Career Growth for Accounting Professionals


137: Starting, Growing, and Systemizing A Business – Going Deeper with Don Maranca

Don Maranca, originally our guest for episode number 1 (!), rejoined us for this new episode of Life In Accounting, the Where Accountants Go podcast. An Old Friend… Yes, Don was the very first guest on our podcast, and we asked him back to both get an update and to go deeper on a few topics.  In many of our podcast interviews we have a wonderful conversation, but are limited by time in how deep we can go on various topics.  Don’s show was perhaps the most limited since it was our first episode and we were still learning the ropes, so we definitely needed to circle back and get Don’s insights on growing a business and just a general update on his own enterprise as well. Dramatic Growth! Since we last spoke in 2016, Don’s business structure has change dramatically… and in a good way.  What used to comprise 75% of his business, now only comprises 25%, but it didn’t shrink!  Instead, he has added a new coaching service that has grown incredibly since we last talked, and has now become three times larger than the original practice.  Don’s core business still remains consulting on strategy and systems for businesses, but he has been able to stretch that outside of just working with the business owners themselves, and now works with entire leadership teams. Advice for starting up a practice… We get into quite a bit of depth on what you need to know if you are thinking about starting a business of your own.  We cover common items that surprise new business owners – both good and bad.  Don also has valuable insights for us on what it takes to move from the individual that is technically proficient in an area, to becoming the leader of a business handling those services.  There are definitely some skills that are common, but for practically everyone there is also some growth that is imperative.  Don shares so much on this episode that I almost felt guilty… I received the value of a coaching session from merely doing the interview.  <grin> If you find value in this episode for yourself, please check out these similar episodes from other prior guest entrepreneurs:  Sarah Elliott and Mariette Martinez To listen in on our follow-up interview with Don Maranca, click on the player below:

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136: Focus On Others – An Interview With Jim Wallace, CEO of BPM

Jim Wallace, the CEO of BPM, a top 50 national CPA firm, joined us to share the story of his career, thoughts on diversity and inclusion, and insights into servant leadership on this episode of Life In Accounting, the Where Accountants Go podcast. Be A Good Father As with all episodes, we began this one by asking how Jim originally chose accounting as a career.  For Jim, it came down to one simple purpose: to be a good father.  As he discusses later in the program, his father was a major positive influence on his life, and he wanted to be the same for his children.  Accounting as a career choice than ensured he would have both the flexibility he needed as well as the dependability that he could make a good living. Becoming CEO All except a very short portion of Jim’s career has been in public accounting.  First with one of the Big 8 firms, then 25 years with Rehmann as they grew to over $100M in revenues, to becoming the CEO of BPM in 2015, which is one of the largest CPA firms in California.  One of the “secrets to success” that Jim cites is the focus on replacing yourself as you continue to grow.  It’s only through being able to replace yourself that you are able to eventually move up.  Doing so prevents you from getting stuck in any one position, and also proves your abilities as a developer of people. Diversity, Inclusion, & Servant Leadership Diversity and inclusion are a focus for Jim as well as the firm he leads.  Through town hall meetings, measuring engagement on surveys and other analytical instruments, and ensuring that active discussions (or even debates) occur when making important decisions, they are fostering an environment that has diversity of thought as well as a place where people feel comfortable to be themselves. Servant leadership is a core philosophy that was ingrained in Jim from his father, who was a CEO as well.  His father always stressed that in order to be successful, focus on helping others instead of yourself.  By helping others achieve what they desire, you naturally will end up becoming the person that you most desire to be. This episode is definitely filled with great insight on important topics for today, as well as life success in general.  I hope you enjoy listening to the show as much as I did recording it. Other episodes that may interest you:  Paula Gold-Williams and Kimberly Ellison-Taylor To listen in on this episode with Jim Wallace, please click on the player below:

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135: Executive Partner with Horne LLP – Joey Havens

