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Is Pulling a No-Show a Good Move If You’re Completely Unprepared for the CPA Exam?

Do you guys ever read Yahoo! Answers? It’s awesome. Especially the posts that revolve around asking the Internet at large if the asker could be pregnant based on some risky behavior like, say, hanging out topless in a hot tub with a guy with a boner.

But useless drivel aside, sometimes good questions are asked. Given that it’s CPA exam score time once again and some of you who got bad news might not feel like talking about scores, I wanted to share this with you all and see what you think instead of discussing that.

Way back in my CPA review days, when asked this question by our students, I’d almost always tell them to go anyway. Even if you aren’t prepared, you’ve already spent the money on your exam and aren’t getting it back so why not go so you can at least get familiar with the questions?

Here’s the question:

I am scheduled to take the auditing section of the CPA exam tomorrow morning. Problem is, I haven’t studied at all. I also am now in private accounting, but still would like the certification. I have passed one already. I can’t reschedule the test because my Notice to Schedule expires next week.

So I was curious… the money I spent (about $200) is non-refundable- fine. It’s my fault for not studying. But canceling it altogether is $35. My question is, why would I cancel? Can I just not go? I realize going and failing would go on the record, but at least I could see how it is. So I have three options.

First of all, to what “record” is this person referring? I know some of you who have tried and failed over EIGHTEEN times. After the 7th or 8th time, most people learn to keep their mouth shut at work when they are headed to Prometric once again (though all those “personal days” can get a bit suspect), and by the 17th or 18th they have gotten so good at the action of sitting for the exam they actually pass. Your firm doesn’t keep a permanent file with your numerous exam failures in it, though your cattier colleagues might keep a mental one so they have some bullshit to hold over you next time they’re trying to outshine you in front of the partner. Big deal.

Anyway – what’s the benefit of paying more for a no-show over just not going? Assuming you’ve got some time left on your NTS, you will not have to reapply for a new one to take that section. We think. Check out this thread on the Another71 forums for more info on that option, plus yet more commentary on the confusing labyrinth that is dealing with the CPA exam authorities.

Apparently, if you no show, NASBA will allow you to re-apply for a new NTS within 48 hours of your no show exam (see this thread, also from Another71), which could work in your favor if your NTS is going to expire at the beginning of the window but your first passing exam expires at the end and you need the extra time to study.

Your best bet in this situation is to cram in a few days of as much studying as you can and just go. Granted, cramming is pretty useless when it comes to the CPA exam but you never know.

Anyone taken either of these paths? Better yet, has anyone shown up for the exam completely unprepared and actually passed?

Have You Considered Working For the FDIC?

We talk a lot about the Big 4 and even crappy IRS jobs but we here on Going Concern tend to avoid a very lucrative corner of accounting work: government.

Specifically, I’m talking about the FDIC. Peep this job post (and if you can decode its requirements, you’re probably hired) and tell me if it sounds like something you’d like to shoot for:

Financial Institution Specialists participate in the assessment of financial institutions to determine:

* safe and sound practices, violations of law and regulation
* the adequacy of internal controls and procedures
* the general character of management
* compliance with consumer protection, fair lending and civil rights laws and regulations, and the Community Reinvestment Act

To carry out these responsibilities, Financial Institution Specialists:

* review, monitor and provide analysis of information pertaining to resolutions, settlements, pro-forma preparation, information package preparation, and deposit insurance claims.
* write comments and analyses for inclusion in reports and meet with insured depository institution officials to discuss the findings of an examination and, if necessary, any corrective programs.

Think about it… you get to roll into a bank on a Friday with the rest of the FDIC task force, take over a bank and spend the rest of the night counting your loot. Sounds awesome!

If you are in Atlanta, Boston, New York, Chicago, Dallas/Memphis, Kansas City, San Francisco or Washington, DC, now’s your chance to get in on this hot bank failure action.

To qualify, you must be a federal level grade 7. Here’s all you have to do for that:

A college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and without previous experience can expect to start in the GS 5 grade, unless they meet the criteria for Superior Academic Achievement or finished a year of graduate school, but did not receive a degree, in which case they will start at the GS-7 level. A college graduate with a Master’s typically starts in the GS-9 grade. More information about the amount of qualifying education for each pay grade and what constitutes Superior Academic Achievement can be found at:

Now the important part… the money. I know that’s all you pricks care about, and/or the only reason you don’t mow down a bunch of people on the freeway with an AK-47 on your way to your cube:

The top four steps of a pay grade are higher paying than the bottom steps of the next highest grade. For example, step 10 in GS-7 pays $44,176/year, step 1 in GS-8 pays $37,631/year.

You can follow the link for specific cost of living numbers based on the area.

