Alright, folks, we have a problem. I'm going to waste precious space here (not to […]
Welcome back from the turkey coma, kids, I had to take an extra day just to shake it off but all is well now and we’re totally ready for action, at least until I take half a week off for my birthday in two weeks. Ah, life is good.
Anyway, a desperate plea for advice we received over the weekend got me thinking – I figure it’s about time we set some ground rules for writing us for advice. Why we’ve waited two years to do this is beyond me but I don’t run the show so let’s forget that part.
Caleb was concerned by publishing said letter, I might come off as a judgmental, xenophobic prick (isn’t that the brand I’ve worked so hard to craft? Oh well) so I will refrain from publishing it to maintain some sense of decency and openness to all types and cultures don’t really have an issue with foreigners with poor English comprehension, lost little sheep or clueless accounting students; if I did, I would’ve quit this gig to write a racy sex blog a long time ago. I do, however, have an issue with lazy ass people who expect to be hand-fed the answers by us as if we don’t have anything better to do.
NOW, since you probably think I’m a dick at this point, I need to be clear when I say that I LOVE the advice component of this site. It has turned into an unexpected bright point among the lame Hans Hoogervorst jokes and Caleb’s Grover Norquist obsession, and I’m constantly both delighted and disturbed by the reactions in our comment section. You guys have proven yourselves to be mostly useful, sometimes funny and generally helpful to your fellow capital market servants seeking wisdom, and that part is great. So great that I don’t mind so much that so many of the questions we get tend to be very similar.
Keeping in mind, of course, that though we were all told how special we were when we were little, there are really a limited number of scenarios a young accountant might need help navigating. Low GPA, no Big 4 offers. A couple of offers to consider, no idea which to take. High GPA, low social skills, you get it.
But here’s a tip. We’ve been doing this so long that chances are, we’ve covered a scenario similar to yours. So your first best friend is the search bar. You will find this on the upper right-hand corner of the website just under whatever ad we’re running at that time. Type in whatever you are looking for, “compensation,” “opportunities,” “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” whatever. If we’ve written about it, you’ll find it. If we haven’t, you won’t. Try to be vague, so instead of searching for “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” try “Brazilian underwear” and you might have better luck.
Your second BFF is our comprehensive, all-encompassing tagging system. You may have noticed by now that both Caleb and I enjoy employing useless, often one-time-use tags just for the sake of continuing whatever joke we cracked ourselves up over when we wrote the post but we do also use tags for easy organization of information. Let’s say you’re interested in KPMG and PwC, guess what? We have a whole tag JUST for KPMG v PwC! Amazing, isn’t it?
Now, you’ve searched the site and gotten a good idea of what others are asking and are ready to write us an email. Awesome! We love emails! But please, let’s go over what is appropriate for an advice email and what isn’t.
Remember, we are NOT professionals, we are writers. In fact, some might call us degenerates. So while we know the game well enough to gently shove your confused ass in the right direction, we cannot evaluate your transcripts, refer you to credentialed programs, take the CPA exam for you, decipher your foreign credits, pretend to be you in a job interview or any matter of issues such as these. We don’t sponsor H-1B Visas, we don’t validate parking and we don’t hold hands unless you’re really, really scared.
In the same vein, we cannot draw out your entire future for you. So writing us asking for advice on how to get started in public accounting and realize your dreams of CPAhood will go unanswered. We’re not freshman career counselors. We’re also not mind readers, so know what you want answered before you write some vague email asking how to live your life when you’re old enough to have figured that out by now. To me, asking such broad questions shows that you’re a drive-by who just stumbled across the site and I’m sorry but I work for pageviews, which means I’m far more likely to coddle someone who proves they spend 5 billable hours a day here over someone who Googled “accounting” and didn’t bother to read any previous posts we’ve written. I have given up week-long benders to crank out this content, it’s offensive to get the sense someone hasn’t taken the time to read any of it before writing us. So don’t do that.
Are we clear? With that said, please keep ’em coming. I love you. Each and every one of you, even the trolls. Fuck, especially the trolls.
I heard you over Yaeger’s talk radio tonight. You were very informative and helpful. I wish I heard you few months ago, how to study and make time to study.
Here is my story:
I took the CPA exam 10 years ago, way back during paper and pencil days. I passed 3 parts and lost my credit due to my personal life issues.
