MAcc Gives Back

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Every year, the students in the MAcc program participate in something called “MAcc Gives Back.” This event takes place on a Friday in the spring when MAcc students don’t have class. This year, students were split into 8 groups, and each group was assigned a specific volunteer site to perform volunteer work at for the afternoon. In addition to students from the MAcc program, various faculty and staff in Fisher performed volunteer work with us. Each group also had one or two professional members from accounting firms in Columbus assist with volunteering. All the volunteers met at Fisher prior to volunteering to eat breakfast and socialize and then everyone went their separate ways to their specific volunteer sites.

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My group went to COSI, the science museum in downtown Columbus. Our group helped the grounds crew at the museum by mulching several locations in front of the building. Although it was only about 40 degrees and windy, I still had a blast spending time with the other people at my volunteer site. I thought it was really great that Professor Arya, the director of the MAcc program, and Rebecca Zurek, one of the admission directors for the MAcc program, volunteered at COSI with us. We also had two accounting professionals in our group so it was nice getting to chat with them about their careers. I think MAcc Gives Back is a great example of the rewarding and fun opportunities in which students in the MAcc Program are able to participate.

MAcc Talk-Greg Zunkiewicz

For our most recent lunch talk, our MAcc council had a speaker come in and talk to the class about financial planning and health. Greg Zunkiewicz is a financial adviser for Edward Jones. He is also a 2012 graduate of the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program here at Fisher!

The first topic that Greg discussed was budgeting. He said that whether you make $25,000 a year, or $250,000 a year, it is important to keep track of your money. By setting a detailed budget, you will know where your money is being spent month-to-month, and how much money you can save, all while maintaining your lifestyle goals. By determining how much you can save, you can then begin to look into various advantageous investment vehicles, such as a Roth IRA. Greg also discussed, at length, the benefit of compounding interest and having “interest work for you.” By investing early, young investors can assume more risk and substantially increase the wealth in their portfolio, all without having to pay taxes later.

Another topic that Greg discussed was regarding investment strategy. Since he provides investment guidance and manages his client’s portfolios, he is very knowledgeable in matching individuals’ risk preferences with a particular portfolio type or strategy. In his opinion, younger investors should be more willing to take on riskier investments, as they have a longer investment horizon. However, there is no one strategy for every individual, it must be tailored to the specific financial plan of the investor.

This was yet another enjoyable and valuable speaker to come and speak to the class. Greg was incredibly knowledgeable, personable, and open with the class!

Ohio State Golf Club

Now that the weather is (kind of) starting to get warmer, I think it is appropriate to start talking about golf. One fantastic bonus of being a student at Ohio State that I really love is having access to the two golf courses, Scarlet and Gray, at the Ohio State University Golf Club. As someone who has golfed their whole life and was a former collegiate golfer, the chance to play at one of the best golf courses in the area is a pretty amazing perk. Normally to play at these courses, a person has to be a member of the OSU Golf Club. Ohio State students, though, are also allowed to play these courses up to 6 times per season (March 1-October 31). Students are allowed to bring up to 1 guest for a tee time at the Scarlet Course and up to 3 guests for a tee time at the Gray Course.

 

View from the fairway on the front 9 of The Scarlet Course
View from the fairway on the 4th hole Par 5 on The Scarlet Course

Personally, I played the Scarlet Course twice in the fall and plan to play a couple more times while I’m still a student here. The course is very challenging, but it is beautiful. I would definitely recommend that any student who enjoys golf take advantage of this great opportunity Ohio State students have to play at either of these great courses!

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Misappropriation of Assets

 

This session I am enrolled in ACCMIS 7520 Misappropriation of Assets, which is an accounting elective course. The course is taught by Douglas Huffner, who is the Chief Risk Officer for The Ohio State University.

Topics covered in the class so far have covered everything from identifying fraud to common fraud schemes. We have also discussed various misappropriations of cash, such as larceny, fraudulent disbursements, and skimming. The course also covers how companies can prevent fraud. Inherently, if you can understand how fraudulent schemes are developed, you can design a company’s internal controls in such a way to deter or completely eliminate fraudulent behavior by employees.

The class topics are all incredibly interesting, but by far, my favorite portion of the class is hearing real-life examples of fraud that Professor Huffner can cite in his past experiences. Since he is the Chief Risk Officer, he works on problem-solving the most sensitive situation on campus and in the Ohio State community (such as campus emergencies and internal fraud investigations). His experiences help to break up the materials and leads to great class discussion!

