September 16, 2019

I’m only yelling at you because I love you

Advice For Getting the Most Out of the Going Concern Tip Box For Complete Idiots

Alright, folks, we have a problem. I'm going to waste precious space here (not to mention my time) explaining how to get the most out of the GC tip box since it seems many of you have never interacted with human beings before and don't get how this works. First: let me kick this off […]

A Word About Comments

Since the year is still fairly new and we know some of you are still holding on to completely unrealistic resolutions, we thought it would be best to encourage to reflect on yourselves in a different manner: how you comment on Going Concern. For starters, let us just say that we love (most) of your […]

How To Effectively Ask Going Concern For Advice

Welcome back from the turkey coma, kids, I had to take an extra day just to shake it off but all is well now and we’re totally ready for action, at least until I take half a week off for my birthday in two weeks. Ah, life is good.

Anyway, a desperate plea for advice we received over the weekend got me thinking – I figure it’s about time we set some ground rules for writing us for advice. Why we’ve waited two years to do this is beyond me but I don’t run the show so let’s forget that part.

Caleb was concerned by publishing said letter, I might come off as a judgmental, xenophobic prick (isn’t that the brand I’ve worked so hard to craft? Oh well) so I will refrain from publishing it to maintain some sense of decency and openness to all types and cultures don’t really have an issue with foreigners with poor English comprehension, lost little sheep or clueless accounting students; if I did, I would’ve quit this gig to write a racy sex blog a long time ago. I do, however, have an issue with lazy ass people who expect to be hand-fed the answers by us as if we don’t have anything better to do.


NOW, since you probably think I’m a dick at this point, I need to be clear when I say that I LOVE the advice component of this site. It has turned into an unexpected bright point among the lame Hans Hoogervorst jokes and Caleb’s Grover Norquist obsession, and I’m constantly both delighted and disturbed by the reactions in our comment section. You guys have proven yourselves to be mostly useful, sometimes funny and generally helpful to your fellow capital market servants seeking wisdom, and that part is great. So great that I don’t mind so much that so many of the questions we get tend to be very similar.

Keeping in mind, of course, that though we were all told how special we were when we were little, there are really a limited number of scenarios a young accountant might need help navigating. Low GPA, no Big 4 offers. A couple of offers to consider, no idea which to take. High GPA, low social skills, you get it.

But here’s a tip. We’ve been doing this so long that chances are, we’ve covered a scenario similar to yours. So your first best friend is the search bar. You will find this on the upper right-hand corner of the website just under whatever ad we’re running at that time. Type in whatever you are looking for, “compensation,” “opportunities,” “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” whatever. If we’ve written about it, you’ll find it. If we haven’t, you won’t. Try to be vague, so instead of searching for “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” try “Brazilian underwear” and you might have better luck.

Your second BFF is our comprehensive, all-encompassing tagging system. You may have noticed by now that both Caleb and I enjoy employing useless, often one-time-use tags just for the sake of continuing whatever joke we cracked ourselves up over when we wrote the post but we do also use tags for easy organization of information. Let’s say you’re interested in KPMG and PwC, guess what? We have a whole tag JUST for KPMG v PwC! Amazing, isn’t it?

Now, you’ve searched the site and gotten a good idea of what others are asking and are ready to write us an email. Awesome! We love emails! But please, let’s go over what is appropriate for an advice email and what isn’t.

Remember, we are NOT professionals, we are writers. In fact, some might call us degenerates. So while we know the game well enough to gently shove your confused ass in the right direction, we cannot evaluate your transcripts, refer you to credentialed programs, take the CPA exam for you, decipher your foreign credits, pretend to be you in a job interview or any matter of issues such as these. We don’t sponsor H-1B Visas, we don’t validate parking and we don’t hold hands unless you’re really, really scared.

In the same vein, we cannot draw out your entire future for you. So writing us asking for advice on how to get started in public accounting and realize your dreams of CPAhood will go unanswered. We’re not freshman career counselors. We’re also not mind readers, so know what you want answered before you write some vague email asking how to live your life when you’re old enough to have figured that out by now. To me, asking such broad questions shows that you’re a drive-by who just stumbled across the site and I’m sorry but I work for pageviews, which means I’m far more likely to coddle someone who proves they spend 5 billable hours a day here over someone who Googled “accounting” and didn’t bother to read any previous posts we’ve written. I have given up week-long benders to crank out this content, it’s offensive to get the sense someone hasn’t taken the time to read any of it before writing us. So don’t do that.

Are we clear? With that said, please keep ’em coming. I love you. Each and every one of you, even the trolls. Fuck, especially the trolls.

Sometimes It’s Your Own Fault You Aren’t Passing the CPA Exam

After I crashed Caleb’s Yaeger Radio appearance, someone wrote in looking for help. If you have a question, do the same. But please don’t ask which review course to use, I can’t help there.

Hello Adrienne

I heard you over Yaeger’s talk radio tonight. You were very informative and helpful. I wish I heard you few months ago, how to study and make time to study.

Here is my story:

I took the CPA exam 10 years ago, way back during paper and pencil days. I passed 3 parts and lost my credit due to my personal life issues.

Today’s CPA Exam Inspiration

Because some of you need it.

Go grab this from someecards. I’m sure you guys can think of at least a dozen friends of yours to send it to. You know, as congratulations for that 3rd consecutive 65 on BEC. It takes work!

Let’s Try to Talk This Soon-to-Be CPA Exam Candidate Off the Ledge

I’m no longer surprised by the fact that otherwise (allegedly) rational human beings think it is appropriate to ask a bunch of assholes on the Internet what they should do with their lives. No offense to any of you but I’d hardly bet my life’s decisions on the input I get from a bunch of Internet trolls hiding in cubes around the country making dick jokes amongst themselves.

That said, I’m hoping you guys have some good input for this guy. And by good, I think you know what I actually mean.

Dear GC,

I’m a B4 intern graduating in May 2012. Unfortunately, I won’t have 150 credits by that time, but I’ll hopefully have a full time offer from the firm. While this doesn’t seem like an uncommon problem, I feel like I’m between a rock and aof hefty Master’s programs’ tuition rates and the intensity of CPA studying. Therefore, I have the following dilemma…

I could take the CPA right after graduation (to become NY certified) and take a one-semester Master’s program in the Fall. I’d have the whole summer to study and pass the CPA, but I’d be paying $15K for the Master’s and delaying my start time (and future promotions/bonuses) to January 2013. I want to start making money sooner rather than later to pay off my mounting college debts.

The other option is finishing off my last 12-15 credits at a local community college (far cheaper obviously) immediately following graduation. I could then study for the exam either during or after the extra courses. I would be able to start (I think) around October and avoid the massive MAcc tuition. However, I don’t think I’d have enough time to study and pass before beginning full time work, and I’ve heard the longer into your B4 career, the harder it is to find time to study and pass the first time.

I have a tough decision to make and enough time to become more well-informed. People have been telling me it’s all about preference, but I don’t think that’s a good enough answer. There are strong pros and cons in both, but I’m worried my mind will continue to stagnate as it gets closer to decision time. Do you have prior-experience-related advice that will lead me in the right direction? Thanks in advance.

