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September 30, 2023


a locked fence to represent barriers to entry

150 Hours is a Barrier – Really!

By Sharon Lassar, PhD, CPA (Florida) John J. Gilbert Professor and Director of the School of Accountancy, University of Denver A friend asked why I believe the 150-hour requirement is more of a barrier of entry to the accounting profession than a 120-hour requirement with added experience. That is a great question. Although, it does […]

a hand with "no" written on it

Research: Why Students — Particularly Diverse Ones — Aren’t Pursuing Accounting

The Center for Audit Quality — the AICPA-affiliated “nonpartisan public policy organization serving as the voice of U.S. public company auditors and matters related to the audits of public companies” — has released a 63-page report entitled Increasing Diversity in the Accounting Profession Pipeline that tackles the historically under-reported and totally mysterious issue of why […]

an angry stress ball getting poked

People Shouldn’t Be in a Constant State of Stress and Exhaustion Due to Their Jobs, Deloitte Report Unironically Says

Yesterday, Deloitte released a new report in collaboration with independent research firm Workplace Intelligence that tackles the important issue of employee well-being. Like the employees, employee well-being isn’t doing so great. To arrive at these conclusions, they conducted a survey in March 2023 among 3,100 employees, managers and C-level executives across the U.S., U.K., Canada […]

illustration of man reflecting himself in the mirror, loop surreal concept

This Accountant Shortage Nonsense Reeks of Deja Vu

Prior to 2007 I had little idea the accounting profession existed. I mean, I knew it was a thing and it’s possible young me read a story or two on the Yahoo! homepage about Enron but it wasn’t until 2007 that I really knew about it. That was the year I started working in CPA […]

graphic of a man pulling out empty pockets

KPMG Research Confirms: Social Class Determines Your Career Opportunities. Surprise!

Some time back, KPMG UK released novel research that analyzed the career paths of more than 16,500 partners and employees at KPMG over a five-year period to discover that socioeconomic background, measured by parental occupation, had the strongest effect on how quickly an individual progressed through the firm. So if a KPMG employee’s highest earning […]

KPMG Manchester office and some clip art people

If Your Parents Were Poor, It Takes Longer to Climb the Ladder at KPMG (No Really)

Big 4 firms spit out all kinds of research — very little of which rates a mention beyond maybe somewhere in a linkwrap if that — but this research from KPMG we’re about to share with you (which we did bury in a linkwrap some weeks back) deserves a callout of its own. Not because […]

weiner dog

This One Chart Shows Just How Boned the Accounting Profession Is

Perusing The CPA Journal as one does when one is tasked with the onerous burden of reporting on happenings in a profession in which so few things happen, I saw this discussion on CPA Evolution by Nina Terranova Dorata, PhD, CPA and Vincent J. Shea. In it, questions are tossed out about how accounting education […]

Shocking News: 82.4% of Hiring Managers Are Struggling to Find Accounting and Finance Talent

What we’re about to share with you shouldn’t be news to anyone and in fact the only news here is that somewhere, 9.1% of public company hiring managers and 14.8% of private company hiring managers are not struggling to find talent. Well that’s what they reported to Deloitte, anyway. Sheryl Estrada writes in Fortune: Deloitte shared […]

ESG Is the Next ‘Hot Thing’ In Accounting, Say MIT Researchers

For years we’ve been hearing how blockchain and AI will transform accounting, and this recent article from MIT Sloan School of Management (aka MIT Sloan) about the five forces remaking accounting gives them both the obligatory nod. But we’re not here to talk about blockchain. We’re here to talk about ESG. After a brief introductory […]

Getting Interrupted at the Workplace Is Probably Stressing You Out

Although it feels like it was a lifetime ago, I’m going to ask you to recall back to The Before TimeTM when everyone still worked in offices. Picture it: you’re back at your desk, deep into a project, and finding your groove. Your fingers are tapping away, and the work is getting done before your […]

Number of the Day: 124%

Because a good deal of you guys are now working from home, accountants contributed to VPN usage in the U.S. increasing 124% between March 9 and March 22, according to data from Atlas VPN. From March 16 to March 22, VPN usage increase 71%. During the last two weeks, VPN usage in the US increased […]

It Turns Out Clients Really Don’t Like It When Auditors Call Them Out on Their Sh*t

In shocking research presented earlier this month at the American Accounting Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco, Elizabeth N. Cowle and Stephen P. Rowe of the University of Arkansas have confirmed suspicions that clients shun audit firms with a reputation for being hard-asses. Let’s check out the abstract: We examine whether the audit market penalizes […]

Have You Been Approached By a Colleague to Participate In a Fraud?

