Young CPAs make the CPA profession tick. Young and aspiring CPAs can seek answers and advice regarding career challenges and opportunities here. The AICPA also offers many opportunities for young CPAs to network and grow their skills to become the CPA profession's future leaders.
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:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
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?
I review LinkedIn profiles almost every day. By now, I have seen at least 2,000, and I just cringe when I see things that could or will hinder someone’s professional image. I am not in a position to advise people individually, so this blog is the next best thing.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn goes beyond looking good for recruiters. Even if you are not interested in a new job, your online image still needs attention. If anyone Googles you - a potential client or employer, your company’s VP, a former supervisor, a reporter or even a prospective date - your LinkedIn profile could easily be the first thing that shows up. You want your best foot forward all the time.
Is your CPA firm involved in the scramble for talent? As I give presentations and work with CPAs around the country, it seems like many CPA firms are in hiring mode. Increasingly, I’m telling these firms that to remain competitive, they must understand their younger recruiting candidates—Millennials. Millennials are the generation born roughly between 1980 and the early 2000s. I tell CPA firms, if they want to get into the Millennial brain, they should be aware of five important facts.
Fact #1: Millennials are poised to take on more responsibility. The oldest members of this generation have now entered their thirties. With about 10 years on the job, they have built the kind of experience that CPA firms need to remain successful. However, if they don’t believe the firm offers them the opportunity to grow and contribute, these younger professionals won’t hesitate to move on to a better option.
The takeaway for CPA firms: Employee surveys or one-to-one discussions can help you better understand staff expectations.
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.
You have just been handed the project. You know the one – the assignment no one else wanted, and even though you thought you were flying under the radar, the project still landed in your lap. Now what?
You have two options: run away from your boss’s office or face the project head on—and come away a victor. It’s up to you.
I think we all face the “dreaded project” at some point or another in our careers, probably on more than one occasion. It can be particularly daunting as a young CPA to get an assignment that’s outside what you consider your realm of expertise, and sometimes, you just can’t say “no.” Yet, to think you will come out of the experience unscathed might not be realistic. Nevertheless, it’s my experience that you will learn and become empowered for the next big challenge.
Here are a few tips to help you handle the difficult assignment—and conquer it:
The 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.
What opportunities and challenges does the head of the AICPA foresee for the CPA profession in 2014? What were the profession’s significant achievements in 2013? Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA president and CEO, answers these questions and offers insights on how the profession will continue to adapt to today’s changing environment, addressing clients’ and employer’s needs. Citing successes with regulation, legislation, recruitment and positioning the profession for the future, Barry strongly believes CPAs will build on a solid foundation.
1. What were the AICPA’s legislative or regulatory priorities this past year and what’s in store for 2014?
We continued to have success in the advocacy area in 2013. In one significant victory for the profession and the public, the Securities and Exchange Commission exempted CPAs from registration as municipal advisers when they are providing certain accounting or attest services. We urged the SEC to exempt CPAs from the definition of municipal advisers after it had indicated that anyone performing accounting services for governments would be defined as a “municipal adviser.” It was critical that our voices be heard on this issue because such a broad definition would have made it more difficult for CPAs to serve governments and potential investors without taking on unnecessary and duplicative costs or compliance burdens.
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.
There’s nothing like a personal financial incentive to challenge undergraduate students across the country to test their personal financial planning skills. The American Institute of CPA’s fourth annual AICPA Accounting Competition opened earlier this week, with teams competing for a $10,000 top award and second and third place prizes of $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.
The competition underscores the important role CPAs serve as financial planners at a time when young adults are dealing with crippling student loan debt and maxed out credit cards.
I spoke with Erin Curtis, AICPA manager, College Student Recruitment & Engagement, to find out some inside information about this year’s competition and what CPAs can do to help spread the word about the great opportunities a career in accounting provides.
In this final session I will be covering from the AICPA's E.D.G.E. Conference in Austin, Texas, Donna W. Salter, Senior Manager, Young Member Initiatives, AICPA, moderates a panel of young CPAs. Learn how some very involved, young CPAs use their talents and skills to help impact the profession on the state and national level. By investing their time, these professionals have ultimately created a win-win situation—the profession addresses the leadership pipeline issues by training these young CPAs as volunteers, and they, in turn, get tons of leadership experience, mentoring, and professional development. Panelists include:
(Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).
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 development.
Today's hot topic at the AICPA's E.D.G.E. Conference in Austin, Texas, is women's professional issues. In this session, Yasmine El-Ramly, CPA.CITP, Project Manager, PCPS – Firm Services, AICPA, and Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, Vice President, Firm Services & Global Alliances, AICPA, will describe best practices to promote the advancement of women in the profession at the organizational and individual levels. The AICPA is hosting the Women's Global Leadership Summit, Oct. 24 to 25 in Washington, D.C.
(Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).
This week I am live blogging from the AICPA's E.D.G.E. Conference being held in Austin, Texas today through Friday. The first session I am covering is "The Top Seven Issues Facing Young Professionals." In this session, Tom Hood, CPA.CITP, CGMA, CEO, Maryland Association of CPAs, will share the latest research on the issues that are top of mind for the young CPA professional, and share tips and techniques to deal with them. These issues include:
(Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).
