Pouring Out – Don’t Attend the Buffet

Blogger: Jacob Walker

Did you get to your current position in life solely due to your own endeavors? Or were there people that helped you along the way? The more thought you put into it, the more you realize how much help you have actually received. Every friend that gave you a piece of advice, the people that raised you making you who you are now, every professor that took the time to share their knowledge, every boss who gave you an opportunity to succeed, they all have one thing in common. They all helped you.

So, what is this buffet the title mentions? And why shouldn’t you attend it? Every single person has received help in some form or another. As this is an incredible thing, someone who attends the buffet and pursues help with an “all you can eat” mentality hinders themselves. There is an element of giving back and assisting others that completes us as human beings. As much as I am poured into, I want to pour out into those around me. The most meaningful experiences I’ve had in my 22 years on this planet involve the times that I have put others first and helped them with little to gain from it myself. There is something innate inside of us that desires to serve others. The more you pursue pouring out into others, the more you grow as a person.

I’ve heard it put beautifully using an analogy. The Jordan River can be found in the Middle East and supports the life of many people living around it. It flows through the Sea of Galilee both entering and exiting it. The Sea of Galilee has both an inflow and outflow feature. There is an abundance of life and nature both inside the sea itself and in the surrounding area. It’s a beautiful sight. However, the Jordan River continues on and ends in the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea has an inflow feature, but there is no outflow to it. As a result, there is no life in the sea and the surrounding area is barren. Isn’t it funny how these ideas can be seen in nature? The sea with inflows and outflows is full of life, but the sea solely with an inflow is dead; it is literally called the Dead Sea. Likewise, we should be both helped by others and help others. Only receiving help and never helping others leads to a result similar to that of the Dead Sea – barren.

The Bible talks about this in Galatians 5:13. It says “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” How are you doing when it comes to helping those around you? As Anne Frank said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” Experiencing humanity to the fullest of its extent involves putting others first and being a source of help to those around us. The more you pursue this idea, the more you will grow as an individual yourself.

Posted in jacob walker | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Save the Date! TSCPA and Becker Host CPA Exam Webinar on Oct. 18

The registration process for the CPA designation can be confusing and taxing! Join Becker CPA Exam Review and TSCPA for a free webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at noon to help answer your questions and set you on the path toward becoming a CPA. Topics will include: strategies for exam preparation, Texas education requirements and the application process, a 2017 exam update, and more. For more information, contact Kim Holland at kholland@becker.com.

To sign up, please RSVP here.

Posted in TSCPA | Leave a comment

TSCPA Seeking 2017-2018 Faculty Reps!

If you’re an accounting educator who is passionate about helping your students learn more about and connect to the CPA profession, please consider becoming a TSCPA Faculty Rep. In exchange for your time and efforts promoting TSCPA and the CPA profession, you receive a special dues discount and a FREE registration to TSCPA’s annual Accounting Education Conference. Learn more about the criteria and find an application here.

Posted in TSCPA | Leave a comment

The Upside-Down View of Leadership and Why You Should Care

Blogger: Jacob Walker

When you think of a leader, what comes to mind? What about a boss? If these two terms are not synonymous in your vocabulary, then the remainder of this post is for you.

Imagine two scenarios:

  1. You show up to work only to be yelled at by a superior demanding that certain tasks get done in an unreasonable amount of time. There is no appreciation when you meet their extreme expectations, and you feel like you have been stuck in the same position for too long.
  2. Your boss asks how projects are going and asks if there is any way they can lend a hand. Not only do they go out of their way to provide assistance, but they make sure you have all the tools necessary to reach your full potential.

These might sound like two extremes, but scenario 1 exists far too often. There is one simple way to revolutionize how you lead which creates an environment where everyone thrives. This is done through something called servant leadership. Most people view leaders as someone who is at the top and commands people below. Servant leadership flips that idea around and puts the leader on the same level as his subordinates getting the work done with them. The boss from scenario 2 embraces this idea and lets it show in how he directs his employees.

In my six years of employment working various jobs, I have experienced both forms of leadership. A scenario 1 boss creates an environment of hostility and fear in the workplace. Not only do employees dread coming to work, but they are motivated to only put in enough effort to get the boss off their back. A scenario 2 boss creates a warm and trusting environment that employees love. Not only do they look forward to work, but they want to go above and beyond because their boss leads by example.

The beauty of servant leadership is that it does not stop there. One of my favorite quotes is from Todd Wagner. He says, “Great men use power to serve others.” Part of being a servant leader is not just leading by example, but it is using your available resources to ensure that your employees are maximizing their potential and advancing in their careers. If you master this skill as you move up the corporate ladder, there will be no limits.

This idea of leadership is easy to grasp but much harder to put into practice. As a student myself, it is something I constantly strive for because acting as an effective servant leader is not something that happens overnight. I know that if I begin trying now, it will come much easier when I do start off in my career.

