My advice to an accounting student is to pick one hot area and go deep.
Passing the CPA exam is something to be proud of. It demonstrates a general knowledge expected by the profession of its practitioners with two years’ experience.
But specialized knowledge is what distinguishes young professionals from their peers. For better or worse, there are many areas of accounting that are extremely complex, and for which a small change in a fact pattern could change the accounting treatment. My advice to an accounting student is to pick just one hot area – e.g., financial instruments, hedging, revenue recognition, leasing — and go deep.
Tom Selling, PhD, CPA
The Accounting Onion
>> Accounting knowledge bolsters your Business IQ. Test yours here.
There is no substitute for knowing the numbers when it comes to measuring a business’s financial health and its ability to be successful.
Financial management and related decision making — both of which rely upon having basic accounting knowledge — will always be one two of the strongest drivers of small business success. Businesses that don’t have a team with these abilities will always keep that business from reaching the crucial five-year milestone. As a business owner (or even a key team member), you may have a gut feeling that the business is humming along smoothly, but there is no substitute for knowing the numbers when it comes to measuring that business’s financial health and the ability to be successful. Staying on top of financial data gives a business its best shot at becoming established. Only by knowing the key numbers can a business plan for the future!
Founder, Kildal Services
It all gets sorted out in the accounting records.
Accounting is the foundation of all business. All businesses get interpreted through the lens of accounting. There are many complexities in a business, including team cultures, marketing, selling, processes, and client contracts. But it all gets sorted out in the accounting records. Financial statements tell the historical story of how your business has been doing and how all of these complexities ultimately turn into profit or loss.
Jason Blumer, CPA
Chief Innovation Officer, Blumer and Associates, CPAs
The one in the room who can turn knowledge into actionable business information is the one who will provide unique value.
A “comprehensive” knowledge of accounting is, of course, the cost of entry — table stakes, if you will. But more important to an accountant’s stakeholders — employers, shareholders, lenders, colleagues, the public, the clients, etc. — is a “deep” or “strategic” understanding of the business at hand.
You can get five accountants in a room and get six opinions on the proper treatment of a FASB rule. But the one in the room who can turn that knowledge into actionable business information is the only one who will provide unique value. The rest is commodity.
CEO, CPA Trendlines Research
People who possess a deep knowledge of accounting are in a better position to act as strategic advisors to business owners and organizational leaders.
People who possess a deep knowledge of accounting are in a better position to act as a strategic advisor to business owners and organizational leaders. No matter the endeavor, there is a money flow to fund it and that flow has to be intelligently managed. And, in most cases, there are matters of compliance to manage around that money flow, too. As a result, all enterprise leaders (large and small) need help from bright professionals who understand both the fundamental and strategic nuances of smart accounting management.
A deep knowledge of accounting alone is not enough to be a maximally marketable and difference making today. Leadership skills, technology literacy, an understanding of processes, relationship development skills, and the ability to communicate well are also required to make an impact in the field of accounting.