Let’s be serious for a moment, who doesn’t want free money? And if you could also advance your own knowledge base, further your career and benefit the profession in the process, why wouldn’t you take it?
The fact that we are facing a shortage of accounting faculty to teach future beancounters is not newsworthy as the AICPA is now in its fourth year of the Accounting Doctoral Scholars program. Launched in July of 2008, ADS provides funding for four years for up to 30 new candidates each year, incubating a total of 120 newly educated PhDs in audit and tax. Thirty candidates with an average GMAT of 718 were selected for funding in 2009 and 2010, with twenty-seven candidates placed in 2009 and 29 in 2010. If you are interested in taking advantage of some $17 mi S will begin providing information on applying for fall 2012 in May of this year, stay tuned to their website for more details.
But we aren’t all cut out to be accounting professors. Many of you know this because you learned accounting from folks who had no business teaching. Did you know the AICPA also provides scholarships to minorities, those with little accounting education seeking to get into the industry and outstanding accounting students with a 3.0 GPA or better?
From This Way to CPA, we have four major scholarship programs and deadlines are fast approaching so you better get it together if you want some of this. Each scholarship has different requirements so please read them carefully before applying and you must be an AICPA student affiliate member to qualify. If you haven’t yet joined, you may do so here.
Held June 2-4, 2011 at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham, NC on the Duke University campus, the AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop is an annual invitational program for minority accounting students who plan to pursue the CPA designation. This event aims to strengthen students’ professional skills and understanding of the limitless possibilities and benefits of earning the CPA credential.
Participants will gain confidences and an enhanced understanding of the varied accounting career paths to help them make better career decisions after graduation. An all-expenses paid event, the AICPA covers the cost of student attendees’ transportation, hotel accommodation and meals.
Deadline to apply:
Fri, May 6 2011
The John L. Carey Scholarship was established by members of the accounting profession to honor John Carey upon his retirement from the AICPA in 1969. During his 40-year tenure at the AICPA, Mr. Carey served as administrative vice president; executive director; and as editor and publisher of the Journal of Accountancy. Mr. Carey dedicated his entire career to serving the accounting profession and made it a priority to encourage outstanding students to become CPAs.
Recipients receive $5,000 for one year. Scholarship aid may be used only for the payment of expenses that directly relate to obtaining an accounting education (e.g.; tuition, fees, room and board, and/or books and materials only).
Deadline to apply:
Fri, Apr 1 2011
The AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students provides financial awards to outstanding minority students to encourage their pursuit of accounting as a major and their ultimate entry into the profession. Scholarship funding is provided by the AICPA Foundation, with contributions from the New Jersey Society of CPAs and Robert Half International.
The AICPA Minority Scholarship was created in 1969 with the purpose to increase the representation of ethnically diverse CPA professionals. For over four decades, this program has provided over $14.6 million in scholarships to over 8,000 accounting scholars.
Recipients receive individual awards of $3,000 per academic year.
Deadline to apply:
Fri, Apr 1 2011
The AICPA/Accountemps Student Scholarship program provides financial assistance to outstanding accounting students who demonstrate potential to become leaders in the CPA profession.
Recipients receive $2,500 for one year.
Deadline to apply:
Fri, Apr 1 2011
Let’s be honest here, how many of you use your work-issued phone strictly for work? Promise I won’t snitch anyone out. Some of you might even be lucky enough to be able to tweak your wallpaper, add apps and get your significant other on BBM for all day sexting without the pesky messaging data trail.
The AICPA’s 2011 Top Technology Initiatives Survey is out and shows that IT professionals’ biggest business technology concern is not that they could be replaced with robots but the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices in the workplace.
The 22nd Annual AICPA Top Technology Initiative survey, conducted Jan. 13 to Jan. 26, shows control and use of mobile devices was the No. 1 challenge for IT professionals. The finding was based on responses from nearly 1,400 CPAs nationwide specializing in information technology. In addition to mobile devices, the survey signaled future IT issues will revolve around implementation of touch-screen technology, deployment of faster networks and voice recognition technology.
