Friday, April 29, 2016

6 tips to master the first 90 days in an accounting job

This article originally appeared in CGMA Magazine, ©2016, American Institute for CPAS. Used by permission.

By Sabine Vollmer

Near-mastery of a new accounting job during the first 90 days is critical for new hires, survey data suggest.

More than half (54%) of the 2,200 US CFOs polled by financial recruitment firm Robert Half Finance & Accounting said newly hired accountants have less than three months to prove themselves in the new job.

“They’re not asking for perfection,” said Kathleen Downs, Robert Half senior vice president. “They want to see whether the new hire is a good fit.”

They want to see whether newly hired accountants, especially those at the beginning of their careers, are taking direction well, picking up the technology, asking good questions, taking notes, and having a positive attitude, Downs said. The onboarding process also usually includes managers taking the new hires to lunch about two weeks into starting on the job to find out how things are going.

Joseph Rugger, CPA, CGMA, director of finance and operations at Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory, a health-care provider in Jonesboro, Arkansas, said he usually gives new hires about six months to settle in at the new job. But there are a few things that new employees need to get right the first three months, he said.

Dependability is a must. So is an eagerness to get things done, which Rugger looks for in the body language and actions of new hires. He wants people to promise less than they deliver.

Rugger, who is a Millennial, also has a tip specific for new employees of his own generation. “Please don’t be on your cellphone every time I come by,” he said. “Millennials think they can do three and four things at the same time. You can’t be texting and working at the same time.”

What he’s mainly looking for the first three months is progress, he said. “I’m looking for you not to make the same mistake twice.”

Downs had six tips for new hires, particularly Millennials, to master the first 90 days:
  1. Show up early. Arriving ahead of schedule allows for time to settle in and start on time.
  2. Be a sponge and take it all in. Resist the urge to tout how things were done at your previous company. Learn how to do it your new firm’s way before suggesting changes.
  3. Ask for help. Seek assistance if you need it, but write down how things work so you don’t have to ask the same question over and over again. Request a weekly check-in with your boss to get feedback on your progress and to discuss further training.
  4. Observe the corporate culture. Avoid kicking off your tenure by requesting a change in schedule or extra time off – that should have been handled during the negotiation process.
  5. Say “thank you.” Showing sincere gratitude goes a long way and will make co-workers more likely to want to lend a hand in the future.
  6. Get to know your colleagues. Invite your colleagues to lunch or coffee to gain insights into their jobs and look for ways to assist them.
Sabine Vollmer ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.

Monday, April 18, 2016

TSCPA Scholarship Application Deadline is June 15

TSCPA awards between $250,000 to $300,000 in scholarships annually, including four scholarships from the King Foundation of $25,000 each.

TSCPA Scholarship award recipients must have completed introductory courses in accounting and/or be students majoring in accounting. Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of academic achievement, professor recommendation, leadership skills, financial need and TSCPA membership.

The 2016 application portal is now open and will close on June 15. Winners will be announced by August 1.  To being the application process, please click here.

In addition to the general scholarships, the Educational & Memorial Foundation also presents several special scholarships established by TSCPA members and chapters.

Calvin & Jean King Award - awarded to deserving accounting students with a special emphasis on the students' leadership characteristics and financial need.

Paul Royston Award - awarded to the top accounting student in the state.

Robert Knapp Award - awarded to the top accounting student in Shelby County (student does not have to be from Shelby County).

Maxie Patton Award - awarded to the top accounting student at Tennessee Technological University.

Richard Townsend Award - awarded to the top accounting student in the University of Tennessee's master's program.

Will Pugh Award - awarded to a top accounting student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities.

Appalachian Chapter Award - awarded to a student residing in the Appalachian Chapter area and attending an Appalachian Chapter area university or college.

Chattanooga Chapter Award - awarded to a student residing in the Chattanooga Chapter area (student can be attending a school outside Chattanooga area).

Memphis Chapter Award - awarded to a student residing in the Memphis Chapter area and attending a Memphis Chapter area university or college.

Nashville Chapter Award - awarded to a student residing in the Nashville Chapter area (student can be attending a school outside Nashville area).

West Tennessee Chapter Award - awarded to a student attending a West Tennessee Chapter area university or college.

Monday, April 11, 2016

AICPA Releases New Version of CPA Exam

On April 1, 2017, the AICPA will launch the next version of the Uniform CPA Examination (“Exam”), a four-section (AUD, BEC, FAR and REG), 16-hour assessment (four hours per section) that places a greater emphasis on testing a candidate’s higher-order cognitive skills such as critical thinking and analytical ability. Through multiple-choice questions and an increased use of task-based simulations (TBSs) in all sections of the Exam, as well as written responses in BEC, candidates will be presented with questions that test the knowledge and skills that a newly licensed CPA must possess.

To guide candidates along in their preparation, Exam blueprints will replace the current Content Specification Outline (CSO) and Skill Specification Outline (SSO). A blueprint for each Exam section will provide greater clarity in the presentation of content, skills and related representative tasks that may be tested on the Exam.

Developed through comprehensive research and the input of countless stakeholders committed to strengthening and preserving the profession, the next Exam remains current, relevant, reliable and legally defensible, and fulfills the needs of the boards of accountancy in carrying out their licensing responsibility.

Learn more about the next Exam by reading the Practice Analysis Final Report.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Listening is Not the Same as Hearing

By Jessica Tarpley Stover, CPA
Blankenship CPA Group, PLLC

Tax season is a time when everyone is busy and many things can be pushed to the back burner. However, not taking the time to question and listen when dealing with clients and coworkers can create unnecessary obstacles for everyone. Knowing how to effectively communicate can go a long way in helping make busy time go smoother.

I think one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in life, is that its OK to ask someone to repeat themselves. Asking for clarification and really listening and not just hearing can go a long way. If you have a question about something and don’t understand the answer the first time, don’t walk back to your desk confused about how to proceed. Speak up about your lack of understanding and ask for clarification. You can ask the question a different way, or request that your supervisor/client explain things again. Another good tip is to repeat instructions you have received back to your supervisor in your own words to make sure you both are on the same page. It saves time for everybody if you make sure to get your question answered in a way that makes sense to you. The person you are working with will certainly appreciate your effort to understand, rather than feeling like you should have gotten it all the first time. Always remember that listening is not the same as hearing.