Making the grade
For most firms, having their accounting professionals gain the CPA designation is of paramount importance.
With four partners and 36 staff, Baton
Rouge, La.-based Faulk & Winkler (www.fw-
cpa.com), has an impressive 10
team members currently pursuing their CPA certification.
And three others have recently
passed the exam.
So, what is this firm doing to
motivate its young talent and
manage their movement toward passing the CPA Exam?
We’ll share a few ideas from
this progressive practice that
may help your firm’s CPA hopefuls improve their chances for a
According to Faulk & Winkler’s
managing partner, David Wink-
ler, “When an individual passes
the exam and becomes a licensed
CPA, it represents a professional
commitment and an investment
in their development as a whole.
To our clients, it is a symbol of
and, above all, trust.”
For those in the accounting pro-
fession, successful completion of
the CPA Exam generally represents the most
important investment they can make in their
professional development. Faulk & Winkler’s
leadership team believes that the willingness
to make this investment of time, energy and
money speaks highly of an individual’s dedi-
cation to the profession and reflects a strong
desire to succeed in their careers.
While Faulk & Winkler doesn’t specifically commit to a pay increase or bonus when
an individual passes the CPA Exam, raises
and bonuses are based on an individual’s
overall performance, and the successful
completion of the CPA Exam is seen as a key
MEET THE COACH!
To support their new professionals in overcoming obstacles they may face in the
CPA Exam process, Faulk &
Winkler implemented a CPA
Exam coaching program designed to help their people
along the path of studying for
and passing the exam.
Athen Sweet, one of the
firm’s directors who passed
the exam two years ago, meets
regularly with everyone who is
in the process of studying for
or taking the exam.
During these meetings, Sweet explores
several topics with each CPA potential, such
as their study habits, study environment,
progress toward the exam, the difficulties or
challenges they are facing, how much time
they’re allocating to studying, and test scheduling, among other things. The CPA hopeful
then has an opportunity to ask any questions
they have and use their CPA Exam mentor
as a sounding board for “normal” feelings of
frustration, nervousness or lack of motivation
that may arise.
These CPA Exam preparation meetings
provide accountability and a constructive,
A Louisiana firm develops an in-house strategy to help
younger staff members pass the CPA Exam
BY JENNIFER WILSON AND KRISTA REMER
One of the biggest obstacles for young people working to pass the exam is the individual’s ability to dedicate the necessary time and
energy. “New accounting staff members find
themselves in the difficult position of managing the time and energy
requirements of a new job,
the powerful draw of family,
friends and home life, and
an exam preparation process
that demands a level of focus
and intensity that most do
not encounter in their college
courses or previous employment,” Winkler shared.
outside perspective for everything related to
the testing process. The firm’s goal is for each
person to successfully complete the exam
and have the support of someone who has
recently been through the process themselves. “No matter how supportive a spouse,
co-worker or well-intended partner may be,
sometimes hearing advice or motivation
from someone who has ‘been there’ with the
electronic exam makes all the difference,”
For anyone who is struggling with the exam
review, Sweet suggests changing up study
habits in some way. This may mean altering
the way they study, dedicating additional
time each week to studying, or adding completely new review material.
PROVIDING A FRESH PERSPECTIVE
Faulk & Winkler further supports the learning process of its CPA Exam-takers by bringing in a professor from a local university to
conduct a focus group on one particular section of the exam to add fresh perspective and
Sweet noted, “Packaged review materials
are fine, but a live, interactive course in our
office during work hours is even better.” Sweet
believes that making the studying and learning part of the process as accessible as possible to those in your firm who are taking the
exam will enhance their confidence — and
their success rate, too.
If you have individuals who are questioning whether or not to take the exam, Sweet offered a simple encouragement : “The decision
to take the exam is a personal one requiring
a serious level of commitment. However, the
personal satisfaction, professional growth
and financial rewards, which will continue
for the duration of your professional life, far
outweigh the short-term challenges you’ll
experience in the process. I feel it was more
than worth it for me, and I hope to pass that
commitment on to other young professionals, too.” AT
This column is facilitated and edited by Krista Remer, the Generation X consultant, and Jennifer Wilson, the Baby Boomer co-founder and
partner of ConvergenceCoaching LLC ( www.convergencecoaching.com), a leadership and marketing coaching and training and development firm. To have your firm’s generational viewpoints or a generational success story considered for a future Accounting Tomorrow
column, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love was in the air at this year’s Association for Accounting Marketing Summit in
While consultant Jennifer Wilson spent
a large portion of her session on account-
ability, fielding the frustrations of her
30-something attendees, she helped the
marketing professionals flip their aggra-
vations into proactive emotion. Marketers
looking to improve the response from
top brass should enter future meetings,
she stressed, from a place of “love of the
other party, a love of the firm.”
Motivational speaker Jon Gordon
took a similar angle during his keynote.
“Showing people you care about them is
the best marketing you can do,” he said.
The mostly Midwest-based marketers
I dined with one night were not lacking
in passion. Maybe it was the Cabernet,
but the L-word floated freely around
the table. The only time this positivity
dimmed was when discussing elements
of the manager/marketer dynamic.
One young marketer shared with me
that after hounding management to
take action on items, she goes through
periods of “giving up” on certain non-responders, only to circle back and hope
for a change after a few rows of ignored
Outlook calendar boxes have passed.
Another confided that after a partner
in her firm embraced the idea of social
media, he released a thick report on why
they should create a blog — in which he
got the fundamental definition wrong.
Still, the mood was overwhelmingly
convivial over those few days.
By the time former Chicago Bulls
player Bob Love made a surprise keynote introduction to talk about a severe
stuttering problem that kept him out of
work post-basketball until
his current position as
the Bulls’ director of
community affairs, a
strong case could
be made for a
Do you feel
love at your firm?
Let me know
— Danielle Lee