Now, as far as I am aware, Big 4 new hires in the San Francisco area get offered $50 – $55,000… generally speaking. In comparison, this gig doesn’t look as good on the surface. But think about it… you’ll have work for life. And benefits that you might want when you’re 50 (I know, that’s a long way off).

If the government makes it to you turning 50, that is. Think about it.

Five Year Outlook: Will You Be an Accountant?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for accountant.jpgStupid question you say? Okay but a recent survey done by E-conomic says a nearly half of our friends across the pond want to be doing something else in five years because the tax and financial reporting regulation will continue to be a nightmare.
The difference between wanting to do something else and actually doing something else is well, sorta big.
Accountancy Age:

Anders Bjornsbo, E-conomic’s operational director, said: “It’s alarming that half the accountants we spoke to said they were thinking of leaving the profession. While that’s unlikely to happen, it is perhaps illustrative of the dissatisfaction and disillusionment felt by accountants today.”

Dissatisfaction and disillusionment is something that has been discussed here in spades on our exodus post. But people getting out of the numbers game altogether? Bah. That just doesn’t strike us as a trend we’ll see soon. The survey indicates that most of you will seek advisory gigs as more compliance work moves offshore, “[T]hree quarters seeing themselves moving away from their traditional role to a more profitable consultant and business adviser position.”
That sounds about right. Despite the widespread misery, there are too many jobs out there that pay well. And let’s face it, you guys like money. You’re not going to leave it all behind to join the clergy or become philosophers.
Discuss your outlook and if you’re leaving the traditional accountant life behind for the advisory world or if you’re a lifer as tax/audit/financial reporting. And if you’re leaving all the glamor for the Peace Corps, let us know about that too.

Just When You Thought You Were Out…

Return.jpgThere comes a time in every unemployed person’s stint as Costanza where you consider going back to the job you just quit. Or maybe you got canned but now they’re reaching out to you through the alumni network just to let you know how great you are nd dang, we sure miss ya.
The BBC was asking around about employment prospects in the new year and lo and behold, they interviewed Keith Dugdale, director of global recruitment at KPMG. Amongst other ramblings, Mr. Dugdale put it out there that KPMG is maybe thinking about asking you some of you to come back:

One thing KPMG is looking at is the notion of rehiring former workers to make use of their experience.
“We are putting a lot of effort into alumni activities,” Mr Dugdale says.

Oh sure, maybe the BBC is reading into it too much but it does make us wonder how many of you would consider going back to an employer that you left because of [insert reason]. Not because you’re desperate (well maybe you are) but perhaps you decided the grass wasn’t greener after all or you’ve got streak of forgiveness in you that you didn’t realize or you told them they had to beg — like get on your knees and beg and tell me you can’t live without me! And I want an iPhone. No! Two iPhones! — and…they did. Maybe we’re broaching the unthinkable but somehow we think some of you might miss the old digs and would jump at the shot to go back. Kindly satisfy our curiosity.

Are Three Letters Enough for You?

Thumbnail image for BelushiCollege_CPA.jpgBack when we did our initial survey of you — our brilliant readers — we asked you to share with us the certifications that you boast behind your name.
As you well know, the mother of all certifications for accountants is the CPA. You hear about it in your college courses until graduation and the accounting firms put you under the gun to knock it out so you can make manager witho��������������������this coveted status, Adrienne gives you the latest in CPA exam fodder every week in her >75 column.
After dominating the CPA, your careers mosey along and eventually you may consider obtaining another certification. The motivation for more of the alphabet are many but most likely you’ll want to hold yourself out compared to your slacker co-workers or maybe you’re just obsessed with the notion of having as many letter combinations behind your name as possible.
Some of the more common certifications include:
Certified Management Accountant (CMA) – Implemented by the Institute of Management Accountants, the IMA states “As many as 85% of accountants today work inside organizations, where expertise in decision support, planning, and control over value-adding operations are crucial elements of operational success.”
Certified Financial Manager (CFM) – A complement to the CMA, the CFM can be obtained by taking one additional exam in addition to the portions under CMA.
Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) – The sexiest certification going. As long as you can keep from soiling yourself.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Among other requirements, a three part, 10-hour exam is administered three times a year for this certification.
Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) – The Institute of Internal Auditors issues this global certification that “demonstrate their comprehensive competence and professionalism in the internal auditing field.”
Certified Information Systems Auditors (CISA) – Sponsored by the ISACA, this is another global certification for information systems, audit, control, and security professionals.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) – Issued by the CFA Institute. Check out the requirements here.
Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) – Issued by the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts, this certification involves a five day training program and a 40–60 hour exam.
Although the thought of studying and testing for another certification may make you nauseous, it’s worth considering if you’re looking to make yourself a smidge more noticeable than your competition counterparts. Vote in our poll and discuss any thoughts or experiences in the comments.