Career Growth for Accounting Professionals

PODCASTS

141: Amy Pitter – Making a Difference in the Governmental Sector, Plus a Discussion on D&I

Amy Pitter, the President and CEO for the Massachusetts CPA Society, and former Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, joined us for this episode of Life In Accounting, the Where Accountants Go podcast. From Law to Tax Amy’s path actually started in law school.  While pursuing her law degree, she found that she frankly didn’t enjoy the subject matter as much as she thought she would.  However, that all changed when she took her tax course.  She so enjoyed the tax subject matter that she went on to add a Masters in Accounting to her JD, and she started her career with one of the Big 8 national accounting firms. Finding her path It turned out that the Big 8 environment wasn’t as good a fit as she had hoped, so decided to look for something different.  Amy spent some time in industry and real estate development, before landing a position with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.  She thoroughly enjoyed her roles with the DOR, and that further propelled her career into the area of taxation authority consulting.  Along the way she handled consulting projects with the Internal Revenue Service and the Australian Taxing Authority, before landing back in the role of Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Diversity & Inclusion “D and I” is a passion for Amy for many reasons, both personal and professional, and she has been a change maker in that area.  She was a leader in creating a program while at the MDOR that encouraged young minorities to pursue an accounting education path with a local community college that eventually would land them an internship and likely a full-time position with the DOR.  Plus, more recently, she has been a driver in the MSCPA participation in the CEO Action Pledge, which encourages CEOs to sign a pledge to actively work on diversity and inclusion issues in their own organizations.  They have had 10 firms commit to being a part of that best practices sharing program so far, and it’s something that is just getting started.  It will be exciting to see the progress that is made as time moves forward. If you enjoy this episode with Amy Pitter, please check out these episodes as well:  Jina Etiennne (D&I) and Bill Cotter (IRS) To listen in on the interview with Amy, please click on the link below:

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140: Kurt Rathmann of ScaleFactor – Growing the Team 5x, Plus an Update on Marge!

Kurt Rathmann, founder of ScaleFactor in Austin, Texas, re-joined us for an update show on this episode of Life In Accounting, the Where Accountants Go podcast! Still feels like a start-up I asked this early on in the episode, because I honestly wasn’t sure if “start-up” was still an appropriate term.  However, while they are already in their 6th year of operation, Kurt agrees that the term still very much applies.  With their high-growth, focus on culture, and constant innovation, Kurt says that they definitely still have the start-up type of environment. 5x employee growth When we originally interviewed Kurt, they had just hired their 40th employee, and that was only about 15 months ago.  When we recorded this update though, they had a total of 230 team members including their interns!  Plus, they now are officing in 3 locations with a shuttle that runs every 30 minutes between them in order to remove the barriers that exist due to not being all centrally located.  And this is all while their new 52,000 square foot facility is being built.  They truly have experienced explosive growth since our last interview. Marge continues to grow up One of the other highlights of this interview was that we discussed Marge in greater depth.  Marge is ScaleFactor’s Artificial Intelligence Controller.  She can handle basic tasks such as responding to requests for information like a tax ID number, but also can handle more involved calculations of items such as burn rate and income or expense questions.  And if that isn’t enough to catch your attention, Kurt says their team views Marge as just starting kindergarten.  She continues to learn more and more every day and they feel that they have only begun to touch the surface. If you have any interest in technology in the accounting field, this update on the growth at ScaleFactor and the original episode with Kurt Rathmann will certainly be valuable for you. Other episodes that may interest you include:  Byron Patrick and Donny Shimamoto To listen in to our interview with Kurt Rathmann, please click on the player below:

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139: An Interview with Australian Accounting Entrepreneur Chris Hooper of Accodex

Chris Hooper from Accodex joined us for this episode of Life In Accounting, the Where Accountants Go podcast.  In addition to being one of the most entrepreneurial guests we have had in a while, Chris lives in Adelaide, Australia, which makes him our first international guest for the show! Making money vs. keeping money Chris always had an interest in business, and happened on accounting as a career by necessity.  After starting his own business in the fitness industry, he quickly realized that keeping money wasn’t as easy as making it, and therefore it would be a good idea to become more educated in that area.  It was at that point that a friend introduced him to accounting. Not your “typical” accountant Chris seems to have always been a “people person”.  From his early self-employment days, to his extra-curricular activities in college, and now to building the Accodex network, it’s evident that he enjoys building relationships.  In addition, he definitely enjoys improving on how business is done.  While Chris definitely has the technical abilities that come with a background in accounting, he sees accounting more as the means to the end… an end of creating improvement in business. Just the beginning Something else that was evident in this interview was that even with all the ground that we covered, this is only the beginning.  Chris is 33 years old, and Accodex is only 4 years old.  While they have seen fast success, it’s truly only starting to scratch the surface of what is possible.  In Chris’ words, “…accountants have the ability to change the world…”, and it’s obvious that Chris has that intention for himself and his companies as well. Other entrepreneurial episodes that may interest you include:  Kurt Rathmann of ScaleFactor, and Stephen King of GrowthForce To listen in, please click the player below:

