The CPA profession offers unlimited possibilities for career growth and development. From students to seasoned professionals, the AICPA has a variety of tools to help you take your career to the next level.
Most of us have read numerous books on leadership development theory, because they are excellent resources that offer valuable insights. However, you need to do more than just read and understand these books for them to have any real value. You need to be personally inspired and motivated to get the most out of such personal success literature. Basically, you have to walk the walk. Embody the teachings found in these books and demonstrate positive leadership behavior every single day. The question is: how?
As everyone knows, old habits die hard. Changing behavior is frustratingly challenging, even if the habits you are trying to adopt are positive. That’s why it’s extremely useful to have a roadmap. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Here are five steps that can guide you in successfully adopting positive leadership behaviors to transform yourself into an authentic leader.
Japan, China, Turkey, Italy and the Czech Republic are just five of the 23 countries I’ve visited during my ten years as a CPA in the forensic services arena. In a world that has become increasingly connected, more and more CPAs will find themselves working with clients whose interests and connections lie in one or more countries around the world. Although I’m based in PwC’s Forensic Services practice in Washington, D.C., globetrotting has become a way of life for me.
I believe that international business experience can be a significant enhancement to a CPA’s skill base—and my travel has been personally enjoyable as well. If you’re interested in discovering new places and broadening your career opportunities, here are some things to keep in mind.
Have your passport ready. When I started with PwC, I was immediately drawn to forensics. After completing some initial assignments in the United States, my Director asked if I had a passport. Since I did (and it was current), he immediately sent me to Dublin to work on a contract compliance engagement. Beginning with that first trip, I learned quickly that by being on the scene, I could establish a personal relationship outside of work with the U.S. or international staff.
March is Women’s History Month, a worthwhile time to consider the many contributions that women have made to our country’s progress. In fact, this is also an interesting time in the history of women in the CPA profession. Given the retirement of the large Baby Boomer generation and the fierce competition for talent, it’s clear that the profession is evolving to create more opportunities and to attract and retain a more diverse range of professionals.
And that’s good news for women, because the accounting profession is a great place for us to be right now. The career opportunities for women are endless -- both in public practice and management accounting. How can you take advantage of these opportunities to find the success you’re seeking?
Here are a few tips for making the most of the options I believe are awaiting female CPAs today.
College can be very expensive – I’ve got reams of cancelled checks to my student loan provider to prove it - but it’s also the best way to increase one’s chances of economic mobility. A college degree is essential if you’re planning to earn a CPA license.
The AICPA has long been committed to ensuring that there is a strong supply of talented CPAs in the pipeline to help the profession continue to meet the needs of U.S. capital markets. One of the ways the AICPA does this is through our AICPA Legacy Scholars Program.
The program, established in 2011, awards recipients with a one-year scholarship. It uses on-campus service work to help them develop the soft skills, including leadership and communications, needed to thrive in the accounting profession. Scholarship recipients plan, promote and execute specific on-campus events each semester that promote the value of the profession to others. To date, more than 300 students have participated in the AICPA Legacy Scholars program
The AICPA Legacy Scholars program comprises four distinct awards:
I’m a pretty competitive person. Whether it’s pickup soccer, playing against my friends in our fantasy football league, or a game of Yahtzee with my wife – I enjoy the thrill of competition. The process of giving it my all is one of the things that keeps me motivated in both my professional and personal lives.
In the spirit of competition, the American Institute of CPAs recently announced the opening of the 6th annual AICPA Accounting Competition. This year, the AICPA is challenging undergraduate students to think like management accountants as they help a business hone its strategic plan. This means students will be analyzing complex financial issues and business operations in the context of the market environment and recommending strategies for growth and sustained success.
The competition has a number of different steps. Fifteen teams will be selected from the first-round submissions as the semi-finalists for the competition. The top three teams will each earn $10,000 as well as an opportunity to present their cases to an executive panel of judges at the AICPA’s offices in North Carolina. Faculty advisors will accompany their teams to support them as they present. The teams will compete for a first place prize of $5,000, a second place prize of $3,000 or a third place prize of $2,000 to be awarded to their schools.
