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)

MACPA, BLI Usher in New Era of Learning for Accounting and Finance Pros

Bill Sheridan

Guest Blogger Bill Sheridan

By Bill Sheridan
Maryland Association of CPAs

Nano learning and blended learning are now accepted forms of continuing professional education, thanks to newly revised standards from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the AICPA.

That means a new offering from the Maryland Association of CPAs and its learning subsidiary, the Business Learning Institute, is the first nano learning program for finance professionals in North America to qualify under the new standards.

The revised standards will provide “for one-fifth (0.2) of a CPE credit for nano learning, and the ability to award one-fifth (0.2) of a CPE credit for programs using other delivery methods after a minimum amount of credit has been awarded,” according to the AICPA. “Additionally, (the standards) revise the definitions of group live and group Internet-based programs to focus the definitions from how the content is delivered by the instructor to how the content is received by the participants.”

“Boards of Accountancy, CPAs, and CPE providers have recognized the need for CPE to continue to evolve to keep pace with current learning models,” said Maria Caldwell, Esq., NASBA’s chief legal officer and director of compliance services. “The addition of nano learning and blended learning delivery methods is representative of that effort.”

The MACPA’s Anticipatory Organization™: Accounting and Finance Edition, or AOAF, is the first nano learning program for CPAs that meets these innovative new learning standards. The program combines three- to four-minute, single-concept videos with rapid application exercises to accelerate learning of complex competencies in less time than traditional CPE programs. It was developed by international futurist and best-selling author Daniel Burrus and recognized by Accounting Today magazine as one of the 2016 Products of the Year in the learning category.

The effectiveness of the AOAF model — short videos followed by exercises that teach you to apply what you’ve learned to what you do — is backed by science.

“In 1885, a German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted a study about memory called ‘Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology,’” writes Jacob Shriar, director of content for Officevibe. “What he found was pretty shocking to anyone involved in training and development: Ninety percent of information or knowledge learned will be forgotten within three days. … Because of how quickly we forget, it’s important to review the information you just learned within 24 hours of learning it. The research shows that if you do that, you’ll be able to retain 80 percent of the information. If you review again 48 hours later, that number goes up to 85 percent. If you review again 72 hours later, you’ll retain pretty much all of the information.”

Beyond that, Shriar writes, nano learning helps increase employee engagement, helps create a culture of continuous learning, and is easy to update with the latest information.

A track record of innovation

The MACPA and the BLI have pioneered new methods of learning for more than a decade, starting in 1999 with the association’s “Management by Sticky Notes” collaboration process and continuing in 2008 with the groundbreaking CPA Island in the virtual world of Second Life. In 2012, the MACPA also pioneered technology for remote collaboration and audience participation / engagement. These continue to elevate and accelerate learning for our participants.

The MACPA and the BLI continue to work to transform learning in five key ways:

  1. Social: We have been using Twitter hashtags for several years to supplement learning at conferences. We are now exploring more formal ways of capturing and documenting this learning. (See MACPA CEO Tom Hood’s report from the 2016 AICPA EDGE Conference.)
  2. Mobile / nano, or “Just When You Need It” learning: The MACPA and the BLI are working on a innovative learning platform called “Wise,” which uses social media to track and report nano or micro learning from Twitter and LinkedIn.
  3. The cloud: The AICPA Navigator learning management system allows us to offer what we call “the four Cs of talent development” — competencies, career path, and a curriculum on a cloud-based learning platform. The LMS allows firms and companies to move their talent development to a strategic and systematic approach. The MACPA and the BLI can bring that expertise to your LMS.
  4. Collaboration: The MACPA’s “Management By Sticky Notes” process, the io audience participation tool, and the ThinkTank Collaboration platform are highly engaging ways of increasing learning through involvement. (See Hood’s article, “The Year of the Sticky Note.”)
  5. Competency-based learning: With our Bounce framework (which maps BLI programs to the new CGMA Competency framework), we can now create strategic learning plans for organizations. Our new program to build a competency around anticipation and strategic thinking is both a nano learning program and a way to develop competencies, with its rapid application exercises and collaboration guides for teams. Our competency focus is part of our DNA, from the initial research from the AICPA Vision Project and the updated CPA Horizons 2025 Project that identified the top five future competencies for CPAs.

Advances in technology and learning are coming together to truly transform what and how we learn. As Hood says, “In a world of rapid change and increasing complexity, the winners will be those who can keep their L>C. That is, their rate of learning greater must be greater than the rate of change and greater than the rate of their competition.”

How are you keeping your L>C?

Bill Sheridan is the chief communications officer / new and social media specialist for the Maryland Association of CPAs.

