New Version of CPA Exam Tests Critical Thinking, Analytical Ability

The AICPA, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric have announced the successful launch of an updated version of the Uniform CPA Examination.

The next-generation exam, which began testing April 1, has added additional assessment of “higher-order cognitive skills that test a candidate’s critical thinking, problem solving and analytical ability,” the AICPA says. The exam also makes greater use of task-based simulations to assess these higher-order skills. Research shows that CPAs are now performing tasks that rely upon these skills earlier in their careers.

“The roles and responsibilities of newly licensed CPAs are constantly evolving, so it’s crucial for the CPA Exam to stay ahead of the curve. The CPA Exam now better reflects the knowledge and skills essential to today’s profession,” says Michael Decker, AICPA vice president of examinations.

Among the most important changes to the CPA exam:

  • Exam blueprints that contain about 600 representative tasks across all four exam sections are available on the AICPA website. The blueprints have replaced the Content Specification Outline (CSO) and Skill Specification Outline (SSO) as CPA candidates’ primary source of the content and skills that they will be tested on.
  • The exam remains composed of the four existing sections – auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting and regulation.
  • Any combination of passing exam sections prior to April 1 and passing exam sections on or after April 1 (within the 18-month window following passing one section) will count toward licensure.
  • Total CPA exam testing time increased from 14 to 16 hours – four sections of four hours each.
  • A new, 15-minute standardized break during each section that will not count against a candidate’s testing time had been added.

For candidate convenience, the 10-day extension of the testing window introduced in April 2016 will continue in the third and fourth quarters of 2017. The 10-day extension will not be available during the current April/May testing window to allow the AICPA to follow the standard-setting process and analyze exam results to set new passing scores. To provide sufficient time for the process, scores will be released only once following the close of each testing window.

In addition to the changes to the CPA exam that have already occurred, the AICPA is working on an improved user experience, which is expected to launch in 2018. More information on that project will be announced later this year.

Detailed information on the exam is available online at www.aicpa.org/cpaexam and https://nasba.org/exams/the-next-version-of-the-cpa-exam/.

Deloitte Helps Prepare Gen Z for Audit of the Future

Big 4 firm Deloitte and the Deloitte Foundation hosted the 2017 National Audit Innovation Campus Challenge at Deloitte University, awarding students of Morehouse College first place for their idea to develop an application to automate the audit risk assessment process.

The winning idea involved developing an application to improve the effectiveness of the risk assessment process by using artificial intelligence to identify non-financial data from external sources such as social media, journals, periodicals and newsfeeds, among others. This data, used in combination with public and non-public financial data, would contribute to the auditors’ ability to identify risks of misstatement in a company’s financial statements. The software continuously curates data and learns through direct feedback from auditors.

Under the guidance of the faculty advisors and subject matter leaders, student participants were presented with a glimpse of how innovative technologies can be applied to the audit profession in new ways. The experience highlights how an evolving audit profession requires a workforce that can tackle business challenges more effectively in a world of continuously evolving technologies, while also providing auditors with increased opportunities to deliver value for the capital markets.

Student teams from 33 top colleges and universities participated in the event, with six teams advancing to the final round. Students from Pace University earned second place. The University of Pittsburgh, University of Southern California, College of William and Mary, and University of Wisconsin-Madison were awarded honorable mentions.

Multiple emerging technologies are transforming the audit and creating exciting new opportunities, Deloitte says. Workflow automation, artificial intelligence and analytics have enhanced a number of the labor-intensive, manual processes traditionally associated with an audit, freeing up auditors to offer better judgments and deeper insights.

“As technology disrupts business at an unprecedented rate, the next-generation of talent will need to possess proficiency with emerging technologies and data analytics to help develop more innovative solutions to business challenges,” says Mike Fucci, chairman of Deloitte and the Deloitte Foundation.

Dixon Hughes’ Evans Elected to The PhD Project

David Evans

David Evans

Charlotte, N.C.-based Dixon Hughes Goodman (FY16 net revenue of $394 million) announces that David Evans, regional MP of the firm’s South region, has been elected to the board of directors of The PhD Project, which helps minorities attain their PhD in all business disciplines and become the business professors who will teach the next generation of leaders.

“We are truly committed to the advancement of diversity, not just in our firm, but in the business and academic communities where we live and work,” Evans says.