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What If I Don’t Get An Internship?

In the current employment market, at least in the accounting profession, one of the most dependable ways to successfully enter the workforce is through internship programs in both public accounting and in industry.  With unemployment being at record lows, and with succession being a major concern for many firms, getting an internship is much easier than in years past.  And they pay much better as well! But what do you do if you aren’t able to get an internship during your years as a student?  Perhaps it’s because you didn’t realize those opportunities were available, or perhaps you had to make another life choice that precluded you from being able to pursue an internship.  Or maybe it was simply that you didn’t find the right internship and the window of opportunity closed with you on the outside.  What do you do then? The internship path is definitely the best route to go if you want to test out different career paths, as well as in order to get pre-graduation offers, but it isn’t the only route.  If you find yourself nearing graduation, or post-internship season, without having secured your post-graduation job, there are many actions that you can take: Part-time work. In the “old days”, the word internship meant unpaid work.  What we call an “internship” today was what many older accountants would have simply referred to as a part-time job.  If you can’t find a traditional “internship”, then look at small or mid-size companies for meaningful part-time work within your field.  Accounting experience is accounting experience.  Whether it is officially labeled as an “internship” or not really doesn’t matter much. People you know. There is an old saying that when you are unemployed, then your full-time job is to find a job.  This can be applied here as well.  If you are part-time unemployed, then your part-time job is to find part-time work.  Get busy contacting former classmates and anyone else that you may know with contacts in your profession.  In a tight labor market, it doesn’t take long to find work if you publicize the fact that you are looking.  The trap that many individuals fall into though is that they only reactively look for opportunity – they wait for it to become visible to them.  They don’t proactively seek it out.  Being pro-active is a key to success in both the internship process and when looking on your own. People you don’t know… yet. Another activity that makes sense when you are seeking work, whether full-time or part-time, is to be active in organizations.  Generally it’s best to be active in organizations related to your profession, but even general business or civic organizations can be beneficial.  If you don’t know the people you need to know, then go on an expedition to find them.  Don’t wait for them to find you. Target smaller organizations. While many large organizations have formal internship programs and therefore actively seek out interns, smaller organizations don’t necessarily have a formal program because they only have one or two entry-level slots available.  If you find yourself needing, or even wanting, to look for opportunity outside of the large employer base, then directly approach smaller or mid-size companies where you may want to work.  Yes, there may be less opportunities available, but the competition is also lower.  Sometimes you can find the best match by taking this approach. Coming up to graduation without having had an internship experience isn’t ideal, but it also isn’t something that you can’t recover from.  If for some reason you find yourself in this situation, it just means that you have to work a little harder to chart your own path.  For many people, this actually can lead to a much better fit. As always, I wish you the best in your career. Mark Goldman CPA

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Essential Skills for a CPA?

Last month I had the privilege of hearing Barry Melancon speak on the topic of the future of the CPA certification at the Texas Society of CPAs Annual Meeting.  Mr. Melancon serves as CEO for AICPA, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, and has been with the organization since 1995. I’ve heard similar discussions before, but never in this much depth.  Mr. Melancon is obviously a subject matter expert on the topic of essential skills for a CPA, not only due to his position but also due to being a CPA and CGMA himself. While I knew the talk would involve a discussion of how technology is changing the practice of accounting, the more interesting part of the conversation was about what truly should be defined as essential knowledge for a CPA.  Mr. Melancon made interesting and compelling points about previous concerns in the profession years ago regarding changes to the certification process, and how now those issues seem trivial.  A few of those previous concerns were whether or not a basic calculator should be allowed, and how we felt it important that an examinee could memorize the wording of an unqualified audit report.  Fast forward to today, and we know those items are trivial, but at the time they seemed major.  It will be interesting to see how we view the changes that are being contemplated now, fifteen or twenty years in the future. The attendees at the annual meeting broke out for table discussions after the presentation.  A major point of discussion at our table was exactly how to define the essential skills, and how “essential” that definition truly is when making these changes.  If an accounting degree won’t necessarily be required to become a CPA, then exactly what knowledge will be prerequisite for passing the exam?  We all know that technology and analysis need to be better represented in the core knowledge of a CPA, and we also know that business gets ever more complex as time goes on; however, there must be a certain minimum skill set for professionals holding the CPA designation.  There is definitely some foundational knowledge that every CPA should be expected to have, such as how to correctly debit or credit an account, but where do you draw the line between was is essential for all CPAs, and what only applies to some specialties within the field? My purpose for me writing this article is to ask the following question: What do you consider to be essential knowledge for a CPA? If you are reading this on social media, please comment where you found it so we can continue the discussion.  Or if you came directly to our site, please email me at [email protected]  I’d love to hear your feedback. So what do you feel someone should definitely have to know to become a CPA…?

