Crossed Off My Bucket List

Photo-Korina Patawaran“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” – Fred De Vito

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. I’m the kind of person who constantly seeks for challenges and adventure. And being an adventurer by heart, a bucket list comes in handy. Bucket lists, for some time, have only been associated with the dying but on another perspective, it’s also actually one way to live. Besides, there’s nothing wrong on starting early. I have always been free-spirited but I know that I needed a direction somehow on how to achieve my aspirations and dreams whether it be study, fitness, family, travel, extending help to others, and career.

One of my bucket list entries, definitely, would be to pass the CPA Board Exams, which I did in October 2011.  The natural direction for new board passers is to get hired by an audit firm. Gratefully, I have been hired by one of the best in the country. Nothing compares with the experience and learnings I have been through during my short stint in the firm’s assurance division. But after a year, I knew for a fact that public practice isn’t for me. I want to work on something where I can add value, something that can drive growth, something that can drive change.

After I left the firm, I experienced a hard time looking for a new job. For someone who graduated from a humble university in the province, landing to your target job in the metro can be quite a challenge. I may have earned my bachelor’s degree with Latin honors but it isn’t enough in a competitive environment. It can be quite frustrating to be deliberately rejected by some employers because I didn’t graduate from one of the country’s ace schools or due to lack of experience. At that moment, I know that I need to do something to earn my place in the industry and to gain leverage. I want to be more competent and competitive, not only because I want to be empowered but also because I want to inspire others.

I knew that investing on education is the best step forward. The problem is I don’t know exactly what to pursue. Then one Sunday night on my way back to Makati, I stumbled upon an advertisement found on the bus’ headrest. I don’t remember the exact words but I remember the advertisement asking if I want to further my career and be globally competitive in the field of accounting. The advertisement is Insights Financial Review Services’ Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Program. The beauty in life is that it can present you things and surprises in ways you least expect. Indeed, everything happens for a reason. If not only for that simple bus ride, if not only for my chosen seat, if not only for that headrest, I would have not known that there is actually an institute that can help Filipinos earn a global certification. The US CMA certification is, of course, also one entry on my bucket list. I googled Insights right away and sent an e-mail to Sir Angel Secerio and inquired on the CMA program, that was in August 2013. He generously shared information regarding the program which I am thankful for but after careful thought I know it wasn’t the best time for me to undergo the program as I was only starting on my third job as a controller for a multinational pharmaceutical company. I remember receiving another email from him in February 2014, but I wasn’t ready still. Then in May 2014, when I felt like it was the perfect time, I signified my interest to take the program which was about to start in a week’s time.

True to my fear, studying for the rigorous two-part exam while working full time is really hard. But if you want something bad enough, you’ll really find a way. The good thing is I have always been interested in management accounting even during my undergraduate years that’s why I still remember most of the topics. Management accounting, unlike financial accounting and auditing, has a strong future orientation and is intended to help management in making rational decisions with a view towards achieving company’s objectives. Although it is true that you will be learning on actual work experiences, studying outside your work environment is a great way to refresh your knowledge about best practices and approaches in the field. I took the two part examination in September and October 2014 and without any doubt I knew I would pass the exam. As they say, you must believe you can and you’re already halfway there. In December 2014, results were out and I passed both parts. Earning the CMA designation, certainly, is not the end but just the start of a lot of things to look forward to in our career.

The unforgettable journey to becoming a CMA would have not been possible without the grace of our Lord. I want to thank God for the knowledge, for the energy, and simply for everything that have transpired. I want to thank my family for the endless support and for understanding on why I can’t go home on weekends because of the review. I want to thank all the reviewers and staffs for the meaningful discussions and for all the valuable tips. I want to thank my fellow reviewees for the fun memories and for making me feel I am not alone in the journey. And lastly, I want to thank Sir Angel for his kindness, encouragement, and guidance. As a young professional, corporate environment can be tough at times especially when no one listens to your ideas and no one appreciates the things you do. Then, you start to doubt your capabilities and see all the hindrances. Sir Angel may have not known this but during those times he was pushing me, he was indeed pushing me for something more. Thank you for believing in me during those times I didn’t even believe in myself. Because of his encouragement, I started to gain my confidence back not only in earning the certification but also in my career. The funny thing is, I still haven’t met you, Sir Angel, in person yet and I’m looking forward to that day when I can thank you personally. May God continue to bless you and may you continue to encourage and inspire more Filipinos to take the path less traveled.