“The surging use of smartphones and tablets means people are doing business, exchanging sensitive data wherever, whenever they want to,” said Ron Box, CPA/CITP, CFF. “The technology is advancing so rapidly that the capabilities for controlling and protecting the information on mobile devices is lagging behind. What was once as simple as losing your phone, could now create an enormous security risk for organizations.”
Remember back in the day when you might, say, accidentally drop your phone in the toilet at the bar and simply have to worry about recouping your contact list? Now our phones hold pictures, banking information and even client information that is oftentimes carelessly stored on unsecured devices that are taken everywhere. IT professionals can’t be expected to manage the network when the network is in your pocket, and when your pocket sometimes happens to be in the bar (you are a professional, after all).
Some of the top issues identified by CPAs in public accounting included data retention, control and use of mobile devices and privacy.
The complete Top Technology Initiatives list as voted on by CPAs, IT professionals, and others responsible for making or influencing technology decisions includes initiatives and emerging technologies that IT decision makers should be aware of over the next 12 – 18 months.
Even though only two testing days passed from the time CBT-e launched and the time the press release came out, the AICPA, NASBA and Prometric are very excited to announce the successful launch of the new CPA exam.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, and Prometric today launched the new Uniform CPA Examination, called CBT-e, which includes for the first time questions on International Financial Reporting Standards among other sweeping and significant changes.
Changes were approved by the AICPA Board of Examiners based on input from state boards of accountancy in response to an Invitation to Comment, and a Practice Analysis designed to ensure the exam tests the modern knowledge and skills that are relevant for today’s entry-level CPAs. The new IFRS questions and other changes to the exam are the first major revisions since the CPA exam was computerized in 2004.
Overall, more emphasis is being placed on skills assessment using case study-based questions known as Task-Based Simulations. Authoritative literature in the CPA exam incorporates use of new Financial Accounting Standards Board codifications of U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Professional responsibilities including ethics and independence have been added to the Auditing and Attestation section.
“The testing of IFRS knowledge and other international standards is a response to change in the business world in which new CPAs operate,” said Craig Mills, vice president of examinations for the AICPA. “We are proud and excited to be introducing innovations in this evolution of the computer-based test that both validate and update the content of the exam and improve the experience for candidates. The exam is one of three key requirements, along with education and experience, that help state boards and the profession maintain the highest standards and protect the public interest.”
In related news, I will be speaking with the AICPA this afternoon about the new exam and thanks to your input, will be interrogating them on score releases, potential changes to passing scores, the integrity of the exam (since the old timer paper and pencil folks continue to rag on the new exam as too easy) and the continued evolution of exam content beyond 2011. I’d like to ask them when the hell BEC is going to be more than a junk drawer but having seen some of the new 2011 content on that section, I have to say it looks like they are working on consolidating the most random CPA exam section into a more streamlined piece of psychometric awesomeness. It isn’t too late to get me your questions for the AICPA’s exam unit so if you have one that you haven’t gotten to me yet, get on that or drop it in the comments and I’ll try to sneak it in.
I’ve also spoken to at least a handful of candidates who tested last week and so far feedback is positive on the new format as I suspected it would be. For the love of Excel, please don’t get stressed out over international standards as you shouldn’t expect to receive an exam made up of 70% new content. Try 5 – 10% max.
Update to come on Friday.
Lucky me, I’ll be speaking with the AICPA about the successful launch of CBT-e as well as grilling them about the new format, their motivation behind the change, and all this nonsense about changing the passing score from 75.
Because you guys are the ones taking the exam and I’m just the one writing about it, I figured it would be appropriate to give you all the opportunity to weigh in on what I should ask. I swear I’m not being lazy as I have plenty of my own questions to ask but thought it might be nice for all of you with questions to have the chance to get them answered directly from the source.
You’re welcome to put your suggestions in the comments or, if you’re embarrassed because your question also makes you look like a big fat failure, please feel free to email me and I promise I’ll guard your identity like Caleb guards his yoga mat.
On top of content and cosmetic changes for the CPA exam in 2011, the AICPA has pledged to deliver scores more quickly and efficiently by replacing the current random two wave system with a simple, single release during the blackout month.