Consultant Releases New Edition of ‘Quantum of Paperless’

Kepczyk_Roman_Xcentric_2015

Roman Kepczyk

Roman Kepczyk, director of consulting for Xcentric, has released a 2016 update of his book, Quantum of Paperless: Partner’s Guide to Accounting Firm Optimization.

In the seventh edition of the book, Kepczyk includes 2016 IT survey results from the CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA). The survey provides actionable information on hardware, software, staffing and IT trends and allows accounting firm leaders to compare data with their peers. In addition, the 2015 Benchmarking Paperless Best Practices survey information is included.

Quantum Paperless discusses how every accounting firm is unique yet similar. Firms are unique in the production processes they have developed over time to service clients, produce tax returns, complete audits, enter time and produce billing. However, the transition from traditional manual processes to today’s digital solutions is remarkably similar and it is primarily a matter of identifying where the firm is today and implementing the next proven process that firm personnel are sufficiently capable and willing to adopt.

This guide is broken into 32 mission-critical quantum leaps where your firm production can be optimized. In each section, proven solutions that accounting firms are successfully implementing and using today is listed.

The book answers tough tech questions firms face:

  • Multiple monitors – beyond 3?
  • The Cloud?
  • Hardware selection and replacement?
  • Document management?
  • Managing and retaining data?
  • Digital tax workflow systems?
  • Audit field equipment?
  • Delivering client reports digitally?
  • Client portals?
  • Security issues?
  • Remote access technology?

Kepzyk helps firms throughout North America effectively use information technology by implementing digital best practices. He has spent the past 17 years consulting with CPA firms.

Purchase Quantum of Paperless: Partner’s Guide to Accounting Firm Optimization

NASBA CPT Launches Ethics Certification for Business Professionals

The NASBA Center for the Public Trust (CPT) announced the launch of its Ethical Leadership Training and Certification for business professionals. This online, self-paced and interactive program consists of three training modules that discuss ethical culture, leadership and strategy. Each of the three modules is interspersed with dynamic videos, real world ethical dilemmas discussed by subject matter experts, as well as quizzes to gauge the participant’s understanding. Participants can take the modules individually, or as whole, to earn the ethical leadership certification.

Since 2005, the CPT has encouraged leaders to support ethical business practices, by conducting a variety of collegiate and professional programs including the Student Ethical Leadership Certification, launched in 2014. The success of the student certification led the CPT to pursue the development of a certification for business professionals.

“Ethical decision-making is one of the most important components of sustained business success,” says CPT president Alfonzo Alexander. “This training and certification program is designed to help employees recognize ethical issues, resolve ethical dilemmas and create an atmosphere that promotes positive ethical behavior in organizations. At the end of the program, users will have a clear understanding of why ethical leadership is important to both business and career success,” he added.

Based on best practices from successful organizations as well as common corporate weaknesses, culture, leadership and strategy serve as the overarching themes discussed throughout the certification. The three sections are, Culture Matters, Leadership and Strategy Matters.

Learn more about the NASBA Center for the Public Trust (CPT).

Smith & Howard Partners with Atlanta Public Schools to Promote Careers in Accounting

Smith & Howard (FY14 net revenue of $22.8 million) of Atlanta, and Smith & Howard Wealth Management announced the launch of a new program for Atlanta’s high school students: Smith & Howard’s Advancement of Rising Professionals (SHARP).

The goal of this program is to introduce juniors and seniors in Atlanta Public Schools to the potential of a career in accounting or finance. SHARP will offer a one-day program for students selected through an application process. The day will offer conversations with a panel of accountants and financial executives who have pursued accounting or finance degrees and have experienced success in their chosen areas. It will also provide an introduction to basic networking skills and other interactive sessions, such as “day in the life” discussions with professionals in the industry.

John Lucht, MP of Smith & Howard, says, “The accounting and finance industries recognize that engaging teenagers prior to their enrollment at college is one important – and often overlooked – piece of developing a pipeline of future accountants and finance professionals. One of our goals in this project is to have Atlanta Public School students interact one-on-one and in small groups with professionals who chose accounting and finance as a career and help them discover that there are surprising – and yes, even often exciting – career paths in those industries.”

Developed with the support and input of the AICPA and Atlanta Public Schools, SHARP will host its inaugural session on April 28 at the offices of Smith & Howard.

Of the importance of an early introduction to careers in these fields, Dr. Florence Holland, lead manager of pipeline initiatives at the AICPA says, “When we survey young CPAs we find that for a lot of them, particularly underrepresented minorities, pre-college courses and exposure were the key and deciding factor as to whether accounting was a field they wanted to pursue. Therefore, we must be engaged in the pre-college space to provide these opportunities for students. Otherwise, we allow other professions to pounce on this highly qualified talent that we need to continue building our pipeline in a robust way.”

On May 3, one junior and one senior from the program will be awarded the firm’s first Jim Howard Scholarship, named after co-founding partner Jim Howard, who graduated from Grady High School.

