Monday, February 5, 2018

The Path to Success: A Guide to Mastering College Advising and Organization

By Megan Jones, TSCPA Chattanooga Chapter Student Ambassador 

From my experience in college, I have found that students constantly compare themselves to others to determine the "right" path to success they should be taking. Although following this way of thinking may be extremely helpful for a few scenarios, it can be detrimental to the success of the individual student. Certain students are more successful academically and professionally than others, and it is not because one student is more knowledgeable on a specific subject than others; it is based on the ability to gauge your own strengths and weaknesses. Once you understand where you are more advanced and where you need improvement, you have the ability to cater your performance where it will be optimally beneficial to personal success. Students need to focus on themselves individually rather than copying the techniques of others. Here are my two best pieces of advice to achieve ultimate success:

1) Obtain appropriate advisement in order to efficiently and effectively schedule courses. The advisement process can oftentimes be a balancing act of time and workload. Knowledgeable collegiate advisers can be a critical element in the student’s overall success with scheduling courses. In my experience, when I have the ability to obtain course requirements for a specific major prior to advisement, the scheduling process goes much smoother. Preparing a tentative course schedule prior to meeting with an adviser is critical. Once the schedule is presented to the adviser, certain alterations can be made due to the adviser’s knowledge of the workload of each course; therefore, the student will not become overwhelmed by the work throughout the semester.

2) Get organized. Organization is the key to not only a successful academic career, but also a professional one. In college, organizing myself was the most critical way I was able to balance everything from my academic courses, my athletic career, my extracurricular activities and my professional development. Obtaining and using a planner is the true key to success. Along with a planner, preparation is also essential. Some students have the ability to walk into a classroom with luck on their side and make an A on an exam they spent exactly zero minutes studying for; however, for most of us, studying and preparing is key to the successful completion of a task. Whether it be a term paper, homework assignment, final exam or daily discussion, preparation and organization will only aid in the successful execution of the specific engagement.

All in all, there never will be a universal step-by-step guide to collegiate success. The simple truth to success is solely based on the individual. What makes Bill Gates successful is completely different than what will make me and every other student successful. The true key to success, whether it be in college, work or life, is knowing yourself. If you can recognize your own flaws and showcase your strengths, then the path success has already commenced.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Healthcare Revenue Recognition Update – ASU 2014-09

by Michael Wade, CPA, Watkins Uiberall, PLLC

In today’s world of healthcare and financial reporting for health systems, assisted living programs and health insurance, it’s imperative to stay connected with the updated accounting standards and regulations in the industry. As the outside auditor or the inside CFO of a company in this industry, maintaining this compliance can require continuous monitoring throughout your career as current legislation dictates several of the accounting and financial reporting standards that affect the healthcare industry. One of the most important set of standards that are crucial for GAAP compliance in this industry are revenue recognition updates.

In May 2014, FASB rewrote the rules for revenue recognition in the healthcare by issuing Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2014-09 - Revenue from Contracts with Customers. This new standard created a principle-based framework for healthcare organizations in determining when and how an entity recognizes revenue from its customer contracts. Effective dates for this standard to take effect in the financial reporting regulations are Dec. 15, 2017, for public entities, and Dec. 15, 2018, for all other entities.

Regarding the changes to the new update, FASB has decided to base the new standard on a core principle for recognizing revenue: revenue should be recorded only when services are provided or goods are transferred to customers at the agreed price. To summarize the highlights of the new standard, healthcare organizations will now determine revenue recognition based on the following 5 factors:
  1. Identify the contract with the customer.
  2. Identify the performance obligations in the contract that are to be met.
  3. Determine the transaction price.
  4. Allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract.
  5. Recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies the performance obligations
For several organizations in the industry, implementing these changes will present new and possibly significant challenges in conforming their current recognition policies to the new standard. For organizations that are seeking help on implementation and/or issues that they might face when implementing the changes, one source they can look to for help is the AICPA Health Care Entities Revenue Recognition Task Force, which is just one of 16 industry task forces created to identify potential implementation issues and provide guidance.

Some of the healthcare type industries that will be affected by the new standard are continuing care retirement communities, hospitals and health systems, and third-party payer settlements. For hospitals and health systems specifically, one example of a challenge that organizations in this healthcare industry will face is the providing of emergency services to uninsured or self-pay patients. Under the new standard, the organizations must determine all the factors listed above. These considerations will impact both the timing and amount of revenue that is ultimately recognized.

FASB, AICPA and several trade associations have begun studying the issues facing healthcare organizations, but formal guidance is not expected soon, as most guidance associations have taken a “wait and see” attitude before developing formal guidance. As noted earlier however, several task forces are being put together to assist in implementation guidance along with accounting firms across the country taking on the initiative to help their clients in the challenges their facing with interpreting and implementing the requirements from the new standard.

Both public and non-public healthcare companies should prepare to adopt the new standard requirements by reviewing their current revenue cycles and recognitions policies for areas that will be affected by the new requirements. As with the industry itself, healthcare accounting and financial reporting standards are constantly evolving and compliance in this industry will require dedicated individuals with high-levels of experience and expertise.

Friday, December 8, 2017

How Networking Helped Me Land an Internship

By Zachary McLeod, Student Ambassador for the West Tennessee Chapter

One of my biggest worries going into my junior year was finding an internship. For accountants, having a good internship is important because most internships turn into job offers. Networking helped me land such an opportunity. I recently attended a meeting with Chris Holmes, president and CEO of First Bank. “Meeting new people and networking is the key to success,” he said. That may have been the best advice I was ever given.

In the fall of my junior year, I started looking for an internship in audit. I love being able to travel, meet new people and network. Networking is one of your most valuable assets. It helps you find job opportunities and connect with others. Connections are crucial to getting a job right out of school.

At the time of my internship search, I worked for the University of Tennessee at Martin as a mail clerk. The job enabled me to meet many people at UTM, including everyone at the computer store on campus. My boss at the time told me the store was looking for an accounting student to intern for them. I quickly applied and spoke to the manager to let her know I was interested in the position.

The next week I met with the manager and found out after my interview I was accepted for the internship. It was a great relief off my shoulders. I was lucky enough to find a paid position that also counted as credit hours towards my degrees.

Working at the computer store has greatly increased my skills in accountancy. I complete the income and expense ledger and do justification reports every month. I was previously uncomfortable using Excel, but this internship has increased my knowledge of the software. I will be able to take what I have learned with Excel and other skills and apply it in my future profession. I am very thankful for the opportunity to work for the university and gain such a quality hands-on experience.

My best advice for students pursuing accounting is to constantly stay diligent in your work. Network with as many people as you can. Networking is always something you can continuously improve. Do not be afraid to take that leap. You may apply to a hundred different places, but you only need one to give you a chance.

About Zachary McLeod: Zachary McLeod is from Linden, Tenn. and will graduate with degrees in Finance and Accounting. He is currently completing an accounting internship for the University of Tennessee at Martin.