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Cullman Executive Lunch with Rich Stovsky, Managing Partner, PwC

I attended my first Cullman lunch today and spent half the time wishing that I had attended more of them throughout the year.  Without doing any research, I had always assumed these were simply informal lunches at the Blackwell where everyone crowded around the special guests and didn’t get much out of it.  Turns out, I was completely wrong.  It ended up being more of a lecture in a classroom setting, but I was very impressed with both Mr. Stovsky and the lunch.

Not surprising coming from a partner, his advice was to “work hard, work hard, and… work hard.”  He preached being the first to the office and last to leave the office to show that you are dedicated to your work and can be relied upon.  He also spent a great deal of his presentation on how to attract clients and then maintain those clients.  His key was to be responsive, reliable, and build deep relationships with clients that can weather a storm.

In the end, he summarized his presentation by asking a simple question—if you were to form a two person partnership would you choose you to be the other partner?


One Last Quarter

It’s hard to believe that the spring quarter is already a month old.  We have already had the first midterm in IFRS and the quarter seems to be flying by.  Luckily, I’m taking a relatively light course load this quarter with most of my focus on studying for the CPA exam.

My courses include: IFRS, Tax Research, Cases in Tax, and Tax III.  Overall, I have been very happy with the first month of classes.  IFRS can be quite boring at times (like 99% of accounting), but learning IFRS is certainly very valuable and Professor Turner does a great job outlining the standards.  My other three classes are all with Professor Raabe.  I’m taking only two credits of both Tax III and Cases in Tax to better fit my schedule.   Similar to IFRS, I feel that Tax Research is a very valuable course that will directly benefit me in the tax profession.

Outside of studying for more of the CPA over the past couple of weeks (I took both REG & BEC this past week), I also completed the MAcc Exit Exam.  It consisted of both a paper and a survey in which we could write any thoughts about the program or how to improve it.  I was glad to see that the faculty at OSU are dedicated to improving the MAcc program and seek our input to improve it.


More CPA Studying

While walking around campus today, I saw someone wearing a shirt that said, “Hard work pays off later, laziness pays off now.”  While I had to laugh at the comical shirt, I have not adopted the strategy of reaping immediate rewards this quarter in the hopes that my hard work pays off exponentially in the future.  Last week, I skipped taking a trip on the last “Spring Break” of my life to study for the BEC & REG exams the entire week.

I am roughly 6 weeks into my studying for BEC & REG and feel very confident about the material (which I can only hope will translate well to the exam).  I finished up my last MDS REG class on March 20th and have been working on the seemingly never-ending homework problems since then.  While I have not officially signed up to take the exams yet, I plan on taking BEC at the beginning of next week and then REG at some point in the 3rd week of April because my Financial and Auditing classes begin the 4th week of April.  From there, I hope to take one of them in mid-May, and the last at the tail-end of May.

While this is a very ambitious schedule, I think it is very doable and offers many advantages.  To name a few–first, I will be given a second opportunity to pass any exam I may not pass the first time in the summer before I start working in the fall.  I don’t think I will be able to successfully study for the exam once I start working in the fall, so I want to give myself this second chance this summer.  Secondly, if I am able to pass all four sections on the first try (something accomplished by roughly 10% of all test takers), I will be able to enjoy my summer without the CPA exam hanging over my head.


Wrapping up the 2nd Quarter

As the second quarter slowly winds down, the workload has spiked up, and my free time has become very scarce.

In my auditing class, I will have a couple more cases to complete over the coming weeks and then a challenging comprehensive final to study for.  In financial modeling, I have wrapped up all of my individual assignments, but have a massive utility company call center model to build and develop a presentation on by March 9.  There are five individuals in our group and it is recommended that we each spend 30 hours working on the model.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to meet up and discuss a good “game plan” for compiling the model, so we are basically at the beginning stages.  In tax, I have two more chapters to read and take quizzes on.  Finally, in 803, I have another big assignment and a final exam coming up.

While that in itself is a sizable workload, I have added substantial hours to that by starting to take CPA exam review courses.  After considering all of my options, I decided to take MDS CPA review.  While most people choose Becker, I chose MDS because I felt more confident about the instruction I would receive in the live classes.  In addition, I already have all of Becker’s material, so I couldn’t justify signing up for Becker just for the live courses when I already have the material.  I am admittedly a terrible self-studier and know that I need some structure to effectively study.  Right now, I have Regulation class every Saturday from 8:15 – 3:45 and Business on Monday & Wednesday from 6:00 – 9:00.

All of this has certainly taught me how essential it is to plan ahead and stay organized.


Stress Management Workshop

This past Monday I attended a stress management workshop over lunch.  Three individuals from Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) spoke about sources of stress, tips to prevent stress, and the services that they offer.

Some of the main sources of stress they identified for grad students include: school/ academics, finding a job, relationships, finances, social life, and career indecision.

Tips to handle stress include: (1) take a deep breath, (2) manage time (plan ahead), (3) take care of body (eat right, get sleep, & avoid caffeine, sugar, and nicotine), (4) laugh, (5) maintain a positive outlook (try to write down 5 positives every day), (6) know your limits (what you are able to control), and (7) exercise.  Other coping strategies include: (1) listing priorities, (2) balance work with recreation, (3) find a support system, (4) Talk about your problems to someone you trust, and (5) practice creative writing.


Registering for the CPA Exam

A good portion of this past week has been spent registering to take the CPA exam in Ohio.  The application itself consists of 6 separate pages that can all be completed online.  They include:

* “Personal Information” – simple name, DOB, SSN, etc

* “CPA Exam Applicant Questions” — Total # of credit hrs, GPA, GPA in accounting (a pain to determine if not calculated by undergrad school), and total amount of accounting work experience.