With the deadline for first-round submissions coming up soon (2:59 pm ET on September 28), I sat down with AICPA’s Erin Carson, Manager of Student Recruitment and Engagement, for more details on the competition and what students need to know to put their team in a position to succeed.
The American Institute of CPAs recently announced that the application period for this year’s Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop (ASLW) is now open. The Workshop, now in its 21st year, is an invitational program for minority accounting students who plan to pursue the CPA license.
The Workshop will feature interactive programs, speakers and panel discussions aimed at improving attendees’ professional skills while highlighting the many career benefits of earning the CPA license. Sessions will cover issues such as strategies for passing the CPA exam, navigating corporate culture, financial literacy, and thinking like an entrepreneur
The AICPA Legacy Scholars Program will provide more than 100 scholarships for the 2015-2016 academic year, totaling more than $380,000, to deserving undergraduate and graduate accounting students from across the nation. New this year is a more convenient, streamlined application process which allows students to fill out a single application for all four AICPA Legacy Scholarship awards.
“The AICPA has a long history of investing in the future of the profession by awarding scholarships to highly qualified accounting students,” said Joanne Fiore, AICPA vice president, professional media, pathways and inclusion.
Since 2011, the Institute has been awarding annual scholarships under the AICPA Legacy Scholars program umbrella, expanding the financial award to add a service component. The service aspect of the program is designed to help students develop the soft skills, including leadership and communications, needed to maintain a successful career. Scholarship recipients plan, promote and execute an eight-hour service project each semester. The service activity must relate to accounting, serve the community and be meaningful to the student.
“Our AICPA Legacy Scholars program helps students defray the cost of their education, while helping instill a commitment to public service that the accounting profession is known for,” Fiore added.
AICPA Legacy Scholars are Student Affiliate Members of the AICPA, a free membership option available to all currently enrolled college students. Each AICPA Legacy Scholar is assigned a coach to help guide the student’s service project and offer advice on questions related to the accounting profession.
Scholarship funding is provided by contributions from the AICPA Foundation, Robert Half International, Accountemps, the New Jersey Society of CPAs, the Accounting Education Foundation of the Texas Society of CPAs and the Virgin Islands Society of CPAs.
Do you remember a time when sending a note meant writing a handwritten letter? When speaking on the phone always meant calling a landline? Today, email and smartphones often replace those forms of communication. Don’t get me wrong – it is great to be able to reach someone in a moment’s notice, but there is something to be said about the personal touch associated with those other methods of communication.
With all my reliance on digital communications, I sometimes have to remind myself of the value of returning a client’s call rather than sending them a quick email. Although the latter is more efficient, a phone call can make a world of difference in clarifying any issues and developing rapport.
Below are 10 simple but significant tips that I follow to help strengthen my relationships with clients:
The American Institute of CPAs recently announced that students from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas have earned first place in the 2014 AICPA Accounting Competition.
AccountingWeb reports that the UNLV team’s top finish in the competition earned a $5,000 award for their school. Students from North Carolina State University placed second, taking home $3,000 for their university. The third-place team from the University of Southern Indiana earned $2,000 for their school.
In addition, each of the three finalist teams received a $10,000 award to be split among the team members. All of the awards are funded by the AICPA Foundation.
Entrepreneurism is on the rise. With start-up fever igniting the Bay Area to the Chesapeake Bay what CPA hasn’t considered—even for a moment—starting his or her own firm? We each started our own firms and know firsthand about the advantages and challenges of venturing out on our own. A few months ago we participated in a live Facebook chat on how to start your own practice. Many of you joined us and asked great questions such as: What prompted you to start your practice? What is the best way to get your name out there? What were some of the unexpected challenges you encountered?
What’s our advice? Here are seven tips for starting your own firm:
In May 2014, the AICPA’s Future of Learning Task Force announced four broad recommendations to positively impact the future of learning for the CPA profession. The recommendations are:
Innovate and experiment
Ignite a passion for learning
Make learning personal
Measure what matters
These recommendations and insights, as well as other resources related to the initiative, are now available on the new Future of Learning site. If you haven’t yet visited the site, I highly recommend you do so to gain insight into the drivers behind the initiative and its recommendations. Navigating the site will take you on a journey that explores change within business, the evolving workplace and shifts in the CPA profession. You’ll gain a better understanding of trends impacting learning, ranging from how technology is rapidly changing delivery options to the impact of Millennial expectations on learning and the workplace.