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100K Downloads And Growing!

As of this last week, our Life In Accounting podcast hosted at www.WhereAccountantsGo.com has surpassed 100,000 downloads since launching two-and-a-half years ago.  It’s amazing to see that number, and very humbling honestly.  We have had extraordinary guests over these 120+ episodes, and continue to be honored that so many successful accounting professionals accept the invitation to come on the show. It would be inappropriate, and truly impossible, to name just a few “favorite” guests.  They all have been exceptional.  However, we have had some unique conglomerate episodes that are worth mentioning as they involved multiple guests at the same time sharing their viewpoints with us. By far our most favorite multi-guest shows have been: CPA Review Course Panel Discussion – We brought in 4 recently certified CPAs to discuss which review courses they used, and how they prepared for the exam overall. https://www.whereaccountantsgo.com/podcast/060/ How To Pass The Exam – In a similar fashion, but with more general exam guidance, we interviewed 5 CPAs that had just recently passed to talk about their strategy and study habits in order to give both advice and motivation to those looking to do the same. https://www.whereaccountantsgo.com/podcast/097/ Internship Success – Five managers joined us to talk about what they look for in interns, and how their internship programs work in order to help future interns in accounting everywhere be more successful. This truly was a wonderful show.  https://www.whereaccountantsgo.com/podcast/116/ If you haven’t yet heard these episodes, please check them out at the links above or through your favorite podcast app. And to our current audience, thank you so, so, so much for helping us reach this goal!  It’s been an incredibly fun 2 years, and we are looking forward to bringing you even more great stories of everyday heroes in our fantastic profession as we continue on. Until next time, have a great week!  There’s more to come… Mark Goldman CPA

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Video Courses, Publications, and More at WhereAccountantsGo.com

We’ve been adding more career and employer resources recently on the Where Accountants Go website, and with our podcast being delayed for one week due to scheduling issues, I figured it would be a good time to publicize some of the recent additions! If you are looking to build your career… How To ACE The Phone Interview – a free 2-page impactful set of tips to help you with this sometimes difficult part of the interview process 49 Tips For A Successful Accounting Career – Our first book targeted at helping you advance your career from the entry-level point into management and beyond. Available on Amazon or our own site for immediate shipping. - If you are an employer and need to improve on your hiring processes… Hiring For Accounting – Our 45 page e-book-style comprehensive guide for filling accounting positions Hiring Checklist for Small Businesses – A 2-page checklist meant for small and mid-size businesses looking to fill a key accounting role 7 Key Tips for Optimizing Phone Interviews – Another 2-page list of tips for helping employers benefit from the advantages of phone interviews, but without the pitfalls that sometimes are inherent in this type of screening - We also now have online video courses… Resumes That Work – a workshop-style video that not only tells you, but shows you, how to improve your resume format Interviewing to Win – to help you polish your interviewing skills Networking – to help job seekers meet the people they need to meet Advertising Accounting Positions (employers) – to help you better attract the talent you need - Or if nothing appeals to you from our publications and video courses, and you want to support the production efforts for our weekly podcast, we also now have a “Donate” option on the top menu.  We much prefer you choose a publication that is helpful to you, but wanted to provide this as an option as well. Make sure to check back next week as we get back to our regular production schedule!  We have some amazing podcast guests lined up. See you soon!  There’s more to come…  

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34 Professional Certifications You Can Get in Accounting, Tax, Audit, and More (Guest Blog)

