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FALL 2021 | VOL. 17, NO. 1

ADVERSITY Che Martinson 4

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CPA EVOLUTION

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TOP 5 EXCEL SKILLS 36 | wicpa.org CPA2b Fall 2021 page

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The WICPA is the premier association for CPAs and accounting students in Wisconsin and serves as your go-to resource to help you succeed and stay connected to the profession. No matter what stage you’re at in your education or career, the WICPA provides support and guidance every step of the way.

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Fall 2021 | Vol. 17, No. 1 A publication of the WICPA Educational Foundation, Inc. | wicpa.org

20 looking back

Note to self This new feature for CPA2b asks a seasoned professional to write a letter to their college-student self to provide a glimpse into their “future.” By Neil Keller, CPA, ABV, CVA

28 CPA Exam

4 Che Martinson

CONTENTS 4 member profile

Reaping the benefits of adversity Che Martinson came back from a serious injury to combine military service with his education. His years of juggling coursework and service to the country will pay off in December, when he graduates with a degree in accounting and moves toward the CPA Exam. By Marcia Tillett-Zinzow

12 focus on careers

So you want to go corporate Students who see themselves in a corporate career often ask whether the CPA credential is worth it. CPAs in corporate finance share their views. By Ken Wysocky

16 focus on careers

CPA preferred In a numbers-driven profession, three letters — CPA — have led public accounting professionals to career advancement and satisfaction. By Sharon Zalewski

CPA evolution: what it means for you The CPA licensure model is changing because accounting firms are looking for higher-level skills in our rapidly changing world. By Carl R. Mayes Jr., CPA

32 career preparation: soft skills

6 tips for writing better emails Writing clear, concise emails is a skill that’s even more critical now that so many communications are taking place online.

By Megan Hart

36 career preparation: technology

Top 5 Excel skills for entry-level staff Build your Excel toolkit while you’re still in school by learning these five skills that will make you more efficient over time.

By Brigid D’Souza, CPA, MBA

38 heath & wellness: humor

Convo with a cartoonist Nitin Bhojraj, CPA, CFE, is a creative accountant who likes to draw and thinks everyone should laugh more. By Marcia Tillett-Zinzow

DEPARTMENTS 10 The value of membership 22 Destination CPA 26 Welcome new members 40 Career planning CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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2021-2022 WICPA Educational Foundation Board of Directors: President Paul J. Frantz, CPA Secretary/Treasurer Roberta A Ward, CPA Directors Mark Bichler Jon C. Gaines, CPA, CGMA, MBA Jessica B. Gatzke, CPA, MST Jessica M. Horning, CPA Kale Post, CPA, MPA Wendy K. Potratz, CPA, MBA, CMA, CGFM Bret J. Priaulx, CPA, MBA Jose E. Saenz, CPA WICPA Board Liaison Lucien A. Beaudry, CPA, JD WICPA President & CEO Tammy J. Hofstede

Publication Team: Editor Marcia Tillett-Zinzow Design & Layout Brett Stallman Advertising Sue Daniels Printing Special Editions

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Receive $2,500 in scholarship money! Apply online at wicpa.org/scholarships through Feb. 28, 2022. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 28, 2022. Scholarships are awarded from the WICPA Educational Foundation to qualified accounting students in their last year to meet the 150-hour requirement to apply for a Wisconsin CPA license.

CPA2b is a biannual publication of the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Change of address should be sent to: Membership, W233N2080 Ridgeview Parkway, Suite 201, Waukesha, WI 53188; Phone: 262-785-0445; Fax: 262-785-0838; email: comments@wicpa.org. Statements or opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the WICPA. Publication of an advertisement does not constitute an endorsement of a product or service by CPA2b or the WICPA. Articles may be reproduced with permission. © Copyright 2021 CPA2b.

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UPCOMING WICPA CONFERENCES YOU R S OU R CE FOR KEY UPDAT ES & I NS IG H TS ON T IM ELY ISSUES

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Students attend for as little as $30! Registration opens approximately eight weeks prior to a conference. View conferences currently open for registration at wicpa.org/conferences. CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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Photography by John Sibilski

REAPING THE BENEFITS OF

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ADVERSITY

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This future CPA came back from a serious injury to combine military service with his education. By Marcia Tillett-Zinzow

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ultitasking takes on a whole new meaning once you’ve met Che Martinson, an accounting and information systems (IS) student at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. Not only is he carrying two majors, he’s also a “weekend warrior,” serving in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves one weekend a month and two to three weeks every summer. Che, 32, who grew up in Madison and attended James Madison Memorial High School, started his college career a little later than most due to an unexpected event. “In my senior year, I suffered a very serious work injury and had to take a year off. I was in constant pain, and the long recovery left me struggling with depression as well,” he said. “School became less of a priority for me, and I ended up obtaining a high school equivalency diploma (HSED) instead of graduating in 2007 with my class.” The injury occurred while Che was working at a part-time job on a loading dock. A piece of equipment broke as he was helping to move a 3,000-lb. crate, and the load fell on him, completely shattering his knee. He endured extensive surgeries to reconnect bone fragments and reconstruct his knee. Che continued to struggle with chronic pain and depression from his injury over the next several years. He did what he could and picked up some odd jobs here and there. “I don’t regret that, because I feel like it widened my worldview and introduced me to the workforce, so I could figure out what I really wanted to do,” he said.

Building endurance When he started feeling better, Che began taking a few courses at Madison Area Technical College (MATC). Then he walked into a Marine Corps recruiting office to explore a potential military career.

Che Martinson will graduate from UW–Oshkosh in December. He also serves as a machine gunner for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.

“It was a transformative moment for me,” he said. “The recruiter helped me decide on the Marine Corps Reserves so I could still go to school and be able to take advantage of GI tuition benefits.” Because he was still recovering from the injury, Che spent almost a year in physical training before his recruiter determined he was ready to ship off to boot camp. “Luckily, my surgeons had used biodegradable ‘smart pins’ instead of metal to reconstruct my knee,” Che said, noting that military enlistment isn’t possible if you have metal in your body. Biodegradable – or bioabsorbable — pins and screws used in orthopedic surgery eventually dissolve and are absorbed by the body. So Che was good to go. Today, in addition to being an accounting and IS student at UW–Oshkosh, Che is a machine gunner in

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Che is a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.

the Marine Corps Reserves with the rank of corporal. One weekend of every month, he heads to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Center in Madison to check in for the weekend drill — which generally lasts from Thursday through Sunday. His military service requires 54 days of scheduled weekend drills and a two-week training stint in summer. The two-week training session makes it nearly impossible to take classes in the summer, and during regular semesters it hasn’t been easy to juggle academic obligations with military service. “It always seems like I’ll have a four-day training period from Thursday through Sunday that exhausts me mentally and physically, and then I’ll have an exam sharp on Monday or Tuesday morning,” he said. There have been many nights when he has crammed a study session in before the weekend drill or in the frantic few hours after the drill and before class, he said. Add to this the physical standards required by the Marine Corps.

