Insights CMA & CIA Course Orientation

Paddling Your Accounting Career

165477500_ASKAccounting is dynamic. To be able to go with the waves, CPAs should be dynamic, too.

Mady, a fresh graduate from college, went to the beach to relax and pamper herself in an exotic resort in the Philippines. She deserves it. After all, she just hurdled past the tough Philippine CPA board examinations last May.

She sat down in one of the chairs stationed at the coast line. After a while, she noticed two men pulling a kayak down the water against the dancing waves with paddles firmly gripped on their sides.

“Wow! I’d like to go kayaking, too,” she told herself.

She keenly observed how the two men did kayaking. After twenty minutes of observing, she thought she learned a lot that she wanted to try kayaking. She was about to stand up to go to the kayak when a thought came up and she realized, kayaking just reminded her of one of the truths of being an accountant – that we should keep on paddling!

Waves in the accounting industry do not cease. The business world is so dynamic. There is a concerted effort around international accounting bodies and organizations to promote and expand accounting education. Through higher quality teaching, accountants develop their communication skills to facilitate effective financial and management reporting. Innovative accounting concepts continue to be discovered to adapt to the changing times.

Accounting, being the language of business, is ever-changing. Because of this, accountants as we are cannot afford to stay stagnant. Steadiness, complacency even, should not be part of any accountant’s dictionary. In fact, if you stop paddling your accounting know-how, you don’t stay the same either. It’s either you get drifted away from the point you should be paddling to or you get pulled to a direction you never envision of going to. To stay in charge of your accounting career, you have to keep on paddling.

How then can you do this?

There are a lot of ways to paddle your accounting career, and going after international accounting certifications definitely tops the menu.

You may choose to further study and get your next title which may be CMA (the gold standard of achievement in accounting and financial management), CIA (the globally accepted certification for internal auditors and remains the standard by which individuals demonstrate their competency and professionalism in the internal auditing), or CFE (accounting professionals tasked to reducing business fraud world-wide to inspire public confidence in the integrity and objectivity within the profession). Select which field that you want to specialize in and paddle your way to your desired destination. With the options presented below, you can be harnessed in paddling your way to a more rewarding career in the industry.

Certified Management Accountant: With this, you can move your career as a management accountant and be of contribution to the business in the field of risk management, internal decision making, planning and cost management, and budgeting, among others. As the business organization keeps on growing, complexities in decision making follow. Be of help to your organization. Be a Certified Management Accountant.

Certified Internal Auditor: Businesses grow into empires. The larger it gets, the riskier it becomes. This is the reason why organizations started to consider hiring more competent professionals to serve as chief audit executives, audit managers, audit staff, risk management staff, and the like. By being a Certified Internal Auditor, you can go even further.

Certified Fraud Examiner: Accounting scandals are one of the big waves that attack business entities. At times, they need Superman or Iron Man to save the stakeholders from big losses that fraud may cause. And because CFEs have a unique set of skills in resolving allegations of fraud, examining data and records to detect and trace fraudulent transactions, obtaining evidence, taking statements, writing fraud examination reports, testifying to findings, and assisting on the improvement of fraud prevention and detection, they can be the Superman and Iron Man to save the valuable investments of business stakeholders. You can be one of them. Be a Certified Fraud Examiner.

Certified Information Systems Auditor: Information systems (IS) play a major role in business enterprises. It is something that you need to have. But information systems are not created equal. Because of this, there is a need for IS audit, control and security professionals. Do you want to grab this highest paying and sought-after IT certification? Raise your banner – be a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

These are not mutually exclusive and if you want to, you can get all these certifications. Don’t you worry, there are still more if you finish these four.

Take it from Mady’s realization – the similarity of kayaking and accounting. Accounting is dynamic and so shall accountants be. As a CPA, to keep on paddling is not an option but rather a necessity in order to stay competitive.

Paddle your way to the end zone.

“The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow, is uneducated the day after.” – Newton D. Baker

Defining The Filipino CPA’s Winning Edge

160313062_AccountantEvery race is given an equal opportunity to excel internationally. But standing on your strength rocks gives one the winning edge in the global game.

As a Filipino CPA, how do you excel and get ahead of the pack? Knowing your strength rocks give you the idea how and where to build your professional muscles to be able to jump onto the career you have been aspiring for, not just in the local field but also in the global arena. By ‘global arena’ we do not just mean working abroad, but also working locally in a multinational company, or while serving international clients.

In this article, we will emphasize the three known strength rocks that a Filipino CPA possesses. Along the lines, tough encouragement is issued to those who fall short of this supposedly winning edge.

First strength rock:  Proficiency in international standards

The Philippine Board of Investments stated in its 2011 report that there are about 2,500 to 3,000 new CPAs annually, adept in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAPs) and International Accounting Standards (IAS).

This adeptness in technical know-how is not just a statement of what is happening but is also a statement of marketing that raises the global expectation among Filipino CPAs as world-class professionals based on this criterion among others. Hence, every CPA aspirant is being tested of this norm and as such, every accounting professional should live up to it.

Second strength rock:  Command of the universally accepted language

Several papers and publications refer to this as the Filipino’s proficiency in English. We are known for this but I felt the need, not to cite supporting facts on this, but to issue a word of caution – that this claimed strength can fall to a burning weakness.

