period, only 23,225 students (about 14 percent of the enrollees) graduated. The number of enrollees and graduates of the accountancy program is expected to increase over the next few years with the introduction by the CHED and BOA of various reforms in the education system, resulting in the issuance of CHED Memorandum Orders 27 to 30 in 2017.

Clearly, these numbers show the rosy state and the bright future of the accountancy profession in the Philippines.

Joel L. Tan-Torres is the chairman of the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy. A Certified Public Accountant who placed No. 1 in the May 1979 CPA Board Examinations, he was the former commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue from 2009 to 2010.

This column accepts contributions from accountants, especially articles that are of interest to the accountancy profession, in particular, and to the business community, in general. These can be e-mailed to


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