Sincerely,
TooYoungForThis

Where do we start with this? First of all, you’ve a) already fallen into the debt trap and b) totally fallen for the myth that you’ve got to get a MAcc to get anywhere in this industry. You’re tripping. Nowhere in the NY exam requirements does it state that you have to take on more debt and another degree to be a CPA in the state:

A bachelor’s or higher degree from a program that is registered by the Department as meeting New York’s 150 semester hour education requirements; or a Masters degree in accounting from an AACSB accredited accounting program; or a bachelors or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university and completion of 150 semester hours in the following content areas, including the following:

* 33 semester hours in accounting with at least one course in each of the following areas:
• financial accounting and reporting
• cost or managerial accounting
• taxation
• auditing and attestation services
* 36 semester hours in general business electives and
* The curriculum must also include, either as stand alone courses or integrated into other courses, the study of business or accounting communications, ethics and professional responsibility, and accounting research.

(Acceptable course work is detailed further in the 150 semester hour course content table.)

As for the rest of it, anyone who has taken any of the routes you mentioned will probably have some advice for you related to their experience but please keep in mind that it is just that: their experience. Your own will be based on a lot of factors, such as the actual level of debt you are willing to sustain, your motivation to get a CPA/MAcc/awesome Big 4 job, your skills and how committed you are to any of the decisions you make. So that’s probably why you’re getting really vague answers on this from others.

What’s this about your mind stagnating? Knock it off, take responsibility for whichever path you desire to take (not which path the Internet or your parents told you to take) and take that path like a motherfucker. It sounds to me like you’re not all that into any of these options, and that’s probably the biggest cause of your inability to make a decision right there.

Do you want a MAcc? Do you want to get through the exam in less than a year? Do you want to take Advanced Accounting from some musty community college teacher? No one can answer those questions for you. You’re a grown up now and obviously NOT too young for this if you managed to get this far, so grow up and decide already.

You are doing the right thing by reaching out but what I mean to say with all this yelling at you is that, ultimately, the decision is yours. I would always advise you to avoid as much debt as possible at this stage in your life; you are already assuming you are going to have to slave away to pay it off, why would you want more unless you either absolutely have to or truly desire a MAcc? It doesn’t sound to me like you do. So don’t.

So You Want to Submit Something to Going Concern…

Since Caleb is really bogged down chasing misinformed merger rumors and babysitting his contributor(s), I thought I’d take a moment to set some ground rules for reader contributions. We get that question via e-mail a lot and, as you may notice, very rarely publish reader submissions. Let me tell you why.

First, if you expect us to publish something, how about you start by recognizing the tone of this website? We try our best not to waste our readers’ time with bullshit press releases, fluff pieces, and the usual PR crap that other accounting websites are built around. That is not what we do here and we aren’t going to start now so please, don’t bother. If you can’t take the time to acknowledge the voice of this website and respect the attention span of our readers, we aren’t going to take the time to read the crap you have sent us. If you send us an unsolicited email that looks like it could have gone out to every other accounting website out there, we know you aren’t a fan of the site and have no idea how we roll. Therefore, odds are pretty good that we will ignore your request. You’ve been warned.

Second, this ain’t no motherfucking Wiki. Meaning we are more than happy to publish reader material (still waiting for Bitter Audit Manager’s resignation letter) but beyond the comments, this is not a collaborative venture. Caleb writes, I write, you guys berate us, we adjust future content appropriately… you get the point. We invite you to contribute through criticism, suggestions and, of course, by tipping us to where the news is. And if you have a point to make and want to use this avenue to make it, you are more than welcome to do so, just make sure you come at us correctly. Which brings me to my next point…

It takes a lot of alcohol and therapy to do this day in and day out. Caleb and I try our best to bring you what you want and take our job seriously. If you have a submission, we expect that it fits with the overall attitude of this website. We have stringent quality requirements (Caleb’s rampant typos excluded, of course) related to the tone we work hard to maintain.

Self-deprecating humor earns points with us, as does bitterness, honesty, cleverness and general brilliance. We have no patience for uptight professionalism and anal-retentive seriousness, you can find plenty of that on other accounting websites.

So if you still want to submit something to us to publish, keep these things in mind. Shoot us a note and include your submission but please, save all of us the bother if you can’t respect these simple rules.

CPA Exam Candidate Rips NASBA’s Website a New Payment Coupon

I guess we’re all spoiled by the AICPA’s website facelift? Ouch, check out this series of burns left on NASBA’s Facebook page:

Let’s Have an Adult Discussion About CPA Exam Scores

Since the last time I dared to bring this issue up I was insulted personally and professionally, I’m going to approach this very carefully. Starting with a few statements of my position:


First, I have the utmost respect for those who first suffer through a college accounting education and then decide to pursue a CPA. It’s not an easy thing to do and the experience only gets worse when you add kids, work and a life to the mix. I get that. I’ve suffered through it at the side of thousands of CPAs in the last four years and, empathetic jerk that I am, I absolutely feel their pain. I’ve been the crying shoulder and the therapist as well as tharing that with CPA exam candidates has been a real joy in my life. Mostly because I’m not the one who actually has to go through it.

Second, I believe 18 months is plenty of time to get through the exam. For those who have struggled 2, 3, even 5 years with this thing, it is not at all unreasonable for me to suggest that perhaps you should find another line of work. That doesn’t mean struggling candidates shouldn’t be offered support but at some point, you have to ask yourself if the Universe is trying to send you a very strong hint. That’s fine, the AICPA is doing their job if not everyone can pass. This isn’t a kindergarten playground exercise in how everyone deserves a trophy no matter how bad their performance, this is a professional license and it is a privilege, not a right.

That being said, I was not expecting the floodgates of CPA exam candidate hell to come bursting forth on Monday when I addressed a note the AICPA wrote to candidates. In trolling NASBA’s Facebook page and getting additional feedback from candidates (beyond the “screw you, AG, you’re not a CPA” comments), it’s clear candidates are livid about this whole scoring thing. There’s no other explanation for otherwise reasonable future CPAs lashing out like they did, since we all know professionals aren’t prone to that kind of behavior out of habit.

So the first thing candidates should be doing instead of snapping at NASBA, the AICPA and me is to write down their thoughts and send them to the AICPA and NASBA. The first three quarters of 2011 are basically practice for a new, improved scoring process the AICPA hopes to debut at the end of the year and if candidates stick to yelling at accounting bloggers, the important people who can really make a change aren’t hearing them. Be clear, be concise and be honest. What would you like to see changed? What do you feel is unfair? How do you feel about this entire process? Try to keep emotion out of it (save that for your therapist, your spouse or your best friend) but be explicit about the stress this has put on you if you feel it is necessary. Remember that complaints are easy but offering solutions or feedback that can help them improve stands the best chance to change things. I assure you all that the AICPA and NASBA are listening, they just might need to block it out if it’s mostly profane vitriol and hardly any common sense. I highly doubt that either agency planned for this to get so ugly, and if they are at all like me, probably didn’t expect it would be the meltdown it was. So keep that in mind when you are yelling at them like the intelligent professional I’m sure you are.

