CPA Roundtable

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jul 23, 2015

The NYSSCPA’s NextGen Conference for new and aspiring CPAs takes place on July 31. In your opinion, what do up-and-comers in the profession agonize about needlessly? Conversely, what areas should they probably give more thought to?



Terry A. Wheeler
TERRY A. WHEELER  |  
Public Accounting Staff, Newburgh

There seems to be a concern among the younger generation that older firm partners are not keeping up to speed with technology, but from what I’ve experienced—and from what I hear of other firms—that’s not the case. Technology is being embraced—it just may not be happening as instantaneously as younger professionals are used to. 

As for the second part of the question, I’m not seeing a strong enough focus on the CPA exam. Many younger professionals seem to delay taking it, and I’m not sure why. Maybe they feel like they have time and don’t need to get it done right away, or maybe they think their firms aren’t giving them enough support. Yes, firms can do their part to help by providing CPA candidates with the time and resources they need to pass their sections. But to me, it’s part of being a professional—it’s on you as an individual to take responsibility for preparing for and passing the exam.

 


John B. DubielJOHN B. DUBIEL  |  Partner, Syracuse 

With all the talk about mergers, I sometimes hear younger CPAs express concern about the future of the companies they work for and, particularly, their jobs within them. They don’t think they’ll have the same status if a merger takes place. But, for the most part, whatever scenario they fear isn’t worth worrying about. If their firm is involved in a merger, things will likely go on as they did before, and may even be a little better. 

I would, however, advise younger CPAs to remember to continue expanding their knowledge. There can be a tendency to get tunnel vision when it comes to the CPA exam and think, “This is it, this is all I need to learn.” But those are just the minimum requirements—you have your whole career ahead of you. This industry is constantly changing, and if you don’t keep on learning, you’ll get left behind. 

 


Shari E. BerkSHARI E. BERK  |  
Sole Practitioner, New City 

What I think people, in general, tend to forget is how critical it is to network—whether it’s with other accountants or colleagues in other industries. It’s an issue that affects CPAs of all ages, but I often find that younger professionals tend to see networking as less relevant and bypass opportunities to do it. For example, they may rely more on online CPE courses as opposed to going to the actual event. They get the credit, of course, but they miss out on meeting other professionals who attended in person and making contacts that could help them currently and in the future. Relationships are very valuable in this profession. Today, in fact, I met an accountant who specializes in valuations. Though I don’t do valuations, this contact is a valuable resource I might need in a year or two, or even two months from now. One should not be short sighted when it comes to networking and needing the resources of other professionals.

 


Michael D. DesmondMICHAEL D. DESMOND  |  
Partner, Rochester

Younger members of our staff sometimes struggle with work–life balance issues, wondering if they’re leaving too early or not coming in early enough. Ultimately, our philosophy is this: You’re professionals and you know your responsibilities. As long as you take care of our clients and keep us informed, we can be flexible. It works out for everyone when you’re able to work in that type of environment—being able to do what you need to do both professionally and personally makes the job much more enjoyable for all parties involved. 

I do think, however, that younger CPAs sometimes forget the value of reaching out to people in more traditional manners—like phone calls or even face-to-face contact—vs. just sending an email or text, as they seem more inclined to do. While those skills are still very important for today’s business world, growing and developing relationships will benefit them throughout their careers.  



Timothy J. DoyleTIMOTHY J. DOYLE  |  Principal, Albany

I often hear younger CPAs worry that there won’t be opportunities or room for growth within their firms or within their careers in general, but that couldn’t be farther from the case. Over the next 10 to 15 years, as baby boomers retire, firms will struggle to fill their leadership positions, so, really, we’re entering a time where there has never been more opportunity in the CPA world. I’ve also heard younger CPAs worry about their technical ability, but as you progress, you gain expertise and good judgment. It’s a process that takes time, but with a good mentor, they’ll get there. 

Conversely, I think younger CPAs should ask themselves if they love what they do.  Firms invest a lot in time and resources molding their staff into technical experts, and young CPAs spend many hours developing their own skills. It can be demanding and, if you don’t love what you do, it can be tough to maintain long term. They should also challenge themselves to become great learners. Instead of hoping that someone will teach you what you need to know, explore on your own. This becomes important as your career progresses. 

 

The opinions expressed in this section are those of the individual and should not be taken as representative of the firm for which he or she works.

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