NASBA Launches CPA Experience Verification Service

NASBA announced the launch of a new service – CPA Experience Verification. This service was created in response to the accounting profession’s increasing need for a more coherent and standardized experience validation and verification process for international and domestic CPA licensure applicants.

Through this efficient experience verification process, applicants seeking licensure as CPAs in the United States will be paired with a NASBA client manager to guide them through the application process, followed by verification of work experience by the DataFlow Group – a global provider of specialized Primary Source Verification (PSV) solutions – and an interview with a licensed CPA to further validate the applicant’s requisite experience and determine if the applicant is qualified for licensure.

To apply for the service, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Pass the Uniform CPA Examination, and
  • Meet the educational and experience requirements for licensure (as outlined by the specific U.S. Board of Accountancy).

At the completion of the application process, a final report will be sent to the specific Board of Accountancy for licensure consideration and approval.

Ken Bishop, president and CEO of NASBA, says, “The launch of the experience verification service directly aligns with our mission of enhancing the effectiveness of the Boards of Accountancy. It is a much-needed service for international and domestic CPA candidates.”

The service is available in the following U.S. jurisdictions: Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin. Individuals interested in the service are asked to submit an electronic Interest Form and visit the Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about the service.

Advice from a Hiring Manager to Young Professionals

By: Jeff Green

As a manager who frequently hires college-aged people, may I kindly plead with those of you who are responsible for bearing them (there was initially a typo that said beating and I almost left it) to make sure they understand the following? For better or worse, I am writing this based off of actual experiences that I have had over the past couple of weeks.

  1. In the real world, not everyone gets a trophy. If everyone gets a trophy, no one stands out. If you do not stand out, you are not memorable. Be weird, be quirky, be competitive, be something that is going to make me remember you for a good reason. Almost every college student I interview states “drive” as the thing that makes them stand out amongst their competition, but few can tell me where they are driving to. They are basically just wasting gas, and that is bad for the environment. For those who know the answer and can back it up with effort, you will instantly stand out to me.
  2. It is not your gifts and talents that make you special, you will be defined by how you use them.
  3. Almost every person I interview has a college degree. That alone does not give you a leg up, at least not here. Community service (though not of the court-mandated kind) will make you stick out and is one of my favorite things to see on a resume. So is military experience, foreign languages, musical proficiency, being an Eagle Scout or any other various activities that show me your ability to dedicate yourself to something for a sustained amount of time. This is especially true if your work experience to date is limited. It shows character, and that is not something that can always be determined by a college diploma. A degree is by no means a bad thing and there are companies out there who will require it, but as I mentioned before, your unique attributes may be the difference in whether or not you are remembered once you leave. (BIG Disclaimer – I am speaking from my perspective here, this doesn’t mean every hiring manager feels this way. Don’t go home and tell your parents you are quitting college because I said you should. I’m just saying your diploma may get you in the door, but how you represent yourself will likely play a big part in whether or not you get the job.)
  4. Work ethic is everything. Feel free to come in with expectations regarding what is in it for you and, if you are inclined, turn down job offers until you find the exact culture you are looking for. When you find it, you had better work your tail off because there is probably a line of people waiting to take your place. A positive, fun work culture is not something you are entitled to for simply showing up, it is a return for the dedication you are showing. Also, it is rare. If you have it, don’t fail to appreciate it. And if you don’t find it, still work your tail off. That company is writing checks that provide for you and your family. If they aren’t treating you well, don’t stop working hard, just find something better. Don’t ever put yourself in a position where you might leave a company based off of their decision instead of your own.
  5. Find something within what you do to make you feel good about it. If you don’t find value in something that you are spending the majority of your waking hours doing, chances are you are going to be a miserable person. If you are a miserable person, I don’t need or want you on my team.
  6. Speaking of team, if you are on one then you need to be a part of it or you need to leave. Being on a team means carrying extra weight when another team member is sick, hurting, struggling, or dying. It also means they will do the same for you. It definitely means pulling your own weight when there is no reason for you not to do so. If you aren’t operating with this mentality, chances are you are a mediocre performer at best. At worst, someone is carrying your weight while you slow the whole team down. Again, if this is the case, then you will not exist in this dojo (nor will my “fear” in showing you the door).
  7. I don’t care if you are going in to a job interview knowing that there is a relaxed dress code, you had better be dressed up for the interview or I will send you out the door before you get your name out. Weak handshake? I will work with it. Failure to make eye contact? We will find you some confidence. No resume? I’ll help you draft one. But you have to get the job before any of that can happen, so you had better make as good of an impression as possible in the interview. Dress for the job you want…
  8. Another point about interviews…someone is taking a lot of time out of their day to meet with you. Do them a favor (and yourself one for that matter) and make sure you learn as much as you can about the company before you arrive. Don’t blindly send out resumes and then fail to prepare and take notes before you go and meet the person who may become your future boss. If they have a website, look at the dang thing. If they don’t have a website, all the more reason why you need to go in with a list of questions to figure out what you are actually interviewing for. A little voice inside my head is going to try to convince me that I should make you feel about 3 inches tall if you waste my time. Don’t.
  9. I do not expect perfection. I demand it. Just kidding, but seriously, you need to strive for it. You also need to acknowledge that you are currently far from it. A big part of that means asking questions when you do not know the answer so that you can become an expert. If you are making assumptions, you are a liability to your team and your company. Diamonds are not ready to be mounted in a ring at the moment they are found, they must be cut and polished over time until they are at a point that flaws can only be seen under magnification. Make sure you ask questions so that your knowledge, and therefore value, is constantly being cut and polished by those who know more than you. I regret to inform you that on your first day, that will literally be everyone in the office. The faster you can change that, the faster you establish yourself as a key player.
  10. Others should want to share in your success. If they don’t, you need to ask yourself if that is because of their faults, or your own. No one is going to be waiting to cheer you on at the finish line if you tripped every other runner to get there. Unless you trip the guy that tripped everyone else, then I will high five you. That may sound like a joke, it isn’t. Well, maybe a little. But seriously, if someone is stepping on others to advance themselves, call them out or you are simply an enabler and not much better than they are. This is not your middle school friend group, this is business.
  11. For your expectations, I would advise you to find a supervisor who is legitimately interested in helping you grow and develop your professional skill set. If you are coming out of college with no relevant work experience, then there are very few job opportunities that are beneath you. That said, you should try to find the one that will help you develop a solid business acumen. Despite what you think, you do not know everything coming out of college and you will make mistakes. Find someone who will help you challenge yourself and make sure you take constructive criticism as a compliment. Most supervisors suck at giving it (apparently, so do a lot of parents), so if someone is taking the time to do so then that means they probably care about seeing you become the best employee and person you are capable of being. And I will say the same thing here that I said about culture. When you find this person, do not take advantage of them. They could end up being a lifelong mentor for you.

