Never Give Up!

Happy New Year!!!_REV1

“Don’t ever give up on your dreams!”

It’s a cliché that we always hear from people around us whenever our resolve is getting tested. Honestly, don’t we quickly retort by saying “it is easy for you to say it because you’re not the one involved”?

There were two recent major events in my life when I thought about giving up on my goals. I seriously considered hanging up the gloves.

In the late quarter of 2012 I started to doubt whether I would really be able to pass the last remaining part of the Uniform CPA Examination, Regulation. Could I really get this U.S. CPA title that I longed so much for? How could I pass Regulation when nothing seemed to click as I studied the lessons? It was a battle of will as I recalled it, and in each of the several instances I almost snapped and said I’ve had enough of this. I postponed my exam and repaid the fees for the second (gladly the last) time for a date in Feb’13.

God listens. God sees what we’re going through. He acts when He sees you’re about to give up. And His timing is impeccable.

I got my rhythm, and interest in studying, back and notched the much needed victory, passing Regulation on my first take. At last, the “light at the end of the tunnel has revealed its awesome radiance”, and so I wrote. I earned my U.S. CPA license under the Colorado State Board of Accountancy.

After more than 16 months of slump, things weren’t still going as planned for Insights. The load had become heavier and heavier each month, as the last ounce of invested capital and savings had reached the bottom slack of the drum. There was nowhere else to go if the last promotional project didn’t deliver. Should we pull out now while we could, or do we “die” trying? My wife exclaimed “You don’t give up on your dream. We keep digging!” These were the words that fueled us to press forward. And we’re just so glad we did, because we closed out year 2014 with a very respectable passing percentage at 61 CMA exam parts passed out of 71 exam parts taken. God willing, it looks like we’re on our way to producing top performers (worldwide) in the last testing window of 2014!

It is easy to realize what resilience, hard work, and faith in God can bring about in a person’s quest for victory. God’s Mighty hand will be there to bless you each step of the way if you dedicate your deed toward helping others.

If you don’t see the path that leads you to your destiny, start building the road that leads you to your goal NOW. And as you do, always remember that “The road to success is not straight. There is a curve called Failure, a loop called Confusion, speed bumps called Friends, red lights called Enemies, caution lights called Family. You will have flat tires called Jobs, but if you have a spare called Determination, an engine called Perseverance, a driver called Will Power, you will make it to a place called SUCCESS.

Just as when you thought of giving up, always remember that your dream deserves another chance.

May you all have a prosperous 2015!

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

Congratulations to the new Filipino CPAs!!!

http://prc.gov.ph/news/?id=527

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.

Time To Pay It Forward

Angel_Alulod CroppedTogether we can change the world, one good deed at a time”. Anonymous

I am one of the many Filipino professionals who landed a job in the Middle East. It was a good opportunity indeed. But being an accounting graduate, I did not feel complete without that three letters announcing my professional qualification affixed at the end of my surname.

Though at some point I had set aside that dream of having that prestigious CPA license. The dilemma of fulfilling a dream or being jobless occurred in my mind, until the Special Professional Licensure Board Exam was introduced in UAE.

I thought then this must be the opportunity that I have been waiting for. Excited by the thought that I do not need to leave my job and go back to Philippines to take the review classes and the board exam, I decided to give it a try.

It was much tougher than I thought.

It was a totally different story here as it was bounded by limitations. There was no formal review classes held here. I just attended the free tutorial class offered by PICPA Abu Dhabi Chapter in preparation for the exam. A supposed-to-be review classes was not, it was like a ‘first view’ of everything. Theoretical is far different from practical or application.

Apart from this, time constraint played a big role, too. As I was not a full time student here, work was still my priority just like all of my classmates. Materials were also scarce. We did not have enough review materials. They were not easily available here.

The most daunting of all was that we did not have professional reviewers as we only have volunteer PICPA members who were kind enough to share their time and knowledge to us.