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.
The AICPA recently released the results of the Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits, which showed a record 40,350 accounting graduates hired by public accounting firms in 2012 and 89 percent of those firms forecasting the same or increased hiring of graduates this year.
In addition to promising demand, the pipeline of future accountants is stronger than ever, with historic levels of student enrollments in accounting programs and record numbers of accounting graduates in 2012.
To gain insight into why accounting is more popular than ever, and to better understand the content of the Trends report, I sat down with Scott Moore – AICPA Director of Students and Professional Pathways, who led the effort to compile the Trends report.
James Schiavone: One of the things that really struck me about the report is that the number of students who are earning their master’s degree in accounting has doubled in the last ten years. Can you explain why we’ve seen such a sharp increase?
You’re reading AICPA Insights, so I can safely assume that you’re interested in accounting. And since I’m making assumptions, I’m going to assume that you like to watch TV (hey - all the cool kids are doing it). And since you’ve got an inquisitive mind, I bet you wonder how networks decide which shows get made and which shows on TV "make it." Maybe, you got a little fix watching the People’s Choice Awards last month. And since then, you’ve been twiddling your thumbs as you count down the days until the Emmys. Well keep reading, because I have just the thing for you.
Let me set the scene…The TV industry is booming and each network is in search of “the next big thing.” At the same time, accounting is in the spotlight as one of the fastest growing professions. Put the two together, and the network executives have decided this is a profession that should play a role in their next pilot. That’s right, it’s the AICPA’s Project Innovation: Competition of Creative Excellence.
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but with the profession’s modest 4.2% unemployment rate, and a median salary of more than $62,000, there is a lot to like about a career in accounting.
Rebecca Mahler, manager of career research at the AICPA, stressed to U.S. News and World Report how important it is for aspiring accountants to become certified. "It's really the gold star on the resume," she said. "It's an invaluable credential, and you get a 10 to 15 percent higher salary."
The following is an interview with AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA. He was asked to share his thoughts about some of the major issues and trends that will affect CPAs in 2013.
In the coming year, we will see the first efforts of the Private Company Council. What changes can CPAs and the companies they serve expect to see?
The Financial Accounting Foundation’s Private Company Council was created to address issues affecting companies that need GAAP-based financial statements. The PCC only recently began meeting, and will be weighing in on existing standards and ones in development. Private company accounting stakeholders are expecting prompt action by the PCC in modifying GAAP to bring more relevance and simplification to financial reporting.
USA 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?
Hi! 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.”
Last week, I attended the AICPA E.D.G.E. conference in Orlando, Fla., and was excited to see some conference attendees all-a-flutter over Twitter. In fact, several speakers and attendees were chatting and getting to know each other on Twitter before the conference even started.
When I arrived in the exhibit hall, the first person I met, one of the conference speakers, said, “Hey. I recognize you from Twitter. It’s so nice to meet you in person.” Next, I met an exhibitor who said the same thing; he had immediately recognized me from my profile picture. Since I had already had interactions with both of them online, we had an immediate rapport when meeting offline. Strengthening online relationships by connecting in person is just one of many ways using Twitter can enhance a conference experience.
Both Accounting Today and Inside Higher Education covered the release of a new report from the Pathways Commission on Accounting Higher Education. The Commission, put into place in 2010 and co-sponsored the by the AICPA and the AAA, was tasked with studying the future structure of higher education related to accounting and developing recommendations to engage and maintain the strongest possible academic community in accounting. Their report summarizes two years of collective effort by more than 50 individuals representing a diverse array of stakeholders in the accounting profession.
The report presents seven main recommendations and provides ideas on implementation efforts. The recommendations range from attracting a more diverse population of students to the profession to reforming accounting education so that teaching is respected and rewarded. Additionally, the commission recommended establishing an implementation process to address their suggestions by creating a continuous, sustainable process.
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.
What’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:
Last summer, the CPA profession lost a young champion, a dedicated volunteer and a tenacious leader—Maximo Mukelabai. Only 36, Maximo passed away unexpectedly, leaving behind two young daughters and a loving wife. Maximo was passionate about being a CPA. In fact, his enthusiasm for and devotion to his work, led him to become the youngest professional and first African-American to chair the NCACPA’s board of directors.
We’ve got a lot of big things on the horizon at the AICPA: April Financial Literacy Month (we’ll be releasing survey results on the financial state of Americans) and in mid-May, we’ll be celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the AICPA at our Spring Council meeting in Washington D.C.
Which is not to say that we’ve haven’t been busy lately! Just in the last week we released the results of our CGMA Global Economic Forecast and Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the AICPA, testified before the House Capital Markets Subcommittee Accounting and Auditing Oversight Hearing. Melancon told members of the subcommittee that AICPA supports a strong, balanced and independent regulatory structure that protects investors but does not restrict the flow of capital.
During busy season and year-round, you can keep abreast of all the most important AICPA news by subscribing to the Media Relations RSS feed or following @AICPANews on Twitter. On to news of note from the last few days.
Lights. Camera. Snooze.