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The dual responsibilities always seem to be pulling me in different directions, but I really appreciate the endurance it has instilled in me.” “That means I have to also plan several hours in the gym and running trails every week on my own time to weave in between studying and school,” said Che. “The dual responsibilities always seem to be pulling me in different directions, but I really appreciate the endurance it has instilled in me.”


As a result, Che is able to work long, extended hours and for periods under pressure, and he has learned some strong time management skills. “It’ll be interesting to see how I do in a 40-hour-aweek job because I’m so used to sometimes waking up at 6 a.m. and studying well past midnight – and somehow fitting a two-hour gym or running session in there as well,” Che said.

Choosing accounting — and technology As a child, Che was always interested in puzzles and patterns — elements found in accounting — but he noted that his interest in the profession didn’t really peak until after he was injured on the loading dock. “During my recovery, the company had to find something else for me to do, so they put me in the Accounting Department working with the cash-over and -short reports. I’d get lost in the forensic aspect of the work, tracing where a cash shortage was or where an overage originated within the company.”

A machine gun-line at Camp Pendleton, California, Infantry Training Battalion.

Photos provided by Che Martinson

The concept of “balance” intrigued him. “When changes are made in one area, you account for the effects of the change in one or more other areas, and the pieces just interlock and work out together,” he said. “It’s fascinating.” Che will graduate in December, and he plans to move forward with the CPA Exam right away because he sees it as a vital credential that will open many doors for him — as will his dual degree in accounting and IS. “In the future, I would like to leverage both accounting and information systems backgrounds to work as a business systems analyst and integrate both the financial and technological sides of a business.” It’s a fact that many accountants currently are not well schooled in technology and that many technology professionals are green when it comes to the accounting and finance aspects of busines. It’s also true that the automation of many accounting tasks is quickly and inextricably linking technology with accounting. “So a lot of businesses are saying, ‘Hey, we can use business systems analysis to help plug the gap between those two departments,’” Che noted.

Two- to three-week training sessions are part of Che's contract with the U.S. Marine Corps.

College expenses and the GI Bill Che said he encourages anyone to think about joining the military and taking advantage of the GI Bill. He pointed out that many Native, Hispanic and African American students have difficulty paying for college, and he thinks the GI bill is an option they should consider. “You can either get a four-year tour of duty out of the way and then go to college on the federal government CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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GI Bill; or you can join the Reserves, enroll right away and take advantage of state-run GI college benefits.”

Marine Corps Reserves has been a good experience that will substantially benefit him down the line.

He notes that Wisconsin’s GI Bill offers better benefits than many other states.

“Employers love hiring veterans,” he noted. “And the experience instills really rigorous ethics and discipline in you, which will help you in the business world. I definitely think that combining my studies with the reserves and going with the sixyear contract was more time efficient than doing four years of military followed by four-plus years of school.

“In Wisconsin, if you attend any public university, you get 128 credit hours paid for by the state,” he said. “And you also get federal Chapter 1606 benefits, which gives you a certain amount of money per credit. For me, it’s an extra $300–400 per month just for being a student veteran.”

“It’s been quite a grind, but I think I’m well able to handle a tax season now!”

Many people are unaware of this, Che noted, adding that students who are in the military or interested in joining should visit their campus's Veterans Office to inquire about receiving the benefits.

Marcia Tillett-Zinzow is a Wisconsin freelance writer and editor. Contact her at mtzinzow@icloud.com.

Che believes that in spite of all the hard work and juggling he’s had to do, combining college with the

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THE VALUE OF MEMBERSHIP

How does WICPA membership benefit you? Let me count the ways.

W By Tammy J. Hofstede

henever the WICPA travels to high schools and colleges throughout Wisconsin to connect with students interested in accounting, there is one question that comes up repeatedly: “What can membership in the WICPA do for students while they are still in school?”

The answer is that professional membership organizations are here to serve you whether you’re a student or a professional. Your needs will shift as you move through your professional journey, but joining a network of like-minded individuals early on will give you support each step of the way. Here are five reasons to consider joining the WICPA while you are still in school.

1. Credibility As a new graduate, one of the biggest challenges you will face in your job search is a lack of experience in the accounting industry. As current CPAs are retiring at a rapid rate, companies are looking to replace long-term, experienced staff with top candidates, and one of the best ways to fast-track your career in this environment is to start beefing up your résumé while you are in college. Joining the WICPA and putting it on your résumé is a great way to prove that you are serious about the

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Joining the WICPA and putting it on your résumé is a great way to prove that you are serious about the accounting field and that you are looking for ways to be a better professional.”

accounting field and that you are looking for ways to be a better professional.

2. Networking “Networking” may sound like just a buzz word to you, but it truly does help you find opportunities in your career search. Building your network while you’re still in school will help make your transition into the professional world much easier. And networking doesn’t stop when you graduate, so you can expect to meet professional members at events the WICPA hosts throughout the state. The events are often attended by top industry professionals — and you never know when you will casually meet the “right” connection, the person who may help turn your application into a job offer.


3. Professional development One of best reasons to join the WICPA as a student member is the benefit of being able to attend seminars, breakfast programs and conferences for a hugely discounted rate. Active CPAs attend these events to earn continuing professional development credits that are mandated by the state. Attending as a student will help broaden your understanding of the material you are learning in school, give you an idea of what you may be required to know as a professional and even help you study for the CPA exam. Plus, it’s a great way to start making connections and posting material on LinkedIn to boost your social network.

4. Educational savings The WICPA offers discounts on several independent CPA review courses to help you start on the pathway to becoming a CPA. The organization also offers student scholarships and educator grants to help build the pipeline of potential CPA candidates. In addition, student members are eligible to write for CPA2b and even be featured on the cover if they have interesting stories to share.

5. Support and resources Graduating and starting your career can be a really tough transition: moving to a new city, navigating a new lifestyle, losing a support system of faculty advisors. One of the most important comments I hear from young professionals is the need to have resources along the way to becoming a CPA, especially just after graduation. Whether that means hearing from industry professionals or finding a mentor or simply knowing whom to ask the right questions, the WICPA can provide the connections you need to manifest your desire to earn your CPA designation. Joining this organization may be the best investment you’ll ever make. Finally, like any membership organization, you will get out of the WICPA what you put into it. Don’t be afraid to reach out, volunteer and attend WICPA events. It will only make your experience as a member that much more valuable!

