Great advice for young accountants

How to become an Accountant? - A complete guide

Accounting Today recently asked over a hundred leaders in the tax and accounting profession to share what one thing they’d tell a new accountant who was just starting their career  here’s a sampling of our favorites, from the practical to the profound.

1) ‘Be curious. Don’t settle.’

–Jennifer Briggs, President & CEO, Indiana CPA Society

“Be curious. Don’t settle. Learn as much as you can every day. It’s not only the best way to excel, it’s the best way to stay interested and interesting (to clients, your boss, your future employer, whatever the case may be). The popular phrase is, ‘When we stop learning, we stop growing.’ True. But I also think that when we stop learning we stop caring as much. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve done a job or been in your career; the world is changing around you every day and there is always something new to learn to keep you engaged at being the best.”

2) ‘Learn to think an entrepreneur.’

–Rick Telberg, Founder and CEO, CPA Trendlines

“Here’s what they won’t tell you in college, or even in your first job: You’re an entrepreneur. Learn to think an entrepreneur. Learn to act like it. … Bottom line: Every accountant is in business for themselves, responsible for their own skills, growth, integrity, reputation, brand, and service to clients and the public. The most important skill you can learn beyond the basics for licensure are how to get new clients, and to amaze and delight them.”

3) ‘Manage your own career.’

–Bridget Kaigler, Founder and president, Bringing Leadership Back

“Manage your own career. Don’t assume others will possess the same zeal as you do and advocate for yourself as you would. However, you cannot get everywhere on your own. Mentors and leaders are looked to for guidance not executing your career aspirations.”

“Knowing what you want is an advantage. Finding a career and job function that fits your personality is essential. Do not attempt to excel in a position you dislike regardless of technical knowledge. Be mindful – Something different may turn into something great.”

4) ‘Question your profession’s orthodoxies.’

–Ron Baker, Founder, VeraSage Institute, and chief value officer, Armanino LLP

“Regularly question your profession’s orthodoxies, and understand the severe limitations of accounting: It’s not a theory, so it can only confirm the past and cannot peer into the future; it doesn’t account for intellectual capital, the chief source of wealth in our economy; it has nothing to say about value, hence the plug number of goodwill, a word we use to describe our ignorance.”

“Remember that your IC is more than your human and structural capital. It also consists of your social capital, the relationships that will have a profound impact on the rest of your life. You are whom you associate with. Don’t pollute your social capital with people who have a zero-sum mentality and believe you can only gain if someone else loses.”

5) ‘Understand your core values.’

–Lynne Doughtie, Chairman and CEO, KPMG

“Really understand your core personal values and ensure that garnering trust and acting with integrity are cornerstones. Letting these values guide your actions will strengthen your decision-making, foster openness and collaboration, and allow you to carry out your critical role in protecting the capital markets.”

6) Follow your own career path.

–Blake Oliver, Senior product marketing manager, FloQast Inc.

“You don’t have to follow the traditional career path in the Big Four anymore. It’s not about ‘making it to manager and then going to industry.’ You can start in industry. You can go to public after that if you want. You can even start your own firm in your twenties these days if you’re good at marketing yourself online. I know because I’ve done all three, and have watched others do the same.”

DATE PUBLISHED: September 18, 2020

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