Because of this perceived strength, some Filipinos slack in improving their language skills. Some claim that they can speak better than other nationalities. Some say, “A lot of Asians and even Europeans speak English with a lot of grammatical errors so why should I even bother improving on my grammar?”

The challenge is in not making others’ weakness as your standard but to set your own standard a notch higher than the present level you are at.

On the other hand, there are Filipino professionals that master this language tool but forgot about the language goal. English is the tool, but to communicate is the goal.

Take time to invest attention in working on this second strength rock, and the horizon should not be on the tool alone but aligned to the goal of communication.

Third strength rock:  Integrity.

This is not normally part of the list and it seems a cliché to put it but a man of integrity always has the winning edge.

I once shared this question on Facebook, “What are the things you need to forego to get that something you really want?” One of the answers came from a CPA friend and she said, “(I need to give up my) job to have integrity.”

In different occasions, the international corporate world was disturbed by a number of accounting scandals. Lifting from the long list of 10 Worst Corporate Accounting Scandals by accounting-degree.org, there was the Waste Management Scandal of 1998 where they reported $1.7 billion fake earnings; the Enron Scandal of 2001 where they kept huge debts off the balance sheets; Wordlcom Scandal in 2002 where they inflated assets by as much as $11 billion; the Lehman Brothers Scandal of 2008 where they hid over $50 billion in loans disguised as sales; and the Saytam Scandal of 2009 where they falsely boosted revenue by $1.5 billion.

Amidst this sad fact is the good truth that there are still a lot of accountants with integrity that help uncover these fraudulent schemes and work toward preventing them. The business world needs them, and seeks for more of them. And this just makes the sense that having integrity spells a winning edge.

Accountants do not just prepare financial statements; instead, accountants provide information to several users to make a sound financial decision. This makes integrity paramount in the practice of accountancy.

Every profession is built upon a set of values. And one of the foundational values of the accountancy is integrity. If the value that builds this profession is ruined, then the entire profession is ruined. There is no such thing as accounting without integrity.

These three strength rocks should not come individually. They should come together, like the sides of the triangle. One or two without the other would not make the figure. These three combined is the defining factor. The first two strength rocks represent the essential technical and soft skills, and the third one represents the core of attitude. As Denis Waitley said, “The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, a high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is all in the attitude, not aptitude. Attitude is the criterion for success.”

Do you want to become a victor in the global game? Build on these three strength rocks that define the Filipino CPA’s winning edge.

Never Too Late, Never Too Old

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Do you know what Richard Branson’s greatest motivation is? It is “to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had—each day I am learning something new“.

Most people like to say that they’d like to do and experience everything that they can while they’re still young, insinuating that after a certain age it might be too late. This young generation of technocrats believes that people stop being motivated and creative as they reach middle age.

On the brighter side, this way of thinking can fuel your desire and determination to see and do everything possible while you still have the energy and will to excel at the early stages of your life. I personally know of one colleague who, after earning his baccalaureate degree in accounting and passing the Philippine CPA examination, immediately pursued the MBA course, then the CMA certificate thereafter. At the age of 25, he has a CPA, MBA and CMA title. If you think these are remarkable achievements, wait ’til you hear this other one. He completed his accounting degree and passed the Phil. CPA exam in 2011 at age 20. As family migrated to the U.S. he took and completed all four parts of the Uniform CPA examination last year. This June, he took Part 1 of the CMA examinations.

Sometimes, though, it makes you think that once you hit a certain age and you feel you still haven’t achieved anything in your professional career, you start to believe that you have pretty much failed and that you can’t do anything about it anymore.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who think that they’ve let so many chances pass by and that they already failed to grab any opportunities in life. Others also tend to adopt the idea that they’re just too old to try and learn anything new, and that whatever they know is sufficient. Thus, many of them just plod along without striving to be better at their jobs or in life, and without exploring any possible new opportunities that could improve their career. They just stop being enthusiastic anymore. Some people become complacent as they mature, and no longer have interest in learning current industry trends. I am glad I fought this off as I realized that even in mid-40s I could still motivate myself to pursue international certifications (CMA and U.S. CPA).

It is important for us to realize that age is indeed nothing more than a number. It doesn’t say anything about one’s ability to learn something new. It doesn’t restrict us from achieving. And it certainly shouldn’t be a barrier to how much we could change and how much better we could become. Opportunities should not just be restricted to younger people, after all. For “old-timers” (like the author), it is imperative that we recognize that having the right attitude and positive outlook in life is still the key factor to success. Equally so, being cautious should not be mistaken with looking at situations or opportunities negatively.

In addition, you want to stay relevant in your field, or at the very least be able to understand what other people are talking about. You don’t want to get left behind, and you certainly don’t want to become the kind of person who just looks on as new developments arise and are unable to get on board because you didn’t bother to learn new things. It is the ability to adapt and embrace change that can bring success to us as professionals.

So the next time you catch yourself thinking that you’re too old to try something new, take a course, or learn how to use a new gadget or software, stop and think for a few minutes. By merely contemplating to pursue a post-graduate course, or to upgrade your skills by enrolling in personality development training or seminars, these already are important indicators as these circumstances show that you still want to learn.

Don’t let others write you off just yet; prove you still can, despite your age.