Video is a great medium for firms to educate and inform staff, clients and potential employees. But sometimes the content can be a little mundane. Why not take those formal interviews and how-to series to the next level?
Pull back the curtain and let people know what you are really like.
Put a face to your firm. What are your employees passionate about? Is volunteerism important to you? Showcase your staff or fellow CPAs giving back to the community, like the Virginia Society of CPAs and the Illinois CPA Society did in their CPA Day of Service videos.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently released the findings of their latest Job Outlook survey, which contained good news for current accounting students as well as recent accounting graduates. According to the survey, accounting majors who graduated in 2011 earned an average starting salary of $50,500, up 3.7 percent from the previous year and roughly 20 percent more than the average starting salary of all graduates. This increase isn’t an anomaly, according to Andrea Koncz of NACE, who told FINS.com that "entry-level accounting and finance jobs tend to see steady growth from year to year."
What’s your dream, your long-term professional goal, your plan for the future of your career? I ask because whatever your answer, I’m pretty sure the AICPA has resources that can help you meet that goal. I’ll tell you about my own experience.
After spending many years at a large national accounting firm, I joined with two other partners nine years ago to follow my dream and launch my own firm. Today, we have three offices and 100 people. How were we able to grow so quickly into the kind of firm we dreamed of being? I have to give some of the credit to the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section. PCPS serves in a combination of roles, providing tools, publications and resources created especially for small and medium-sized firms. It also acts as an advocate on behalf of our interests, speaking out on issues that affect us and our clients.
We asked our bloggers to tell us what they found interesting on the Internet this week. What would you add to this list?
Jina Etienne, CPA - I re-tweeted this post from the Colorado Society of CPAs, it generated a lot of interest and comments. “So... what's so great about being a CPA? 5 reasons here.” I even got a response from a former client whom I had recommended get her CPA. She’s finishing up school now and will take the CPA Exam next winter!
I recently had the privilege to serve on the CPA Horizons 2025 Advisory Panel. As part of the panel we were asked to review and comment on the research conducted to update the CPA Vision Project, completed in the late 1990s, to position the CPA profession for success through 2025. One of the key findings was that technology is no longer a CPA Core Competency. Your reaction may be like mine, “WHAT??!!?” However, as I read on, it became very clear that technology is no longer a Core Competency (a differentiator) for CPAs. Rather it is a part of our base--it is a tool that we must leverage as part of the way that we work on a day-to-day basis—and no longer something separate that was only the domain of a specialist.
Dear Smarty Pants, Braggarts and Potty-Mouths… A word to the wise: you never know who is listening.
I am often taken aback by the things I see people posting on social media. I understand the need to vent or an attempt to be funny, but what you put out there in the public domain could be costing you your career. In a recent survey, 95% of employers said they use social media to screen potential employees. Yes, 95%! Yikes. From inappropriate photos and comments about previous employers to proof an applicant was less than truthful about qualifications… employers are getting an eye full!
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the AICPA’s Leadership Academy—as a member of its third class—in Durham, NC. I was among 33 participants under the age of 36. The Academy started off like many seminars do in this mobile age, with participants glued to our smartphones and somewhat disconnected from our surroundings. But that disconnection would be short-lived.
The mood transitioned quickly to one of collaboration and engagement as the instructors—Gretchen Pisano, president Sounding Board Ink, LLC, Tom Hood, CPA, executive director and CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs and Jeannie Patton, AICPA vice president - students, academics & membership—began the Insight to Action process. We broke up into three groups to tackle three challenging real-life scenarios in business, non-profit and personal relationships. These tasks forced us to focus on the strengths of our characters, utilizing the i2A Strength Based Leadership program that we had been introduced to during our preconference workshops. The program coaches participants for leadership, teaching them self-awareness techniques, how to work from a source of natural strength and how to inspire their team to do the same.
Edward Everett could have been famous.
He gave the official address back in 1863 at the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was 13,000+ words and lasted more than two hours.
By contrast, Abraham Lincoln’s speech was about 200 words and lasted 2 minutes.
Which did history remember?
I used this example during a presentation last week on effective written communication at the E.D.G.E. conference in New Orleans. Too often in business we end up communicating like Everett. Here are three tips — I call them the 3Cs of communication — to make us more like Lincoln.
This week’s post comes from Palm Beach, Florida, where I’ve been attending the AICPA & CPA/SEA Interchange 2011 conference the past few days. It’s been a great experience learning about the issues impacting the profession, including informative forward-looking presentations from Barry Melancon, CPA, president and CEO of the AICPA and Paul Stahlin, CPA, AICPA chairman. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet so many of my colleagues from the state CPA societies around the country and learn about the projects they’ve been working on.
Now, on to the news.
Paul Stahlin, CPA, AICPA chairman, wrote an editorial titled ‘One-Size GAAP’ Does Not Fit All for The CPA Journal, a New York State Society of CPAs publication, on the need for differences in accounting standards for privately-held companies. Stahlin highlights the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Private Company Financial Reporting, including the creation of a separate board with standards-setting authority under the Financial Accounting Foundation’s oversight and changes and modifications to existing U.S. GAAP, where appropriate, for private companies.