John Borrowman CPC
Borrowman Baker LLC
Gallatin, TN

Credentials are relied upon to confer a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval within the BV industry. The perception of value depends, of course, on who’s doing the looking. At various times, in various circumstances, different credentials make an impression with attorneys, judges, juries and the general public.

It might be interesting to take a look at what the BV/LS industry, itself, thinks about credentials. By the latest count, after all, there are some 9400 credentials held by an unknown number of individuals. One of the places you might be most likely to look to see any impact is in the area of compensation. And, you might be surprised at what you find.

The Borrowman Baker BV Employee Salary Survey collected credentialing data as part of the Employee Compensation Section. To contribute to reliability in the results, the survey delineated four functional levels within a BV/LS practice. Employers then reported data by classifying employees into one of these four levels.

At Levels One and Two, having any of the four BV credentials included for the survey (ASA/AM, ABV, CBA, CVA/AVA) means a higher Average Base Salary. At Levels Three and Four, however, there is no pay premium for having a credential. In fact, Average Base Salary is lower for credentialed employees at those Levels. The same pretty much holds true when examining Hourly Chargeable Rates.

Why this disparity? If nearly 9400 people think credentials are worth getting, why don’t we see more evidence of that in compensation? We spoke with several practitioners who commented on our theories, and added some of their own.

One theme that emerged is that credentials are more important to selling work than to doing it. At the same time, there was a suggestion that the marketplace, itself, might not value the credential enough to drive up rates and, by extension, pay. (One voice went so far as to attribute a dilution in value to the proliferation of credentials.) Yet another Practice Leader allowed as how employees were really paid more on the basis of experience than on having a credential.

Whatever the causes, and there are undoubtedly many, they still don’t quite explain how it is that the sense of value that drives practitioners to achieve 9400 credentials has so little positive impact on employee compensation.

John Borrowman