Tammy J. Hofstede is the president & CEO of the WICPA. Contact her at 262-785-0445 ext. 4518 or tammy@wicpa.org.

Visit www.wicpa.org to learn more and to apply for membership.

CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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FOCUS ON CAREERS

CORPORATE ACCOUNTING

So You Want to Go Corporate

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These CPAs found that “accounting” and “work-life balance” aren’t mutually exclusive terms. By Ken Wysocky

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istorically speaking, CPA certification has been the gold standard for demonstrated competence in accounting — a way for aspiring accountants to burnish their credentials and establish themselves as higher-echelon professionals. But some question whether the CPA credential still is relevant in today’s rapidly changing business world or if it provides a sufficient return on investment. According to interviews with a cross-sample of CPA chief financial officers representing a variety of business sectors, the answer is a resounding “yes.” And that’s especially true for those aspiring to become senior financial executives in the corporate world.

4Kelly Dolphin, CPA CFO, Gordon Flesch Co., Madison Primary responsibilities: Oversees accounting, accounts payable, business-process optimization and purchasing and pricing teams

At the time I graduated from college, I thought I knew the value of CPA certification. But as I look back now, it’s been even more valuable than I expected. Those credentials helped get me where I am today. I wouldn’t have this job without it.” — Kelly Dolphin, CPA

Education: University of Iowa — bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting

“And when hiring for certain positions, I often look for individuals with CPA licensure and experience in public accounting.”

Years as an accountant: 16; seven at Gordon Flesch

Studying for the CPA Exam exposed Dolphin to many different aspects of business that benefited her as her career progressed. It prepared her to make better business decisions in areas such as acquisitions.

After earning a master’s degree in accounting in 2005, Dolphin started her career as a staff auditor at Ernst & Young in Minneapolis and subsequently held two other accounting-related jobs before being hired as controller at Gordon Flesch, an office equipment and technology provider, in 2014. She subsequently was promoted to VP of finance and then to CFO in 2020. “At the time I graduated from college, I thought I knew the value of CPA certification,” she said. “But as I look back now, it’s been even more valuable than I expected. Those credentials helped get me where I am today. I wouldn’t have this job without it.

“There are a lot of different intangibles that factor into acquisition decisions, not just numbers,” she said. “A lot of it centers on business acumen, and I think the CPA Exam prepares you to develop that insight.” Dolphin urges anyone who’s thinking about skipping CPA certification to think long term about career goals. Anyone interested in becoming a senior finance leader should definitely go for it, she said. “Several years down the road, it could give you a leg up over those without the CPA credential,” she explained. CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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Becoming a CPA will pay long-term dividends. Your name followed by a comma and the letters ‘CPA’ will stay with you for as long as you work — and people you’re competing with for jobs might not have it.” — Marc Cadieux, CPA

4Marc Cadieux, CPA CFO, Children’s Wisconsin, Milwaukee Primary responsibilities: Oversees accounting team, treasury management, accounts payable/approvals, financial reporting, revenue cycle, supply chain and real estate Education: Marian University in Fond du Lac, bachelor’s in accounting; UW–Milwaukee Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business, MBA Years as an accountant: 33; 16 at Children’s Wisconsin Cadieux began his career with Deloitte LLP in Winnipeg, Manitoba (his hometown), and then in Milwaukee. He was named director of physician financial services at Children’s in 2005 and became CFO in 2015. “Having CPA certification has been very valuable to my career,” he said. “It brings credibility to your personal brand because you’ve taken your education to the next level to get certified in the field you studied. And if you’re going to go to school for four or five years, why wouldn’t you get certified? You’ve already done most of the work.” Cadieux noted that during job searches for accountant and finance positions at Children’s, résumés from candidates with CPA credentials “go in a different pile.” CPA licensure also gave Cadieux a wide breadth of business knowledge that enables him to confidently

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stand up in front of the organization’s board of directors and speak intelligently about various aspects of business. “Becoming a CPA gave me business expertise beyond accounting,” he noted. “The business world is more than just debits and credits. For example, when dealing with mergers and acquisitions or complex real estate transactions, I understand the business side of the deal. I can think about how these transactions will affect financial numbers and reporting.” Cadieux’s advice for accounting grads? Think long term, not short term. “You’ve got to play the long game,” he emphasized. “Becoming a CPA will pay long-term dividends. Your name followed by a comma and the letters ‘CPA’ will stay with you for as long as you work — and people you’re competing with for jobs might not have it.”

4Heather Dunn, CPA CFO & Senior VP, West Bend Mutual Ins. Co., West Bend Primary Responsibilities: Oversees teams in corporate accounting, financials, investment accounting, internal auditing, billing Education: St. Norbert College, bachelor’s in math and business; University of Notre Dame, master’s in accounting Years as an accountant: 21; 13 at West Bend Mutual


Dunn’s first job was with Ernst & Young, and she recalls how stressful it was to earn CPA certification during her second year at the firm. “It was challenging to work full time and still sit for the exam,” she said. “But many firms don’t promote people to manager or give bonuses to employees without the CPA credential. It wasn’t easy, but I got it done.” After eight years at EY, West Bend Mutual hired her as a controller in 2008. She added assistant VP of corporate accounting to that title before becoming CFO in 2017.

If you go into corporate accounting, CPA licensure will get you up the ladder faster. And you’ll have a broader background — an extra level of intelligence.”

CPA licensure gave Dunn a well-rounded view of the inner workings of business, which has served her well. Much of her job now revolves around systems, data flow and business-growth tactics, not just crunching numbers, she noted.

— Kevin Monson, CPA

“I sit at the strategy table, too,” she added. “My job is much more IT and strategy focused than accounting focused, which I didn’t expect at the start — but I really like it. And having my CPA license was a big help.

Monson began his career as a staff accountant at Bertelson Co. (now merged with Wipfli) in Eau Claire, followed by stints at an oil company, a general contractor and CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA) before joining A-1 Excavating earlier this year.

“I work with contracts, vendors and management all day long. I feel comfortable negotiating contracts and can understand contract language and the risks involved,” she said. “I wouldn’t have that kind of confidence if I hadn’t learned those things while studying to pass the exam.” Dunn also firmly believes CPA licensure helps people get a foot in the door for job interviews. She noted that because many accounting firms now cover the cost of the exam, financial concerns should be less of a hurdle.