Good morning, GCers. Some friends of ours at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario are conducting research on group fraud and other highly unethical acts, and we’re hoping you can do them a solid and help them with their project. While I’m sure they wouldn’t pass up an opportunity […]

Holding out money

Hiring Executives with Audit Experience and Paying Them Well is Stupid, Says Research

Since the dawn of time, or at least since the dawn of the green eyeshade, corporations have looked to fill the C-suite with financially literate hires. And who, I ask, is more financially literate than a former accounting professional? Well, other than whoever is in charge of laundering drug money for the Sinaloa cartel, probably […]

woman typing

Report: Big 4 Audits Are Rarely Led By Women

On this, the most sacred of #AuditorProud days, we thought we’d tackle the recent CFA Institute report [PDF] that shows women are woefully underrepresented as lead engagement partners. This data is available thanks to AuditorSearch and a hard-fought battle over the years to require partner naming on audit reports. Thankfully, that tattooing the client’s name […]

PwC Concludes Female Millennials Are Great For Vague, Pointless Research

Another day, another study, and this time it's yet again one of accounting firms' favorite target: the misunderstood Millennial. And female ones at that, oh boy! I bet this research is going to be compelling and fascinating and show us so much we don't already know about this misunderstood yet massive chunk of the workforce. […]

Science Says Networking for Career Gain Makes Us Feel Dirty

Tiziana Casciaro at the University of Toronto, Francesca Gino at Harvard, and Maryam Kouchaki at Northwestern have done some interesting research for those of us who get the heeby jeebies from the thought of shaking all those hands in pursuit of strong professional relationships: networking makes us feel dirty. Fast Company reports: "We argued that, […]

Plan Your Day Around Your Internal Ethics Clock

I've been seeing these stories pop up about how night owls are more ethical at night, and knowing that most of us put in our time during the day despite the fact that we'd rather work third shift, thought this might be an item worth discussing. Fast Company explains the research: Whether you are a […]

CAQ-Commissioned Study Finds Reasonable Assurance Somewhat More Reasonable These Days

We're sharing the following with you not because we think it is a sign that both clients and their auditors have cleaned up their acts but it is a perfect example of how dangerous data can be in the wrong hands. Let's take a look at the results of the work done by Susan Scholz, […]

Groundbreaking Study Discovers Big 4 Partners Tend to Be Hardworking, Male, and White

What makes a Big 4 partner? Chris Carter, Crawford Spence and Claire Dambrin (academics, natch) set out to find that answer, looking specifically at partners in Canada, France and the UK. You will not be surprised by the results. First, they discovered that only about 2-3% of those who start out at Big 4 make […]

PwC Can’t Make Up Its Mind on a Global Sick Leave Policy

ICYMI, PwC US Chairman Bob Moritz was in Washington today talking about flexibility and diversity and the importance of trustworthy fonts in autumnal color schemes at the White House Summit on Working Families (I made that last one up, obvs). On his panel, this happened: Bob Moritz, chairman of PriceWaterhouseCoopers: when we switched to unlimited […]

As Luck Would Have It, Big 4 Partners are Pretty Much Just Like You

This kind of goes with the article we shared last week, which quoted one Jacob Soll as saying accounting as a profession has been de-elited and made Midwestern (which is another say of saying pedestrian and not all that special). Side note but you will be happy to know Jacob reached out to us, tried […]

Over a Third of Accountants Would Rather Get Divorced Than Experience a Sales Tax Audit, Says This

Fun statistic of the day courtesy Avalara: 37% of accounting professionals said a sales tax audit would be more stressful than a divorce. And here's a funky graphic from that same research report: Yeah, no wonder they think it would be stressful, then.

Big 4 Dominance Bad For Audit Quality, Says Research

Well this is fascinating research from across the pond. Do you mean to tell me the fact that four audit firms basically rule the roost is bad for audit quality? I'm shocked. Here's the scoop from Economia: According to the YouGov research which was carried out for the Financial Reporting Council, “Overall there is a fear […]

When CEOs and Audit Committee Members Are BFFs, Financial Statements Are Ps of S

Welcome to the latest edition of Accumulated Deprecation, Greg Kyte's monthly column. Go here to read more of Greg's posts. Dutch people are assholes. In the United States, under SarBox, a 100 percent independent audit committee's good enough, but a group of Dutch researchers1 don’t even want CEOs and audit committee members to be friends.2 […]

What Future Accounting Professors Need to Know About ‘Publish or Perish’

This is the final post in the PhD series from Dr. Emelee, who is a Big 4 refugee in the process of obtaining his PhD. You can find his previous posts here. Happy trails, Doc! Once you finish the PhD and become an Assistant Professor at a university, it’s time to start working toward tenure. […]

Just How Important Is Research on the CPA Exam?