It was then that I had the privilege to meet Sir Angel Secerio.

The ‘Sir A’ as we called him in class; a letter-name that suits him. “A” for his efforts. “A” for his good heart. “A” for his dedication and passion. He is my best mentor. I have seen his passion in teaching, and it was undeniably great. He has this talent of making things look easy. I really do not understand how he does that. This, perhaps, is his “gift”. The way he explains things, it was like ‘ah ganun lang pala yun’. You add this up with his effort and hard work and you got the perfect tool for preparation. He is simply an inspiration and a role model in the art of dedication and perseverance. Knowing that all of us were working students, he maximized time as much as he could. He sent us email for quizzes, question of the day and even called us for a phone recitation just to make sure you grasped something from his lessons. This is the ‘modern’ way of review and a unique way of retention, I guess 🙂 He bought his own review materials, books, reviewers from the Philippines so he can be equipped with the ‘right’ knowledge.

He invested much on us. An investment that would never give him a return in terms of money. But this kind of investment made him the man, that sort of inspiration for me, not only as a reviewee but as a person as well. He planted a seed and waited patiently as it blooms.

And I’m proud to say that a big majority of my batch mates are now CPAs. And being aware of this, we as his students just want to pay him forward. Our batch handles the tutorial class held by PICPA for this batch 2012 of reviewees. This would be in-line with his vision of empowering accounting profession.

I may not be like him, not even close to his intelligence and skills but I’m sharing what I learned from him to others. Every time I was asked by them, how were you able to give such effort, dedication and sacrifices for teaching in volunteer review classes? I could only give them one answer: It was because of Sir A. This is what I learned from one of the best mentors that I have ever known.

It is just my way of paying him forward.

Maria Angelica H. Alulod, CPA, currently works as Assistant Accountant at Leighton Contracting (Abu Dhabi) LLC. You may get in touch with her at angelalulod@yahoo.com.

Long Road To Success

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy name is Anna, a CPA.  These three letters added to my name, I thought will not be possible after failing the Philippine CPA board exam a couple of times.

But these failures never deterred me to dream and to lose hope; there’s an old saying “a will finds a way”.

If someone tells you that you can’t pass, or don’t deserve the title CPA, prove them wrong by showing your resilience, because you believe that the only way to fail is to quit. So, don’t quit and you won’t fail.

Before deciding to take the board exam for the third time in 2010, it took me quite a lot of time to analyze why it seemed that passing board exam was so difficult for me while others can.  What was the secret? What was I doing wrong or what was lacking?

It is known to everyone that in order for one to succeed you have to work hard for it. You have to be ready to sacrifice something, and always think this is going to be your last, so you have to do the best that you can, make it your priority and prepare as they say  Failure to prepare is preparing to Fail” I hope I said it right.

So here’s what I have done: 1) Bought books that I needed for the exam 2) Lessen my social activities (gimmicks) 3) Have at least 3 to 4 hours a day for study and practice test, and group study on weekends. 4) Pray (don’t underestimate the power of prayer).

I have consistently done these every day for 6 or 8 months before taking the exam. Hard that they may seems, but the ultimate prize is worth every bit of it.

Effective studying and preparing for any rigorous examination is never easy without the help of my mentors and friends/peers who were with me during these months of studying. There are subjects/topics that, no matter how you tried to understand, they seem very difficult and sometimes confuse you more.

It is always advisable to seek help from mentors as they are skilled and knowledgeable on this.  They help you understand and also give you techniques on how to tackle them. Peers also can help you a lot as the study/review will be more fun.  It helps to be in the company of people who have one aim and one goal: “Pass”.  You help one another, share your knowledge and materials, and provide encouragement to everyone in the team when one feels discouraged or someone loses focus. Most of all, you build up strong bond of friendship.

For those of you dreaming to become a CPA, start realizing it. Don’t let your age or any circumstances hold you to pursue that DREAM.  Nothing is impossible for those who choose to believe.