Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession
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Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession

How to Make Your Assets Greatly Exceed Your Liabilities

Jerry Maginnis

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eBook - ePub

Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession

How to Make Your Assets Greatly Exceed Your Liabilities

Jerry Maginnis

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About This Book

Practical guidance to optimize the benefits of your accounting degree—no matter what stage of your career!

Originally conceived and designed to provide helpful advice to college and university accounting majors and early-career professionals, this book evolved into a valuable resource for those groups as well as others who may be further along in their accounting careers.

It contains many practical examples and real-life experiences from a long and successful career in the profession that you won't find in any accounting, auditing, or tax textbook. And it is written in a fun and engaging style with a simple goal in mind: to share lessons learned and insights that will help accountants of all ages optimize their career opportunities!

Jerry Maginnis, CPA, the former Office Managing Partner for the Philadelphia office of KPMG, one of the "Big Four" Accounting Firms, currently serves as the "Accounting Executive in Residence" at Rowan University in Southern New Jersey. In this role, he has counseled and mentored dozens of students and early career professionals. The book leverages Jerry's real-world experience and his advice and counsel is delivered in a fashion that will make you feel like you are having a one on one conversation with him! Readers will also enjoy:

  • Advice delivered concisely: each chapter is succinct and provides essential takeaways and action plans for all points in a career
  • A guidebook that is efficiently organized into three sections—for college and university students, for early-career professionals, for accountants of all ages and experience levels—allowing the reader to focus on the sections that are most applicable to them
  • An excellent refresher or reminder of concepts or principles that are important to even the most successful and experienced accountants

Loaded with "real world" tips and techniques, Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession is an ideal resource for accountants and auditors, tax and advisory professionals, and University professors and high school instructors teaching Accounting, undeclared business majors, underrepresented populations, and students aspiring to become CPAs.

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Section Two
Growing in Your Early Career Years by Mastering Important Fundamentals

Core Values Every Accountant Should Embrace

Key Takeaway

Certain core values are essential to your success as a professional accountant. It is critically important to understand this and commit to embracing behaviors that will build trust, credibility and respect.
Accounting is a profession, just like law or medicine. Let’s look at what that means by reviewing the six characteristics of a profession21 summarized below:
  • Renders a specialized service based upon advanced knowledge and skills.
  • Involves a confidential relationship between a practitioner and a client or an employer.
  • Is charged with a substantial degree of public obligation.
  • Requires a common body of knowledge to be mastered by acquiring and demonstrating specific skills.
  • Serves the public interest.
  • Is bound by a code of ethics governing its relationships with clients, colleagues and the public.
Successful accountants recognize their status as members of a profession and embrace the responsibilities that come with that status. But what does it really mean to be a professional? Here is how the dictionary defines a professional (my source for this and the definitions that follow in this chapter was the Merriam‐Webster Dictionary):
Professional—Engaged in one of the learned professions; characterized or conforming to technical or ethical standards of a profession; exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.
In a formal sense, being a professional means meeting minimum educational requirements and demonstrating appropriate knowledge and expertise in your field. If you choose to serve the public by providing “attest” services (for example, if you are an auditor working in “public accounting”), it means passing an exam and obtaining a license. It also involves complying with the profession’s code of conduct and committing to continuous learning (i.e., staying current in your field).
In a less formal but very practical way, being a professional means acting like one. This entails dressing appropriately for your environment, showing up on time and taking your work seriously or “exercising due professional care.”
Accounting professionals are held to a high standard of conduct and for good reason: The public relies on their work! Investors, creditors, regulators and other third parties depend on accountants to do the right thing and do it in a professional fashion. A failure to embrace these high standards and keep the public interest in mind can have disastrous results. When Enron failed in 2002, its collapse was triggered, in part, by an accounting scandal. As a result, thousands of Enron employees lost their jobs and the company’s investors suffered significant losses. Ultimately, Enron’s auditing firm also failed, creating major disruption in capital markets not only in the United States but globally as well.
Being professional in your actions and mindset builds trust. Failing to do so destroys trust. In business, trust is like oxygen. It is essential.
Let’s review the definition of trust, according to the dictionary:
Trust—Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed; dependence on something future or contingent (hope); a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship; something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another. Synonyms include confidence, credence, faith, stock.
Notice the power and import of the words used to define the concept of trust: character, strength, truth, confidence, dependence, and faith. These are not just words; they are important values that every accountant should embrace. The efficient functioning of our capital markets system in the United States (arguably the best in the world) depends heavily on accountants honoring the trust that has been placed in them by doing the right thing. A robust and reliable capital markets system serves as the underpinning of a strong economy that supports hundreds of millions of American citizens.
Trust, of course, is earned. One of the best ways to build trust with others is to simply do what you say you are going to do, on both a timely and consistent basis. Trust is also established and reinforced when individuals consistently act with Integrity. Again, let’s look at the dictionary definition of that term:
Integrity—Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values; an unimpaired condition; the quality or state of being complete or undivided. Synonyms include character, decency, goodness, honesty, morality, probity, rectitude, righteousness, rightness, uprightness, virtue, and virtuousness.
Again, this definition and its synonyms incorporate some inspiring words and concepts. And they suggest a commitment to doing the right thing by following a code of moral values. Interestingly, over the years, the accounting profession has developed a formal written code of conduct to help address potential conflicts of interest and assist professionals dealing with ethical issues. A fundamental step in your commitment to be a successful accountant is to embrace high ethical standards.
Let’s review the dictionary definition of ethics:
Ethics—A set of moral principles; a theory or system of moral values; the principles of conduct governing an individual or group; a guiding philosophy; a consciousness of moral importance. Synonyms include morality, norms, principles, and standards.
I never cease to be amazed at how common ethical lapses are, not just in the business world but in virtually every field, including the worlds of sports, politics, and entertainment, to name just a few. It is hard to observe the daily news and not see at least one alleged incident of fraud or other criminal behavior. The following are only some of the headlines about ethical lapses that appeared as I was writing this book:
  • College admissions bribery scandal—Federal prosecutors brought charges against more than 50 individuals, including prominent names from the worlds of business, entertainment, and sports, alleging that they had engaged in crimes—including bribery and money laundering—to help their children gain admission to top colleges and universities. Many of those charged have been convicted and served prison time.
  • United Auto Workers corruption matter—More than ten officials of the UAW, one of the largest and most prestigious unions in the world, were charged with embezzlement and other crimes that victimized the union’s membership. Several defendants were convicted and jailed.
  • Aircraft safety shortcuts—Boeing, one of America’s largest companies, agreed to pay $2.5 billion to resolve a U.S. Justice Department investigation. Boeing admitted that employees misled aviation regulators about safety issues linked to two deadly crashes of its 737 MAX airliner.
  • Political corruption—Duncan Hunter, who represented California’s 50th Congressional District from 2013 to 2020, and his wife were indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud, falsifying records, violating campaign finance laws, and conspiracy. The couple was accused of conspiring to misuse $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and of filing false campaign finance reports. Both were convicted, and the former congressman was sentenced to eleven months in prison.
  • Cheating in sports—The Houston Astros baseball team inappropriately used technology to steal signs during the 2017 and 2018 se...

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