4Kevin Monson, CPA CFO, A-1 Excavating Inc., Bloomer Primary Responsibilities: Oversees corporate accounting, financials, investment accounting, internal auditing, billing Education: UW–Eau Claire, BBA (double major in accounting and management information systems) Years as an Accountant: 33; six months at A-1 Excavating

“It’s been a crazily entertaining career,” he said. “And having my CPA license definitely was a plus. I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to spend the time in school, you should complete the CPA Exam and get licensed.” Monson noted that in public accounting firms, promotional opportunities — and higher earnings — are limited without the CPA credential. “You can’t go beyond director or senior manager without it, and regulations also would bar you from being an owner,” he pointed out. “So you’re really limiting your earning potential.” Monson believes CPA certification is the way to go, even if it means extra time in school. “You can’t give up so easily,” he said. “If you go into corporate accounting, CPA licensure will get you up the ladder faster. And you’ll have a broader background — an extra level of intelligence.” Ken Wysocky is a freelance writer based in Whitefish Bay. Contact him at kenwysocky@gmail.com.

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FOCUS ON CAREERS

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PUBLIC ACCOUNTING

CPA Preferred

In a numbers-driven profession, three letters – CPA – have led public accounting professionals to career advancement and satisfaction.

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By Sharon Zalewski

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ny CPA will tell you the CPA designation offers access to jobs with higher authority and responsibility and greater career stability. CPAs have the potential for earnings significantly higher than non-CPAs in the same positions. But for CPAs who choose public accounting as their lifelong career, it’s not necessarily the earnings that keep them there. Variety of work and clients has long been the spice of public accounting life. And for several Wisconsin-based CPAs, the ultimate satisfaction comes from the relationships this variety affords. “In corporate, you’re focused on one specific area and one business; whereas in public accounting, your whole career is about helping people from many companies to save Mark Juedes money, to develop efficiencies and reduce their headaches, and to strengthen their internal control structure,” said Mark Juedes, CPA, a principal at CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA) in Madison. “With the breadth of what you learn dealing with clients in various industries, you become an expert in business, not just accounting,” said Michael Matuszak, CPA, a Michael Matuszak shareholder at KerberRose in Wausau, whose tax and accounting clients view him as a trusted adviser. “It’s pretty satisfying to see your role in helping clients be successful. Their appreciation is fulfilling.”

I absolutely encourage securing the CPA. It makes sure doors aren’t closed on you and helps open others.” Anne Kirschling

referring to the technical aptitude the CPA designation represents. “Clients want their accountants to be well-rounded and stay atop the guidance.” The CPA designation is also crucial to career growth. “The decision of whether to take the exam is easy: If you want to advance, it’s just part of the program,” Juedes said. “For the most part, you can’t advance past the senior level until you’ve received your CPA license.” That is true, according to Kirschling, who pointed out that having the CPA credential is the only formal requirement Wipfli has for promotion to manager. “I absolutely encourage securing the CPA,” she said. “It makes sure doors aren’t closed on you and helps open others.”

Earning a CPA license is central to becoming that trusted adviser. “Clients expect to see the designation,” said Matuszak. “It puts their minds at ease.”

“Even if you want to go into private after a few years, nearly every position application says ‘CPA preferred,’” said Juedes, who noticed during a corporate internship while in college that the executives all came from public accounting firms and had their CPA licenses. “And even if you use public accounting as a stepping stone — as many do — if you don’t get the CPA certification, your career will most likely plateau.”

“It’s the letters,” confirmed Anne Kirschling, CPA, a partner at Wipfli LLP in Milwaukee,

“The short-term commitment and sacrifices you make to ensure a successful outcome with

Why CPA?

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I can’t imagine not taking the exam after making the commitment to the degree. The profession as a whole is greatly respected.” Margo Rosen

the exam are well worth it,” said Margo Rosen, CPA, CGMA, managing partner at Carlson SV in Amery. “I can’t imagine not taking the exam after making the commitment to the degree. The profession as a whole is greatly respected.”

Path to partnership While the CPA designation plays a crucial role in career advancement, so do coaches and mentors. When newly minted accountants begin their careers, they spend the first couple of years developing a deeper understanding of accounting by absorbing information and interacting with others, including seasoned professionals. “At Wipfli, we pair you with performance coaches,” Kirschling said. “Having people

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coach you in soft skills — especially communication styles to elevate and build conversations — is very important.” “The search for talent is very competitive,” said Rosen. “Technical skills are vital, but with the right training and development these will come, and firms will make the investment in those who are the right fit. Soft skills are an important component of that.” Kirschling has been with Wipfli her entire career, progressing to partner in June 2020, 13 years after she started as staff accountant. “My mentors and coaches were paired with my career aspirations,” Kirschling said, adding that she did not aspire to partnership early on because of the time and effort required. “But this has evolved as I’ve grown in my career and as I saw that I could be what I wanted to be. It’s about the effort you put in, and everyone’s timetable is different.” Aside from the CPA requirement to become manager, “all other promotion levels at Wipfli are based on certain attributes and how well you can perform as it relates to those,” she said. These may include coordination of client engagements, a high level of technical competency, time management skills, developing associates and their skillsets, and cultivating strong relationships within and outside the firm. “As you progress, you learn, do more and work your way up,” she said.


Professionals must be invited to the partnership. “This normally requires excelling at a number of things that revolve around client service, operational effectiveness, leadership and business development,” Kirschling said.

Other leadership positions KerberRose offers tiered ownership. “People appreciate having a piece of the pie even if it’s a smaller piece,” said Matuszak, who made shareholder eight years after graduation. “We have people who are becoming shareholders sooner and buying in gradually over time. Our mentor program is focused on helping managers become shareholders.” Apart from monetary rewards, becoming a shareholder has enabled Matuszak, like his contemporaries, to become more involved in the strategic direction of the firm and manage his own destiny. “I get to be the go-to for my clients and ensure staff are productive. Also, I am involved in strategic committees rather than focused only on billable work.” Firms have recognized that not all public accounting professionals may have rainmaking skills or desire to be owners of the firm but still can make valuable contributions through a nonequity partner position. “At CLA, we want owners as well as professionals who may not wish to be owners but have the same responsibilities,” said Juedes. “Being a principal gives you the chance to be compensated well and prove yourself to join the ownership circle or have the title and the responsibilities without the economic risk that comes with partnership.” Professionals can advance to principal after succeeding at the manager level. CLA also offers a director career path. “It used to be that you either became partner or left the firm,” Juedes said. “But why would we ever want to push out of the firm good, competent people who serve clients well but don’t want to pursue ownership?” Juedes, who rose from audit and tax associate to senior associate to manager to principal within the course of seven years, aspires to be a partner. “Business development seemed harder my first couple years, but the longer you’re in your career, the bigger network you develop and the faster things happen,”

You need the CPA credential. Once that is accomplished, the opportunities and rewards are almost endless.” he said. “Being personable, getting out and talking to people and seeing how you can help makes things happen more easily. It’s really not ‘sales’ but sincerely trying to help people, which comes naturally.” For those who aspire to leadership, as the professionals in this article have attested, the possibilities for high-level positions within public accounting are numerous — with that one caveat: You need the CPA credential. Once that is accomplished, the opportunities and rewards are almost endless.

