The popular stereotype of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is not all that there is when describing this profession. The typical description of accountants are detached, calculating and impersonal. Being part of accounting discourse community, accountants can prepare financial reports and statements, apply concept of accounting principle to analysis financial information, and do with the numbers. My interview with Bob Smith, a seasoned professional within the accounting field, proved that this depiction is not always right and there is much to learn about the finer details of this type of work.
Being an accountant was my accidental choice. When I was a child, I liked to play with the numbers although I did not think I would be an accountant. After graduation from high school, I applied to University of Technical Education for electrical engineer major. Then I studied there for four years but I did not graduating. When I came to the US, my brothers and sisters told me that accounting is not difficult to study and get a job, so I chose this major. My first worries disappeared since I have taken some accounting classes, and I found out that I love it.
The purpose of this essay is to relate my gathered interview information to demonstrate what I learn from the interview. This essay will give a report that communicates important information regarding the many differing aspects of this career. I will explain in detail the background and career path of my subject before describing the roles and responsibilities of Bob’s work. I will also comment on the necessary communication skills that are required to be an accountant.
Background and Career Path
Bob was drawn to accounting and proclaimed that he fell in love with the numbers when he began taking finance and accounting classes and the lifestyle that accompanies it. He received his bachelor’s degree business in accounting and got his job at a factory managing a warehouse. Eventually Bob went back to school and received his MPA degree. Then took CPA tests and had this certificate, making his transition into public accounting. Bob has been employed as a tax accountant for 5 years before he was an accounts receivable clerk.
Bob told me that private accounting jobs are stereotypes, boring, and little human interaction because he did not meet and talk with a lot of people. When he worked at an accounting receivable, in his department had three people work for a $320 million dollar per year division. Bob believed that this was too much work to do for this size of a group. He was overworked and did not like it.
Bob believes that public accounting fits his personality better because accountants only are busy in January or February. Bob enjoys his time and takes a break after tax season is over. He feels that he can relax and learn the new tax laws for the next year. The pacing of this job feels right to him.
Bob expressed that there are some difficult obstacles to getting hired as a CPA. These requirements which are depend on the companies. His firm requires that he has a CPA and have MPA degree. At the other companies which Bob worked for, he must have only an associate’s degree in accounting in order to do his job. Earning your MPA is essential if you really want to take your career to the next level. His coursework earning his MPA was more enjoyable than his undergraduate work due to his accumulated experience he gained before being accepted into that program.
Roles and Responsibilities
Bob’s job description is varied and entails many challenges. His business’ structure requires that he travels around to meet with his clients, so they do not have to go for hours to some offices for their taxes done. Bob spends a lot of his time at his clients’ locations preparing and working through tax forms. Furthermore, he also consults with them about how certain transactions in their taxes are made and how much tax return they can get or pay. According to Dubin et al (1992), third party accountants
“are not just passive scribes whose function is limited to relieving their clients of the mechanical requirements of return preparation. To varying degrees, they provide information on legal requirements and the penalties for their breach, develop strategies for reducing tax liability, provide counsel on the risk of executing such strategies and inform clients of topical enforcement priorities” (p. 75).
Bob is essentially a tax consultant with a negative stereotype surrounds the profession. He thinks that many people believe accountants to be stuffy people who do not get out much. This is not the case with Bob as he spends many hours traveling around the state to get agreeing or refusing by his clients. During tax season things can become intense, so Bob also enjoys spending long vacations with his family when it is over.
Traveling and meeting with clients, according to Bob, is the best part about the job. Bob stressed that it is very beneficial to have a firm and complete understanding all of the new tax laws. He finds this task of researching and locating new laws very interesting. Getting ahead of these rules and knowing them thoroughly helps him stay competitive, so he can be predicted when a certain unexpectedly happen.
Shattering another stereotype of the accountant, Bob tells that his job can be very unique and exciting. Bob’s day to day routine satisfies his personal approach. He certainly enjoys the satisfaction that he receives when he completes a long and complicated the package of tax forms about a hundred pages long. After that his clients can get their refunds. Bob’s CPA role is varied and this allows him to have a change in his day to day routine preventing it from getting old and tedious.