VITA

Something I really enjoyed this year was volunteering for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This program exists in cities throughout the country, and this was my first time ever volunteering with this program. We had the opportunity to file federal and state tax returns for local residents in the Columbus area so they were able to receive the maximum amount of their refunds at no cost. About 60 students volunteered, many of which were fellow MAcc students. The rest were undergraduate students at the Fisher College of Business. Therefore, this was a great opportunity to meet more students at Ohio State as well as get to know other students in my MAcc class better.

Some of the VITA volunteers
Some of the VITA volunteers

Since I will be starting a career in tax after graduation, I was given the opportunity to be a VITA site manager. This was a great leadership opportunity and was very educational for me because I was able to help others work through issues they came across while preparing tax returns. It was rewarding getting to actually interact with the people we were helping and know that we were saving local Columbus residents a great deal of money by preparing their tax returns for free. It was also satisfying to see that we obtained thousands of dollars in refunds for residents each volunteer session. I would highly recommend that future MAcc students (or undergraduate students), whether they plan to work in tax or not, volunteer for the VITA program!

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Accounting Policy and Research

During spring semester, all MAcc students take Accounting Policy and Research with Professor Zach. In addition to learning about accounting research methods, the efficient-market hypothesis, and Chipotle Mexican Grill (you’ll see when you take it), we worked in small groups on topics of our choice for session-long research projects that we presented during the final week of classes.

The words “accounting research” might not get your blood pumping right off the bat, but the projects were really interesting and much more entertaining to put together than I initially expected. My group worked on Petróleo Brasileiro (“PBR”), a Brazilian state-owned oil company that is currently embroiled in a massive corruption scandal. Using techniques that we learned from articles we covered in Professor Zach’s class, we ran regressions on the changes in PBR’s stock price during particularly important timeframes of the corruption probe, demonstrating that much of the loss in stock value could be attributed to the fall in the price of oil rather than the corruption investigation.

Not only did this give us the chance to show off our newly developed Excel skills (side note: make sure to take the Financial Modeling elective with Oglevee if at all possible), it gave us experience using accounting research as we would in a real-world scenario. We set up our project as though we were working with the PBR legal defense team against a shareholder class-action lawsuit, and used our research to argue that shareholder damages should be significantly reduced due to the impact of oil price changes.

This was interesting not just because of the dramatic background reading on the situation in which Petrobras currently finds itself, but because the techniques we were using could (and likely will) be used in actual litigation between PBR and shareholders. Instead of simply plugging in numbers, we had to strategically pick our event windows and market indexes, anticipate questions and counter arguments, and frame our data in the most persuasive manner possible.

I don’t want to get into technical details, as I certainly wouldn’t have understood them prior to joining the MAcc program, but I will include a few pictures of the more interesting charts we created as part of the project. We used our regressions to determine the abnormal returns during several specific event windows (the difference between the actual returns and the returns that would have been expected absent the relevant corruption event): 

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As you can see, the returns during these windows were actually better than would be expected given the drop in oil prices. We also created charts to show stock returns of PBR and several other oil companies during the period as compared with the price of oil:

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We concluded that while the corruption probe had increased stock volatility, the declines were much more correlated to oil prices than to developments in the corruption probe. And although we had a few classmates who seemed skeptical of our results during the presentation, it was a lot of fun to apply what we learned in a way that could actually be used in our future careers.

Fisher MAcc Intramurals

This session a group of MAcc students (myself included) decided to form an Intramural Co-Ed Basketball Team. Since The Ohio State University is a large university there is a huge number of intramural sports offered for several different groups of people. We were able to enter a co-ed graduate, professional, and faculty league for basketball that plays on Tuesday evenings.

Through three games, The Embezzlers are sporting a powerful 3-0 record entering the second half of the season. With two more games before the beginning of the playoffs, we are hopeful for a high playoff seed and maybe even a championship.

All joking aside, playing intramural basketball has been a terrific addition to my MAcc experience. It has provided an opportunity for me to interact with my friends in the MAcc program in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with accounting or schoolwork. More importantly, the exercise serves as a healthy outlet of stress from classes or looming finals!

Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of The Embezzlers!

MAcc Breakfast

If I haven’t learned anything else from the MAcc program so far, I have learned two things: 1. MAcc students get a lot of free Panera and 2. The professors here love getting to know their students.