“We are thrilled to have David as a new board member,” says Bernard J. Milano, president of The PhD Project. “DHG has been a sponsor since 2008, providing $255,000 to date. Their support shows they are committed to serving their diverse client base by supporting programs aimed at diversifying the corporate ranks.”

The firm says, “Over the past nine years of involvement with this organization, DHG has seen significant results. Our relationship with The PhD Project directly aligns with our mission of building valuable careers with our people and helping our clients achieve their goals.”

Since its inception, The PhD Project has been responsible for the increase in the number of minority business professors from 294 to 1,358. Further, 270 minorities are currently enrolled in doctoral programs.

Historically, very few minority college students study business as an entrée to a corporate career. Diversifying the faculty attracts more minorities to study business and better prepares all students to function in a diverse workforce, the PhD Project says.

CPAFMA Announces that the AAAPM Designation is Now the PAFM Designation

The Association for Accounting Administration became the CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA) for many reasons, all of which are applicable to CPAFMA’s certification program.

To better align with the association’s new name, CPAFMA has officially changed the name of its Accredited Administrator in Accounting Practice Management (AAAPM) designation. The designation will continue to transition from a designation of AAAPM to PAFM, Public Accounting Firm Manager.

Certification for firm managers enhances the status and the position within the industry, and creates a significant professional recognition for those managing accounting firms who achieve the PAFM designation.

Suggestions to Recruit and Retain the Future Leaders of Your Firm

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

Attracting and retaining talented staff is top of mind for firms across the country. In a recording of a recent webinar, Mike Platt, publisher of INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA), offers ideas on keeping under-40 CPA professionals involved, engaged and excited about their work.

Retaining this critical demographic has never been more important. IPA’s annual survey of more than 550 accounting firms shows average turnover among all non-Big 4 firms is nearly 14%. At firms of $75 million or more, it’s even higher, at 17%. While some turnover is healthy, extra emphasis needs to be focused on making sure the right people stay.

Access this recording to hear results of an extensive survey/study of more than 700 professionals aged 21-40 on their key motivators and “stay factors.” IPA partnered with ConvergenceCoaching to conduct the research survey, which uncovered what young professionals like (and don’t like) about their jobs, and how the firm can position itself to appeal to this key demographic of future leaders.

This webinar will offer analysis from the research study, “The Road to Retention: Motivators and Drivers for Young Public Accounting Professionals.” Learn:

  • The best and worst parts of working in public accounting, according to Millennials (21-33) and Gen X professionals (34-40).
  • The top reasons they would make public accounting a long-term career.
  • The types of financial information they would like leaders to share with them.
  • How often they prefer feedback about their performance.
  • Their ideas on how different generations can work together more successfully.
  • Their top firm weaknesses and strengths.

Get a better understanding of what role you can personally play within your firm to retain young professionals, encourage a culture of openness and transparency, and involve young staff in firm initiatives.

Indiana CPA Society Pushes for Competency-Based Learning

The movement toward a new learning model for professionals in the state of Indiana recently gained momentum. Draft enabling legislation supported by the Indiana CPA Society was introduced in the Indiana General Assembly.

The bill has the potential to add competency-based education to the current hours-based education model for CPA license renewal in Indiana. Its purpose is to give CPAs the ability to take only competency-based education, or a combination of competency-based and hours-based education, to satisfy the educational requirements for CPA license renewal.

CPAs in Indiana must complete 120 hours of continuing professional education every three years as part of a system created to maintain professional competency that has remained virtually unchanged for nearly 50 years.

The General Assembly will be considering competency-based options for both professionals and students this session. The draft legislation for CPAs coincides with draft legislation for K-12 education that also calls for competency-based learning.

“We believe that this is the ‘next step’ toward significant reform of the requirements for CPA license renewal in Indiana,” says INCPAS President and CEO Gary Bolinger. “This draft, if enacted, will provide Indiana CPAs with additional flexibility in learning options to renew their Indiana CPA license. It would give the Indiana Board of Accountancy the opportunity to explore this new learning alternative beyond traditional continuing professional education. Competency-based education has been proven to be a much more effective method of learning.”

Frank Rimerman + Co., Elliot Davis Ranked Highly on Top Internship List

Vault.com, a comprehensive resource for employer, university and internship program rankings, has released its list of top internships for 2017.