Speaking of which, we caught up with a real live intelligent professional who asked to keep her firm name out of this but wanted to weigh in regardless. A seasoned professional when it comes to the CPA exam from her work as an HR manager for a mid-sized Bay Area accounting firm, she is also a CPA exam candidate and has been vocal in expressing her dissatisfaction with this scoring debacle.

To her, the issue is customer service and communication, or rather lack thereof. She told us:

I advise candidates on everything about licensure (e.g. application process, review courses, changes to the exam, score releases, and serve as the unofficial firm “nag” reminding people they need to get or stay on the licensure path). In both roles, it is my duty to stay informed and I really try my very best to do so. To that end, this is why I felt so frustrated with NASBA’s recent post on Facebook. I didn’t receive the AICPA memo about the delay of scores for Q1-Q3 back in October of 2010. I went through my emails and see I have only received 3 email messages from NASBA and nothing from the AICPA. One was a 11/18/10 email from Prometric and NASBA about adding additional time slots in Q4 of 2010 to accommodate the high volume of candidates scrambling to avoid IFRS, and one on 1/4/11 announcing CBT-e was launched on 1/1/11. The last message contained 6 links, including sample tests, a tutorial, and a link to their October 21, 2010 message [a letter to the state boards that explained the new scoring process]. Obviously, I didn’t click on all the links until today. I was more focused on the tutorials.

Nowhere in the body of the message does it read the scores would be delayed. My bad for not reading the ‘footnotes’ but, in my humble opinion, later scores is a material item that should be separately stated in the ‘financial statements’/email message.

The communications from NASBA need more empathy. These candidates are overachievers who are probably failing at something for the first time in their life; emotions are automatically running high. Candidates are spending a lot of time, money and now even more money because they had to go out and buy brand new materials to be ready for the 2011 exam. We were sold on the idea that these changes would result in faster score reporting – God knows we were already at our wits end that it took so long for a machine to grade the old CBT- and here we are slapped with another round of delays. And they have the audacity to say they told us this back in October. Really?

As of the writing of this post, 9,491 FAR scores and 11,828 REG scores have been released by the AICPA.

The issue continues and we will happily continue covering it here so long as you all care. Any and all input (including gripes and general bellyaching but not insults towards the author or this website) is welcome in the comments.

How Not to Study for the CPA Exam (on Twitter)

I’m sorry but I have to remind people for the 1,000th time that things you do on the Internet are public and any old troll (like AG) can just do a quick search and find you doing it.

Case in point, this guy: @CStrunk follows Going Concern on Twitter so we don’t necessarily want to call him out, we simply want to evaluate his study habits, comments and way of life and then feel some sick superiority because we can judge him. Trust us, we do it out of love.

Check out this February 12th tweet:

So I’m at a bar. Being a horrible CPA exam candidate. 🙁


Listen, you guys don’t need to read my column to know that sitting at the bar is not going to help you figure out variance analysis nor GAAP codification. Duh. Maybe you can tape ASCs to the bottom of your shot glass but we are not going to say that you should be studying empty drinks with accounting regs and if you do, well, good luck with the exam.

A day before he was at the bar, he was cleaning out his computer. If you’re studying for the exam, you know exactly what this is like. Scrubbing baseboards, working as many hours as you can, even squeezing out kids just so you can put off opening up that big-ass FAR book (OK maybe that’s pushing it a bit).

He also admits to staying up until midnight or one in the morning studying (or “studying,” which many of you know means 4 minutes of studying and 96 minutes of status updates, “research,” emailing and texting) but since he was up until 1:23 in the morning tweeting, we know that’s not necessarily what he spends his time doing.

We suspect that we don’t have to alert Chris that he has been sternly warned to improve his study habits or give up on this exam and we hope that we won’t have to say it again.

Maybe You’re Too Busy To Pass the CPA Exam Then

Warning: the following is a rant and it’s nearly four years in the making. If you offend easily or think you might recognize yourself in what I’m about to rant on, maybe you should skip this post and come back Friday when I’m back to offering cuddly advice on how to pass the CPA exam. For now, I have a serious bone to pick and can hold my tongue no longer.


As many of you know, I spent my early years on the fringes of the industry in CPA review. I loved my job, mostly because I gobbled up everything I could about the exam and was able to offer that knowledge to others at a critical time in their lives. I loved being able to share in their successes (and failures) and it was a joy to work with some of our students who went out ofize what I’d brought to their experience. We all know it’s hell, and I can’t say my job was any less stressful than the exam experience itself but it was worth it to come to work every day just to hear a heart-felt “thank you” from a candidate who truly appreciated what I’d done to help them get those three all-important letters after their name.

But for every sweet student, I would have to deal with a handful of lazy, unmotivated, over-privileged pricks who expected the exam to pass itself and seemed to blame everyone except themselves when things went wrong. Somehow it was my fault that they spent the last year getting wasted and posting photographic evidence on Facebook, or my fault that they blew off studying to play WoW or [insert lame, overplayed excuse here]. And that’s exactly what they were and will continue to be: excuses. I can tell you that nothing will stand between a CPA exam candidate and their goal of licensure more than excuses. Well, maybe lack of knowledge but that’s a rant for another day.

The worst excuse of all has always been and will always be “I’m too busy.” If you’re too busy to read through the terms and conditions before you shell out a few grand for a review course (or at a minimum, call up with reasonable questions about how things work), you’re probably too busy to take the exam. If you’re too busy to dedicate two hours a day to studying, you’re again likely too busy to take the exam. If you’re too busy to sacrifice 14 hours to exam-taking and 400 hours to studying in 18 months time, you’re definitely too busy to take the exam.

It’s a pathetic excuse when you think about it because who decided to take this thing in the first place? You did and at some point I can only hope it registered in your mind before making said decision that you still have things to do and a limited amount of time to do them. But you chose to do this anyway, right?

My favorite are the parents who also work full-time and complain that they are just too busy. Listen, no one is debating the fact that they have a metric shit ton on their plate but what they seem to forget is that life is all about choices and they chose to start working, get married and have children before passing the exam. So, sorry but it’s not like life is just a random shuffled deck, each candidate getting whichever cards the dealer hands out; we’re all adults here and as such, it’s important that we recognize the impact of the choices we make. The AICPA Board of Examiners didn’t decide to start a family for you, you did.

This exam sucks for everyone and for different reasons. Stop making it suck even for people who aren’t taking it by thinking somehow you are more important than everyone else and therefore entitled to some kind of special treatment because you work 60 hours a week (who chose this line of work again? Please remind me). Somehow hundreds of thousands of equally-busy future CPAs have managed to pass this thing before you and I didn’t hear most of them complaining about how busy they are. Get over yourself or get out of public.

I Am Mad Not Disappointed: A Parting Shot on Changes to the 2011 CPA Exam

On this, the final CPA exam testing day of 2010, I feel compelled to skip the advice column and launch straight into the rant. It’s finally over and here’s hoping you people will stop asking the same five questions about the 2011 exam over and over.


