News analysis – Cognitor explained.

Ambitious plans for a new global qualification – the ‘Cognitor’ – set up by eight accountancy institutes from around the world, appear to be falling apart this week. The Scots and Irish chartered accountancy institutes have already pulled out, and English ICA support was in doubt this week.

But what is this new qualification designed as an accountant-driven rival to the MBA? Accountancy Age has obtained the confidential draft business plan, titled The Cognitor Concept: Turning Knowledge to Value. Extracts from the 60-page plan are shown below:

The Cognitor concept

The Cognitor concept defines a new global profession and a new designation.

The profession’s commitment is that Cognitors will have the skill and experience to help turn knowledge into value for their clients and employers.

Cognitors will:

– Know how businesses processes work

– Understand where knowledge resides in the organisation

– Obtain, integrate and leverage relevant knowledge

– Deliver advice and make decisions that enhance business and individual success.

The Cognitor designation:

1. Market responsive: The Cognitor designation is market-responsive in that it meets the expressed needs of its critical constituencies, including employers (corporations and professional services firms of all sizes), clients of employers and individual professionals in business and government.

2. Global and portable: The Cognitor designation is global, portable from one country to another, includes global standards for competency and ethics, and requires a commitment to continuing learning.

3. Broadly based: Cognitors are expected to come from disciplines including accountancy business law, information technology, engineering and business administration.

4. Private: The Cognitor designation will be private designation and self-regulated.


The Cognitor initiative will be implemented by a newly created body – the Global Institute of Cognitors (GIC), which will develop a global standard of ethics, admission standards, assessment processes and robust online learning platform.


The Cognitor concept addresses a significant, unmet need for greater professional value. It is important to quickly meet this need as academic institutions, for example, may move into this competitive space.

Current professional credentialing

Credentials have been developed primarily for single-discipline professions, and there’s no doubt the standards and assurances they embody have been of great value for clients and professional services firms. Because of their focus on specific disciplines, however broad-based, credentials and organisations that grant them are often seen as primarily technical.

Many who hold these credentials can add other kinds of value and, in fact, are doing so. However, the marketplace perception of such credentials is extremely difficult to expand.

Academic institutions

The Cognitor designation has clear value for academic institutions that reward general business and MBA degrees as it provides for professional growth and recognition of their graduates. For more specialised academic institutions and departments, it offers a development path for graduates that makes early specialisation less limiting, so more attractive.


Initially the Cognitor discipline is expected to relevant to people in the following disciplines:

Accountancy, Marketing, Management Consulting, Economics, Information Technology, Risk Management, Business Law, Human Resources, Finance, Actuarial Services, Financial Planning, Engineering

The Cognitor value proposition offers:

– ‘Four underpinnings’: The GIC’s global reach; its foundation built on a wide range of key business disciplines; its commitment to the highest professional and ethical standards; and continuing learning for business professionals make it unlikely qualified to provide a valuable designation.

– Prestige: The Cognitor designation must be seen as new and distinct; relevant to today’s business and economic environments; representing knowledge, integration and other skill sets needed to create and build economic value; and having rigorous hurdles to entry.

– Respected governing body: Research shows respondents prefer a governing body with enforcing standards. Additionally, they prefer working with organisations which are self-governed and not for profit, and have global reach. The GIC delivers on this criteria.

Measures of success

Topline estimates suggest a universe of 9.5m individuals with appropriate demographic and professional profiles who would satisfy the Cognitor requirements and most likely be interested in designation. Membership growth would be tracked against this total pool as an indicator of success.


It is expected the AICPA will provide funds for the GIC by a loan based on the cash flows to the AICPA from its CPA2biz. com.portal. As an alternative, funding through a commercial loan is also being investigated.

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