In this four-part blog series, we’ll go in depth and look at each of the task force recommendations, as well as ways you can begin to implement them.
As public accounting is a competitive industry, CPA firms have the luxury of being selective and only hiring the best and brightest. Many firms host early identification programs, which typically take place in the summer and are geared toward freshman, sophomore and junior accounting majors working toward 150 credits. Most firms call them “leadership programs.” These programs typically last one to three days and serve to build relationships early with the top students and hire as interns and then into full-time hires.
Indira Gandhi is elected as the first female Prime Minister of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Indira Gandhi once said, “I suppose that leadership at one time meant muscle; but today it means getting along with people.”
Despite being the first female Prime Minister of India and an extremely influential figure in world history, those close to Gandhi say she felt uncomfortable around educated people because of her own lack of schooling. Despite her persona as a commander, she constantly had to pull from her inner strength and circle of confidants to establish herself outwardly as a leader.
What I draw from this is that leadership and role-modeling in any situation means action, not position. How friends, colleagues, and others perceive us should be centered in our ability to gather the appropriate input to make sound decisions, rather than our need to rely on where we fall in the relationship. However, because of the role modeling we’ve experienced and become conditioned to throughout our lives, many of us think we have to emulate the role of the leader—always decisive and always in control.
If I’m not perceived as a leader and enter into a collaborative situation, I may come across as weak. While that may be the general belief, is it accurate?
Chocolate is actually good for us? A glass of red wine per the doctor’s orders? These are just a few examples of seemingly incompatible matches that come together to deliver the most unexpected benefits. Balancing work commitments and a lifestyle that builds a healthy mind and body can be surprisingly symbiotic.
There’s no shortage of research reports and studies advising us of the need to exercise regularly. On the other hand, job responsibilities continue to broaden due to higher performance standards and greater unpredictability in the marketplace.
While workplaces have become increasingly less formal and more business transactions are taking place outside traditional office settings, the line that separates business from personal can blur. It is important to maintain a certain level of workplace decorum, whether you are in the office or out at an office mixer. Be sure to observe the following pointers, which address a variety of scenarios:
In-person meetings. How you conduct yourself during an in-person meeting will leave a lasting impression on your boss and colleagues.
Be considerate of others’ time and communicate the purpose, duration and the items for discussion in advance. Thank attendees for their participation, and demonstrate your appreciation by promptly circulating a recap or minutes that document their contribution.
Don’t monopolize the conversation. Ensure that everyone has had a chance to speak their mind before ending the meeting.
Never assign an action item to someone not present until you have had an opportunity to negotiate it with them.
If you are attending another person's meeting, be respectful and resist the urge to multi-task. If you are waiting for an important phone call, turn your phone to vibrate or silent, and excuse yourself before answering. Otherwise, turn your devices off.
In an ideal world, we would all be judged on merit, and managers, co-workers and clients would take the time to get to know us before formulating an opinion. Unfortunately, in the time-crunched real world, we don’t always have that luxury. People often make flash assessments based on limited interactions, or piece together opinions about our ability and professionalism from disparate impressions gleaned from superficial encounters. Alas, when it comes to others’ perceptions of us, the devil is in the details, providing us limitless opportunities to make a bad impression.
That’s where etiquette can help. Whether you are collaborating with co-workers, schmoozing potential clients or trying to impress the boss, relationships are critical to your career success. The diversity of the modern workplace and the hurried pace of business provides ample room for social missteps, but adhering to the basic tenants of business etiquette can insulate you from the most egregious offenses.
If you’re like me, the answer to that question has changed over the years. I’ve answered everything from “shortstop for the Kansas City Royals” to “managing partner of a CPA firm,” and everything in between—and there is a lot in between. But, whatever your career aspirations are, no matter what position you hope to have, or what industry you hope to be in when you retire, you will need people to help you get there.