I don’t mean to offend anyone in particular so if you catch a feeling on this, it’s probably because I’m talking directly to you. You know who you are and I respectfully request you knock it the fuck off.

First, the misinformation surrounding the 2011 exam changes absolutely blows my mind. The AICPA announced these changes well in advance of the planned launch of CBT-e and I can’t speak for everyone but know that we here at Going Concern have covered just about every tiny detail of what’s ahead. Regardless, I still get my inbox blown up with the same simple questions, the answers to which may be found with a simple Google search or by checking out our previous posts on the subject. Information is everywhere, you’ve just got to get off your lazy ass and look for it.

I think you guys are forgetting that this is a professional examination and that you are allegedly professionals. Is it reasonable for professionals to work with financial statements being misinformed and confused by simple instructions? No. Is it reasonable for CPA exam candidates to have absolutely no idea what is happening in 2011? HELL NO.

The “OG” CPAs of the paper and pencil days laugh at candidates who have to take the computerized exam and for good reason, you guys can’t even figure out a simple change like CBT-e. People still seem to believe BEC will contain simulations in 2011 and for Christ’s sake, let’s all keep in mind that about 90 – 95% of what is being tested in 2010 will still be tested in 2011. Do you really think the AICPA Board of Examiners is going to trash all those wonderful questions they worked so hard to get? Please.

So while you guys are freaking out over changes that aren’t even going to happen, you could be studying current material and educating yourself on what’s new for next year. I’m shocked that so few of you know that the exam actually changes twice a year, every year anyway and that 2011 is really no different except for the fact that it is a bit larger a change than usual. It sickens me, actually, because I had so much more faith in you guys to go into the exam prepared and informed. Instead I continue to get the same 4 or 5 questions over and over and over and always walk away with the sense that you guys aren’t listening and unless it is handed to you, won’t go looking for the answers you need.

Seriously, knock it off. Now that 2011 is very nearly upon us, I expect ALL OF YOU to get off your asses, get to the Google and do some reading. It’s really not hard, the info is plastered all over the AICPA’s website as well as places like the CPAnet forums and various blogs strewn throughout the blogosphere.

You’re making the profession look bad, you know. How can accountants protect the public interest if they can’t even figure out a simple change to the CPA exam?

Side note: While I’m ranting about the 2011 exam, I should also throw in a few expletives meant specifically for the AICPA Board of Examiners for choosing to do this in the first place. WTF were you thinking?! We don’t even use IFRS and don’t know when we will, why the hell should we be so eager to test it now?!

/end rant

Top Five Resources For CPA Exam Candidates

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.

Twitter: Connecting with other CPA exam candidates and sources of CPA exam information (like @NASBA) can be incredibly useful. Follow the #CPAexam hashtag for news and views on all things CPA exam.

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.

“Doing It Wrong” Twitter Case Study: The Robotic, Over-Hashtagging Accounting Firm

Because I’ve learned the error of my ways and will never call anyone out publicly again on social media les faux pas (I pledge, instead, to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, mass e-mail and/or BBM to constantly pester the offender into correcting the violation), I figured it would be better instead to just sort of call them out in a manner obvious to everyone but the offender themselves. No need to say specifically who I am talking about, you can probably figure it out.


Auto Direct Messages – One of the most annoying things about constantly using Twitter is being assaulted by auto DMs. What’s extra annoying about this is knowing that people I respect (who – once again – won’t be named) use them to this day. I think the consensus has been that they are impersonal if not disrespectful as you’re not really showing me a commitment to start a relationship by sending me some robot tweet that only clutters my inbox. Knock it off. We’re all very busy. Say something to me if you have to but there’s no need to spam my inbox with your “personalized” welcome message via DM. This is especially bad if you have misspelled something in your really obnoxious auto DM. Stop it. Seriously.

Hashtag Overkill – Somewhat higher on the annoyance scale, constantly hashtagging everything you write in a completely unpredictable, manic pattern. I’m not sure why #compliance is something people are actually searching for on Twitter often enough to require hashtagging it with every mention but to each his own. I’m talking about constantly and excessively hashtagging everything. We know you’re all about diversity and Accounting’s Top Whatever awards but by hashtagging every other word you are merely showing us that you really don’t know how to use Twitter. We expect better out of global accounting firms. I shouldn’t have to name names, you know who you are and you can stop now. Conservatism states that you will knock it the hell off and pick one or two per tweet moving forward.

One Handle Too Many – Is it necessary to create 40 sub-accounts that cover each of your divisions, specialties, scams and locales? I get that firms are global and that’s the whole point of the Internet but once again you’re taking it way too far and getting too excited about this stuff. One smaller accounting firm tweeting consistently, correctly and with a joke here and there is far more effective in my view than 67 sub-accounts randomly over-hashtagging for different global firm specialties. I’ll name names this time, @mgocpa is a great example of doing it right without an entire staff of media people running the show. Come on Big 87654, you guys can afford to put a few more bucks in Internet marketing if you are going to do it. Read one of those “How to Tweet” e-books maybe.

We sincerely hope our suggestions are appreciated here. If they aren’t implemented, we may be forced to start calling people out again.

Protecting Your Online Identity or, Alternatively, How Not to Get Busted Being a Subversive at Work

It amazes me that fairly intelligent people manage to do really stupid things, sometimes on a consistent basis. One of these things is being sloppy about one’s online identity or, more specifically, publicly participating in any conversation that might ruffle management’s feathers. What on Earth could I be talking about?

Let’s take a look at the popular public accounting video series by YouTube user witn3ssthefitn3ss – or more specifically, witn3ssthefitn3ss’s 266 subscribers. Among them, several users who have (oh-so-creatively) used their first and last names as user names. Now there probably isn’t anything in your company manual that specifically states you are not allowed to subscribe to YouTube videos that paint the profession in a less than flattering light and let’s face it, odds that HR even knows how to find YouTube are slim to none but regardless, it’s bad Internet behavior and I’ve got to call these kids out for it.


For example, Michael V Staub (YouTube user michaelvstaub, how convenient!) appears to be working for PwC in Chicago. See how easy it is for any idiot to track your activity on the Internets, kids? I just did it and it took me all of two minutes.

Now Mike is more than welcome to subscribe to any YouTube channel he wants to but in an uncertain job market, it might be a better strategy to C.Y.A. (Cover Your Ass) and have the Internet wherewithall to come up with a better user name than, oh, your entire name. Especially if you’re going to be liking videos that make management look like slave-driving taskmasters.

There are more, like Joseph Bailey, an E&Y manager in Florida. Again, maaaaybe there is some other Joseph R. Bailey subscribing to these videos under his real name but we just don’t see it being that much of a coincidence.

The point is, your social identity is as much a commodity as your education and professional experience. Don’t carelessly throw it out there where anyone can track your likes and dislikes. Take the time to separate your personal and professional lives or you can pretty much guarantee a whole bunch of hassle later on down the road. Sure, it was only an accounting video this time but what if management takes it personally and thinks you only liked it because one of them had the audacity to ask you for a McDonald’s Diet Coke?

Watch what you do out there, kids, the entire world is watching. There are billions of usernames you can come up with, don’t make the mistake of using your own first and last unless you are an Internet marketer or sticking strictly to completely safe-for-work material.