The list highlights the top programs in 13 categories, including the most prestigious internships, the best overall internships, the programs offering the best quality of life and career development, and the best industry-specific internships.

“As everyone knows, an internship is essential to college students looking to advance their careers in a chosen industry,” says Tara McCaffrey, VP of marketing at Vault.com. “Companies are looking to recruit top talent before they graduate college and are using internships as the best way to assess potential employees. At the same time, college students view internships as the best way to test-drive their chosen career path. These rankings offer students an opportunity to determine which companies are the best fit for their career goals.”

This summer, Vault surveyed more than 11,000 current and former interns from more than 100 employers. In addition to asking respondents to rate and review their own internship experiences for the 2017 Best Internships Rankings, we asked interns to rate the prestige of other employers, to determine which internships are the most desirable.

Here are some of the results:

Best Internship for Quality of Life: Elliott Davis ENVISION Summer Internship Experience – “The people at the firm are amazing from new hires to partners. The office is in a great location and is new and fully equipped with amenities and space,” says one survey participant. “The work is rewarding. Benefits and compensation are highly competitive. They really care about their employees.”

Vault Ranks The Top Industry-Specific Internships

Vault also broke out the rankings further to include Top Internship lists for nine industry-specific categories, including industries related to both business and finance.

Top 10 Accounting Internships

  1. Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP’s Summer Internship
  2. Elliott Davis Decosimo ENVISION Summer Internship Experience
  3. Plante Moran Internship
  4. Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP Internship Program
  5. Moss Adams Summer Internship Program
  6. Travis Wolff Internship
  7. BDO USA Internship Program
  8. PwC’s Advance, Internship Experience
  9. KPMG Internship Program
  10. Wipfli Accounting Internship Program

On why Frank, Rimerman + Co should be No. 1, one survey respondent stated: “Best part of the Internship was the emphasis on us and our learning experience with the firm. There is none of the busy work that is often dreaded with other internships. Interactions with all of the employees here were more than welcoming. There was never an interaction where I didn’t feel included. Everyone from the senior most partners to the associates were more than willing to help.”

Top 10 Consulting Internships

  1. Bain & Company Associate Consultant Intern (ACI) and Summer Associate (SA) programs
  2. CapTech Summer Internship Program
  3. Cornerstone Research Summer Analyst Program
  4. Excella Consulting Extension Center Program
  5. Protiviti U.S. Intern Program
  6. PwC Strategy& Summer Internship Program
  7. Charles River Associates Undergraduate Internship Program
  8. Deloitte Consulting LLP Internship
  9. Bates White Summer Consultant Program
  10. PwC’s Advance, Internship Experience

AICPA Announces Four Student Scholarship Winners

The has announced four recipients of the 2016-2017 AICPA/Accountemps Student Scholarship award. Part of the AICPA’s Legacy Scholars program, the award recognizes four undergraduate/graduate-level accounting students earning their CPA license who have proven excellence in academia and leadership.

For their efforts, each of the four winners will receive a $10,000 scholarship for the 2016-2017 academic year.

“These outstanding students have demonstrated the leadership skills and commitment necessary to thrive in the accounting profession,” says Joanne Fiore, AICPA vice president of professional media, academics and student engagement. “The AICPA is proud to support these talented students’ education and help them along their path to becoming CPAs.”

The four 2016-2017 AICPA/Accountemps Student Scholarship award recipients are listed  below:

  • Austin Moss – The University of Iowa
  • Floricel Castanaeda – Southern Methodist University
  • Jonathan Peck – University of Michigan
  • Payton Sartin – Wake Forest University

The Student Scholarship award represents one of four scholarships available through the AICPA Legacy Scholars Program, founded in 2011. Recognized individuals receive a one-year AICPA scholarship and are required to complete at least eight hours of service each semester on their respective campuses that promote accounting.

AICPA and State CPA Societies Partner to Enhance High School Accounting Education

The AICPA has partnered with state CPA societies on a program to increase the number of high school educators trained to teach higher order accounting courses across the country.

This initiative addresses the Pathways Commission recommendation that the profession improve its ability to attract high-potential, diverse entrants into the profession.