CMA Journey is indeed a challenge but definitely worth it and now also crossed off my bucket list. 🙂


About the author:  Ms. Korina Patawaran is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (BSA) at the Holy Angel University in 2011. She passed the CPA board examination in October 2011 and, recently, the certification exams for CMAs in October 2014. She currently works as a Controller at Sanofi Pasteur, an international pharmaceutical company having operations in the Philippines.

What’s Next After The CMA Title?

Miriam Hapiz - Distinguished Performance Award_REVISED 2

Most of the stories shared recently are all about looking back on how the events unfolded along the CMA journey. How the dream has been conceptualized and eventually realized victoriously. All of us savour the taste of emerging as winner in our own battles be it in the form of pressures at work or in school and even the distractions at home. We now reminisce with gratitude those who have become instruments assisting us along the way as we exert our efforts in reaching for our differently viewed but similar targets. They are rightfully addressed and deserve to be recognized.

Together with this accomplishment, I think there is more than the act of achieving what we have initially set for ourselves. As the cliché goes, it is only the beginning. The actual examination may have concluded our painstaking review and studying and even the friendship created but the true essence of pursuing the title I believe are the decisions and the new dreams that we will create, plan and fulfil using the CMA certification that we have earned as our tool, our confidence-booster and competitive edge empowering us in today’s business world.

What has the three-letter acronym after our name has contributed to us? In all the pain, there must be a gain. Let me share with you my thoughts. Personally, the idea of aiming for this recognition has revived my academic self. Studying again has refreshed my thirst for learnings and even sharpened my mind and put to test my skills set. I honestly enjoyed solving problems and answering theoretical questions. However there were times that these, at the back of my mind, were becoming too procedural and mind-aching as well. I also reached a point where I asked myself if all the concepts that we must study could really be of use and be applied in the workplace and practical world at large. With all of these doubts and strains, I realized that true learning does not only take place and does not end at acquiring data and information. It is the process of using these information that teaches us to comprehend better and be more analytical. Problem-solving gives us exercises on critical-thinking skills that are definitely useful not just at work but also in our personal lives. The learning curve and the standard deviation may not directly point to us the solutions for the problems at hand but if we are trained on how to think effectively and critically, we can plan our way to the solution. All these are part of the CMA journey that we all went through. This is one of the reasons why CMA’s are expected to evaluate and recommend choices for decision-making.

What do we do after receiving our certificates and being allowed to use the CMA designation?

This is a more pressing concern as compared before. When we started the review, we knew what to do. Find time to study, cultivate the urge to read without becoming sleepy, commit to the habit of studying daily. Once we have convinced IMA that we deserve the certification at a minimum, what is next to happen?

Since my desire for learning has been sparked, I do not want to lose the momentum of holding all these knowledge. I decided to teach again and I dare to ask Sir Angel if I can also be a CMA instructor in Insights which he willingly accepted.

As I go on with my classes, I suddenly became aware of what my heart truly longs for. It is like finding the place where you feel that you belong and doing the things that excite you most, that is, sharing what you know: the simplification of confusing concepts, the tricks on deriving formulas, the shortcuts to save the precious time. It is like extending a part of myself to others in the manner that I know I do well and it gives an unequal fulfillment bearing in mind that I have helped others in reaching for their own dreams in the way I can and enjoy while at the same time engaging myself in an opportunity to test my own understanding and attaining mastery. This realization has given me direction as per my career path and has taken me to a higher level of self-awareness in seeking my purpose, my reason for existence.