Update: Details about licensure have been removed as we have confirmed Illinois’ tricky licensing requirements and our poster in question is, in fact, fully licensed.

What Will Get an East Asian Languages PhD a Job Faster, a JD or an MAcc?

From “sometimes” GC reader JB (ever get the feeling like you’re being used for your snark and career advice?):

I finished up a Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civ. from Harvard, speak and read Chinese proficiently (non-native), and I absolutely hate academia. I’m getting out, and that’s that. I know–why invest 10+years of your life in a field getting a Ph.D. if you hate it? Well, it’s too late to change that, and I finished because I wasn’t going to throw away a Ph.D. from Harvard.

My problem is that I need to do something practical in life and fast. I’m old–36–and I’ve been thinking about getting a JD or a Masters in Public Accounting. It seems like the job market is shot for attorneys for the fuabout accounting? Perhaps some of your readers are ex-accountants who moved to law and could shed some light on the current state of both fields? I was thinking about doing the 18 month Masters in Public Accounting at a place like McCombs. Would you and your readers have any thoughts about one’s employability after finishing that program in the current job market?

Okay, lots to digest here. We’ll tackle the accounting angle first:

MAcc Route
McCombs is a good choice but make sure you check out their pre-enrollment requirements. We’re guessing your East Asian Languages background doesn’t cover Macroecon, Microecon, Stats or Intro to Financial Accounting.

That being said, if you do choose the accounting route, some might say a Masters in Accounting is useless while others will say it was the best decision they made. The usefulness you get out of it depends on your intentions, which are wholly unclear. Do you actually want to be a CPA or do you just want a job? Going back to school will at least get you in front of the Big 4 recruiters but they’d much rather take a 20-something with bad social skills and a stellar GPA over a 36 year old with one PhD to his name who A) probably has already formulated his views on the world and is therefore not so easy to persuade any other way and B) could easily leave them the minute the job market picks up for something bigger and better. Your language skills are extremely attractive however, so if you were interested in working in Asia (granted, this is probably a number of years into your accounting career) that could play in your favor.

JD Route
Accounting programs are not pimped and packaged like law programs, so there are fewer grads looking for jobs but in the United States being able to sue someone is a far greater skill to have than being able to depreciate someone’s PP&E so there are more law positions to lose. Check out our recent post on CPAs thinking about law school and you’ll find most lawyers (the non-CPAs, mind you) that jumped in the discussion would have done things differently. Spend five minutes perusing Above the Law Editor Elie Mystal’s posts and you’ll change your mind pretty quickly about pursuing a law degree. Again, your language skills are a big plus, play that up.

The Answer(ish)
To answer your question directly, the MAcc route is your best bet. However, you’re swimming an uphill battle trying to elbow your way into public accounting. I used to scratch my head wondering why some truly intelligent, qualified individuals couldn’t seem to find a job then it dawned on me that the firms like someone blank and pliable, not a free-thinker with goals that aren’t easily molded to meet their careful definitions of “work-life” and “life in general”.

If you play the game and don’t try to appear too ambitious, you might have a shot in public. But you’re better off figuring out what you actually want to do with your life and not wasting another 10 years working up towards making that decision. Good luck.

I’m Not Impressed With FASB’s New Twitter Account

When @FAFNorwalk launched on August 4, 2010, it was supposed to be an awesome attempt at connecting government accounting to the 439 people interested in it (don’t trip, FAFN, y’all will get your massive following).

The day after signing up, they mustered up the courage to send out their first tweet:

Welcome to FAF/FASB/GASB! Stay Tuned For Updates.


First of all, we’re not sure if FAF, FASB and GASB know this but Twitter accounts are free so you are totally allowed to get your own. As far as I know, you are even allowed to get several as long as you can come up with an email address for it so there’s no need to share, although that can get messy. What if one of you is trying to tweet about the latest comment period (Disclosures of Certain Loss Contingencies – I’m sure that will garner quite a bit of interesting commentary) while the other wants to talk about new lease rules?

Secondly, is this the best they can do? I’d really like to see some more thoughtful commentary from Norwalk that truly opens the conversation. They can think of this as a comment letter in 140 characters.

Thirdly, what’s up with the one and only person FAFNorwalk is following? We don’t know who the hell @Badwissen is but maybe they are just really into FASBs and @FAFN could totally vibe that when they started their little Twitter co-op.

Lastly, let’s try to work a little better on the turnaround, eh @FAFN? Compliance Week already had an entire story up about new lease rules by the time @FAFN got around to tweeting about it… fine, @FAFN tweeted it around 2 and the CW story went up after 5 but still, with @FAFN’s access to insider information, I want to see @FAFN tweets about lease rules a full two hours (or a day!) before anyone, come on.

If you are looking for a truly dull Twitter follow with zero interaction, @FAFNorwalk is totally for you. Personally I like my accounting feeds with slightly more bite, even if that means a simple @ every now and then.

How’s that for a fucking comment letter?

Earlier:
Wonky Accounting Insight in 140 Characters or Less: The FASB Is Now on Twitter

Five Ways Not to Suck As an Accounting Blogger

Initially Caleb got butthurt and thought I was writing this article about him but I guess that means he thinks he sucks. I can’t name any accounting bloggers that actually suck and know plenty so here’s how not to tip that number past 0 if you’re thinking of taking it up.


Write about what you enjoy Believe it or not, there are people who care about: CPA exam experiences, SOX compliance, non-profit accounting, accounting technology, Big 4 bashing, rence, accounting education, the Fed (cough), tax law… you name it and someone is writing about and looking to read about it right now. If you write about what you think people want to read about, chances are they won’t read it. Someone out there is totally into keeping LIFO even after we adopt IFRS so if that’s your thing, go for it but stay true to what you’re into.

Don’t isolate There are some folks who get away with being reclusive hermits or narcissistic pricks that don’t engage with the broader group of us (I won’t name names) but for the most part, if you want people to embrace what you’re doing, you’re going to have to bite it and talk to them sometime. Don’t trip, we’re not that bad. You can pick and choose which of the bunch you associate with and no one is saying you have to like every other accounting blogger out there. But at least find a few who don’t annoy you to talk to and share ideas with every now and then. If Dennis Howlett can manage, so can you.

Don’t get stuck in your niche Even if you’re strictly into LIFO, think about reaching out beyond your specialty and even beyond accounting to areas like finance, law and politics. It’s OK, it’s all relevant. The great thing about writing about what you love is that no one can tell you how to do it, not even us. The broader your subject matter, the more appeal you’ll have.

Actually try The thing about writing for this audience is that you have to keep doing it without getting much interaction back. We’ve personally seen countless state societies of CPAs abandon or under-evaluate their efforts in this medium simply because they didn’t get the Seth Godin reaction they were expecting. You aren’t Chris Brogan and accountants aren’t going to flock to your content by the bazillions, there are only so many of them to reach in the first place. Being in such a small, specialized group, it’s important to remember that you might not get the reaction you want right off the bat, if ever. But if you give up early, you’ll miss out on that reaction later.