I’m no longer surprised by the fact that otherwise (allegedly) rational human beings think it is appropriate to ask a bunch of assholes on the Internet what they should do with their lives. No offense to any of you but I’d hardly bet my life’s decisions on the input I get from a bunch of Internet trolls hiding in cubes around the country making dick jokes amongst themselves.
That said, I’m hoping you guys have some good input for this guy. And by good, I think you know what I actually mean.
I’m a B4 intern graduating in May 2012. Unfortunately, I won’t have 150 credits by that time, but I’ll hopefully have a full time offer from the firm. While this doesn’t seem like an uncommon problem, I feel like I’m between a rock and a of hefty Master’s programs’ tuition rates and the intensity of CPA studying. Therefore, I have the following dilemma…
I could take the CPA right after graduation (to become NY certified) and take a one-semester Master’s program in the Fall. I’d have the whole summer to study and pass the CPA, but I’d be paying $15K for the Master’s and delaying my start time (and future promotions/bonuses) to January 2013. I want to start making money sooner rather than later to pay off my mounting college debts.
The other option is finishing off my last 12-15 credits at a local community college (far cheaper obviously) immediately following graduation. I could then study for the exam either during or after the extra courses. I would be able to start (I think) around October and avoid the massive MAcc tuition. However, I don’t think I’d have enough time to study and pass before beginning full time work, and I’ve heard the longer into your B4 career, the harder it is to find time to study and pass the first time.
I have a tough decision to make and enough time to become more well-informed. People have been telling me it’s all about preference, but I don’t think that’s a good enough answer. There are strong pros and cons in both, but I’m worried my mind will continue to stagnate as it gets closer to decision time. Do you have prior-experience-related advice that will lead me in the right direction? Thanks in advance.
Where do we start with this? First of all, you’ve a) already fallen into the debt trap and b) totally fallen for the myth that you’ve got to get a MAcc to get anywhere in this industry. You’re tripping. Nowhere in the NY exam requirements does it state that you have to take on more debt and another degree to be a CPA in the state:
A bachelor’s or higher degree from a program that is registered by the Department as meeting New York’s 150 semester hour education requirements; or a Masters degree in accounting from an AACSB accredited accounting program; or a bachelors or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university and completion of 150 semester hours in the following content areas, including the following:
* 33 semester hours in accounting with at least one course in each of the following areas:
• financial accounting and reporting
• cost or managerial accounting
• auditing and attestation services
* 36 semester hours in general business electives and
* The curriculum must also include, either as stand alone courses or integrated into other courses, the study of business or accounting communications, ethics and professional responsibility, and accounting research.
(Acceptable course work is detailed further in the 150 semester hour course content table.)
As for the rest of it, anyone who has taken any of the routes you mentioned will probably have some advice for you related to their experience but please keep in mind that it is just that: their experience. Your own will be based on a lot of factors, such as the actual level of debt you are willing to sustain, your motivation to get a CPA/MAcc/awesome Big 4 job, your skills and how committed you are to any of the decisions you make. So that’s probably why you’re getting really vague answers on this from others.
What’s this about your mind stagnating? Knock it off, take responsibility for whichever path you desire to take (not which path the Internet or your parents told you to take) and take that path like a motherfucker. It sounds to me like you’re not all that into any of these options, and that’s probably the biggest cause of your inability to make a decision right there.
Do you want a MAcc? Do you want to get through the exam in less than a year? Do you want to take Advanced Accounting from some musty community college teacher? No one can answer those questions for you. You’re a grown up now and obviously NOT too young for this if you managed to get this far, so grow up and decide already.
You are doing the right thing by reaching out but what I mean to say with all this yelling at you is that, ultimately, the decision is yours. I would always advise you to avoid as much debt as possible at this stage in your life; you are already assuming you are going to have to slave away to pay it off, why would you want more unless you either absolutely have to or truly desire a MAcc? It doesn’t sound to me like you do. So don’t.
Since Caleb is really bogged down chasing misinformed merger rumors and babysitting his contributor(s), I thought I’d take a moment to set some ground rules for reader contributions. We get that question via e-mail a lot and, as you may notice, very rarely publish reader submissions. Let me tell you why.
First, if you expect us to publish something, how about you start by recognizing the tone of this website? We try our best not to waste our readers’ time with bullshit press releases, fluff pieces, and the usual PR crap that other accounting websites are built around. That is not what we do here and we aren’t going to start now so please, don’t bother. If you can’t take the time to acknowledge the voice of this website and respect the attention span of our readers, we aren’t going to take the time to read the crap you have sent us. If you send us an unsolicited email that looks like it could have gone out to every other accounting website out there, we know you aren’t a fan of the site and have no idea how we roll. Therefore, odds are pretty good that we will ignore your request. You’ve been warned.