Sharon Zalewski is a freelance writer based in Richfield. Contact her at sharonzalewski@yahoo.com.

CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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LOOKING BACK

NOTE TO SELF

Note to Self is a new column for CPA2b in which CPA professionals will write notes to their college-student selves to give them a glimpse of their future. To start us off, we’ve asked Neil Keller, CPA, ABV, CVA, partner in charge of tax at Sikich LLP, Brookfield, to write a letter to his younger self. Neil is also a past chair of the WICPA board of directors, a current AICPA Council member and — back in the day — a WICPA scholarship recipient.

Dear Younger Me, I want to start off by letting you know that you are making a great decision. I know you are unsure if accounting is the area of business you want to focus on, but stop worrying — it is. There will be so many different opportunities for you to explore as to the type of work you will do and the type of company you will work for. You will meet and help many people, and

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your journey will be a rewarding one. To help you along the way, here are a few things to keep in mind: There is no substitute for experience. College will do a great job of teaching you theory and getting you ready for your career, but the best learning tool you will have is


experience. Work hard, be a human sponge soaking up learning opportunities, and don’t be afraid to take on new challenges even if they initially seem to go against the traditional path. There will be some things you try and hate; there will be some things you try and fail; but no one can take those learning experiences away from you. It is in this willingness to try that you will find what you excel at and truly love about your career. You may think you know what to expect, but you have no idea! Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride. Accounting is a people business. People will constantly tell you that accounting is a numbers business. Don’t let them fool you — accounting is really about people. Sure, you have to be comfortable working with numbers, but it will be your interactions with people that make you a success. Whether it is with clients or co-workers, your days will be spent working with people. You will become your clients’ trusted adviser, helping them navigate through their most difficult challenges and celebrating with them during their biggest successes. Your career will be helped along by mentors, and then you will draw others to the profession and help them to grow and advance just as you did. Your compassion, sense of humor and ability to have a conversation about anything will take you way farther than being good at numbers ever could.

partner from Advanced Tax class — will go to work for a huge charitable organization that you would love to have as a client. Then there is this girl you will meet after your internship … well, that will have to be the topic of another letter (but remember, she loves lilies!). You will be surprised at how small the world can be, and sometimes it really is more about who you know than what you know. One more thing: Don’t forget to have fun along the way. Time will fly past, and before you know it, you will be writing this letter — so be sure to take a moment and enjoy it. OH! I almost forgot!! The winning lottery numbers for July 15, 2021, are … (No, I shouldn’t.) Take care,

Neil Keller

Stay in touch with your friends. While I am talking about people, I should remind you to stay in touch with the people you meet. You will get to know and become friends with so many people while you are in college. Even though life becomes very busy once you start your career, don’t lose contact with them. Mike — the guy you won’t be able to beat at darts — will become a banker with all the contacts you are going to want. Sarah — your study

CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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DESTINATION CPA

A feature profiling young professionals who provide their insights about what it’s like to work as a CPA in public accounting or industry

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Katie Gee, CPA, CMA Job title: Assistant Corporate Controller l Employer: Marathon Cheese Corp., Marathon

What influenced your decision to become a CPA? Becoming a CPA was a no-brainer for me. I knew I loved accounting and wanted to excel at it in every way possible. Simply put, getting my CPA designation was going to be a vital step in creating a strong foundation for the career I wanted to cultivate. How did you complete the 150 hours necessary to take the CPA Exam? I took a nontraditional approach and combined previous UW credits with two associate degrees and my bachelor’s degree. By the time I completed my bachelor’s in accounting, I had the number of credits I needed. What are some dead-wrong assumptions people make about CPAs? I would say common incorrect assumptions are that CPAs know EVERYTHING (they don’t) and that they are generally bland, number-driven individuals who don’t like to have fun. CPAs come in all different varieties of personalities and shouldn’t be stereotyped. What’s the best part about your current job? My current position allows me a steadier work pace without the ups and downs experienced in public accounting, as well as a blend of general ledger work, tax, budgeting and risk management. How did you find your first job out of college? My first job out of college I found through word of mouth and knowing the right people in the right areas.

What was your first year like? My first year started right in January during the tax season ramp-up. It was tough, and there was a reasonable amount of tears shed. Overall, though, I experienced a ton of learning and strived to greater heights. What surprised you the most when you started your job? In my current position, the biggest surprise was the working environment and business processes. I moved out of public accounting into private, so it took time to get acquainted with the change of pace. Processes move more slowly, and (in my experience) employee turnover is less in private compared to public. What’s the best thing about being a CPA? Being a CPA opens the door to a multitude of opportunities, but the best part is the self-pride I can take in knowing just how hard I worked to achieve it. What do you like most about the organization you work for? I work for a privately held, family-owned and -oriented company that has great loyalty to and appreciation for their employees. What are your goals for the future? I want to make a difference — whether that’s in my current position or life throws me a different career opportunity. Leadership fulfills me, and I’m a strong believer in lifelong learning. I never want to keep “going through the motions” if there is a better solution or process.

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Alex McCarville, CPA Job title: Senior Tax Associate l Employer: Baker Tilly US LLP, Madison

What influenced your decision to become a CPA? When I met with current CPAs as a student, I was always advised to pursue the CPA Exam right after college. Once I began working in accounting as an intern for a private company, I learned from several colleagues what career opportunities are available to CPAs. How did you complete the 150 hours necessary to take the CPA Exam? The accounting program at UW-Oshkosh made it easy to achieve the 150-hour requirement. Professors and advisors highly encouraged completing the 150 hours to qualify for the CPA Exam. I added an emphasis in information management and would recommend others to pursue a minor or emphasis that they find interesting. What are some dead-wrong assumptions people make about public accounting? I think a common misconception is that you are required to work 60+ hours per week all year long. Although the workload is demanding during busy season, the flexibility during the off season is well worth it. Another wrong assumption is that public accounting is a temporary career path. What’s the best part about your current job? I truly enjoy the variety of projects I am exposed to. There is always a level of unpredictability when working with clients, and each day can result in new projects I never imagined working on. I believe this keeps the job interesting and challenging (in a good way). How did you find your first job out of college? I attended various networking events throughout college, so I felt well connected when I was searching

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for my first job. I mainly utilized LinkedIn to search for opportunities and directly applied through the companies’ websites. I strongly suggest getting involved in college organizations to help yourself stand out among other candidates. What was your first year like? My first year consisted of a lot of learning curves. I was able to quickly learn from my mistakes and enhance my skills by receiving timely feedback from managers. I discovered early on new employees are expected to have questions and ask for help when needed. What surprised you the most when you started your job? I was most surprised that I was responsible for my own workload and having to communicate to the team only when I had free time or if I had too much on my plate. I had not experienced this level of responsibility in prior jobs. What’s the best thing about being a CPA? The best part of being a CPA is the satisfaction of accomplishing something that requires a lot of commitment. I feel more confident in myself since I passed the exams and know it will benefit my career in the long run. What do you like most about the organization you work for? My favorite part of working at Baker Tilly is the ability to make my job and career path unique to my goals. I am able to communicate my interests, and they will make sure I am able to work on projects I enjoy or want to learn more about. What are your goals for the future? My main short-term goal is to continue building strong relationships with clients and grow my career with Baker Tilly. In the long run, I would like to use my expertise as a CPA to sit on the board of a nonprofit organization.