Don’t think you know your audience’s expectations The best way to figure out if you’re delivering to your target is to access your site’s analytics and see who is coming from where and how. But even if you’re a stat whore like some of us, you can only tell so much about your audience from your side. Listen to what people are saying and try to recognize patterns in what is well-received and what is ignored. This isn’t just a blogging thing, you can use that sort of wisdom with e-mail marketing, Twitter, whatever. They’ll let you know what they like so don’t be so busy yelling your point to listen.

And as a bonus 6th tip, try to shake things up a little. This didn’t make the list because it really doesn’t work for everyone but for some of us it’s the only way to do it. If you aren’t afraid of being humiliated out of the industry with your big fat mouth, try pushing the envelope every now and then. Trust me, it feels awesome.

Don’t Let 2011 CPA Exam Changes Keep You From Studying This Year

I’ve talked to a lot of panicked CPA exam candidates out there who seem to be bewildered and anxious about CBT-e changes coming up in just a few short months and even though we’ve covered it plenty here on Going Concern, I figured I’d take the time to remind you once again to relax. Please. Seriously. Like now.

A few things to keep in mind and then we’ll get to the good part.


1. Accounting is still accounting and IFRS puts debits on the left too. While international standards are spooking everyone, let’s take a deep breath and remember that accounting is still accounting whether it’s GAAP, government, IFRS or that wonky version of financial accounting that the Fed gets to make up. For the first few testing windows, if not years, it is highly likely that the AICPA will take a conservative approach when it comes to integrating the new standards into the CPA exam. They are not going to scrap years worth of effort put in to the computerized exam just to test international standards that aren’t even used in the U.S. so stop thinking 2011’s exam is THAT much different.

2. Regulation isn’t really changing at all. Does it ever? You’d be surprised how little the exam changes from year to year even as new standards are released and introduced to the bank of questions candidates receive. The fundamentals haven’t changed much over time and probably won’t. In the last three years, I can only remember two very large changes: a massive overhaul of Audit in mid 2007 that changed a lot of terminology but not much else and FAS 141(r) or, as candidates know it, business consolidations last year. Beyond that, the meat and potatoes of the exam have remained pretty constant in the 6 years since the exam went computerized.

3. Simulations will be easier. Believe it or not, the new sims should be way easier than the current ones. Instead of hoping you get a simulation that covers the two or three areas you studied (ahem, procrastinators, I’m talking directly to you), you get 6 or 7 smaller simulation problems that cover a multitude of areas. This makes your crapshoot odds of knowing what you’re doing far better than they are under the current structure.

So, now that we’ve pointed out those few things, I think you should know that there’s no reason to hold off on studying this year if your plan is to start taking exams in the beginning of 2011. GAAP will not change and will still be tested, it is just that new international standards will also be added to the mix.

You can certainly get a jump on studying by going over the current material towards the end of the year and then hit the 2011 stuff once it is available. Otherwise you’ll have to cram up to 150 hours of studying into a couple weeks right after New Year’s when you’re probably in no mood to study anyway. Trust me, a fourth quarter 2010 FAR exam isn’t going to be drastically different from a first quarter 2011 FAR exam except for the obvious international stuff sprinkled throughout. No big deal.

You CAN use 2010 books to START to prepare for the 2011 exam, just be sure to update them with 2011 material once it is available. If you rely solely on 2010 materials you will probably fail but you can definitely use them to get the foundation on topics that are still going to be tested in 2011 and beyond in much the same way they have been since 2004.

Hope some of you can now sleep at night. You’re welcome.

CBT-e Strategies: What To Do When You’re Still Sitting for the CPA Exam in 2011

Those of you who graduated in May should already be buried in your review books and planning to sit for some parts – if you haven’t already – but for some of you, the long wait to get your applications processed is anything but over OR you managed to procrastinate up until this point and haven’t even begun the process. I’ll resist the urge to smack you if you promise to submit those as soon as you’re done reading this post. Regardless of where you’re at in the process, chances are you’re tripping about 2011 changes. Not to worry, my big fat brain packed with CPA exam goodness is here to help.


Accounting Is Still Accounting – Even if they are testing IFRS in 2011, debits still go on the left (at least I’m pretty sure they still do under IFRS) and pension accounting is still really annoying. Keep in mind, IFRS isn’t the norm in the wild – at least in the U.S. at this point – and will not be for several years so it would be irresponsible of the AICPA Board of Examiners to heavily test rules that aren’t even widely accepted in practice. So relax, the changes are coming but they aren’t nearly as scary as you think.

FAR – If you are able to, get FAR done this year so you don’t have to worry about it next year. The first two windows of 2011 will say a lot about the AICPA’s strategy but knowing them, I wouldn’t expect 2010’s exam to be completely different from 2011’s. Those questions cost a lot of time and energy to make and the BoE isn’t about to trash all of them just so they can start testing rules that we don’t even use. With me on this one? Calm down.

CPA Review Materials – If you haven’t yet committed to a CPA review course, be sure to ask about 2011 materials and how changes affect the course you choose THIS year. A good review course will offer updates to the material but be on the lookout for additional product purchase charges or fees to update your materials. For BEC, REG and AUD the changes are minimal: international audit standards will appear here and there and a few things are moved around but for the most part the largest change in these areas will be the cosmetic change in BEC as written communications are moved out of the other three sections and stuck there. This does not change the content, only how you prepare and the point percentages for this section.

You can find the new 2011 CSOs via the AICPA here if you’d like a better look at what you’re in for next year but as I said, it doesn’t take long to figure out that next year’s exam really doesn’t look all that different from this year’s.

A 5 Step Plan to Passing the CPA Exam for Total Idiots

Disclaimer: I was going to use “for Dummies” in that headline but John Wiley & Sons owns that term. Since they’re also Going Concern advertisers, I figured it would be best not to tick them off. So don’t take my headline personally, call it creative license.

So, you want to pass the CPA exam eh? Here is your 5 step plan to get it done. Pay attention, kids, we’re only goince.

1. Apply early As soon as you are eligible to sit for the CPA exam (or even before if you are trying to bypass some state boards’ long application processing times), get your application, fees and fingerprint cards in. Assuming your accounting program did not prepare you for the exam, check with NASBA’s Accounting Licensing Library or your state board to find out everything you need to know about requirements to sit in your state. Remember the CPA exam is uniform meaning you can sit for any state’s exam in any other state as long as you meet their requirements so if you don’t qualify at home, check out other states to see if you can sit there. Point being, you don’t want to have to juggle the exam, work AND a family so get this thing out of the way before you get engaged, promoted and/or knocked up. Trust us on that one.


2. Study OK, I shouldn’t even have to list this as a step but, uh, I’ve had the fortune of working with some of you for years so I feel it necessary to point out that unless you are some freak with a photographic memory, you are going to have to do some studying to pass. The entire exam can take anywhere between 200 and 1000 hours to study for (based on your familiarity with exam topics going into it) so be prepared to put in plenty of hours with your nose buried in your review books. We’re not suggesting you should develop a sick fascination for Peter Olinto but get comfortable with your CPA review instructor(s), you’re going to get awfully cozy for the next couple months.