Here’s how it has worked up until now: depending on when you sit for the exam, you can get your scores in either Wave 1 or Wave 2. Wave 1 includes most people who tested early in the window and Wave 2 is (supposed to be) released before or during the blackout month (that’s March, June, September and December) so you can get a new NTS and reschedule a failed part in the next window. Anyone who has waited for a score in the last few windows can tell you this system is flawed and obviously under quite a bit of pressure with increased applicant volume in recent months.
But for the first three windows on 2011, the AICPA is going to try out a new score release system that would mean those who test in January/February will receive their scores in one release in March. Apr/May will be released in June and July/Aug will be released in September. That means California applicants better hope scores come out early in the blackout so they have time to submit a reapplication and wait for a new NTS as the Board of Accountancy there has been overwhelmed with new applicants and current CPA exam candidates, with three fewer days a month to process everyone thanks to Furlough Friday. Unfortunately for them, it looks like scores will be released at the end of each blackout month.
For now, a passing score is still 75 but the AICPA plans to take data from the first window of the year as it considers changing that going forward. Better get in those exam parts while you can!
The AICPA claims that those testing in the fourth quarter can expect an accelerated release but with all these changes and fancy new tricks up the AICPA’s sleeve, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
As many of you already know, when an accountant walks into a room of non-accountants and tells everyone what he does for a living, the first question is usually “can you do my taxes?” That stereotype was exactly what industry veteran Stan Ross hoped to blow to bits when he worked with the AICPA to create the new book The Inside Track to Careers in Accounting.
“The bell rang when the grandkids kept asking ‘what is an accountant and what do you do?'” he told us. Wanting to answer that question without simply printing out a picture of a guy hunched over a 10-key in a green eyeshade, Ross put together a guide to various career paths in orate, government and non-profit accounting. It includes interviews with industry rockstars like Ernst & Young’s Jim Turley and former AICPA chairman Ernie Almonte. Hundreds of industry experts and professionals were interviewed in the development process, with the best of those included in the book and accompanying CD-ROM.
Covering everything from education to licensure, compensation to careers, Ross cut no corners to put together an all-in-one resource for those considering accounting as a career or even accountants looking to switch career paths and take on a new specialty.
The Big 4, et al.
Those interested in a career dedicated to public accounting will find tips on getting hired, moving up the corporate ladder, interning and even dealing with awkward intergenerational exchanges. One excellent piece of advice: “From the moment you start with the firm, try to learn as much as you can in your current position, and learn from your supervisors, the people you work with and others in the firm. Ask questions not just about your current position or work assignments, but about the larger firm, its organization, its services and its people.”
Who needs public?
If corporate accounting is more your style, you can follow the corporate ladder from staff accountant to CFO, working in management accounting (sorry, that means cost accounting too), payroll, A/P, internal auditing, financial reporting, tax or IT. Corporate accountants can also work in forecasting, working closely with department managers, the CFO and/or top executives within the organization to weigh in on the company’s plans and budget forecasts. As of 2007, there are 31 million businesses in the United States and they made a combined $26 trillion in revenue – don’t you think those businesses need sharp talent to crunch their numbers?
Are you good enough for government work?
Let’s not forget about government accounting. Ross told us that he initially did not even plan on putting in a separate chapter for government but in his research for this book, he discovered that there are unlimited possibilities in government and it just made sense to put them in. “When we talked to government people and regulators, we found out how many different career paths were there; city, state, county, all the agencies, the Federal Reserve… it was unlimited!” he said. Those interested in a government accounting career could find themselves working for the State Department, NASA, the FAA, the DOD, the GAO, the FBI, the IRS and many other agencies. You can find more information on opportunities in government (a booming industry when everyone else is hurting, you know) via the AICPA’s website here.
Last but not least, Ross highlights opportunities in non-profit accounting. Non-profit includes public charities as well as universities, private foundations, HMOs, labor unions and business/professional organizations. According to the book, The Conference Board said in a 2007 report that “widespread executive-level and leadership skill shortages currently affecting many nonprofits are predicted to get much worse as the sector expands and experience executives retire.” That means the sector needs qualified accountants who, unfortunately, can expect to earn less than for-profit positions but get reimbursed through warm fuzzy feelings and real world experience with non-profit accounting.