(Reposted with permission from Accountant’s Accelerator, a division of Sandra L. Leyva, Inc.) While the Certified Public Accountant will always be the Holy Grail of certifications in our profession, there is no shortage of additional certifications you can reach for. This blog post is my attempt to list them all in one place so you can choose wisely about the best way to spend your study time. Certifications help to assure clients of a level of expertise achieved in a certain area. They build credibility, some more than others of course. They also provide accountants with a structure approach to building expertise in a particular area. There are many categories of certifications, and for this article, we’ll focus on two major categories: certifications that demonstrate core technical accounting, audit, or tax expertise, and certifications that demonstrate specialized knowledge in accounting, tax, and finance. General certifications for technical accounting knowledge Certified Public Accountant. We simply have to start with the CPA. The CPA is not only a certification with a grueling exam, college hours, experience, ethics, and a stringent application process, it’s in effect a state license too. Each state in the US has rules on how a CPA can maintain their license to practice with the state’s governing body. Each CPA firm also requires a firm license along with peer review requirements. California: http://www.dca.ca.gov/cba/applicants/index.shtml Illinois: https://www.ilboe.org/ New York: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/cpa/cpalic.htm Texas: https://www.tsbpa.texas.gov/examindex.html I’m guessing there are about half a million CPAs in the U.S.  Outside the U.S., there are equivalent designations. For example, in Canada, CPA stands for Chartered Professional Accountant, and in the UK and Australia, it’s CA: Chartered Accountant. Certified Management Accountant. The CMA is a certification most often earned by professional working in industry or government. It’s administered by the Institute of Management Accountants, who has more than 100,000 members worldwide. https://www.imanet.org/cma-certification Chartered Global Management Accountant CGMA. is a management accounting designation with more than 150,000 designees worldwide. It can be earned through the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). https://www.cgma.org/becomeacgma.html Certified Bookkeeper CB. is offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. It’s a really great way to distinguish yourself from other bookkeepers. https://www.aipb.org/certification_program.htm Certified Internal Auditor. The Institute of Internal Auditors is well known for its Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification, but it also has several other certifications for auditors to earn: CGAP – Certified Government Auditing Professional, CFSA – Certified Financial Services Auditor, CCSA – Certification in Control Self-Assessment, CRMA – Certification in Risk Management Assurance, QIAL – Qualification in Internal Audit Leadership, and BEAC – Certifications for Environmental, Health, and Safety Auditors. https://na.theiia.org/certification/CIA-Certification/Pages/CIA-Certification.aspx Enrolled Agent. The EA is a great designation for serious US tax professionals. It’s administered by the IRS. https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/enrolled-agents/become-an-enrolled-agent Specialized professional certifications: Certified Financial Planner CFPs have knowledge in budgeting, planning for retirement, saving for education, managing taxes and insurance coverage, and investing. https://www.cfp.net/get-certified Personal Financial Specialist.  The AICPA offers a personal financial planning credential which demonstrates your expertise and financial planning insight to prospective clients and employers. https://www.aicpa.org/membership/join/credentials.html?tab-1=3#tab-2 Chartered Financial Analyst. The CFA credential is held by over 150,000 professionals around the world. The charter gives a strong understanding of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills. https://www.cfainstitute.org/ Certified Fraud Examiner. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, with nearly 850,000 members, offers the CFE, a credential that demonstrates expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence. http://www.acfe.com/cfe-credential.aspx Certified in Financial Forensics. The AICPA offers the CFF which measures forensic accounting skills in bankruptcy, insolvency and reorganization; computer forensic analysis; economic damages calculations; fraud prevention; and valuations. https://www.aicpa.org/membership/join/credentials.html?tab-1=2#tab-2 Accredited Senior Appraiser. The ASA credential demonstrates expertise in valuation and is offered by the American Society of Appraisers. http://www.appraisers.org/credentials/am-asa Accredited in Business Valuation. The AICPA offers the ABV designation for business valuation professionals. https://www.aicpa.org/membership/join/credentials.html Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations™ .The CEIV is offered by the AICPA for professionals involved in fair value measurements. https://www.aicpa.org/membership/join/credentials.html?tab-1=5#tab-5 Certified Valuation Analyst and Accredited Valuation Analyst. The CVA and AVA credentials are offered by the National Association of Valuation Analysts. https://www.nacva.com/certifications Certified Information Technology Professional. The CITP is offered by the AICPA to information technology consultants and experts. https://www.aicpa.org/membership/join/credentials.html?tab-1=4#tab-4 Certified Information Systems Auditor. ISACA (which now only goes by the acronym that previously stood for Information Systems Audit and Control Association) offers the CISA as well as several other certifications: Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT), and Cybersecurity Nexus – CSX Certificate and CSXP Certification. http://www.isaca.org/CERTIFICATION/Pages/default.aspx Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis. Once you’re a CMA, you can reach for the specialty designation, CSCA, Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis. https://www.imanet.org/csca-credential Registered Social Security Analyst. The RSSA is offered by the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts for professionals who help clients optimize their social security benefits and retirement cash flow. https://www.narssa.org/ Certified Business Profit Consultant. The CBPC is offered by my company (Sandra L. Leyva, Inc.). It provides basic training and tools in four advisory areas: revenue growth, cash flow, profitability, and pricing, and it’s designed for the small firm owner who wants to take the first step to adding a service line beyond compliance work to their business. https://acceleratesmallbiz.com/ Certified Profit First Professional. The Profit First Professionals organization offers the CPFC. It’s training and a methodology that you license to use with your clients. https://www.profitfirstprofessionals.com/is-profit-first-professionals-right-for-you/ Certified Tax Coach. Certified Tax Coach, LLC, a non-profit organization, provides training and certification to become a CTC. There is a a licensing requirement which includes active licensure as a CPA, EA, or attorney in good standing. Two more certifications you can get after CTC include Certified Tax Planner (3 years active practice as a planner and tax planning experience requirement) and Certified Tax Strategist (3 years active practice as a planner and tax planning experience requirement). https://certifiedtaxcoach.org/get-certified/ Fundamental Payroll Certification. The American Payroll Association offers the FPC for payroll beginners and service and support professionals in positions requiring payroll knowledge. https://www.americanpayroll.org/education-certification/certification/overview Certified Payroll Professional. The American Payroll Association also offers the CPP, which requires payroll experience, an exam, and a rigorous application process. https://www.americanpayroll.org/education-certification/certification/certified-payroll-professional-(cpp) As you can see, it would be quite ambitious to earn all 34 designations. The hardest part is to choose the ones that you feel will give you the skills you need as well as a satisfying career. (For more information on Accountant’s Accelerator, please visit https://accountantsaccelerator.com/) For podcasts regarding passing certification exams, please visit our podcast page at Where Accountants Go - https://www.whereaccountantsgo.com/category/cpa-exam/