Now think of the best boss you have ever worked for; do you see any similarities between how they lead and how a servant leader acts? Perhaps you can think of a terrible boss who does the opposite of what servant leader does. Regardless of which category your superiors fall under, understand that servant leadership is the golden standard. When you put it into practice, you will soon realize that it is a challenging and humbling experience. However, the quicker you adopt the upside-down view of leadership, the better off you will be.

Posted in jacob walker | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Big Data Analytics in the Accounting World

Blogger: Medha Bhasi

In an increasingly data-driven world, extracting actionable information from the data is becoming more difficult, and the question remains, are we able to exploit the data to our full advantage? To keep up with today’s rapidly complicated governance and risk management business model, progressive audit firms have started using technology to change the way in which audits are conducted. As the reporting and disclosure requirement is increasing, the auditors continue to gather more information from clients and operations, but knowing how to analyze and apply it is imperative. Business analytics shows us how to analyze the volumes of information obtained. For many of us, this term is comparatively new in accounting. Data Analysis is the process of extracting data from different sources and categorizing it to identify and analyze data patterns to enhance productivity with the aid of specialized systems and software. In the auditing world, it will enable the auditors to analyze both structured and unstructured data.

As companies like Amazon, Netflix and Target try to position themselves to reap the benefits from data analytics and harvest data about consumers’ buying patterns, similarly the use of analytics has the potential to help management and internal and external auditors conduct more effective and efficient audits. Data analytics can play a key role in different aspects of accounting. An accounting professional is now required to perform tasks with skills that will integrate analytics into the audit process and enhance audit quality by producing higher quality audit evidence. One of the significant trends after the integration of analytics in audit is permitting both external and internal auditors to look at the entire data sets rather than manually reviewing statistical samples. Using audit data analytics throughout the audit process will not only reduce repetitive tasks, but it will also help in discovering the best course of action.

Accounting professionals don’t need to have all the knowledge required to be a data scientist or computer engineer to benefit from the data revolution. However, it is important that they go beyond the traditional accounting concepts and build a strong background in the techniques and tools to evaluate data more effectively. This will aid in decision making and enhance the current audit practice. The leap from traditional audit approaches to one that fully integrates big data and analytics in a seamless manner is quite massive. Large accounting firms have already started embracing analytics in tax auditing consulting and risk management.

Analytics in External Auditing

Big data and analytics are enabling external auditors to better identify financial reporting, fraud and operational business risks, and tailor their approach to deliver a more relevant audit. Audit data analytics methods can be used in audit planning and for improving auditors’ knowledge about the transactions and balances underlying the financial statements. This will enable the auditor to assess the risk by analyzing data to identify patterns, relationships, and any variation from models. This will improve the quality of analytical procedures in all the phases of audit as these methods give auditors new insights about the entity and its risk.

Analytics in Internal Auditing

Internal audit plays a key role in ensuring that the company is operating under a sound internal control environment by carrying out various testing and internal control procedures. Internal auditors act as strategic advisors by analyzing data to produce actionable information. The value of integrating analytics into the audit will only be realized when used by auditors to modify and customise the scope, nature and extent of the audit. This will require auditors to develop new skills and techniques on knowing what relevant questions pertaining to the data are to be asked, and the ability to use analytics output to produce audit evidence and draw conclusions. As opposed to sampling a small percentage of data, the data analytics tools will allow the internal auditors to test 100 percent of various data attributes, which would help the internal auditors identify the potential business risk, such as fraudulent payments and payroll fraud.

Challenges in Analytics in Accounting

There are various issues and challenges. The biggest challenge is how to access the data and analyze it to produce actionable information. Sometimes access to audit relevant data can be limited. Multiple accounting systems within the entity contain different sets and types of data. The complexity of data and multiplicity of data sourcing for analytics remain one of the key challenges in seamless integration.

However, at the end of the day, big data analytics play a key role in audit by creating better business risks assessment, helping to derive new insights into risks, identifying frauds, errors in internal control and compliance failures. It helps transform the audit process for better financial reporting, and shifts the focus to information that counts rather than information overload.

Posted in Medha Bhasin | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ways to Effectively Manage Your Finances Before and After College

Blogger: Triza Nganga

As an accounting major enrolled in graduate courses and planning to sit for the CPA Exam soon, I fully understand the financial challenges faced by my peers to pay for our education. There are numerous opportunities that accounting majors could take advantage of before and after graduating to help us make sound financial choices.

