CPA Career Development Feed

CPA career development

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

5 Scenarios Where Proper Workplace Decorum is Essential

WorkingWhile 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.

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3 Tips to Practicing Good Business Etiquette

Business-relationshipIn 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.

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4 Tips for Young CPAs to Maximize Networking Opportunities

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Build-a-networkIf 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?

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4 Career Resources for the Management Accountant

Career-resourcesThere’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:

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11 Easy Ways to Build Good Client Relationships

HandshakeIt 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.

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Protecting Your Good Name Online

Online-reputationIt 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.”

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Accounting Careers and the Boiled Frog

LillypadMost 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. 

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A Strong Professional Network is an Invaluable Resource

NetworkingMany 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.

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Want to Focus More? Stop Multi-Tasking

Multi-taskingI 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).

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Succession Planning: The Talk You Need to Have

Succession-planStrong 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?

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Value of Mentorship Realized in New CFF Program

MentorshipA 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. 

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AICPA’s Legacy Scholars Giving Back to their Communities

Thiswaytocpa_logo_webThe AICPA recently announced that undergraduate and graduate level accounting students may now apply online for scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year.

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.

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Super Bowl Was More than Just a Game to Celebrate

Super-bowl-xlviii-logoYesterday’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.

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Project Management: Getting Results and Seeing the Big Picture

Project-managementIt’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.

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Get “Unstuck” in 2014

Fish-getting-unstuckLike 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.

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Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Come Together and Others Don't

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.)

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Stop the Mad Dash, Create Your Future

CPA-career-developmentCPAs 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.

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Generation Next: AICPA Leadership Academy, Class of 2013

2013-AICPA-leadership-academy-class-photo
The American Institute of CPAs recently announced the 2013 class of Leadership Academy graduates.

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.

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A Business Case for Women in Your Organization

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.)

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Engage in New Opportunities and Challenges

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.)

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Katty Kay on Womenomics: Women in the Workplace

Katty Kay, Lead Anchor, BBC World News America, and co-author of Womenomics: The Workplace Revolution That Will Change Your Life, is the keynote speaker for day one of the Women's Global Leadership Summit taking place Oct. 24 to 25 in Washington, D.C. I am live blogging from her keynote session, "Womenomics: A New Path to Business Success." (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.

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AICPA Forensic Accounting Credentials Are Attorneys’ Top Choices

Expert-witnessWhere 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 list.

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Lifelong Learning: The Fuel Driving Value Within an Organization

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.

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In the News: AICPA Conference Focuses on Developing Female Leaders

Leadership-compassA recent AccountingWEB article by Deanna White highlighted the steps the AICPA is taking to develop more female leaders in the accounting profession.

"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.

Bennett said 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.

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Inside the Business Valuation School: Pathway to the ABV

Accredited-in-business-valuation-anniversaryIn 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 valuation-related education.

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In the News: New Hot Spot for Young CPAs

Young CPA NetworkI’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 development.

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In the News: Learning to Lead

Derek-jeterThroughout 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.

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Finance Chiefs Require Broader Skillset for Their Teams

Amazing-personIn 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 behavioral skills.”

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.

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In Times of Catastrophe and Routine: The Need for Forensic Accountants

Business-continuityIn 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.

 

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Gaining a Professional Edge with AICPA Membership Benefits

First-wanted-to-be-a-cpaI 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:

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Paving the Way to Career Happiness and Success

Painting-roadwayFor 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.

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Celebrate Memorial Day: Serve a Veteran

Memorial-dayNow 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.

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10 Skills for Mapping Your Journey to Partnership

Partner-handshakeDo 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.

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Let’s Chat About Business Valuation

ABV credentialI’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 acquisitions. These 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.

 

In 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.

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An Introduction to Pinterest

Pinterest_badge_red
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.

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What’s the Difference Between Winning and Losing?

3 Tips for Ensuring You’re Coaching a Winning Team

Vince-lombardi-statueI’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 failure.

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Use Social Media, Don’t Let It Use You

Social-mediaThe AICPA’s Forensic and Valuation Service Conference, held Nov. 11 through 13, involved several sessions that were taught the “un-conference way.” These sessions were unconventional in their approach and involved peer-to-peer interactive learning. One un-conference session I attended was Tom Hood’s “Getting an ROI from Social Media via ROA (Return on Attention).” Tom is the CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs and is considered a top thought leader in accounting.