People who turn lofty dreams and career aspirations into reality almost always have one thing in common: a tremendous network of people. How do you develop this network when you’re a young professional? Where do you begin? It seems daunting to think of going from the seemingly insignificant network you graduated with to the “who’s who” list that some partners at your firm carry with them. While you could go to every one of the grip-and-grin networking happy hours offered every month, how effective is that? Is that really the kind of interaction you’re seeking?
There’s no need for media reports to tell us that business has changed more in the last few years than we could ever have imagined. We’ve seen first-hand how our role has moved in new directions, markets have become more competitive and a commitment to learning has risen as a must-have for success. Ironically, along with these challenges are tremendous benefits that have brought us greater leadership opportunities and job satisfaction, stronger team and organizational performance, and the latest in professional development.
As widespread as these benefits are, attaining them calls for resources designed for today’s business environment and the finance teams that drive it day after day, year after year. Yet, it can be overwhelming choosing from so many leadership and career resources on the market. To help ease the process, here are four recent CGMA releases:
It is important that we, as CPAs and trusted advisers, work on creating long-term relationships with clients at every opportunity. We cannot forget that public accounting has and always will be a people business. While it has a little bit to do with number crunching, most clients want to hire and retain a professional they trust and respect.
That includes you. Whether it is your first year as a CPA or you are a seasoned senior CPA, you are making direct contact with clients on a more frequent basis than many of your managers, directors and partners. As a result, your daily interactions with clients should not just be about getting the answers you need to complete your work papers. Instead, your client interactions should include a conscious effort to build credibility and a personal relationship.
Here is a collection of easy things you can do to start building positive relationships with new and existing clients.
It is probably understood, but here it is anyway: You should not post photos of yourself doing questionable activities to social media. This is just common sense when it comes to managing your online reputation, right? Yet, you would be surprised how many people forget their professional etiquette when posting. Sure, it is fun to share your weekend escapades with all your friends, but do not ignore the business aspects of your online presence as well.
Thanks to the Internet, you most likely developed an online reputation without even knowing it. Now it’s up to you to protect your good name—or do a little damage control. As Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
Most of us are familiar with the story of the frog that was dropped into a pot of boiling water and immediately jumped out to save itself. The same frog later found himself in a pot of water at room temperature. The temperature was gradually increased and the poor frog, not noticing the danger, remained in the pot to suffer an untimely demise. Although not scientifically accurate, the anecdote serves as a metaphor for one’s inability to notice gradual change.
In our careers, we can all feel like we are that frog at times. Just like temperatures, careers can change for the worse, often gradually and without notice. However, if we pay close attention to the red flags in our careers, we can know when to jump long before the water starts to boil.
I would like to share a few thoughts from my own experiences that may help you – whether on a partner or CFO track – detect the warning signs along your career path and keep yourself out of hot water.
Many people think of networking as either schmoozing or as a purely social activity. In reality, a strong professional network is an important resource for an up-and-coming CPA. A strong network is diverse and includes clients/customers, peers, senior professionals, business partners and vendors. A strong network helps to build us as professionals and provide better solutions to the organizations we serve.
Just imagine if everyone you had in your network were just like you. How would you find the variety of insights you need to deal with complex issues? We need more varied perspectives and knowledge to make better decisions.
I confess: I am a multi-tasker. At any one time, I am working on 10 different projects, planning what to have for dinner, looking up which movies are playing and pondering what really happened to Eddie Wilson of Eddie and the Cruisers. You probably have similar habits and consider yourself a multi-tasker. We wear this label as a badge of honor. And who can blame us? Technology has made it so easy to multi-task.
Nevertheless, how many times do you intend to check the weather on your smartphone, only to be distracted by another app? Then you get a text message, which leads to an app notification and pretty soon you’re looking at cat photos on Facebook, forgetting all about the reason you picked up your smartphone to begin with (it was to check the weather, in case you forgot).
Strong planning skills are a must for anyone who wants to be at the top of their field. CPAs have these skills in spades. Our fingerprints can be found on the successful business plans of companies throughout the country—from the mom and pop store down the street, to the Fortune 500 company with thousands of employees, and everything in between. Helping organizations chart their long-term future makes us indispensable threads in the fabric of the U.S. economy.