Ross reminds all of us that the best bet is always to seek out a mentor (or several) and use their knowledge to your advantage. Want to switch career paths? Track someone down who already has and ask questions. Want to find out the quickest way to climb the public accounting ladder? Listen to someone who’s done it already and learn from their mistakes and experience. Ross himself mentors hundreds of USC students and you better believe mentored students have a better chance to be promoted as they’ve gotten a broader picture of their future industry outside of the traditional black and white of their accounting school textbooks.
So whether you’re miserable in your current position or just starting out in your accounting career and trying to figure out which path to take, The Inside Track to Careers in Accounting will give you plenty of food for thought and useful information on what lies ahead, regardless of which fork in the road you head down. Accounting is no longer just doing taxes (as if it ever was) and, as Ross says, it is the best foundation for any career path, be that CFO, COO, investment officer or just about any corporate world gig dealing even indirectly with budgeting, finance and economics.
Ya get it? We hope so.
Since I’m sick of writing about 2011 CPA exam changes and none of you asked any CPA exam questions this week, I’ve decided to be nice and offer you five excellent resources for CPA exam candidates, ranked in no particular order of importance.
CPAnet: The CPAnet forums offer a sense of community, suggestions and that all-too-important sense that you are not alone on your journey. Get tips on passing tricky parts, share your misery or get a kick out of helping other candidates by sharing your knowledge. The forums are a must for any candidate wishing to connect with others on the CPA exam adventure.
The AICPA: The AICPA has revamped its website and put together a comprehensive collection of CPA exam information, extensive tutorials and plenty of FAQs for your reading pleasure so you better be using them. Their “Become a CPA” section is jam-packed with useful info for international candidates, students interested in the CPA career path along with salary and career info.
NASBAtools: Access NASBA’s Accounting Licensing Library or use CredentialNet to do all the applying for you so you can focus on taking the exam and not worry about being buried in four pounds of paperwork. You can also find more information on licensure from NASBA’s website here.
Me: Wow, what a narcissist right?! In all seriousness, if you aren’t sending in your CPA exam questions or reading previous columns we’ve done on the exam covering everything from simulations to time management, you aren’t using the resources correctly. I don’t write for my own good, I do it so you guys can be informed and prepared for what’s ahead so do me the favor of not making me feel like I’m writing to a wall.
On July 19, the AICPA sent a letter to the House and Senate condemning new 1099 reporting requirements (said requirements being carefully hidden inside The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare) as burdensome and annoying. Apparently the AICPA must feel quite strongly about this matter as it is now November and they have sent a very similar letter to Congress, perhaps to show them just how burdensome extra paperwork can really be.
The House letter may be found here.
The AICPA doesn’t like that rental property owners could now be required to keep extensive records and bother with tax issues in typically tax-free January, among other things:
This would be the first time that individual taxpayers owning rental property who are not “engaged in a trade or business,” would be required to provide Forms 1099-MISC. For example, many individuals, who own a vacation property that is rented part of the year to help defray their costs, would be subject to the provisions of the SBJA. We are concerned that (1) keeping records to track expenses by provider, (2) obtaining tax identification numbers and other information from providers of property and services, and (3) providing Forms 1099-MISC during January, a month when taxpayers would not normally be focused on tax issues, would be extremely burdensome. Additionally, the AICPA questions the need for sending information forms to certain providers of services, such as utility companies.
Thankfully the AICPA has everyone’s back and feels as though business owners should be allowed to focus on growing their businesses instead of worrying over filling out massive amounts of paperwork. We’ve got to appreciate that attitude as any other professional organization might salivate over the idea of plenty of billable hours to go around as CPAs line up to hook up business owners with the right paperwork but not the AICPA, who said “businesses do not need the added cost of more regulatory requirements at a time when their efforts must be focused on profitability and sustainability.” Word!
We look forward to the next round of angry letters from the AICPA on this matter and hope that they don’t find fighting Congress too burdensome.