Second, this ain’t no motherfucking Wiki. Meaning we are more than happy to publish reader material (still waiting for Bitter Audit Manager’s resignation letter) but beyond the comments, this is not a collaborative venture. Caleb writes, I write, you guys berate us, we adjust future content appropriately… you get the point. We invite you to contribute through criticism, suggestions and, of course, by tipping us to where the news is. And if you have a point to make and want to use this avenue to make it, you are more than welcome to do so, just make sure you come at us correctly. Which brings me to my next point…
It takes a lot of alcohol and therapy to do this day in and day out. Caleb and I try our best to bring you what you want and take our job seriously. If you have a submission, we expect that it fits with the overall attitude of this website. We have stringent quality requirements (Caleb’s rampant typos excluded, of course) related to the tone we work hard to maintain.
Self-deprecating humor earns points with us, as does bitterness, honesty, cleverness and general brilliance. We have no patience for uptight professionalism and anal-retentive seriousness, you can find plenty of that on other accounting websites.
So if you still want to submit something to us to publish, keep these things in mind. Shoot us a note and include your submission but please, save all of us the bother if you can’t respect these simple rules.
I guess we’re all spoiled by the AICPA’s website facelift? Ouch, check out this series of burns left on NASBA’s Facebook page:
Since the last time I dared to bring this issue up I was insulted personally and professionally, I’m going to approach this very carefully. Starting with a few statements of my position:
First, I have the utmost respect for those who first suffer through a college accounting education and then decide to pursue a CPA. It’s not an easy thing to do and the experience only gets worse when you add kids, work and a life to the mix. I get that. I’ve suffered through it at the side of thousands of CPAs in the last four years and, empathetic jerk that I am, I absolutely feel their pain. I’ve been the crying shoulder and the therapist as well as th aring that with CPA exam candidates has been a real joy in my life. Mostly because I’m not the one who actually has to go through it.
Second, I believe 18 months is plenty of time to get through the exam. For those who have struggled 2, 3, even 5 years with this thing, it is not at all unreasonable for me to suggest that perhaps you should find another line of work. That doesn’t mean struggling candidates shouldn’t be offered support but at some point, you have to ask yourself if the Universe is trying to send you a very strong hint. That’s fine, the AICPA is doing their job if not everyone can pass. This isn’t a kindergarten playground exercise in how everyone deserves a trophy no matter how bad their performance, this is a professional license and it is a privilege, not a right.
That being said, I was not expecting the floodgates of CPA exam candidate hell to come bursting forth on Monday when I addressed a note the AICPA wrote to candidates. In trolling NASBA’s Facebook page and getting additional feedback from candidates (beyond the “screw you, AG, you’re not a CPA” comments), it’s clear candidates are livid about this whole scoring thing. There’s no other explanation for otherwise reasonable future CPAs lashing out like they did, since we all know professionals aren’t prone to that kind of behavior out of habit.
So the first thing candidates should be doing instead of snapping at NASBA, the AICPA and me is to write down their thoughts and send them to the AICPA and NASBA. The first three quarters of 2011 are basically practice for a new, improved scoring process the AICPA hopes to debut at the end of the year and if candidates stick to yelling at accounting bloggers, the important people who can really make a change aren’t hearing them. Be clear, be concise and be honest. What would you like to see changed? What do you feel is unfair? How do you feel about this entire process? Try to keep emotion out of it (save that for your therapist, your spouse or your best friend) but be explicit about the stress this has put on you if you feel it is necessary. Remember that complaints are easy but offering solutions or feedback that can help them improve stands the best chance to change things. I assure you all that the AICPA and NASBA are listening, they just might need to block it out if it’s mostly profane vitriol and hardly any common sense. I highly doubt that either agency planned for this to get so ugly, and if they are at all like me, probably didn’t expect it would be the meltdown it was. So keep that in mind when you are yelling at them like the intelligent professional I’m sure you are.
Speaking of which, we caught up with a real live intelligent professional who asked to keep her firm name out of this but wanted to weigh in regardless. A seasoned professional when it comes to the CPA exam from her work as an HR manager for a mid-sized Bay Area accounting firm, she is also a CPA exam candidate and has been vocal in expressing her dissatisfaction with this scoring debacle.