I would like to close my sharing by expressing my gratefulness to all those behind the successes that we are celebrating:

  • To our Almighty God for leading me in this direction, for providing the means and the guts to pursue this investment
  • To my family for the loving care and the unwavering support all throughout
  • To my bosses and officemates for the understanding and the spirit of aspiration
  • To Insights and Sir Angel, for making me feel, be aware of and enjoy my professional value

Lastly, to all aspirants, whether it is CMA title or another dream, dreaming has five stages (according to Sir RB Savella): First is finding the dream. In our childhood days, we think of what we will become when we grow up. Second: Testing it. We go to school to learn how to do it. Third: Fulfilling that dream. We get to work to make it a reality. Fourth: Improving it. We seek continuing learning and growth. Fifth: Sharing the dream. We inspire others. To do this, we, on our own dream, must also be unendingly inspired.

May the Lord continue to inspire us to enjoy life, to dream more and to lead us to the path that He has prepared for us. Thank you once again!


The author, Miriam Leong Hapiz, is currently connected with Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation as an Attest Accountant. She earned her BSA degree in 2007 and passed the CPA examination in the same year. A dedicated member of the IMA Philippines Chapter, she holds the position of Chapter Secretary and assists in propagating the CMA Program in the country by visiting schools and universities in the Philippines. In passing the CMA examinations she earned the 4th highest average score in the Sept/Oct. 2014 Testing Window.

Choosing The Road Less Travelled

Randell Dan P Dalire, CPA, CMA PasserI could still vividly remember when my dad taught me to drive a motorcycle whenever we went to the farm. His instruction was simple – ‘follow the track others drove through,’ eagerly pointing at the road lines where other riders went through. As early as then, I wanted to ask him “how about driving through a new track, and not always following others?”

Since childhood, I always had the appetite to take the roads less travelled since childhood, and that attitude was reinforced by famous people we meet in history. The inventor of Tae Bo, Billy Blanks, quoted “To succeed, particularly early in life, you have to grab on to the thing that separates you from the herd, something that you love intrinsically, and go for it, all out.”

When I entered the academe with a fresh Certified Public Accountant (CPA) License last year, a lot of people were asking why I did not choose public practice or instead work for multinational companies, since most of new passers enter audit firms or become employed with private companies. I couldn’t sign audit reports until after three years, because I know I still need to learn a lot. Global competitiveness fascinates me – such an awesome undertaking to embark on.

Barely two months after the rigors of the CPA board examination, I met Sir Angel V. Secerio through a facebook chat expressing my utmost interest (or call it obsession) in the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential. I was worried of the financial requirements in gaining the certification, thus I planned to take the exam later the next year. It was a huge investment, and I was half-hearted when I was given the initial forecast of fees, not until I learned of the exclusive 50% discount given to fulltime instructors. My bill would be slashed in half, and before I knew it, I was filling out the Insights registration form after being offered a flexible payment plan. I eventually agreed to schedule my exam two months after, which I was happy about, as soon as I received my review materials after Christmas of 2013.

I was leisurely talking to close friends and celebrating the holidays, watching the TV Series Suits when I received the complete set of Wiley CMA Review Materials last December 2013. I told myself “this is it.” The size of the books was overwhelming, some twice my definition of a ‘large book’ in the undergraduate, (two books of that size), plus another two books of compressed outlines. I will be celebrating my 2nd decade birthday 3 days onwards, and there were the four Wiley books at my doorstep waving at me. I always wanted to pursue the CMA title, but that was one of the few days I smiled and jokingly told myself “be careful what you wish for”. So I scanned, smiled at every familiar topic, and got the chill with every unfamiliar topic I saw. I ended up chilling that day, so I planned out a review schedule to start after my birthday.