Why, then, do so many of us not engage in planning for the long-term future of our own firms?
A wise man once said to seek the advice of people that have been there before you. When employment numbers among forensic accountants are projected to expand at an average rate of 9.6% per year through 2018, the need for CPAs experienced in forensics has never been greater. The AICPA has launched the CFF® Mentor Program to meet the demand of CPAs looking for a formal mentoring program to continue their growth and expand their knowledge within forensic accounting.
In addition, the AICPA has created a new scholarship for students who have earned a finance-related associates degree and declared their intent to major in accounting at a four-year college or university. The AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship will provide $1,000 to five qualified recipients.
The AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship joins the AICPA/Accountemps Student Scholarship, AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship, and AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students to comprise the AICPA Legacy Scholars program.
Yesterday’s Super Bowl was a chance for players and fans to celebrate the culmination of another great season. For the past three years, CPA Letter Daily readers have been asked to pick the winner of the Super Bowl. Readers correctly predicted the winners in 2011 (Packers) and 2012 (Giants), but not for 2013 (readers selected the 49ers over the Ravens). This year CPA Letter Daily readers overwhelming chose the Denver Broncos as the Super Bowl champions (73.34%). Unfortunately, their prediction was wrong as the Seattle Seahawks trounced the Broncos.
Super Bowl XLVIII was more than just a triumph for the Seahawks. It also was a celebration of a number of football firsts. It was the first Super Bowl to be held outdoors in a cold weather state, to be hosted by two states and to have a majority of attendees arrive via mass transit.
It’s hard to believe I’m roughly one quarter of the way into my term as Chairman of the AICPA Board of Directors. In that role, I travel around the country extensively, meeting many members as I attend conferences, participate in meetings and give presentations, often at state CPA societies. I’m always excited to talk about the issues and opportunities facing our profession. One area CPAs have been particularly eager to discuss is the concept of project management. And that was very interesting to me because I have long been a firm believer that strong project management skills are essential to getting your job done, growing your career and becoming an effective leader.
Like so many of you, I am passionate about both leadership and learning. Recently, the thought struck me that on occasion, my desire for personal and professional growth might actually get in the way of my leadership and learning.
I’m sure you can relate to the feeling of “sprinting to the finish” on various projects. But how often do you really feel like you’ve reached the finish line? Instead, what if we’re actually like hamsters on a wheel, essentially stuck in one place? This was an “ah ha” moment for me—a realization that my logical mind had some trouble laying bare.
I am live blogging from the 2013 Digital CPA Conference taking place in D.C., today and tomorrow. Today's live blog is covering Simon Sinek's keynote, Start with Why. Simon is an author and leadership expert. The keynote includes a panel of experts from the CPA profession, including:
Tom Hood, CPA, CGMA, CEO Maryland Association of CPAs
Rick Solomon, CPA, CGMA, Chief Executive Officer, RAN ONE Americas
Rene Lacerte, CEO, Bill.com
Chris Ekimoff, CPA, Manager, Investigative Accounting and Financial Litigation, Hilton Worldwide
The best way for a team to confront danger to not only survive but to thrive is...together. When the conditions in our organizations are right, we naturally trust each other and cooperate. But when leaders neglect the environment in which their people must work, politics, silos, cynicism and self-intrest prevail; all things that make it even more difficult for us to work together. The best leaders know how to build those conditions and the best organizations are the ones in which the people work together to confront danger and seize opportunities. And the best part is that these "best conditions," seem to mimic the conditions in which we lived 50,000 years ago. Simon will explain what it takes to create a culture in which people work as they were designed - together. It is under these conditions we are at our natural best. (Email subscribers can view the live blog on our website.)
CPAs are no strangers to life-long learning. In fact, life-long learning is as fundamental of a core competency for CPAs as integrity, independence and objectivity.
This country has hundreds of thousands of CPAs who every day commit themselves to professional development and improving their professional competency. However, when a CPE reporting deadline approaches, you will find CPAs everywhere scrambling to fulfill their compliance requirements.
Your professional development is important, so make it a priority and put an end to the mad dash. Start by asking yourself the following questions to begin creating a plan.