To her, the issue is customer service and communication, or rather lack thereof. She told us:
I advise candidates on everything about licensure (e.g. application process, review courses, changes to the exam, score releases, and serve as the unofficial firm “nag” reminding people they need to get or stay on the licensure path). In both roles, it is my duty to stay informed and I really try my very best to do so. To that end, this is why I felt so frustrated with NASBA’s recent post on Facebook. I didn’t receive the AICPA memo about the delay of scores for Q1-Q3 back in October of 2010. I went through my emails and see I have only received 3 email messages from NASBA and nothing from the AICPA. One was a 11/18/10 email from Prometric and NASBA about adding additional time slots in Q4 of 2010 to accommodate the high volume of candidates scrambling to avoid IFRS, and one on 1/4/11 announcing CBT-e was launched on 1/1/11. The last message contained 6 links, including sample tests, a tutorial, and a link to their October 21, 2010 message [a letter to the state boards that explained the new scoring process]. Obviously, I didn’t click on all the links until today. I was more focused on the tutorials.
Nowhere in the body of the message does it read the scores would be delayed. My bad for not reading the ‘footnotes’ but, in my humble opinion, later scores is a material item that should be separately stated in the ‘financial statements’/email message.
The communications from NASBA need more empathy. These candidates are overachievers who are probably failing at something for the first time in their life; emotions are automatically running high. Candidates are spending a lot of time, money and now even more money because they had to go out and buy brand new materials to be ready for the 2011 exam. We were sold on the idea that these changes would result in faster score reporting – God knows we were already at our wits end that it took so long for a machine to grade the old CBT- and here we are slapped with another round of delays. And they have the audacity to say they told us this back in October. Really?
The issue continues and we will happily continue covering it here so long as you all care. Any and all input (including gripes and general bellyaching but not insults towards the author or this website) is welcome in the comments.
I’m sorry but I have to remind people for the 1,000th time that things you do on the Internet are public and any old troll (like AG) can just do a quick search and find you doing it.
Case in point, this guy: @CStrunk follows Going Concern on Twitter so we don’t necessarily want to call him out, we simply want to evaluate his study habits, comments and way of life and then feel some sick superiority because we can judge him. Trust us, we do it out of love.
Check out this February 12th tweet:
So I’m at a bar. Being a horrible CPA exam candidate. 🙁
Listen, you guys don’t need to read my column to know that sitting at the bar is not going to help you figure out variance analysis nor GAAP codification. Duh. Maybe you can tape ASCs to the bottom of your shot glass but we are not going to say that you should be studying empty drinks with accounting regs and if you do, well, good luck with the exam.
A day before he was at the bar, he was cleaning out his computer. If you’re studying for the exam, you know exactly what this is like. Scrubbing baseboards, working as many hours as you can, even squeezing out kids just so you can put off opening up that big-ass FAR book (OK maybe that’s pushing it a bit).
He also admits to staying up until midnight or one in the morning studying (or “studying,” which many of you know means 4 minutes of studying and 96 minutes of status updates, “research,” emailing and texting) but since he was up until 1:23 in the morning tweeting, we know that’s not necessarily what he spends his time doing.
We suspect that we don’t have to alert Chris that he has been sternly warned to improve his study habits or give up on this exam and we hope that we won’t have to say it again.
Warning: the following is a rant and it’s nearly four years in the making. If you offend easily or think you might recognize yourself in what I’m about to rant on, maybe you should skip this post and come back Friday when I’m back to offering cuddly advice on how to pass the CPA exam. For now, I have a serious bone to pick and can hold my tongue no longer.
As many of you know, I spent my early years on the fringes of the industry in CPA review. I loved my job, mostly because I gobbled up everything I could about the exam and was able to offer that knowledge to others at a critical time in their lives. I loved being able to share in their successes (and failures) and it was a joy to work with some of our students who went out of ize what I’d brought to their experience. We all know it’s hell, and I can’t say my job was any less stressful than the exam experience itself but it was worth it to come to work every day just to hear a heart-felt “thank you” from a candidate who truly appreciated what I’d done to help them get those three all-important letters after their name.
But for every sweet student, I would have to deal with a handful of lazy, unmotivated, over-privileged pricks who expected the exam to pass itself and seemed to blame everyone except themselves when things went wrong. Somehow it was my fault that they spent the last year getting wasted and posting photographic evidence on Facebook, or my fault that they blew off studying to play WoW or [insert lame, overplayed excuse here]. And that’s exactly what they were and will continue to be: excuses. I can tell you that nothing will stand between a CPA exam candidate and their goal of licensure more than excuses. Well, maybe lack of knowledge but that’s a rant for another day.