During this school year, the AICPA will be partnering with state CPA societies in a sponsorship capacity in an effort to expand the reach of the Accounting Pilot & Bridge Project (APBP). The initiative was created in 2006 by Dan Deines, Ph.D.

The course is modeled on a class he developed at Kansas State University with the goal of providing a higher-level accounting curriculum for high schools to better prepare their students for a career in accounting. To date, more than 1,000 high school teachers in 42 states have been trained through the program and are ready to teach the course in their local schools.

During the summer of 2016, the AICPA successfully sponsored five three-day training sessions for high school teachers in conjunction with state CPA societies in Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.

After participating in the sessions, accounting teachers can integrate the topics covered in the APBP into a course that is substantially more advanced than what is generally offered at the high school level. The curriculum, a combination of financial and managerial accounting, is comparable to what a college student would learn in an entry level accounting course.

“For far too long, many students overlooked accounting as a college major because it was classified as a vocational career track or integrated into a required class such as economics at the high school level,” says Jeannine Birmingham, president of the Alabama Society of CPAs. “We’ve been collaborating with the AICPA, high school teachers, the Alabama Department of Education and college professors to elevate the accounting curriculum in our state. We’re making progress, with an increasing number of high schools offering the APBP course, which in turn strengthens the pipeline of talent coming into the profession.”

More information on the Accounting Pilot and Bridge Project is available online at http://www.accountingpilot.com/.

20 Young Professionals Graduate from 2016 BLI Leadership Academy

Twenty young professionals are ready to lead the CPA profession into a changing and complex world after completing the Business Learning Institute’s 2016 Leadership Academy.

Held from Aug. 24-26 in Towson, Md., the annual Leadership Academy teaches high-potential CPAs the finer points of strategic thinking, strengths-based leadership and how to engage their networks. Now in its sixth year, the program is designed to help attendees determine what steps they need to take to climb the leadership ladder based on new learning and current realities.

Tom Hood

Tom Hood

“Nearly 10,000 baby boomers retire every day, but based on the talent we saw in our Leadership Academy classroom, the future of the CPA profession is in good hands,” says Tom Hood, president and CEO of the Business Learning Institute and the Maryland Association of CPAs. “These next-gen leaders are excited to be leading the transition and transformation of our profession for the future. They are ready to be positive and inspirational leaders capable of mobilizing people to accomplish great things.”

Using their “Insights to Action” (or i2A) strategic thinking system, Hood and fellow facilitator Gretchen Pisano taught attendees how to develop their executive presence based on their personal and professional strengths, how to tap into the strengths of their teams to drive growth in their organizations, and how to engage their teams in creating a shared strategy.

Using the i2A system, attendees also identified what they believe are the seven current and future trends that are having the greatest impact on accounting and finance professionals:

  • Remote workforces
  • Artificial intelligence
  • The presidential election
  • Social media
  • Globalization / convergence of international standards
  • Cloud accounting / data security
  • The need for proactive advisors

The group also identified the profession’s key challenges and turned them into four high-leverage opportunities:

  • Expand value-added services.
  • Leverage technology for efficiency and insight.
  • Become a talent magnet.
  • Build the bridge for succession planning.

The group plans to reconvene later this year to create a whitepaper that outlines specific steps for how the profession can address some the trends that are impacting the profession.

Graduates of the Business Learning Institute’s 2016 Leadership Academy are:

  • Brianne Baccaro-Norris (Weyrich Cronin & Sorra)
  • Megan Baker (McLean Koehler Sparks and Hammond)
  • Erica Beaumont (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Lee Brody (CohnReznick)
  • Shawn Burman (MKS&H)
  • Michael Derbin (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Kelly DeRose (Gary R. Bozel & Associates)
  • Jason Friedman (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Alina Korsak (Melanson Heath)
  • Megan Lindenmeyer (Gary R. Bozel & Associates)
  • Erinn Madden (Berman Goldman & Ribakow)
  • Edith Orenstein (Maryland Association of CPAs)
  • Kevin Pyzik (Mister Burton & French)
  • Paige Sawicki (Maryland Association of CPAs)
  • Greg Scherer (Weyrich Cronin & Sorra)
  • Christie Stravino (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Shanda Swann (Aronson)
  • Andrew Venters (Novotny Larash & Venters)
  • Daniel Weimer (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Susanne Wolfe (Arthur Bell CPAs)