Accounting firms offer different financial benefits and incentives to their employees. The following are some of them that I would like to share:

  1. CPA Bonus: Some firms reward employees with bonuses of up to $5,000 for passing all four parts of the CPA exam within a certain period of time. Firms strongly encourage obtaining a CPA license for career development, management opportunities, financial services experience and more. This is a great way to be rewarded for all your effort in preparing for the exam.
  1. Student Loan Reimbursement: Firms may assist employees in reducing their student loan debt through different benefits. For example, PwC’s Student Loan Paydown benefit will pay $1,200 a year towards the loans of associates and senior associates.
  1. 401(k) Retirement Plans: Employees can contribute a portion of their wages to their 401(k) Retirement Plan and often receive a matching contribution from their employer. Many firms encourage employees to participate in their 401(k) plans to have a financially secure retirement with the financial assistance of the firm.

In addition to post-graduate financial benefits, accounting majors could also reap financial benefits and opportunities while in school. Through firsthand experiences combined with my observation of how other students tackle student loan debt and save money, here are a few tips I would like to share:

  1. Scholarships: Apply, apply, apply! Billions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed each year because students are not applying for them. If you come upon a scholarship that you are eligible for, don’t be shy. Go ahead and apply! You can find scholarships through the university website, accounting-related organizations and other organizations you are involved in, the financial aid office, where you work or have previously worked, scholarships search websites, and more.
  1. Discounted purchases: Our school has arrangements with various local vendors for discounts to students for a variety of purchases including auto services, dining, housing, and entertainment. All you need is your student ID. Other universities may offer similar programs to their students.

You will definitely enjoy these discounted savings!

  1. Open a savings account: Banks and credit unions offer savings accounts geared towards students that are cheaper to open and have lower fees. Save the money you have remaining from your earnings as soon as you have paid your immediate expenses. In case of emergencies, such as extra tuition or student-related fees, car breakdown, and injury, having a savings account helps fund these unexpected situations. As a result, you can avoid incurring late fees or borrowing money with interest that increases your debt.
  1. Minimize credit card balance: It is not as easy to pay off a credit card as it is to have access to one. Therefore, it is essential to make your payments on time and only charge what you can afford. Paying the full balance on time each month will help you avoid the interest on your remaining balance and late fees. Another advantage to this is you will improve your credit score in time for future purchases that perform credit checks.
  1. Use campus amenities: Check the university website to see upcoming events and activities held right on campus. Doing this before spending money off campus can save you money since most of the events and activities at school are free. For example, movie nights, comedy shows, and fitness classes are held on campus among many others.

I hope these benefits and opportunities will help you effectively manage your finances before and after graduation.

Posted in Triza Nganga | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Importance of Finding a Passion Outside of Your Major

Blogger: Pablo Juarez Herrera

You may seek to excel in your field of study by earning good grades or strive to gain applicable real-world knowledge through eager learning. However, your major shouldn’t be your one and only passion. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be one of your passions. You can simply be curious about it.

I don’t live and breathe accounting every moment of my life, but I can wake up and be curious about new standards being passed and how accounting affects our daily lives. Let me be clear, you should enjoy the work you do and, as long as that curiosity I mentioned exists, then you’re on the right track. So, rather than viewing the choosing of your major as this process of searching for “something” that will ultimately define and complete you, enrich your college experience by picking up an activity or joining a club outside of your major that you enjoy simply because it’s fun.

During my first year of college I wasn’t very involved in any extra curricular activities. In my second year I became slightly more involved, but only in organizations related to accounting. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I decided to join an organization outside of my major. For me that was UTD’s student-led newspaper The Mercury. I always had an affinity for sports and the journalism behind it intrigued me so I decided to give sports writing a chance. The benefits ended up being two-fold.

Helped me expand my network

Although having business connections can be beneficial, especially in a business-oriented field of study, there can be great value in having connections in other areas of expertise. Through the newspaper I was able to interact with colleagues from various majors. It made me more aware of my surroundings and allowed me to view certain situations in a different manner. I became more appreciative of others people’s talents and ideas.

Provided me with a conversation starter

As I was in the process of searching for an internship, I can’t tell you how many times interviewers brought up the fact that I was a part of a publication and proceeded to ask me about it. They were genuinely interested, and they could see that it wasn’t something I joined just to pad my resume. As I went through the recruiting process, it continued to be a topic of conversation and I was able to share my experiences, which lead to more genuine conversations. I didn’t have to bring up the weather or robotically ask them questions they’ve heard a thousand times.

Taught me how to build relationships

Through my time with The Mercury I’ve done countless interviews. But the first time I had to contact a coach and interview them I was pretty nervous. As time went on, I got to know the players and coaching staff better. I would sometimes see them in the hallway and have a brief conversation with them. As we became more comfortable around each other our interviews just became casual conversations. I learned how to deal with various personalities and really got to know others on a more personal level.

So I encourage everybody, if time permits, to find an organization or hobby outside of your major that you can have a passion for. Don’t do it just because you think it’ll make your resume look good. Chances are that there can be relevant life lessons learned that will make you a better individual and can be applicable to any field of study.

Posted in TSCPA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment