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.