The seasonal approach to this job is definitely something that one must appreciate to be successful in this type of profession. He is quite busy during tax season, but to him it is not a problem because he garners much job satisfaction from his current career. There are problems at his work, and it can be stressful at times, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel for Bob. He motivates himself by always looking forward to late April when tax season is over, so he is able to pay more attention to his family and friends and rewarding himself with some more time.
During the months of January and February, his time is limited and has the bulk of his year’s work in this tax season. Bob claimed that he seems to be overwhelmed and might be making four or five trips per week, staying on the road for extended periods of time away from his family. During this heavy tax season, spending Saturdays in the office is normal. Bob knows that this is a cyclical event and he will be rewarded for his hard work later in the year as his company offers extra vacation time for those who spend over time working during this season.
Bob feels as though he is very well compensated for his efforts. Bob receives an annual salary of $79,800 per year. In the article “Best Business Jobs Accountant” in the US News website states that “According to the Labor Department, the median annual salary for an accountant was $62,850 in 2011. The best-paid 10 percent earned roughly $109,870.” Bob also receive a bonus which totaled nearly four thousand dollars on top of his salary if he meets certain expectations. The more work Bob can get done, the more he will see at his end of the year bonus.
Bob said that the qualification his current job requires a CPA degree. He would recommend accounting as a career if you hold the right personality and are not discouraged from the negative stereotypes that usually follow accountants. CPAs should be able to work with figures, numbers and regularly meets customers. These two qualifications seem simple but they are very necessary in order to achieve some success within the field. Bob feels there is a certain natural aspect to his attraction to this type of work and feels that he was drawn to it in a mysterious way. Regardless of this fact, Bob truly enjoys his work and it is perceivable. Overall, during our interview he was very excited and informative, acting almost in a proud manner but not bragging about his accomplishments.
The type of reading and writing that are required in his job are reports, letters, e-mails, and narratives of financial statements. For example, He writes letters to his clients, government agencies, and his professional fellows, and they are written about his clients’ tax situation and information need for an audit. The letters are also about the agreement and management advisory. His writings are clear, completed, easy to understand, logical, friendly, and showing specific concept of accounting or tax laws which he applies. His reports are the analysis of an accounting problem and application of accounting principles to his clients’ situation. Moreover, he usually writes memos and e-mails to his supervisor and co-worker. He always double-checks everything which he writes about grammar, spelling, and words before he sends them, and he always makes sure his documents are polished and professional.
Additionally, Bob job requires communication skills because he works directly with his clients. In order to get the trust from his clients to allow him to discuss their tax return with the IRS, he has to have good oral communication skills. Bob emphasizes that communication skills are also very important to his job. If he wants to have the clients, he has to use his great communication skills so that they believe on his knowledge of tax law and accounting. Whereas he does not have these skills, he will lose the clients. Thus, he has a lot of clients, and he is very successful.
I was very pleased and quite surprised after my interview with Bob. It appears that being a CPA is not only not boring, but also can be exciting and fun. What struck me most was Bob’s attitude towards his work and his insistence that he was born to do this type of job. This is a very comforting and discomforting feeling at the same time. As someone who is considering a career as a public accountant, I am beginning to realize that it takes a lot of internal motivation and drive. The numbers and legal aspects of this career seem almost secondary to the fact that one must be enjoying their work to some degree in order to be successful at it.
Through discipline investigation assignment, I know that I have to improve my communication skill and writing a lot in order to get a job in this career. That is the reason why I am taking LLD 100A course, and register in Writing Center at SJSU for help me developing my writing. Furthermore, I have to look for an internship in which I can practice a lot about communication and give me more experience in this field. Last, I will take some more Public Speaking courses which also help me to improve my communication. Hopefully, after I have done all of these things, I would have a very good preparation for my job in the future.
Jeffery Dubin et al. “The Demand for Tax Return Preparation.” The Review of Economics and
Statistics (1992): 75-87.
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George Mason University Website. “Effective Writing: A Handbook for Accountants (2003)”
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