When work resumed in January, I started using the Wiley online testbank. It was just as overwhelming as the books, daunted at seeing the “unanswered questions” versus the “answered correctly” and “answered incorrectly.” It was then that I disapproved the thought that it was as simple as the Management Advisory Services in the Philippine CPA Board Exam. I knew a two-month preparation plus work was Herculean, certainly not enough to cover all topics, so I ended up categorizing topics according to time allocation. I lingered studying for Part 2 Exam, which covers most of the topics not taken up in the undergraduate like international investment terminologies, US GAAP vis-à-vis IFRS, investment topics unique to US, and US Laws on Financial Reporting and Auditing such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The two-month preparation was way fast-tracked. I planned a quota of 100 MCQs per day in each of the parts the test bank, but I knew I still need to read through the theory parts. Just like the BIR missing earnings targets, I always answered short of my quota per day, hence adding more and more to my backlogs. I scheduled reading during my free time in the office, but each time didn’t always finish the schedule topic, which replaced my schedule at night assigned to answering the test banks. In most instances, I got too tired after work that I needed to take a good rest. It was mad race against time, against ensuring that I covered all important topics within schedule while ensuring mastery. As the exam date drew closer from months to weeks, I honestly began to worry a lot. I prayed for the topics I did not understand, asking God to shuffle the testbank excluding those topics, or to give me only easy questions instead. The earliest sleeping time was 1AM, and I needed to be ready for work by 7AM. Nevertheless, though the stream of topics was overwhelming, the pacing and strategies of the Wiley Testbank and other Wiley materials greatly helped me to reach ‘safe-zone’ scores. Just as when you thought you learned enough after the CPA Board exam, going global demands lifetime learning. Wiley materials remind financial professionals that: “Wait, there’s more [to learn].” I travelled to Manila a day ahead of the exam schedule. I entered the building ahead of time, so I had a chance to calm down the excitement rush inside the prayer room. I entered the Prometric testing center, verified my schedule, and was instructed to leave everything in the locker, even my rosary. I only got my red hanky inside, which I needed to spread before entering the testing room. The strategy at answering MCQs was the same, you can leave questions consuming much time. On answering the essays, I typed every key as if the keyboard was moving away with time, and I knew I was making noise. On honest regard, the two exam days were filled with the rush of experiencing something new, especially when I realize, “hey, I’m in Ateneo dude!”, and it’s CMA!

The next six weeks was an ‘agony in the garden.’ Waiting for the exam result was like singing “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri – an LSS on the line “I have died everyday waiting for you.” Of all the questions asked, all I dreamt about were the questions I knew I answered incorrectly. That was when I asked myself ‘what about the rush?’ of taking the exam with barely two months to prepare when I could have sat for the testing window in June. I remembered I was not well prepared for the February exam.

April 11. I was in Manila for an audit field work in the Philippine Cooperative Center in Quezon City. I received an SMS from Insights asking me to check my mail and give them a feedback right away. Time stood still. I occasionally sipped coffee to calm my nerves. While I was doing an aging analysis for their receivables, an unknown contact called me up. I knew it was not a domestic call, with a number extension +968, I knew it was Sir Angel. It took a bit of courage to answer my phone, and I greeted him “Hello sir!”

“Hey Randell how’s everything?”

“Okay lang po ako sir. Nasa Manila po ako, nakafield po sir. May result na raw po pero ichecheck ko po mamaya” I answered. I planned to secretly peek at the results after the call, so I can pretend I did not take the exam in case I fail, but I stumbled when I realized, “pero wait sir, ‘di ba may access po kayo sa account ko?”

Randell Dan P Dalire, CPA, CMA-Passer“Hahaha. It’s ok. You passed!” was all he answered. I was like a delighted 5 year-old boy receiving a dream helicopter toy. And it took a bit of time lag to confirm: “Talaga sir? Whoah. Sure na po ba?” I came back to the ‘doubting Thomas’.

“Yes, you made it Randell!” was few of the best words I heard from a very supportive mentor. Even the staff in PCC was overwhelmed, and I couldn’t contain such excitement any further, so though it was my first time to conduct a field work in PCC, we had a good time smiling at another God’s blessing. Again, it’s CMA dude!

It took a lot of courage, self-confidence, and faith in God. Two months straight preparation brought back the exam anxiety during the CPA board, only it’s an entirely new level, and it also brought back the unwavering hope of reaching the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Warm congratulations from friends after conquering one of the most sought-after certifications worldwide is an honor and a privilege, indeed.

I have a long list of reasons to be thankful for, but on top of it is our Almighty God, who always conquers my stubbornness in reviewing my notes by renewing my strength every day, for his wonderful ways, for every great people he sends in my life. Again, I still could not believe that Sir Angel, whom I only met through facebook, offered me flexible payment terms for the fees barely five days after we met, mentored me all throughout my review, and was the one who called me up all the way from Oman to tell the great news. I’ve already passed the two part exam, but I am yet to meet him in person. Some might think of it as coincidence, but in reality, it’s God’s plan that’s slowly working out. Undeniably, it is one of the best pleasures in life – to witness how his blessings unfold to those who believe in him. At the end of the day, we are all, in fact, entrusted with duties to accomplish great things. In so doing, we are in turn privileged that we may help others accomplish theirs.