From the moment we entered the room, we were thrown headfirst into the world of social media, as Tom encouraged us to sign into the gosoapbox event. Tom kicked off the session with a survey of attendees’ social media habits. In our group, 11% did not use social media at all and 71% viewed social media as a time sink, a valid concern for professionals who already have very demanding schedules. 

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Becoming a Better Expert Witness

Expert witnessEarlier this year, the AICPA Forensic and Valuation Services Conference was held in Orlando. In the past, forensic services and valuation services held separate conferences; this year, in recognition of the fact that many CPAs perform a combination of these services, the two events were joined. As many as eight concurrent sessions were available to attendees on topics including basic, advanced and practical forensic and valuation issues; practice management and marketing; and litigation issues. 

As a CPA who performs primarily valuation services for litigation, two issues of particular interest for me were expert testimony and the cost of capital in business valuations. Ron Seigneur moderated a panel of three attorneys in a session titled “What Do Lawyers Really Say About FVS Experts?” This session was a great look into what attorneys are looking for in an expert and how expert testimony can be most effective. 

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Twitter Delivers the Full Picture of a CPA Conference

Perhaps I sound like a broken record...

But believe me, if you attend conferences and aren't on Twitter, you are missing out. Case in point: the Digital CPA Conference last week. I got to the hotel in Washington D.C. (ahem...I mean Maryland. Right, Tom Hood?), logged in to my computer and discovered Twitter was already all aflutter with #DigitalCPA activity. If you know me, you know this made me very happy!

Follow a conference hashtag for the inside scoop.

By following and participating on a conference hashtag, you get to see the full picture of what's happening. People are sharing their favorite quotes, new ideas, what they are learning and my favorite... pictures.

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5 Tips for Aspiring Women Leaders

Leslie murphy olivia kirtley kathy eddy

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the very first Women’s Global Leadership Summit, organized by the AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee, along with sponsors AICPA Private Companies Practice Section, the American Woman's Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. What an inspiring experience with a group of accomplished, empowered women. Women from all areas of accounting gathered to talk about the business case for creating inroads for women leaders in the profession, best practices for onboarding, preparing and maintaining female leadership and the effectiveness of establishing mentorship and advocacy programs. 

I know many of my peers are striving to stay ahead of the complexities of the profession, build a solid reputation and balance work and family in an increasingly challenging environment. I came out of the Summit feeling energized that more women are assuming leadership roles in accounting.  I thought: “What advice do I wish I had heard from my peers and role models when I was just starting out in the profession?”

Here’s what came to mind:

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Does Your Organization Invest in its Employees’ Training and Skills Development?

Talent Pipeline Draining GrowthOrganizations around the globe face extraordinary challenges when navigating through the current global economy. To thrive in the long-term, organizations must constantly innovate, evolve and transform.

One of the most critical factors that determines an organization's fate in this environment is the quality of its human capital and the way it manages its talent pipeline.

A recent report from the AICPA and CIMA showed that while most companies understand the importance of human capital, they do not appear to have the right systems, processes and information in place to manage talent effectively. Think about your organization for a minute. Does it invest in training and the development of talent and skills? Or does it view training as a compliance tool?

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Catch Them When You Can

Catch me if you can frank abagnaleIt seems that the corporate world is rife with fraud these days, and as CPAs on the financial front lines, it’s up to us to protect the public from these crimes.

Just last week prosecutors in the high-profile fraud case against former Nortel executives gave closing arguments, telling a Toronto courtroom three former Nortel executives knowingly breached accounting rules to manipulate financial records and reap millions in bonuses, keeping the now-insolvent tech firm's investors and the public in the dark.

You think it won’t happen to you.

Many years ago, as a first year staff auditor, I was assigned to the audit team of a not-for-profit organization. One of my areas was cash, but after going over budget by many hours, I still couldn’t get the general ledger balance to reconcile to the bank statements. I was convinced that I just didn’t know how to do a proper bank reconciliation, but if they just gave me some more time, I would figure it out.

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Accounting Offers More Career Opportunities: If You Know How to Find Them

Accounting careersUSA Today recently reported that service businesses are leading an uneven job recovery. In the service sector, accounting firms have regained 87% of the jobs they lost, in part because of the growth of start-up businesses, new financial rules and U.S. companies expanding globally.

Salaries of accounting graduates are continuing to rise. In an April 2012 report on the starting salaries of the college class of 2012, the National Association of Colleges and Employers said the median salary of accounting majors was $47,800, up 2.8% from the 2011 median salary. The overall average salary of new graduates was $42,569, up 4.5% from 2011.