*”Ohio Exam Applicant Questions”— They basically just ask if you have taken the exam before, and any criminal history.

* “Education History”—every place that you have attended college and what degree was received

* “References”–  Must list four separate references

* “Credit Card Info”—the fun part where you get to pay for how many exams you decided to sign up for.  If taking all four, it comes out to $963 (App Fee – $140, Auditing – $230.55, Business – $180.95, Financial Accounting – $218.15, and Regulation – $193.35)

Some helpful links when registering for the CPA are listed below:

* AICPA

*Ohio Society of CPAs

* NASBA

* Application

* Accountancy Board of Ohio


AMIS 822 Assurance Services Exam

This past Monday was my 822 midterm exam.  While the class is titled, “Assurance Services,” I think a more appropriate name would be “Business Statistics.”  Either way, it is certainly a phenomenal auditing class in which the professor demands a lot from students and the students learn a great deal.

The core of the exam was all of the different types of statistical analysis that can be run on accounting data to determine if there is “material misstatement”, which can hint that there is fraud (reporting deceptive #’s), larceny (taking money when recording the sale), or skimming (taking money and not recording the sale).  Statistics are useful for summarizing large amount of data into a form that can be easily interpreted.  In auditing, they are generally used to evaluate whether a discrepancy is large enough to investigate further, or whether it can be ignored.  In addition, they can be used by managers to develop expectations about accounting numbers and then comparing these numbers to the observed data.

The analysis covered in class includes many different tests– the Change Point Test, Chai Square Goodness-of-Fit-Test, Chair Square Contingency Table Test, and T-Test.  To aid in using these tests, we use z-Scores, and regression models.  Each of these tests has its own specific purpose for detecting misstatement which is thoroughly covered by Professor Spires.

Overall, the exam was very comprehensive as I had planned and the result will certainly be an indicator of how much I know about auditing & statistics.


My First Cbus Winter

As a resident of Northwest Ohio for 20 years, I assumed that when I moved to Columbus last September the weather would be very similar to that I had always experienced.  As a tot, I loved playing in the snow, making snowmen, sledding, and snowmobiling through the rural landscape.  However, as the last couple of snowstorms in Columbus have taught me, almost none of those are possible in Columbus.

First, the three – five degree temperature increase in Columbus seems to make all of the snow turn into sleet, freezing rain, or some other mixture of snow and rain on the way down; so there never seems to be a snowy accumulation.  The worst part is when the slop then freezes and everything turns to ice.  Luckily, this was very uncommon in Northwest Ohio, so I rarely had to worry about slipping and falling every time I walked out my front door.  Finally, the worst part of my experience has been the fact that I’m forced to park on the street as the house that I reside in does not have a driveway.

On Friday night when I went out in the slush, it was relatively easy to get me car out, but when the snow plow came down our road later that night, it threw all of the slush up against my car and both of my left tires were completely covered in ice.  After dumping endless buckets of steaming hot water on my tires Saturday and thawing the ice for over an hour, I was able to get my car.  It was then that I decided that my best tool to fight the Columbus winters is not a snow shovel (nearly useless on ice); rather a hatchet to bust the ice.  I picked up my first one today at target and was able to get my car out in under five minutes.




Excel, Excel, and more Excel

As I have written about in many of my previous blogs, I feel that one of the main advantages of the Fisher MAcc compared to other MAcc programs around that state is that students are basically allowed to enroll in whatever courses we are interested in within the business school at Fisher (granted some minimal accounting requirements are met).  I really enjoyed my elective courses last quarter and decided that I was up for a challenge with “BUSFIN849: Financial Spreadsheets in Excel” this quarter.  However, what I didn’t realize is just how much time I would be spending completing the weekly assignments.

Professor Oglevee is great at setting high expectations and he pushes every student to turn in professional work.  Included in that is hours upon hours of compiling spreadsheets, ensuring that all of the formatting is correct (numbers line up, all colors are correct, everything is readable when printed…).  While I thought I already had very good Excel skills coming into the class, this course has taught me that there is nearly an endless amount of Excel skills that can be learned.  For example, we just got out first introduction to Virtual Basic Editor Today—something I have very little experience with).  The models that we create also show just how many different uses there are for Excel.

While it will take a lot of time and a great deal of attention to detail, I feel that this course will be very beneficial for me when starting my professional career.


Quarter #2

Coming from a school on semesters in undergrad, it is strange to have only completed 1/3 of the school year at this point when it would normally be half over.  However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not excited to for my last two quarters.  I am fortunate to have the massive weight of finding a job off my shoulders and now I can just focus on my schoolwork and soon, the CPA exam.

I am looking forward to a terrific quarter as I feel that the four classes I have selected will be great learning experiences and all have great professors.  The class that I think I will enjoy the most is Financial Modeling in Excel taught by Professor Oglevee.  He has a Wall Street background and expects perfection from his students.  I think this will challenge me to focus on detail (I’m a big picture thinker, so this has always been an issue) and the class will also allow me to enhance my Excel skills.

The class that all MAcc students are required to take this quarter is Fundamentals of Accounting taught by professor Arya.  The class is very laid back and generally consists of a lecture about a managerial accounting topic.  While I have chosen not to pursue a career in corporate accounting after two years of experience, it has always interested me.  Arya asks intriguing questions about managerial decision-making based on accounting data and challenges us to think outside the box.

My other two classes this quarter are an auditing course with Professor Spires and Business Taxation with Professor Raabe.  Both professors have an immense amount of experience in their chosen fields and it will certainly help me to draw on their knowledge throughout the quarter.  I feel fortunate to get some exposure to auditing even though I will be focusing on tax this fall.


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