3. Make some temporary sacrifices Sure there are the odd cases of CPA exam candidates who managed to pass with just a few hours of studying but for most of you, you’re going to have to accept that your life must change to accommodate the CPA exam process. If this means cutting off your needy girlfriend for a few months, grow a pair and tell her to stop bugging you when you’re focused on the exam. Your friends will be there when you’re done and if they aren’t, maybe you should stick to hanging out with other accountants (oh come on, it’s not so bad). Keep in mind the CPA exam torture is temporary and once you pass, you can drink all you want. In fact, you’re probably going to want to once you start nailing those promotions and putting in 80 hour workweeks. Deal.

4. Learn to plan but learn to accept that sometimes things do not go according to plan Shit happens. If you’re studying for the CPA exam, lots of shit happens. Some things are out of your control (busy season, for one) but plenty of things are completely under your control so worry about those and try not to get too upset about the rest. Learn to create a study plan that includes sufficient study time without sacrificing your own sanity (3 hours a day is plenty). Plan your exams well in advance and schedule in some kind of final review 2 – 3 weeks before exam day to be sure you are ready.

5. If you fall off the horse, get back up and kick the horse in the shins A 74 could be the most devastating CPA exam result of all but the reality is that this exam isn’t a cakewalk and you aren’t a failure just because you’ve failed. You’re only a failure if you allow it to keep you from pursuing your goal of CPA licensure. Get up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes (your score report is a huge clue into where you need more work) and schedule a retake as soon as possible. It’s entirely reasonable to feel defeated but no reason to pout so knock it off and suck it up. There’s a reason only 40%+/- of candidates pass on the first attempt, this thing isn’t easy on purpose. If it were easy, any idiot with half a brain would be a CPA.

But you aren’t just any idiot, are you? Go get ’em, killer!

The IRS Is Giving Small Nonprofits One Final Chance to File Their 990s

Remember the IRS’ failed outreach to small nonprofits back in the spring? Yeah, the May 17th deadline threw a lot small NFPs for a loop and they up and missed the filing deadline completely.

IRS Commish Doug Shulman figured that, despite the unprecedented outreach, the whole snafu was his bad and that nonprofits shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about missing the deadline, the Service will still take your 990, tardiness notwithstanding.

But that can’t go on forever now, can it? Accordingly, the IRS set a new deadline today to file the 990s and it’s set for a much more memorable October 15th.

WASHINGTON — Small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status because they failed to file required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing returns by Oct. 15, 2010, under a one-time relief program, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

The IRS today posted on a special page of IRS.gov the names and last-known addresses of these at-risk organizations, along with guidance about how to come back into compliance. The organizations on the list have return due dates between May 17 and Oct. 15, 2010, but the IRS has no record that they filed the required returns for any of the past three years.

“We are doing everything we can to help organizations comply with the law and keep their valuable tax exemption,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “So if you do not have your filings up to date, now’s the time to take action and get back on track.”

It’s simple people. If your gross receipts are under $25,000, get yourself a 990-N (e-Postcard), fill it out and you’re done. If you have receipts up to $500k, you’ll have to fill out either Form 990 or 990-EZ which will probably take you all of 15 minutes.

Get it? No more blowing this off. OCTOBER 15TH is the drop dead date. After that, Shulman & Co. will be busting down the doors to inform you that you’re no longer tax exempt. And trust us, you don’t want to deal with that.

IRS Offers One-Time Special Filing Relief Program for Small Charities; Oct. 15 Due Date to Preserve Tax-Exempt Status [IRS]

Summer Studying: A CPA Exam Plan for Warm Months

Alright, little future CPAs, most of you are probably still recovering from the holiday weekend and if you’re lucky enough to have a job, reluctantly dragging yourselves back to the grind which sometimes means studying for the CPA exam. Taking the summer to study? Good for you! We’ve got some tips for keeping on track when the weather is nice and the work is light.


Don’t overdo it!
If you just graduated and aren’t starting at a firm until the fall, you might be one of those candidates who decides to take all four CPA exam sections in one testing window. That’s all well and good but let’s be realistic: your degree may not post to your transcripts until August and even then you’ve still got to wait for your state board to process your application. Find out how long the process takes in your state and plan accordingly! If you’ve been approved to sit for the exam and have a few months to study, we humbly suggest taking on no more than two sections per testing window. It’s a lot easier to study when you aren’t working but trust us, it’s a lot easier to pass exams when you’ve got the time to concentrate on each section and cramming all four into one window can sometimes put a damper on that process. So slow it down, killer!

Make time for fun
Listen, no one said you have to give up your life to pass the exam and it might be a good idea to retain your sanity through the process so by all means, get out and enjoy yourself in moderation. Once you’ve created a solid study plan by accounting for each hour of each day and planning study time in between, you can afford to pencil in “fun” here and there to keep yourself motivated. Moderation is key, you don’t want to be puzzling out variance analysis while nursing a hangover so save the big bashes for when you pass.

Remember you only have two testing windows left until the CPA exam changes in 2011
Amazing how motivated you can become when you remind yourself that if you don’t get FAR out of the way this year, you’ll be forced to identify differences between GAAP and IFRS. As you know, you learned one of these in school and the other is a big fat unknown not just to many accounting students in America but many of our CPAs as well. If you’ve been putting off the exam or half-assing it for the last several testing windows, now is the time to stop and get serious about your goal. It isn’t getting any easier and it isn’t going to pass itself.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor. You can see more of her posts here and all posts on the CPA Exam here.

If I Pass CPA Exam Parts in 2010, Will I Have to Pass Them Again in 2011?

Have a question on the CPA Exam? What section is easiest? How should I study for Regulation? Are pants mandatory at the testing site? Shoot us an email with your query.

It’s the big question on everyone’s minds so we better address it now before you cute little CPA exam candidates start freaking out:

Do you know what will happen if as of December 31, 2010 I have completed two sections of the exam? Will I only have to take the remaining two sections or will I be subject to the new exam parts coming in 2011?


Good question. First of all, keep in mind that a lot of the hype surrounding the 2011 changes is:

A) CPA Review course marketing (“buy new materials! Be sure you’re up to date!”)

B) AICPA marketing (“Hey! Check out how advanced we are and how easily we can integrate a whole new set of standards into our psychometric exams!”)

C) Misinformation spread by candidates who “heard from someone” that BEC will now contain 10 simulations and all of them will be graded.

Just stop. The two biggest changes for 2011 are the addition of IFRS (which will mostly affect FAR) and communications in BEC, that’s it! That means get FAR out of the way this year if you can and throw in BEC before December if you are allergic to written communication. The exam changes twice a year anyway, this is nothing new.

Now that that’s out of the way, the rolling 18 month period also stays the same so whatever you have passed in the last 18 months will still be good. Again, if you’re freaking out about all of this, get FAR done ASAP and you will have minimal IFRS and GAAP codification garbage to deal with. A few sections are moved around (for example, business structures will be moving out of BEC) but it’s mostly the same content. REG is hardly changed at all and AUD will be one half hour shorter with more on professional ethics while BEC will be one half hour longer with written communications.