As part of an ongoing effort to inspire, nurture and empower the next generation of CPA leaders, the AICPA established the Leadership Academy in 2009 to provide rising stars in the profession with advanced leadership training and access to well-connected professional networks.
In my final live blog from the Women's Global Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., we look at the business of women’s initiatives and the importance of linking your efforts to strategic imperatives for alignment and buy-in. Panelists for this session, "Finding the Right Balance: A Business Case for Women in Your Organization," include:
Michael Bach, CCDP/AP, founder and CEO, Canadian Institute of Diversity
and Inclusion, Canada
Mary Bennett, MBA, CIA, CEC, chair of AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee,
founder, MLBennett Consulting LLC, Asheville, NC
Todd R. Mitchell, CPA, CGMA, CEO Solutions LLC, Greer, SC
Mary Bennett is an expert in helping the
accounting industry build business-focused initiatives relative to retaining and developing
women. She has helped hundreds of firms in the U.S. and Canada to understand their
business reasons for investing in these efforts. Male and female partners and managers in
these firms come to understand the myths and misperceptions about “women’s initiatives.”
They begin to understand where the real business risks are and what their specific scenario
indicates in terms of strategy application. (Email subscribers can read the live blog on our website.)
Kicking off day two of the Women's Global Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. is Edie Weiner, president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown Inc. The global economy is fundamentally changing and, with it, much of what we have learned
about the world we live in. It is difficult to escape from the mental anchors that hold us at
bay in yesterday’s world, yet as professionals, women and potential leaders, we have to
work on changing our perspectives and becoming engaged in the new opportunities and
challenges we face. Join me as I live blog today's keynote session as our resistance to change is exposed and we open up
to the world of change that is emerging. (Email subscribers can read the live blog on our website.)
At the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, International Monetary Fund Chief Christine
Lagarde called the advancement of women the greatest economic opportunity of our time.
She is recognizing what Kay calls “womenomics” — the extraordinary value
of women in the workforce. Global studies show that companies that employ more senior
women make more money. They have more degrees and are ideally suited to the
demands of our talent-driven economy. But to keep them in the economy, the workplace
must adapt to their needs. Too many women in their mid-30s hit the brick wall of kids vs.
career. But we cannot afford to keep losing them. Kay marshals evidence from employers
large and small to show how possible it is to satisfy the demands of family and career.
Flexible work schedules prove to be a win-win; when companies take the clocks off the
wall and choose to measure output instead of input, they see productivity rise by an average
of 40%. What starts as talent retention becomes a profit bonus any company would be
happy to have. She gives an inspirational boost to women and a practical guide to
employers, drawing on her own juggles as the working mother of four children. This
presentation provides research- and experience-based advice to companies looking to
retain and recruit valuable female employees.
Where do attorneys turn when they need to make a compelling
case on a critical financial issue? That question can be answered by
considering what kind of expert witness they employ. In a recent compilation of accounting expert witnesses who
have been mentioned in court opinions or decisions in 2013, the vast majority
were CPAs. (Disclaimer: The article
was by Ashish Arun with Expert Witness Profiler. AICPA FVS
Section Members receive a discount to Expert Witness Profiler, but we
were not involved in this study.) Among the 189 accounting experts cited, 166 were CPAs. For those with specialized
credentials on top of the CPA, the AICPA’s credentials were clearly preferred
over those of other credentialing organizations. The Certified in Financial Forensics
credential took the number two spot at 58 experts and the Accredited in Business
Valuation credential took number three with 54 testifying experts. The CVA at
31, CFE at 30 and the ASA at 18 were well behind the AICPA credentials on this
At the last meeting of the
AICPA’s governing Council, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion between three esteemed colleagues--all of whom are
CGMA designation holders. Along with Bill Schneider, CPA, CGMA, Deirdre
O’Connor, FCMA, CGMA and Ash Noah, CPA, FCMA, CGMA, I spoke about
the latest issues affecting management accountants in business and industry--and
how the education and experience that lead the earning the CGMA designation,
and the continued learning that each of them do, helps them shape their unique,
but equally phenomenal careers.