The worst excuse of all has always been and will always be “I’m too busy.” If you’re too busy to read through the terms and conditions before you shell out a few grand for a review course (or at a minimum, call up with reasonable questions about how things work), you’re probably too busy to take the exam. If you’re too busy to dedicate two hours a day to studying, you’re again likely too busy to take the exam. If you’re too busy to sacrifice 14 hours to exam-taking and 400 hours to studying in 18 months time, you’re definitely too busy to take the exam.
It’s a pathetic excuse when you think about it because who decided to take this thing in the first place? You did and at some point I can only hope it registered in your mind before making said decision that you still have things to do and a limited amount of time to do them. But you chose to do this anyway, right?
My favorite are the parents who also work full-time and complain that they are just too busy. Listen, no one is debating the fact that they have a metric shit ton on their plate but what they seem to forget is that life is all about choices and they chose to start working, get married and have children before passing the exam. So, sorry but it’s not like life is just a random shuffled deck, each candidate getting whichever cards the dealer hands out; we’re all adults here and as such, it’s important that we recognize the impact of the choices we make. The AICPA Board of Examiners didn’t decide to start a family for you, you did.
This exam sucks for everyone and for different reasons. Stop making it suck even for people who aren’t taking it by thinking somehow you are more important than everyone else and therefore entitled to some kind of special treatment because you work 60 hours a week (who chose this line of work again? Please remind me). Somehow hundreds of thousands of equally-busy future CPAs have managed to pass this thing before you and I didn’t hear most of them complaining about how busy they are. Get over yourself or get out of public.
On this, the final CPA exam testing day of 2010, I feel compelled to skip the advice column and launch straight into the rant. It’s finally over and here’s hoping you people will stop asking the same five questions about the 2011 exam over and over.
I don’t mean to offend anyone in particular so if you catch a feeling on this, it’s probably because I’m talking directly to you. You know who you are and I respectfully request you knock it the fuck off.
First, the misinformation surrounding the 2011 exam changes absolutely blows my mind. The AICPA announced these changes well in advance of the planned launch of CBT-e and I can’t speak for everyone but know that we here at Going Concern have covered just about every tiny detail of what’s ahead. Regardless, I still get my inbox blown up with the same simple questions, the answers to which may be found with a simple Google search or by checking out our previous posts on the subject. Information is everywhere, you’ve just got to get off your lazy ass and look for it.
I think you guys are forgetting that this is a professional examination and that you are allegedly professionals. Is it reasonable for professionals to work with financial statements being misinformed and confused by simple instructions? No. Is it reasonable for CPA exam candidates to have absolutely no idea what is happening in 2011? HELL NO.
The “OG” CPAs of the paper and pencil days laugh at candidates who have to take the computerized exam and for good reason, you guys can’t even figure out a simple change like CBT-e. People still seem to believe BEC will contain simulations in 2011 and for Christ’s sake, let’s all keep in mind that about 90 – 95% of what is being tested in 2010 will still be tested in 2011. Do you really think the AICPA Board of Examiners is going to trash all those wonderful questions they worked so hard to get? Please.
So while you guys are freaking out over changes that aren’t even going to happen, you could be studying current material and educating yourself on what’s new for next year. I’m shocked that so few of you know that the exam actually changes twice a year, every year anyway and that 2011 is really no different except for the fact that it is a bit larger a change than usual. It sickens me, actually, because I had so much more faith in you guys to go into the exam prepared and informed. Instead I continue to get the same 4 or 5 questions over and over and over and always walk away with the sense that you guys aren’t listening and unless it is handed to you, won’t go looking for the answers you need.
Seriously, knock it off. Now that 2011 is very nearly upon us, I expect ALL OF YOU to get off your asses, get to the Google and do some reading. It’s really not hard, the info is plastered all over the AICPA’s website as well as places like the CPAnet forums and various blogs strewn throughout the blogosphere.
You’re making the profession look bad, you know. How can accountants protect the public interest if they can’t even figure out a simple change to the CPA exam?
Side note: While I’m ranting about the 2011 exam, I should also throw in a few expletives meant specifically for the AICPA Board of Examiners for choosing to do this in the first place. WTF were you thinking?! We don’t even use IFRS and don’t know when we will, why the hell should we be so eager to test it now?!