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How One Next-Gen CPA Dreams Big

Part I

Jeff Badu - CopyOn a mission to help people and entrepreneurially spirited, Jeff Badu represents the next generation of CPAs. At 24 years old, he runs his own firm, hosts a weekly radio show, volunteers his time, and is preparing to take the PFS exam this summer. The AICPA spoke with Jeff about his passion for the profession and his dedication to helping millennials save on their taxes and plan for their financial future.

AICPA: You’ve accomplished quite a bit for someone in their mid-twenties. Can you give us some background on yourself and how you became a CPA?

Jeff Badu: I came to the United States from Ghana when I was just 8 years old. My family settled on the north side of Chicago, where I still live. I have always been a numbers guy, but it was very early on that I discovered my love for accounting and business, and the opportunities those industries present. I was introduced to my first tax return in the eighth grade, and that was when I knew I was interested in this sort of work.

Graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with both a Bachelor’s of Science and a Master’s of Science in Accountancy, I began doing tax returns for friends my freshman year of college and really enjoyed it, and that helped me set a path for my future. I developed a business plan and mapped out my road to the CPA. I only took one class my second semester of graduate school so I could focus on it. I was the first person in the library every day, and the last to leave at night. I was ecstatic – and exhausted – when I found out I passed.

The journey to passing the CPA exam is no easy feat but very doable. In fact, I wrote a blog post about my experience, so I could share what I learned. I encourage anyone considering this path to make sure becoming a CPA is what you want to do, and begin preparing yourself as soon as possible.

AICPA: What ultimately inspired you to sit for the exam and become a CPA?

Jeff Badu: I am very passionate about helping people, especially when it comes to their financial future. It seemed a natural fit to become a CPA with a focus on tax preparation, tax planning and tax representation for individuals and businesses. I wanted to become a CPA for this reason: to help people save on their taxes, and ultimately, for their future. Having a CPA license enhances a person’s reputation and credibility. To me, it was critical to have those three letters after my name. Becoming a member of the AICPA adds even more credibility, especially for someone just starting their career.

AICPA: You only became licensed as a CPA last year, in 2016, yet you have your own firm, a radio program and a substantial social media presence. Can you give us some background on what drives you and how you got where you are today?

Jeff Badu: There are three steps to becoming a practicing CPA in Illinois: education, certification and experience. I became a CPA in December of 2016 after completing my education, getting certified and gaining experience working at one of the Big 4 Accounting firms. I started as an intern and then moved to the Audit department after I graduated. It was a great company with an enjoyable culture where I learned a lot about the business and myself.  Ultimately, while it was an excellent place to work, I realized I wanted to have a more influential role in the business and in people’s lives while I was young.  Similar to many millennials, I like having the flexibility to choose how and when I work. I also think millennials like to work with people who understand them – and I do, since I am one! It made sense to open my own firm, which I strategically launched as Badu Tax Services, LLC in January 2017.

What drives me is my passion to help people have a successful financial future. One way to do that is by guiding them to make good decisions to lower their tax burden, allowing them to save more for the future.  I host a radio show every week to help boost the public’s financial knowledge. My primary client base is millennials, and it’s important to reach them where they spend the most time – online. I have a website, blog, vlog, and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and just launched a new app called Connect that will help people with their taxes. I plan to take the PFS exam this summer, so I can be in an even better position to help people and provide more value to my clients.

I believe that everyone has something to offer; I am passionate about inspiring people. My family has helped me virtually anytime I needed them, and it's only right to return the favor to them and to society.

 

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