Long term, employment of accountants and auditors is expected to increase 16% from 2010 to 2020, or about as fast as the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over that ten-year period, accounting employment is forecasted to increase from 1.22 million to 1.41 million jobs.

These statistics point to continued growth in the job market for CPAs, but where will CPAs find job and career opportunities?

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The Importance of Communications in Accounting

NYSE-wall-streetHi! My name is Joseph Farco and I’ve recently completed a summer internship with the AICPA. I assisted the Communications and Media Channels team in the New York office. While working with the AICPA has not only allowed me to learn more about numerous issues facing the profession, it also has helped me develop one of the most important skills for any business professional: communications.

From a young age I always knew I wanted to go into business, because I visited the New York Stock Exchange once a year on Kids’ Day. How was I allowed to go to this event on a yearly basis? Well, my father has worked on the floor of the exchange since 1980. His desire to see me do well in life combined with my annual visits to the NYSE, fueled my fire to go into business. This led me to mostly business electives in high school which included two college level accounting classes. I was surprised with how much I enjoyed those classes and I became interested in learning more about accounting. My passion for mathematics led me to embark on a journey to Seton Hall University, where I graduated in May 2012 with a BS in Accounting. My future plans are to pursue an MBA in Finance and eventually sit for the CPA Exam. My long term goal is to one day open up my own practice.

While the focus of my internship has not been entirely on accounting work, I’ve learned a number of lessons that could be used on a daily basis in the “real world.”

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In the News: Accounting Firms Regain 87% of Jobs Lost During the Recession

This week’s ‘In the News’ post comes from the AICPA and CPA/SEA Interchange conference in St. Louis. I’ve been learning a lot at the sessions and having a good time networking with my colleagues at the state societies and sharing ideas and information. There has been a lot going on in the profession recently and I’ve been trying my best to stay on top of it all. I’ve highlighted a few of the more interesting articles I’ve seen in the past week and shared them with you below. If you see something that you think was particularly important, send me an email or let me know in the comments section.

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Wise Advice from the New Kid

Thiswaytocpa-logoWhat’s the best advice to give virtually anyone starting a new job? Corey Cines, blogger with the AICPA’s This Way to CPA website, wrote “From Backpack to Briefcase: How I handled the jump into Public Accounting,” to offer his tips for starting life as a firm newbie. It’s excellent advice for any young CPA looking to build a foundation in accounting. Not only that, Corey’s great advice also applies to anyone transitioning into a new role or a new organization.

Asking “dumb” questions, staying positive and practicing stress relief: these are just some of Corey’s gems for getting the lay of the land.

We asked several AICPA CPAs on staff what advice they wish they had gotten when they first entered the accounting workforce. Here are some tidbits:

 

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Moments of Obligation: A Call for CPAs to Join the Financial Conversation

US budget 2013I’ve always been attracted to the “serving the public interest” element of our profession. As an auditor I didn’t see myself so much as a policeman enforcing the rules, but rather as the surrogate for the investors and creditors who had limited access to information about a company’s finances and operations. I knew that these nameless, faceless third parties trusted me and that no matter what, I could not break that trust, for it was the cornerstone of the profession.

“Moments of obligation” are those moments or events when you feel yourself pulled down a path that leads you to work that will benefit others. At various points in my career, I’ve made more conscious decisions about pursuing paths to give back to the community. Of course, thousands of CPAs make decisions every day to contribute their skills, experiences and—perhaps most importantly—their credibility to efforts aimed to benefit the public good.

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5 More Steps to Get Ahead in Your Career

Since so many of you were interested in Friday's post, 6 Steps to Get Ahead in Your Career, I decided that I should share some other career strategies also adapted from a recent presentation by author and career coach Donald Asher. 

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6 Steps to Get Ahead in Your Career

What’s the difference between a CPA's salary of $45,000 and $90,000 per year? Skillset. The difference between someone's salary being $90,000 and $200,000 per year, however, is not a difference in skillset, but a difference in how they manage their careers. Here are some steps—adapted from a recent presentation from author and career coach Donald Asher—which you can take to advance your career.

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The Brand YOU: Your Bio

Compelling Consistent ClearPersonal branding is about promoting what makes you unique and what allows you to stand out from the crowd. A major piece of branding is creating your professional “bio” or biography. That bio is, after all, a specific place to capture your “story” …. so it is personal.  

For many CPAs, your bio is likely already on the web and accessible by anyone and anywhere. Since it is so accessible, it presents a nice branding opportunity – to spread your message about the value you provide and the opportunities you want to attract.

When reviewing your bio, consider three Cs of personal branding – Compelling, Consistent and Clear:

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