Adam Meyer, CPA Job title: Senior Accountant l Employer: Wipfli LLP, Milwaukee

What influenced your decision to become a CPA? Family, mostly: My aunt was an accounting professor, my dad is a controller, and both are CPAs. Growing up, we always talked about financial markets and accounting. I was also good at math, and my accounting class in high school pushed me all the way there. How did you complete the 150 hours necessary to take the CPA Exam? In college I double-majored in accounting and IT to get to the 150 credits. I took all four sections of the CPA Exam during my last year of college and passed all four before graduation. What are some dead-wrong assumptions people make about public accounting? First, that there is a lack of work-life balance. The right firm will give you that. I would say Wipfli has that, as the team I work with is flexible as long as the work gets done. Second, that busy season expectations keep you constantly busy. Certain firms have different takes on this, but Wipfli’s stance is that if you work extravagant hours, you will get burned out, and a team can’t be effective if people are burned out. What’s the best part about your current job? The people. The group of people I work with have become good friends of mine. I am able to talk with them about anything and everything and even socialize with them outside of work. I also like having a variety of clients and flexibility in work hours.

to study for the CPA Exam without having to spend time and mental energy job hunting. What was your first year like? In my first year, I did a combination of tax and audit so I would be better able to guide my career down the path I wanted to take. I worked with clients in different industries and had new projects each week. What surprised you the most when you started your job? The busy season expectations and the workload. (See my answer about dead-wrong asumptions.) What’s the best thing about being a CPA? The opportunities that arise from having the designation. From a work perspective, the CPA credential is very valuable to employers. Also, you are constantly learning from the continuing professional education that is required. You are always growing professionally from that. What do you like most about the organization you work for? I like that you are able to guide your path where you want it to go. I was able to steer my career path down the audit route and in the industry that fits me best. I also enjoy the flexibility I have when it comes to work hours and time off. Also, I really like the people I work with. What are your goals for the future? My goals are to provide guidance and help companies succeed with not just accounting but their overall businesses and to someday advance to partner.

How did you find your first job out of college? My first job out of college was the result of a busyseason internship I did in the second semester of my fourth year in college. From this internship, I got a fulltime offer a year before graduation, which allowed me

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WELCOME NEW STUDENT MEMBERS

Elizabeth J. Bratter KPMG LLP

Olivia Hansen UW-Oshkosh

Keegan E. Brewer UW-Oshkosh

Victoria Jaeger Lakeland University

Brendan Clementi

Christopher C. Janisch KPMG LLP

Adam DeMaster Kevin Dethloff Kayla Dollar KPMG LLP Allison R. Drost Two Rivers Accounting, LLC Sarah Fleischmann Dana Franzowiak

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Che R. Martinson Christopher J. McKenna Alyssa Prodoehl Madeline Reschke Brooke Rollins Hunter Sadler

Matthew Frisone

Ryan A. Stigen Huberty & Associates, S.C.

Kevin Fry

Rhonda A. Sweeney

Morgan Goebel UW-Milwaukee

Hunter Weckerly

CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org


WICPA Career Center

Post Job Openings l Upload Your Resume l Apply For Internships

Whether you’re looking for a new career or a new employee, the WICPA’s new and enhanced Career Center can help you make the most of your search.

Find or post a job today at wicpa.org/CareerCenter. CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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CPA EXAM

CPA Evolution What it means for you

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The role of today’s CPA has evolved, and newly licensed CPAs are taking on new responsibilities that were traditionally assigned to more experienced staff.” By Carl R. Mayes Jr., CPA AICPA Associate Director — Quality & Evolution

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t’s never been a more exciting time to pursue the CPA license. The role of today’s CPA has evolved, and newly licensed CPAs are taking on new responsibilities that were traditionally assigned to more experienced staff. Becoming a CPA means you’ll need deeper skill sets, more competencies and a greater knowledge of emerging technologies. We’ve heard from accounting firms that they are looking for professional staff with digital acumen, data analytics skills and an understanding of IT controls and cybersecurity. That’s why the CPA licensure model is changing. CPA Evolution is a joint initiative of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The initiative is transforming the CPA licensure model to reflect the rapidly changing skills and competencies the accounting profession requires today and will require in the future. It will put in place a flexible and adaptable licensure approach that will serve as the foundation for future-proofing the CPA profession. Over the past three years, NASBA and the AICPA gathered input from more than 4,000 stakeholders from across the profession on how to transform CPA licensure and meet the needs of the marketplace. During these

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We surveyed accounting firms with 100 or more CPAs, and 88% told us that if university accounting programs aligned with CPA Evolution, their hiring of new accounting graduates would likely increase.”

conversations, several key themes became clear: • The profession supports the need to change the CPA licensure model. • Newly licensed CPAs should all demonstrate strong common core competencies. • The new CPA licensure model should position the CPA for the future. • The new CPA licensure model should continue to protect the public interest. Based on this feedback and lessons learned from studying other international and domestic licensure models, NASBA and the AICPA developed a new approach to CPA licensure. In 2020, both the AICPA Governing Council and the NASBA Board of Directors voted to support advancement of the CPA Evolution initiative. The AICPA and NASBA are now moving forward with implementing the new model.

What is the new licensure model? The new CPA licensure model takes a core + discipline approach, starting with a deep and strong core in accounting, auditing, tax and technology that all candidates will be required to complete. Each candidate will also choose a discipline in which to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge. Regardless of chosen discipline, this model leads to full CPA licensure, with rights and privileges consistent with any other CPA. A discipline selected for testing will not mean the CPA is limited to that practice area.

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This model: • Enhances public protection by producing candidates who have the deep knowledge necessary to perform high-quality work, meeting the needs of organizations, firms and the public. • Is responsive to feedback, as it builds accounting, auditing, tax and technology knowledge requirements into a robust common core. • Reflects the realities of practice, requiring deeper proven knowledge in one of three disciplines that are pillars of the profession. • Is adaptive and flexible, helping to future-proof the CPA as the profession continues to evolve. • Results in one CPA license.


accounting program graduates would be considered more valuable than they are today or both.