Some of you seemed less than enthused when we shared an AccountingWEB piece on the AICPA’s new “Clearly Pretty Awesome” campaign two weeks ago so I’m here to get a good hoo-RAH out of you in the hopes that you, our brilliant, bitter and oftentimes inappropriate Going Concern readers, might have 2 or 3 cents to add.
Here’s the deal, the AICPA is giving away cash and prizes (to be used strictly for educational purposes, that is) for whomever (between ages 15 – 19) can come up with the best made-up job title using those all important three letters: C P A. Since the efforts of both the Obama administration and Ben Bernanke seem to be useless in creating jobs, perhaps high schoolers can boast a better success rate in creating new jobs. Sorry, Certified Public Asshole is already taken and frankly, kind of played out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have similar ideas for made-up jobs, though whether or not anyone actually becomes a Chief Private Asshat remains to be seen.
The obvious inspiration behind the campaign is to plant the seed of public accounting in young little future beancounters’ brains when they are still pliable and easily influenced. After all, it’s easier to get them now, as opposed to later on down the road when they’re bitter and pissed off, overworked and saddled with a family and a career. While we admire the AICPA’s efforts in painting the profession in as cool a light as possible given the circumstances, we don’t quite see the point in rewarding whomever makes up “city park accordionist”.
Instead, here’s what I propose: take your high school student to work day for CPAs. Cops do it, why can’t we? Invite high school students to go on a ride-along to the client and hell, while they’re there why not have them partake in such exciting awesomeness as inventory counts? It will look great on their résumés when the job market looks up in 3 – 7 years!
Or better, encourage students to become forensic accountants by taking them to a real prison to follow a day in the life of Jeff Skilling complete with orange uniform and over-aggressive cellmate. That kills two birds with one stone as the impressionable youngsters could also get a great lesson in sexual harassment from a tattooed dude named Spike and save themselves an employee training or two down the road. Perfect!
So, go on then, what do you think CPA could stand for?
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has launched the Clearly Pretty Awesome Competition for high school students to introduce them to the CPA profession.
“The CPA designation offers many rewarding career paths,” said Jeannie Patton, AICPA vice president – students, academics, and membership. “College students are graduating with degrees in accounting at historically high numbers. Decisions regarding career paths are being shaped very early, many at the high school level. It’s important that students have substantial information about accounting careers before they select their majors at colleges and universities.”
The Clearly Pretty Awesome Competition calls for students to devise a job (other than certified public accountant) using the acronym CPA, such as “curb paint applicator” or “city park accordionist.” To enter the competition, students are encouraged to visit Start Here, Go Places and register using the site’s FutureMe tool, and then submit their entries, along with an explanation as to why being a real CPA is a better option than the job they created.
A panel of judges will select the finalists on November 18 and 19. The top submissions will appear on Start Here, Go Places for public voting beginning on November 29. The AICPA will announce the winning entry on or about December 15, and plans to incorporate it in a national advertising campaign.
There will be 1st through 5th place awards:
• 1st place: A laptop for the student, $3,000 grant awarded to the student’s school in his or her name, use of the entry in the ad campaign, and a poster for school display;
• 2nd place: A laptop for the student, $1,500 grant to the school in the student’s name and a poster;
• 3rd, 4th, and 5th places: An iPod touch for the students.
The competition is open to full-time 15 to 19 year-old students who are enrolled in a high school in the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa or the U.S. Virgin Islands. The AICPA will accept entries until Nov. 17.
About the AICPA:
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is the national, professional association of CPAs, with 369,000 CPA members worldwide in business and industry, public practice, government, education, student affiliates and international associates. It sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for audits of private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination.
Pledging Our Way to Fiscal Disaster [Tax Vox]
Three-quarters of Americans believe that entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security “will create major economic problems” over the next 25 years. But two-thirds are opposed to addressing these challenges by reducing benefits, and 56 percent are against raising taxes.
And congressional candidates, who read the polls, are scrambling to pander to the free-lunch beliefs of their respective bases. As a result, they are locking themselves into opposing both reductions in future benefits and tax increases.