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Book Review: The 2-Hour Job Search (Author Steve Dalton)

The title of this book caught my interest: “The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job FASTER”.  I’m always interested in good job search advice that I can pass on to friends in the accounting profession that are looking for a better situation.  The mention of technology to expedite the search was intriguing since so many times it hinders more than helps in a typical job search.  This book definitely had some interesting points. Narrowing Your Efforts While the author gets into great depth regarding the process he’s developed for job hunting, the basic premise regarding the use of technology in your job search is to help you narrow down what activities will be most fruitful. While many job seekers may first think of job boards when they think of using tech in their search, the author is more focused on determining who is best to speak with at organizations where you may want to work.  Through his process, you use technology to research good targets for your search, and then approach them the old fashion way – through multiple forms of direct contact.  Being a proponent myself of being more ‘active’ in your job search than merely applying to jobs online, his process makes a lot of sense to me.  Job seekers that are willing to be more targeted in their efforts and take the initiative to reach out on their own generally end up with the best opportunities.  That has long been the case. 2 Hours? In all fairness to potential job seekers that would read the book, I’m not 100% sure about the “2 hour” estimate. However, the author mentions several times throughout the book that there are many rabbit holes that you could find yourself going down that would eat up your time, and that it’s important to avoid those unnecessary efforts.  I think if you have the self-control to only follow what the author prescribes, and avoid doing more in-depth research on items that are unlikely to be fruitful, then the 2-hour estimate may be workable.  It all comes down to following the process with self-control. Taking Control of Your Destiny Overall, what I like about “The 2-Hour Job Search” is the premise that if you are willing to take control of your own job-search destiny by doing a little more work on the search than is typical, you will end up with better results.  So often we find ourselves taking a job because it is the one being offered… not necessarily the best one available in the marketplace for us.  If we spent a little more time on the front end of the search consciously targeting appropriate opportunities that match our long-term goals, we would likely be happier with the results as our careers progress. For more information on this book or to order it, visit: The 2-Hour Job Search  https://amzn.to/2CL12cP  (affiliate link) Mark Goldman CPA

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