What’s next for students and CPA candidates? If you are an aspiring CPA and a college freshman, you will be among the first to take the overhauled version of the CPA Exam when it launches in 2024. Current CPA candidates will be able to sit for the current CPA Exam until the launch of the new Exam. A transition plan for those that have begun but not completed the CPA Exam will be announced later this summer.

Where can I go for more information? As CPA Evolution continues to progress, please check back for updates at EvolutionofCPA.org. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at Feedback@EvolutionofCPA.org.

What does this mean for the Uniform CPA Examination? The specific content of the core and the disciplines will be determined by a CPA Exam practice analysis, which is currently underway. Practice analyses — gathering information about the current and future state of the profession and the work of newly licensed CPAs — are conducted periodically as part of the AICPA’s ongoing efforts to make sure the exam is current and to maintain its validity and reliability. The current practice analysis will likely wrap up in 2022, and an exam blueprint will be exposed for public comment in mid-2022. The AICPA and NASBA expect the new Exam will launch in January 2024.

Will the new licensure model impact accounting firm hiring? We surveyed accounting firms with 100 or more CPAs, and 88% told us that if university accounting programs aligned with CPA Evolution, their hiring of new accounting graduates would likely increase,

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CAREER PREPARATION

SOFT SKILLS

6 TIPS FOR WRITING

BETTER EMAILS As college students return to campus for the fall 2020 term, most are encountering a very different classroom experience. By Megan Hart

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riting clear, concise emails is a skill that's even more critical now with so many of our communications taking place online. The rise in remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increased volume of email, a Harvard Business School study found. Making those emails direct and easy to read can help lessen the burden on your colleagues. Also, as Seth Serhienko, CPA, audit manager at Widmer Roel in Fargo, North Dakota, pointed out, when you work remotely, new clients or colleagues might base their entire impression of you on your

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Writing clear, concise emails is a skill that's even more critical now with so many of our communications taking place online.”


emails. Making sure your emails to them are clear and descriptive can help build trust and save time, he said. If clients know exactly what documents or information you need the first time, it leads to less back and forth. At the same time, poorly written emails may lead clients to believe you'll fall short on other areas of the job, too, he noted. Try these tips to improve your emails:

1. Make sure the takeaways are obvious Always include a call to action in your emails and, when possible, a deadline too, said Bay Area writing coach Joanna Cutrara. When it's easier for your colleagues and clients to understand what you need, you're much more likely to get a timely reply, she said. "Being upfront about when you need something is just respectful of both your time and your colleagues' time," she said. You shouldn't feel pushy about providing a deadline, Cutrara said. In fact, it might help you come off as less demanding in the long run. If you leave it up to your colleagues or clients, they might not get back to you as quickly as you need them to. By providing a deadline, you can help avoid sending urgent follow-ups, she said. When asking for documents, especially from new clients, aim to be crystal clear, Serhienko said. For example, if you're discussing multiple attached documents, clearly name the files so they're easy to identify. That way you're more likely to get the items you asked for and less likely to get questions back in response. Lacy McMoarn, a CPA with Dufour Tax Group LLC, in Portland, Maine, said she usually gets between 20 and 25 actionable emails a day — and they add up. In addition to keeping messages concise, she suggests cutting through the noise by making good use of your subject line. Subject lines should be short, direct, and accurately reflect the urgency of your messages, she said. Never leave a subject line blank, she added.

Poorly written emails may lead clients to believe you'll fall short on other areas of the job too.” — Seth Serhienko, CPA

2. Avoid the "wall of text" The best emails don't use artsy prose. Instead, they make their purpose clear to readers, and they do it as quickly as possible, Cutrara said. Aim to keep emails under five sentences when you can, she said, and keep paragraphs to three sentences or fewer. "If you're writing an email that you would dread reading, why are you sending it?" she said. When emails must be longer, use formatting to your advantage. Serhienko recommends using bold lettering, bullet points or numbered lists when they're called for. These can be valuable cues for readers who are just scanning your message. "If you just send a big block of text, things are going to get missed," he said.

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3. Add a personal touch Writing concise emails can show clients and colleagues that you respect their time, but that doesn't mean your messages should feel terse either. Email is a valuable client relations tool, McMoarn said. At the end of an email, adding "Thanks so much for your help with this" or "I really appreciate the work you're doing on this" can go a long way, Cutrara said. "Whether you're writing to colleagues or clients, it can make a difference to have those touchpoints of warmth," she said.

4. Consider your audience Think about your audience when you craft messages. For example, McMoarn said, sometimes CPAs can rely too heavily on jargon their clients might not understand.

to other goals of yours, such as having better relationships with clients and colleagues. "You really have to think about the end results," she said. Megan Hart is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin. This article originally appeared in CPA Insider. ©2021 Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

"Oftentimes that will really disengage a reader," she said.

5. Proofread Emails are not very helpful if they're unclear or riddled with errors. McMoarn recommends always proofreading before sending, especially in cases where emails might later serve as documentation, such as when a client is being audited. If it's a particularly important message, consider asking a colleague to look it over.

6. Practice with every email you send Writing quality emails can show you're on the ball, Serhienko said, especially now that we're seeing each other in person less often. Writing good emails is a skill like any other aspect of your job. And, with time and effort, anyone can become a stronger writer, Cutrara said. It's like a muscle you can work to build, and it's worth the investment, she said. Though becoming a better writer might not be your ultimate goal, she said, it can contribute

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Interested? Contact Marcia Tillett-Zinzow, editor, at mtzinzow@icloud.com. CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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CAREER PREPARATION

TECHNOLOGY

Top 5 Excel Skills for Entry-Level Staff

Format your data

Master keyboard shortcuts

Analyze and visualize your data

Validate your changes Clean your data

By Brigid D’Souza, CPA

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ntry-level staff will be well served by building their Excel toolkit early. The list below is largely gleaned from my experience working for a Big 4 tax firm in a quantitative consulting practice, but also from weaving Excel into my advanced accounting classes at Saint Peter’s University.

1. Format your data Formatting your data to be as easily readable as possible will create efficiencies down the line as work prepared by entry-level staff is analyzed or manipulated by more senior staff. Some key tasks to keep in mind include the following:

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• Wrapping data within cells to ensure data is not cut off • Shading and centering header cells • Adding lines and borders to differentiate subtotals and totals from details Excel’s formatting menus have a similar interface as Word, making it one of the easier tasks to latch onto if you’re just starting out with Excel.