Joey Havens, Executive Partner with Horne LLP, a large, regional firm with a national footprint, shared his time with us on Life In Accounting, the Where Accountants Go podcast. 35 years! With the exception of the first few years out of college, Joey has spent his entire career with Horne LLP – 35 years at this point!  Although Joey describes himself as a natural introvert, he made partner in only 8 years after joining the firm, and then became the Executive Partner in 2011.  You will definitely pick this up in the interview, but it’s worth mentioning here as well:  Joey is a very humble individual, and therefore a great leader.  He didn’t want to talk too much about himself on the show, but we were able to stretch and get him to share some of the details of his career.  It’s really is a good story. Natural introvert One of the key take-aways for this episode is the discussion of how those of us that are typically introverts can use that to our advantage in the business world.  Joey says it better than I would in his interview, but some of the strengths he points out is that introverts process information well, and we make strong connections.  I think many of us would automatically consider being an introvert a hinderance to moving up, but Joey very effectively nullifies that argument and gives us great pointers on how we can use that to our benefit in serving others. Not soft or easy… Another key discussion we delve into is the fact that technical skills are only a small portion of what it takes to be successful in accounting these days.  There are many other skills that Joey cites as being integral to building your career.  Among those are collaboration, anticipatory skills, critical thinking, and of course communication.  In addition, the ability to accept and learn new technology is going to continue to be important as the profession changes.  It’s interesting… although we tend to think of accounting as a ‘numbers’ field, it truly is still all about serving people. I hope you enjoy this interview with Joey Havens.  He was very gracious to take the time to record it, and I think there is something there for all of us. Other episodes that may interest you:  Lindsay Stevenson and Neha Patel To listen to this interview with Joey Havens, please click on the player below:

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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 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. 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. 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. 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

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: Illinois: New York: Texas: 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. 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). Certified Bookkeeper CB. is offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. It’s a really great way to distinguish yourself from other bookkeepers. 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. Enrolled Agent. The EA is a great designation for serious US tax professionals. It’s administered by the IRS. Specialized professional certifications: Certified Financial Planner CFPs have knowledge in budgeting, planning for retirement, saving for education, managing taxes and insurance coverage, and investing. Personal Financial Specialist.  The AICPA offers a personal financial planning credential which demonstrates your expertise and financial planning insight to prospective clients and employers. 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. 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. 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. Accredited Senior Appraiser. The ASA credential demonstrates expertise in valuation and is offered by the American Society of Appraisers. Accredited in Business Valuation. The AICPA offers the ABV designation for business valuation professionals. Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations™ .The CEIV is offered by the AICPA for professionals involved in fair value measurements. Certified Valuation Analyst and Accredited Valuation Analyst. The CVA and AVA credentials are offered by the National Association of Valuation Analysts. Certified Information Technology Professional. The CITP is offered by the AICPA to information technology consultants and experts. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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). Fundamental Payroll Certification. The American Payroll Association offers the FPC for payroll beginners and service and support professionals in positions requiring payroll knowledge. Certified Payroll Professional. The American Payroll Association also offers the CPP, which requires payroll experience, an exam, and a rigorous application process. 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 For podcasts regarding passing certification exams, please visit our podcast page at Where Accountants Go -

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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  (affiliate link) Mark Goldman CPA

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Applying The Proximity Principle To An Entry-Level Accounting Job Search

In my spare time recently I’ve been enjoying listening to a few podcasts, one of which is “The Ken Coleman Show” where Ken shares job search advice with callers looking to land their dream job.  Frequently the “proximity principle” comes up on Ken’s calls, and I’ve found a lot of truth in that concept.  In applying it to my own specific niche, namely accounting careers, I’ve come to the conclusion that this idea could be highly valuable for entry-level and soon-to-be-graduates in our own profession as well. In a nutshell, the “proximity principle” is the idea that in order to land the position you are targeting, you need to put yourself in proximity to those that have the power to get you there. How does that apply specifically to accounting entry-level positions though? I think it comes down to networking… When you are getting ready to graduate, it’s easy to depend on “the system” to get you an entry-level job. And to some extent this makes sense.  However, it doesn’t work for everyone 100% of the time.  Sometimes individual students need to do more.  This usually comes in the form of networking. If you want to ensure that you land the best job for you specifically, try applying the proximity principle to your own situation. Go where the people are that have the power to connect you or hire you.  Where is that?  The people that have the power to hire you in accounting and to recommend you be hired can be found in many places, but the highest probability outside of career fairs is at professional association meetings.  Association meetings such as your local CPA Society, IMA chapter meeting, Internal Auditors Association meeting, or one of many other accounting organization meetings are usually excellent opportunities for you to engage with those individuals influencing the hiring process.  In these situations, you are more likely to be moved to the top of the stack if they are in a position to be hiring, as well as be considered for positions that may not even have been advertised yet.  Either one is very beneficial.  Having met a decision maker in an organization where you may want to work in advance of the interview process goes a long way towards increasing your chances of landing the job. If you are approaching graduation or simply looking for your first internship, don’t leave it to chance as to whether or not you are selected through a career placement office or from an advertisement response. Take your destiny into your own hands by applying the proximity principle to your own job search.  Go where the true decision makers are, and make an effort to get to know them personally.  It takes additional work, but increases your chances dramatically.  At a minimum, you will get experience interacting with other professionals; but more likely though you will find the position that best fits your overall career desires. Until next time, I wish you the best in your career! Mark Goldman CPA  

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