NYSSCPA’s Career Opportunities Program Accepting Applications

Every summer, for some 30 years, the New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA) has shown high school juniors the fun of the accounting profession through the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (COAP) program.

COAP will be held at nine university and college campuses across New York State. Applications are available for this free college-readiness/explore accounting summer program. Deadline to apply is May 18.

As an extra incentive, $10,000 college scholarships are being offered to all attendees that graduate high school the following year, attend a New York State college and major in accounting.

COAP is a three- to five-day summer program that introduces youth – specifically those in groups historically underrepresented in the accounting profession – to the possibilities of becoming a CPA. Students are housed in dormitories, fed at college cafeterias and participate in a tailored curriculum of business and personal development courses that include mock interviews, resume tips, dressing for success while also visiting corporations, accounting firms and government agencies to gain exposure to the day-to-day business world.

Many of the students learn how CPAs work in a variety of fields including health care, technology, real estate, investing, law enforcement, entertainment and sports. In past years, some of the attendees have taken field trips to visit with accountants and financial officers at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation record label; Supreme Chocolatier, a Staten Island candy manufacturer and retailer; and New Era Cap, the official on-field baseball cap supplier for Major League Baseball and the National Football League, among other places.

Costs for each student’s meals, transportation and housing are paid in full by the NYSSCPA’s non-profit educational initiative, The Moynihan Fund, which provides funding for COAP and the society’s annual college academic scholarships. The program targets high school juniors, but exceptions are occasionally made for an outstanding senior or sophomore – see video here.

This year, COAP will be held at nine college campuses across New York with more than 20 students at each site which include:

  • Adelphi University: Saturday, June 25 – Wednesday, June 29
  • State University of New York (SUNY) University at Buffalo: Sunday, June 26 – Thursday, June 30
  • SUNY University at Albany: Monday, June 27 – Wednesday, June 29
  • Long Island University – Brooklyn: Sunday, June 26 – Thursday, June 30 (tentative)
  • Pace University – Manhattan: Saturday, June 25 – Wednesday, June 29
  • St. John’s University – Queens: Sunday, June 26 – Wednesday, June 29
  • Rochester Institute of Technology: Sunday, June 26 – Wednesday, June 29
  • Westchester Community College: Monday, June 27 – Thursday, June 30
  • SUNY at Oswego: Sunday, June 26 – Wednesday, June 29

Participants in the COAP program are eligible to apply for a COAP college scholarship, which provides $2,000 per year for up to five years to students studying accounting at a college or university in New York state with the goal of becoming a CPA. The program has graduated more than 3,500 students since its inception in 1987.