And as for me, great achievements spring from a steadfast commitment – a single-minded passion for what we do; an unwavering desire for excellence in the way we think and the way we work. Genuine commitment is what launches us out of bed in the morning, and through the day with a spring in every step. No matter how short the preparation time is, the most basic things should be done, quoting from the words of Padre Pio – “pray, hope and don’t worry.”

My memory is still glued at the “Congratulations!” part of my e-mail from the ICMA Senior VP, Sir Dennis Whitney. For young Filipinos with ambition, there is really no other way to go than to go global, and as for me, dreams are really one of the few great things God purposefully made without limits. Dreams are the ones which separate us from the herd. Dreams define our potentials, our motivations, and our attitude at pushing out limits – the imbued burning passion to conquer the world is every Filipino’s dream. We have just begun doing things we are known to be good at.

Taking the road less travelled such as entering the academe gives us academicians a headstart and an extra mile. My extra mile was not passing the 2-Part CMA Exam, but instead the courage to take the risk, to invest, against all odds, all out, and at all cost. The extra mile was doing things we have never done, to achieve things we have never achieved before.

It pays to move out from the crowd and dare to make a difference.

To God be All the Glory.


Randell Dan Dalire, CPA, CMA-Passer

CMA Review Inaugural Program – Aug 2013

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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!!!

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, 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

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.

Studying For The Uniform CPA Exam

studying for an examNo matter how old you are or how much you’ve achieved in your career, the prospect of sitting for an exam continues to be a nervewracking idea. Can you remember how nervous you used to get every time your teacher would announce a pop quiz, or when you were about to take final exams? How about the times when you took entrance exams for college?

Every test you ever took in your life was a challenge because it signified whether or not you would be able to move on to the next level.

So imagine just how important the CPA exam is. Whether you pass or not determines whether you are a certified accountant and are therefore able to work as one. It also signifies that you have a thorough understanding of the relevant concepts that will allow you to do your job properly.

The CPA exam consists of four sections, namely, FAR (Financial Accounting and Reporting), AUD (Auditing), REG (Regulation), and BEC (Business Environment and Concepts). You can take these sections in any order; the important thing is that you finish all four within 18 months from the time you receive your first passing mark. Make sure to use your time wisely and try some useful tips to help you while studying for the CPA exam.

1. Organize. Get your study materials in order, and establish a sound schedule which you will follow as you study for the CPA exam. You also need to have a separate notebook because you will want to take notes as you review. Keep those notes handy for when you’re elsewhere, say, waiting to meet someone or standing in a long line at a coffee shop, and read them–much better than lugging around countless books to peruse.

2. Prioritize. You need to start reading a certain chapter. But there’s also that cool new movie you’ve been wanting to catch. At this point, the important question is whether watching the movie is more important to you or if acing the CPA exam is your priority.

3. Take practice tests. Practice tests can help you determine your weak points and which topics you still need to focus on.

4. Be flexible. Sometimes you get to stick to your study schedule, sometimes you don’t. If you’re a very busy person with a lot of responsibilities, emergencies might pop up every now and then. Handle those emergencies if no one else can, and then go right back to studying. There will always be important things that could derail your study schedule. Acknowledge that they could happen, and when they do, remember that all you need to do is to get right back in the saddle and continue reviewing.

5. Enjoy a change of scenery. If you’ve been studying in the same place for months, it might feel like it’s torture every time you have to go there. Get fresh air and a new perspective by studying in different places every now and then.

6. Taking time out to rest is important throughout the entire review process. If you give yourself a few hours each day to study, you should also give yourself regular breaks. You won’t be able to retain any information if you’re already exhausted, and you certainly won’t get any studying done if you wear yourself out to the point of getting sick.

Finally, while you’re studying for the CPA exam, don’t focus your mind on the possibility that you will fail. Yes, that possibility may still exist no matter how hard you prepare. But keep in mind that you always have the option to take it again–and do better!