Simulations are trimmed down to “simlets” and instead of getting one topic, you have a better chance of doing well as they will be smaller and consist of several different topics. In my opinion, the exam is just getting easier.

I’m willing to bet that testing will be a bit of a bumpy ride for the first two windows of the year as the AICPA BoE gets its bearings with the new information and somewhat adjusted formats. But debits are still on the left and credits on the right so it’s not worth getting bent out of shape over; the exam will still suck and you’ll still have to study but thankfully, just like thousands of CPAs before you, you’ll rarely use anything you learned for the exam in the real world.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor. You can see more of her posts here and all posts on the CPA Exam here.

Three Signs It Might Be Time to Quit Studying for the CPA Exam

Before you get upset at that headline, I don’t condone quitting the CPA exam process, especially if you’ve actually made some progress and passed some exams. But for some, quitting the exam is the only logical choice and it’s fair to present that argument for those of you truly struggling to get through.

Signs that you should keep going are obvious. If you are feeling unmotivated, bored, intimidated, anxious, panicky, upset, overwhelmed and/or a little depressed, you are just like every other CPA exam candidate out there. There isn’t a single person who gets through the entire experience without feeling some of those feelings, sometimes all at once. But in some very rare cases, struggling with the exam is a sign that perhaps you should be doing something else, and that’s what we’re talking about. So what are some other signs?


Severe depression Obviously if the entire exam process has you feeling dejected, depressed and hopeless, you may not be cut out for the stresses of public accounting and all that comes with the CPA designation. A little sadness or frustration is totally normal but if you find yourself staring at your CPA review flashcards wondering if the corners are sharp enough to slit your wrists, talk to a professional and consider a different line of work. Please. The exam is hard but it isn’t worth killing yourself over. No pun intended.

Complete lack of motivation Again, a little bit of procrastination or a motivation drought is normal if not totally expected. But if you absolutely cannot muster up the courage to crack open the first chapter of FAR for days on end, you’ll never make it. Either motivate yourself (we’ve given you plenty of tips on how to do this in previous CPA exam columns) or give up. I’m serious. If you don’t, you’re not getting through it.

Extreme agitation It’s OK if you’re high-strung, so is Caleb (that’s why he’s the perfect CPA). It’s OK if you are snapping at random passers-by with the nerve to bring their raunchy shrimp ramen lunch smell past your cube. But if you are yelling at everyone from the cat to the mailman for most of the day, the stress of the exam process has taken its toll on you. Remember, the exam is a sort of real world test run and it isn’t going to get any easier once you start your illustrious career in public accounting. Bail. Now. And relax, it’s really not that serious…

Let’s just say I know from professional experience most of these instances are few and far between. Very rarely in my career helping future CPAs pass the exam did I encounter someone who was doomed to 74s without any hope at all. Sure, there were people who failed. A lot. For some of them, they needed to fail in order to change their study habits, take the exam seriously, or really decide this was what they wanted to do.

Very often, I would encounter professionals in their late 40s or 50s who felt disappointed in themselves for abandoning the CPA exam 10, 15, or 20 years ago. So if you do happen to be really depressed, lazy, and/or pissed off and decide to quit, know that you’ll probably end up coming back at some point in your life wishing you’d just gotten it over with when you first had the chance.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor . You can see more of her posts here and all posts on the CPA Exam here.

Job of the Day: It’s Time to Get Serious

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for hire me2.jpgRather than get too cute with you on our job of the day, we’ll just level with you. If you need a job, what the hell are you doing? You’re missing out on all the fun. Move on this.

Check out the details for a Senior Product Controller position at RBC Capital Markets, after the jump.


Company: RBC Capital Markets

Title: Senior Product Controller

Location: New York

Minimum experience: 4 years

Description: The Senior Product Controller will maintain the accounting and finance module of the main NY GAT Fixed Income and Equity subledger system. The position requires a professional able to work closely with various traders, IT professionals, operations, and business analyts to manage the integrity of the local sub-ledger and its feed to the general ledger. The individual must possess an excellent understanding of Accounting basics, P/L production, product knowledge, P/L Decomp, and IT savy. This is a highly visible role due the nature of the position.
Responsibilities: Manage, assemble, organize and produce the Sophis accounting rules necessary for daily functions across all groups such as product Control, Operations, Front Office and Risk. This will include being the lead Finance and Accounting represtantative on all new business rollouts and current business conversions

Requirements: Bachelor Degree, or equivilant, in Accounting/Finance. – Minimum 4 years relevant industry experience. Preferred: – MBA Finance – CPA.

See the entire description over at the GC Career Center and visit the main page for all your job search needs.

Open Thread: CPA Exam Pass Rates for 2009

Cumulative scores under 50%? Sigh. You really packed it in at the end didn’t you? Don’t worry, we still believe in you (click to enlarge):
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All this does is reinforce the idea that you need to be paying attention to what the JDA tells you every week in >75.
Discuss the past, the future, the section that is your sworn nemesis, the story about the taking your last section on the last day of the eighteenth month. Whatever you like. It’s fine if you have to cry a little bit.

>75: Procrastination

Procrastinate.jpgEditor’s note: This is the latest edition of >75, our weekly post on questions that you have related to the CPA Exam. Send your questions to tips@goingconcern.com and we’ll do our best to answer as many of them as possible. You can see all of the JDA’s posts for GC here and all our posts related to the CPA Exam here.
First of all, I have to give it to all of you little future CPAs of America, you REALLY know how to put things off until the last minute, don’t you?
I’m going to let you in on a tiny little secret: the exam never goes away.
Let me paint an “imaginary” scenario where CPA Review classes are starting in less than 48 hours. Classes have been on hold for over two months and suddenly, within this 48 hour period, there is a rush of panicked CPA exam candidates realizing they’ve got less than a day left to figure out a plan. Anyone else see what’s wrong with this picture?
I’m not talking about a handful of people, I’m talking about a significant chunk of you. You know who you are and you know exactly what I’m talking about.


So what is it? Do you believe that the exam will pass itself? Or if you put it off long enough somehow you’ll wake up one day a CPA? I hate to break it to you but that’s really moronic.
There are students in our classes that are 50-some years old. Think about that. They graduated 30 years ago and are STILL putting this stupid ass exam off. So don’t think you’re some hero of procrastination just because you let 18 months go by and started losing exam scores, you aren’t special.
The bottom line is this: it is all about what you want to do with your life. Do you really want to be a CPA? Then you’ll suck it up and finish. Don’t do it because your parents want it or your girlfriend wants it or it’s your grandma’s dying wish. You are only setting yourself up for a life of half-assed failure, misery, and disappointment.
Which is kind of like what you’re setting yourself up for with a CPA and a career in public accounting except + tchotchkes. Win* (I think).
Point is, stop. In the time it takes for you to come up with 1000 excuses, you could have already booked your exam and gotten through at least 150 MCQ. Yes, it sucks but guess what? You picked it. You can make it worse on yourself and be that 50 year old guy in the back of our Live class or you can just get through it and stop bitching.
/end rant. Do it.
*I’m obligated to say that because of my day job