A recent AccountingWEB article by Deanna White highlighted the
steps the AICPA is taking to develop more female leaders in the accounting
"If you look at people coming up in
the ranks over the last thirty years, 50 percent of the people in the
profession are women but only 19 percent of leadership in the accounting and
finance professions right now is female," says Mary L. Bennett, chair of
the AICPA Women's
Initiatives Executive Committee and founder of MLBennett Consulting LLC.
that there is a perception that more female leadership in the accounting
profession is an issue that will take care of itself - but that's not the case.
In July, 2013, I left public accounting and joined the AICPA
as program manager for the Forensic and Valuation Services Section. As part of
my introduction, the AICPA sent me back to school. I attended the National
Business Valuation School from July 15 to 19 in New York. BV School is an
intense five-day training program focused on theories, applications, best
practices and controversies in business valuations.
For some of my 24 classmates, BV School was their first exposure
to valuation education. For others like me, the course was a great
comprehensive refresher on the complete Accredited in Business Valuation Body
of Knowledge. Some were already practicing in the valuation area and took
the course in preparation for the ABV exam. The Roadmap
to the ABV Credential recommends BV School as one of several choices for
I’m writing this blog post from the AICPA’s E.D.G.E
Conference in Austin, Texas. E.D.G.E. is an opportunity for CPAs to gain management and leadership skills, while networking
with leaders of the profession and discussing emerging issues. And since the
conference is aimed at CPAs and practitioners with 5-15 years of experience,
I’ve had an opportunity to speak to a number of younger AICPA members about the
opportunities and challenges they’ve faced in their careers. My colleague and
friend Heather O’Connor has posted a couple of great live blogs from
the conference and there are a lot of
tweets on the #AICPA_EDGE hashtag you can
check out to get a better sense of the content in the sessions.
Conferences are a great place to meet
likeminded CPAs, learn about the issues facing the profession and help navigate
the next steps in one’s career. Can’t make it to a conference this year? No
worries, the AICPA has announced the launch of the Young CPA Network Community to
help young CPAs enjoy many of the benefits of conference attendance from the
comfort of their laptop or mobile device – like networking and career
Throughout my career in communications, I’ve sought out every opportunity to develop the skills that will hopefully help me become an effective leader in the future. Almost all of the dedicated and successful professionals I know - in every field - have done the same. Some people, like Derek Jeter and Winston Churchill, are viewed as being great natural leaders – the kind of individuals who can motivate and bring out the best in the people around them. But the vast majority of individuals – even successful leaders - have needed a little guidance along the way to develop and refine the qualities that may eventually allow them to help steer their organizations to great heights.
To help develop the future leaders of the accounting profession, the AICPA recently announced the 2013 Leadership Academy class. This group of 38 rising stars will attend the 5th annual Leadership Academy, held in Durham, N.C. this fall. The five day program will be an opportunity for participants to learn leadership theory and strategic planning techniques, while developing tools for handling complex management challenges.
As a recent article in Accounting Today notes, CPA leaders, including AICPA Chairman Richard Caturano, CPA, CGMA, and Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, the Institute’s president and CEO will engage the participants, all under the age of 36, and discuss the issues currently facing the accounting profession.
In a recent Financial Times article, Sally
Fisher of Deloitte noted that while they are not new skills, “you rarely find
in one individual strong technical skills, strong commercial acumen and strong
She’s right. Fortunately, CGMA designation holders are a
step ahead in satisfying the ever-changing needs of their organizations. In the
years of experience and education that led to earning their designations, they
have worked to complement their financial skills with the business acumen
needed to contribute fact-based analysis and recommendations on a range of
topics critical to corporate operations and strategy.
Management accountants have a unique opportunity to step in
and act as key advisers to their companies by looking at strategic and
operational areas outside of finance.
In the aftermath of May’s devastating tornado, the residents of Oklahoma are undoubtedly facing challenges to recovery on multiple fronts… physical, emotional, financial and beyond.
The first responders did their part to begin the recovery process as soon as the storms cleared. But in the weeks and months ahead, CPAs will be providing assistance in their own way, by expertly answering questions and providing essential guidance in the recovery process.