2. Master keyboard shortcuts Large spreadsheets can be intimidating at first glance, but figuring out how to quickly and efficiently


move around in a spreadsheet will help build both your efficiencies and your confidence level. The “command” key on a Mac or “control” key in Windows will, when combined with arrow keys, allow you to jump up and down vertical ranges or left to right across horizontal ranges. Layering in the “shift” key allows you to highlight the cells as you jump, which can be helpful if you want to apply a singular change (such as bolding) to the entire range.

3. Clean your data Examples of cleaning data include replacing blank cells with zeros, ensuring all values in a single column are formatted consistently or getting rid of unnecessary leading spaces in a text value. Excel can help automate a lot of this. The following are two examples: • The TRANSPOSE formula allows you to copy a range of cells that is laid out horizontally or vertically and then paste the range vertically or horizontally, respectively. • The TRIM formula will remove any leading or trailing blank spaces before or after a value in a cell.

4. Validate your changes After you’ve cleaned your data, it is a good practice to validate that your changes have not altered the raw (or original) dataset. Excel is chock full of formulas to help with this, including the following: • The SUM formula can report back totals for columnar data, which you can then compare to control numbers in the enterprise-wide (original) reports. • The COUNTA formula can count the number of data points within a range, which can be a helpful check to make sure no rows or data points were erroneously deleted while you were data cleaning. • The SUMIF and COUNTIF formulas will allow you to sum or count (respectively) a range based on a conditional value. For instance, “sum all revenues from Country X” or “count all instances of Country Y.”

5. Analyze and visualize your data Once you have a clean dataset and you’ve run diagnostics to ensure your changes have not resulted in inaccuracies or omissions, you’re ready to analyze, visualize and report back to your team. Entry-level staff should learn the VLOOKUP and PIVOT table concepts. While these are advanced skills in Excel, every entry-level employee can learn them. • The VLOOKUP formula is a search feature — like the Amazon or Netflix search box — that you can run on your dataset. Let’s say you have a list of unique customers, and you want to easily pull up profile data on [one] customer based on the customer name. VLOOKUP allows you to use the customer name as a search term; the full customer dataset can be your lookup range, and VLOOKUP will report back the profile fields associated with that customer. • PIVOT TABLES are customizable reports within Excel. Pivot tables require clean data, which is why the preceding skills are so important. After that, it’s a matter of using Excel’s menu options to create the table. If you’re already in an entry-level staff position or about to begin one, take the time to learn these skills, as they will make you more efficient over time. Brigid D’Souza, CPA, MBA, is assistant professor at the Frank J. Guarini School of Business in the Department of Accountancy & Business Law at Saint Peter’s University. Contact her at bdsouza@saintpeters.edu. Reprinted from the Summer 2021 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine with NJCPA permission.

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HUMOR

“ CARTOONIST CONVO WITH A ... who’s also a CPA

By Marcia Tillett-Zinzow

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he words creative and accounting aren’t normally found in the same sentence unless the word unethical is included. But a sentence like that wouldn’t have been written about a CPA who is also a cartoonist. Nitin Bhojraj, CPA, CFE, is a creative accountant who likes to draw and thinks everyone should laugh more. That’s part of the reason he created Incremental Maturity, a series of cartoons that take lighthearted aim at accountants. We’re publishing one of them here in CPA2b.

The “serious” accountant stereotype Especially in years past, accountants have gotten a bad 38

CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

rap as being serious types with teeth-marked pencils and no sense of humor. But as we know, that’s not the case. In fact, Bhojraj thinks some of the funniest people he knows are CPAs. “I think it’s because they have such a deep intellectual grasp on so many different topics. It’s not enough to just know how to do a tax return. You have to have good people skills and be intelligent about trends in the business world, and because of that, I think many accountants are incredibly smart and well-rounded people,” he said. “It makes me mad when I hear someone say, ‘He’s really funny for being an accountant.’ It’s a stereotype I hope will be

completely gone in another generation or two.“ Professionally, Bhojraj holds a BSBA from Washington University in St. Louis and an MS in accounting from Loyola University Chicago. But he also holds a Diploma of Merit in Cartooning from London Art College and has refined his art talent with the help of many professional cartoonists who have been willing to share their secrets with him through Instagram. He also teaches college-level accounting in Chicago and is on the accounting faculty at both DePaul University’s School of Continuing Professional Studies and Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan Graduate School of Business. Right now,

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he’s working on a Doctor of Business Administration degree, which he plans to finish in June 2022.

Comedy and stress relief When he started practicing his art, he found it was a productive way to relieve stress, whether it was dealing with work or trying to understand the state of the world. He thinks all CPAs should have a creative outlet … “whether it’s learning to draw a cartoon character, play a song on piano or whatever artistic outlet you choose — there is great satisfaction in creating something that didn't exist before,” he said. Bhojraj also uses his comic skills in his accounting courses and academic conference presentations and encourages his students to create as well. “Before COVID took us out of the classroom, I would tell my accounting students that if they finished a quiz early they should draw a picture on the back,” he said. “I would comment on their pictures and give them tips on drawing. Sometimes I would make accounting jokes out of their pictures and post them on my Instagram, @nitindrawsthings, with their permission. They got a kick out of that. I sometimes spent more time commenting on their art on the back than I did grading the questions on the front.”

Nitin Bhojraj, CPA, CFE

I will always want to do both. Accounting is just too much fun and filled with intellectual challenges — just like art.

Does he see a day when he would give up accounting for cartooning? “I could never do that because I love accounting way too much,” he said. “I will always want to do both. Accounting is just too much fun and filled with intellectual challenges — just like art.” Marcia Tillett-Zinzow is a Wisconsin freelance writer and editor. Contact her at mtzinzow@icloud.com.

CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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www.rpb.biz Tim Allen, Firm Administrator, 414-271-7800 Reilly, Penner & Benton, LLP is Wisconsin’s first chartered CPA firm with over 100 years of experience. We are a mid-sized CPA firm in the Milwaukee and Madison markets with a diverse client base including non-profit & for-profit organizations, unions, government entities, employee benefit plans, school districts, charter & school choice programs as well as tax preparation and consulting for businesses, partnerships and individuals. At RPB everyone is part of the team, with a focus on growth and development both as an individual and as an accounting professional. RPB offers employees a positive culture with work-life balance.

| wicpa.org IF YOURFallFIRM WOULD LIKE TO BE LISTED IN THE FIRM SPOTLIGHT, PLEASE CONTACT SUE DANIELS AT 800-772-6939 EXT. 4516 OR SUE@WICPA.ORG. CPA2b 2021


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IF YOUR FIRM WOULD LIKE TO BE LISTED IN THE FIRM SPOTLIGHT, PLEASE CONTACT SUE DANIELS AT 800-772-6939 EXT. 4516 OR SUE@WICPA.ORG. CPA2b Fall 2021 | wicpa.org

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