Today’s fantastic question comes from loyal reader Chloe who wants to know about research. We addressed this way back in September of 2010 but now that the new CPA exam is in the wild and you guys are actually out there taking it, it’s appropriate to revisit.

Question as follows:

My question is about research tabs. In one of your previous articles, you said that Research tabs are worth a lot more now (something like 8 points if I remember correctly).

In the first quarter 2011, I took REG and passed with 88. I got 2 research tabs, which I think I got both wrong (one may be pre-test). I dont really believe that the research tabs has so much weights now. I mean, how can the weighting go from so unimportant to being so important now? Also, my score suggest to me, the research tab may not be worth so much like the 8 points that you mentioned. I tried to ask this same question to my Becker instructor, but she has no idea.

I am going to take AUD in May 2011. I wanted to know what really is the weightage given to research tabs. If I can’t find the correct research, it can mean a lot of collateral damage. U know I mean?

According to the AICPA, task-based simulation problems (TBS) make up 40% of your score in FAR, AUD and REG. Of your seven simulation problems in AUD and FAR and six in REG, one of these for each section is pretest, meaning it does not count towards your score.

The AICPA does not differentiate research from other simulation problems in the 2011 exam, so it should be assumed that each simlet is worth the same amount of points. Because we are unable to determine just how many points are allocated to each TBS, the best we can say is that with the new exam format, you must do moderately well in the simulation part of your exam to pass. The exam is on a plus-point basis and a passing score is not a percent correct, so it would be difficult to determine the actual number of points each TBS is worth.

But we can guess that if TBS problems make up 40% of your score and, in AUD, there are seven of these problems, each one is worth about 6 1/2% of your score (since one is not counted). Do with that information what you will.

In previous incarnations of the exam, candidates could blow an entire simulation (of two) and still pass fairly easily, as long as they did fairly well on the MCQ portion. For the new exam, however, this is fairly impossible since TBS problems are now smaller but more heavily-weighted.

Long story short, treat research problems like they are operational and worth just as much as your other simulations since they are. Don’t forget to take advantage of six months free access to the professional literature so you can practice research ahead of your next exam.

In your case, you probably did pretty well on the MCQ and your other simulation problems or fairly well across the board and actually got the research questions you thought you got wrong. Don’t question it, celebrate it and know you’re that much closer to your CPA. Congrats!

FYI – This Is the Last CPA Exam Window To Blow Off Research Tabs

If you’ve been paying attention, you already know that as is, research isn’t very important and if you’re running out of time on a simulation you should completely ignore it. It might be worth a point and let’s be real about it, no one uses it unless they need words for a written communication. Shame on you guys.

Starting January 1, 2011, however, you’re going to have to start giving a shit about the research. I know, lame. They want you to know how to search the code because that’s what you have to look forward to once you get those three letters after your name. Awesome, right? Figure it out.

Research problems will make up one simlet tab in REG, AUD and FAR. FAR and REG are fairly easy in that you only have three databases to search through; in REG, you’ll have to look through the Internal Revenue Code and Tax Services code while in FAR you only have the ASCs to worry about. AUD, however, is littered with 10 different sets of code so you better get familiar with research by A) using the research problems you already have in CPA review textbooks and software and B) playing with the actual functionality of the 2011 CPA exam format if you are sitting for the first time after January 1.

For those sitting for the first time in this coming window, you’ll still have the old research format (unless the AICPA Board of Examiners is trying out their new simlets one last time as pretest questions before the CBT-e beast goes live next year) so you can always feel welcome to ignore it if you are halfway through your simulation with only a quarter of it bubbled in. You can still find that tutorial on the AICPA’s website as well and it is advised that you try it out before you show up at Prometric and waste a bunch of time figuring out how to work the controls. It’s fairly straight-forward but you might as well give it a test drive as you can’t waste 5 minutes to pee let alone try to puzzle your way through an unfamiliar exam format.

I hope to hear that all of you blow research off all the way up until November 30, 2010 (you know, to show your solidarity and commitment to the collective experience of taking this damn exam)… Yes, November 30th, the day most of you are sitting for one last part. Any update on Prometric blackouts in your area? So far I’ve heard the Bay Area is getting completely booked up for the last week of November (shock) but not much else. Any of you having trouble getting in at the last possible minute or more?

This is why we always tell you to schedule early but why listen to us?

If you’d like to know something about the exam (don’t ask where the tutorial is, I just gave it to you), get in touch.