Simply put, we can play a part in reestablishing people’s livelihoods and restoring communities that have suffered great loss.
For example, local business owners dealing with business interruption losses may need answers regarding the optimal time to contact their insurers, how to document the claims or something as fundamental as what their policy will and will not cover.
I take great pride in being a CPA, and I know you do too. Earning the credential is something that gives us tremendous confidence and opportunities in our professional lives. The self-assurance comes from having passed the rigorous CPA exam and maintaining lifelong learning. The endless possibilities stem from our experience, expertise and skills that are highly regarded and necessary in any organization.
Of course, I am able to stay current and knowledgeable about both professional and technical issues through my membership in the AICPA. As fellow members, you know the Institute gives us a professional edge by providing 24/7 access to trusted information and reliable tools. In an increasingly complicated and competitive business world, it’s good to know that I can turn to the AICPA to tap into the information I need when and where I need it.
In addition to technical information, I rely on many other member benefits that make my work more efficient or more profitable. They also may save my firm, my family or me money and some members find the discounts more than pay for membership. Below are some of the member benefits I’ve used:
For many years, I had what I now call an "accidental career." I didn't put much thought into why I was moving up the ladder, I just climbed
because that's what I was supposed to do.
It’s no surprise that I soon found myself unchallenged and feeling like
I wasn't making a difference.
When I stopped to evaluate, I realized that the power was mine to make a
change. It was time to find out what would happen if I put my whole heart and
soul into something. So I quit my job and started a business. I spent my life
savings trying to figure it out. Ultimately I learned more about business, life
and myself than I ever could have on the safe road.
Now that you’re back to work after this year’s Memorial Day
celebrations, you and your colleagues may be looking for additional ways to say
thanks to the men and women who protect the U.S. and its interests. Good news! There
is an exciting opportunity for CPAs to use your talents to do just that.
It is all part of the Veteran
Fast Launch Initiative, a combined
effort of the AICPA and SCORE.The program connects veterans who want to start and
grow their own businesses with CPAs from across the country. The aim is to help
veterans, their spouses and families succeed as small business owners. Practitioner volunteers provide up to five hours of time at no
charge to veterans.
Do you have firm partnership in your sights? If so, good for you! Although there is no “one size fits all” approach for a senior manager to become partner, there are steps CPAs can take to strengthen their skills, expand their knowledge and develop personal characteristics that can bring them closer to achieving their goal. Beyond working hard to stand out, here are some things we did that helped us better position ourselves to become partners at our firm, Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC. You may want to consider these tips as you set out on the road to partnership.
I’m not going to pretend I have extraordinary insight
into the economy, but I do know that February was a very strong month for IPOs and that signs are
pointing to an increase in mergers and
two trends, combined with the fact that business valuation is already one of the fastest growing
‘niche services’ among Accounting Today’s Top 100 firms in both 2012 and 2011 means that this is a great time
to learn more about the AICPA’s Accredited in Business Valuation Credential.
addition to the increase in M&As and IPOs thus far this year, valuation
professionals said they expect to see increased demand for shareholder/partner
disputes, contractual disputes and family law as well as in bankruptcy,
insolvency and reorganization in the next two to five years, according to the 2011 Forensic and Valuation
Services Trend Survey.
Pinterest, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Have you had a chance to try out Pinterest yet? You should! If you are a visual person, this image-driven platform may really hit home for you like it does for me.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a fast-growing niche social networking site that has generated a lot of buzz and media coverage. With over 15 million users, Pinterest is the fifth most visited social media site in the US, and generates more referral traffic to other websites than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.
3 Tips for
Ensuring You’re Coaching a Winning Team
I’m a sports fan. And I’m the mother of two athletic teenage
boys. I’ve watched a lot of ball games over the years, and I’d like to think
I’ve learned a little bit about coaching. Recently, I watched a basketball
game where the home team lost, but should have won.
Why do I think they lost? Coaching.
Despite the team’s collective talent, the coach allowed
selfish play and poor execution without consequence. More importantly, he
failed to adjust his strategies to counter the opposing team's strengths. Occasionally, talent alone suffices in order to win a game. Most times,
however, how that talent is deployed makes the difference between success and