Recently I attended something called “The MAcc Meet & Greet Breakfast.” This is a casual gathering where a small group of MAcc students are invited to attend breakfast with MAcc faculty. Only about 10 students are invited at a time and there were 5 faculty members at the breakfast I attended. I think this event is an excellent example of what a personal level of attention students in the MAcc program here at Fisher receive. The faculty truly want to get to know you and are genuinely concerned about what is going on in the students’ lives – as far as classes, jobs after graduation, hobbies, spring break plans, etc.

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Many students are invited to a MAcc Breakfast session during first semester, and this is a nice way for students to get to know professors even if they had not them in class yet. Since I went during second semester, I already knew the professors from having them in class, but breakfast was a fantastic way to catch up and get to know these professors in a context outside of class.

Coming from a small undergraduate school, I can truly say that the MAcc program here at Fisher offers the unique personal connections and attention one would typically get at a smaller university, but still has so many of the benefits and opportunities that come with attending such a large university with so many resources!

EY MAcc Speaker Series—Susan Blasik-Miller

This past week Susan Blasik-Miller from the law firm Freund, Freeze & Arnold came to talk to our class. As a lawyer, most of her daily work is spent either training doctors how to avoid malpractice suits or defending them in court. However, unlike many of our other speakers, she chose not to talk about her work. Instead, Mrs. Blasik-Miller talked about things she has learned over her career that she wished someone had told her in college.
Some of her main points were:

Email vs. Personal Communication:

While it is often times easier to just simply send emails to a colleague, it is very beneficial to pick up the phone or stop by their office. By having live or face-to-face communication, you will be able to develop strong connections and strengthen your personal network.

Remember Who Owns Your Work Computer:

What you do or what you send from your work computer can probably be recovered by the IT department of your company. Never post anything from your work computer that you wouldn’t want your boss to see!

Own your Mistakes:

When you do something wrong, own up to it. It is much better for you to admit your mistake to your boss rather than having your boss find the mistake later on when it cannot be fixed. Be open with your communication and don’t try and cover anything up.

Find a Mentor:

Having someone who is experienced in the work you will be pursuing to bounce questions and ideas off of will help maximize your talent. These relationships develop over time so do not fret if you don’t have a mentor within the first 6 months of work.

Mrs. Blasik-Miller touched on many other topics related to career development. It was a terrific experience receiving advice from someone so successful!

MAcc Speaker Series: Susan Blasik-Miller

One of the many great aspects of the MAcc Program (and Ohio State in general) is the abundance of fascinating speakers that are brought in to present to us. We have something called the “MAcc Speakers Series” and this goes on throughout the entire year. We have several speakers from all different professional and personal backgrounds come in to present on a topic of their choosing, and we also get to ask them questions. Recently, we had a speaker who has an extensive background in law. She also happened to be a current MAcc student’s mom!

For Susan’s presentation, she chose to share some of the insights and knowledge she has acquired throughout the years of being a lawyer, an employer, and a mother. Here are some of the things she shared with us:

  1. Email vs. Personal Communication: There are many positive and negative aspects that come with email and constant communication. She stressed the importance of building relationships, and how this is difficult to do from email communication alone. Also, never deliver bad news over email or ask for special consideration over email.
  2. Remember who owns your business computer: Susan shared horror stories of people losing jobs, being sued, and suffering severe embarrassment from things they have done on their business computers. Overall, it is best to keep emails free of jokes or innuendos and to not use your business computer for something that you wouldn’t want others to see.
  3. Own mistakes: We should always admit to our mistakes. Although we might get punished for admitting our mistakes, companies have professional liability insurance in case mistakes happen. The insurance no longer applies if we try to cover up our mistakes, and thus it is important to never try and cover anything up.
  4. Don’t isolate yourself: Get your work done, but also build relationships within the firm and try to meet as many people as possible. This could include doing things such as joining work intramural teams, volunteering, and going to other social events with coworkers.
  5. Find a mentor: It is important to find a mentor at any stage in your career. You are never too old to have a mentor!
  6. Broaden your horizons: Join organizations that you are interested in joining. You never know what people you may meet that will one day be future clients or a future contact for a business opportunity or favor.

I really enjoyed Susan’s presentation and she shared some very good things to think about as we begin our future careers. I also like that many of the speakers, such as Susan, do not have a background in accounting, but they are still able to share very relevant and interesting topics with us.