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The Rise of the CPA: Three Letters That Signal You Are in Demand

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

If there is one function of a business that has grown significantly in importance in recent years, it is that of finance. The backdrop to this is a combination of factors from a number of monetary scandals that have rocked established organizations around the world, to the tsunami-like global financial crisis itself, to the more recent sobering economic climate and subsequent ushering in of belt-tightening measures.

One thing is for sure: never has it felt like so much scrutiny or pressure has been placed on businesses to make sure their financial houses are in order. And so who do companies rely on in times such as these? The answer can be summed up in three letters: CPA.

Put simply, certified public accountants, or CPAs for short, are now seen more than ever as the bedrock of any organization’s ability to survive. Demand is so great for their skills that in some countries there are even CPA shortages, leading to a boost in salaries for those already in the privileged position of being in the field.

It isn’t just the financial climate, though, that is driving this demand for CPAs. The uncertainty of the times in which we live (with recent years having seen the Middle East going through unprecedented levels of unexpected events and change) creates a climate in which businesses have to plan better and reduce risk for their survival. At the same time markets are increasingly competitive, as globalization opens up new opportunities and challenges, and as the digital landscape reshapes consumer dynamics.  Take all this into consideration and it’s no surprise that certified professional accountants are sought after for their knowledge that can create a competitive advantage to business. And just as the business landscape is increasing in complexity, so is the diversity of opportunities and salary ranges for CPAs.

So what is it that makes a CPA such a valuable commodity in the talent pool? The reasons are simple: even without today’s business or economic backdrop, having CPA certification is seen as a plus for a career in accountancy: it is a benchmark that indicates high standards of professionalism, of quantitative skills, and of adherence to ethical standards, thus increasing a professional’s leverage in the job market. It also brings with it the prospect of increased salary, generally entailing at least a premium of five percent over accountants’ salaries without the CPA. But beyond all of this, the plus of having CPA certification is also seen as a way to open doors to multiple career opportunities; it is a stepping stone to wherever your dreams might take you – from private sector business to multinational corporations, government agencies and non-profit organizations, your skills as a CPA will always be in demand. From accountancy to tax, risk management to investment consulting, and all the way up the corporate ladder to the boardroom via the role of chief financial officer (increasingly seen as the key driving force in any business), there is a diverse range of careers within a CPA’s grasp.

It’s clear that if there used to be any thoughts of a CPA merely representing a step up from an accountant, this is no longer the case. Today’s CPAs are called on to play increasingly important roles in a company’s future. No longer are they simply accounting for what has happened; they are also relied on for valuable insight into how to manage and plan for what lies ahead. In short, today CPAs have a vital role to play in the success of any organization and that makes them in demand more than ever before

 

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The FP&A Program Will Boost Your Chances in a Competitive Field

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Not only is Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) one of the most highly sought after positions in a company, it’s also, according to executives, one of the hardest to fill. But certification is one way that job hopefuls can give themselves a solid step up in the right direction.

Why look to FP&A

Since the financial crisis, businesses have been placing more emphasis on the analysis of financial data and forward planning – this is where FP&A comes in. And the need for FP&A professionals continues to rise as economic uncertainties make no signs of disappearing.

The role itself involves liaising with upper management to deliver analysis that will drive future organizational strategy. It’s not just about crunching numbers, it’s about sharing insight and guiding decisions, therefore it makes sense that businesses look to hire only the most highly qualified individuals to perform this role.

Who fits the FP&A profile

This is a career best suited to people with a financial or analysis background but also who possess excellent analysis and communication skills. It could be a chief accountant looking to make their next big move in the corporate world, or an analyst seeking to build their executive career. Likewise financial managers, controllers, cost management accountants, strategy & development managers are all well suited to follow the FP&A Program to add a highly regarded credential to their existing skills.

Why take the program?

At its heart the FP&A Program offered by Morgan International acts as a validation of your understanding of the complex processes, tools and uniform standards of practice used around the globe. Once you have the FP&A credential you will possess a unique professional designation that differentiates yourself from non FP&A holders – a key distinguishing factor in what can be a tightly fought battle for the highly prized FP&A position. One of the plusses of taking the program is that candidates can enroll and begin taking the exams before the Education and Experience Requirements have been fully satisfied – noting that the credential will only be awarded after the requirements have been met.

What does it involve?

Morgan International’s FP&A Program offers a range of facilities to make your studying process user-friendly and targeted toward success, such as the Online Learning Center that gives you accessibility via your laptop or mobile. Through the Resource Center students have direct contact with an FP&A expert, and can interact via email for individual follow-up on course questions and content. SmartStudy Tools have been designed to increase your studying success by giving you the tools to create a custom study plan based on your initial assessment scores and experience. Tests, which range from quick quizzes to post-test assessments, interactive case studies, and individual and group reports are all designed to give you optimal preparation for the exam, backed up by a host of other facilities that include downloadable flashcards, helpful links, and a comprehensive reference glossary.

Looking to the future

Those that do well in the role of FP&A Controller can go on to progress to FP&A Director and Finance Director, meaning that this can be your passport to an executive-level career. But obtaining the FP&A certification is definitely the first step in ensuring you stand out in a very enviable crowd.

To enquire about the FP&A program or register, contact your local Morgan representative today.

 

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How to Pass the 2017 CPA Exam

By Rebecca Langdon

There are a number of reasons to try and sit the CPA exams prior to the format change in April 2017. However, if for whatever reason that is not possible for you, there is nothing to be concerned about, as Morgan is here to ensure you are prepared to pass the new format.

Why is the format changing?

The simplest way to devise how to pass your exams first time is to understand why the AICPA are making the changes. They want to ensure that the exam is relevant to the accountancy profession and after a practice analysis undertaken in 2014 they concluded:

 “Overall, the research demonstrated that the profession supports the initiative to make meaningful changes to the exam, to operationalize the testing of higher order skills and to align more closely with the types of tasks regularly performed by newly licensed CPAs.”

In essence they felt that the current exam is too focussed on testing the ability to memorize and apply, and is not sufficiently focussed on testing higher order skills such as analysis and evaluation.

Tips to pass the new format

  • Use an experienced training company

Experienced training companies such as Morgan will be closely aligned to the changes to the new format and will be amending all training materials to the highest standard to maximise your chances of passing your exams first time.

  • Don’t panic

Remember that the other candidates taking the exam in the new format are in the same position as you are.

  • Practice task based simulation questions

Within the training materials there will be practice questions. Make sure you undertake those examples and review the sample answer in detail.

  • Refocus from purely memorizing to applying high order skills

It will of course still be important to remember content, but you should keep in mind that you need to be able to apply, analyse, and evaluation using the knowledge you have. This should not be dissimilar from what was expected of you if you have undertaken a Bachelor’s degree.

In summary

The format of the exam may seem daunting but if enrolling at Morgan International means you will be offered the guidance and support you need to enter the exams confidently.

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Top 7 Reasons You Should Get into Accounting

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Thought accounting was boring? Here are out top seven reasons that’ll prove otherwise.

Getting qualified opens up a world of opportunities

Before J.P. Morgan went on to become one of the most famous figures in the world of finance, he started out as a junior accountant on Wall Street. And he is not alone; dig deeper into the world of accountancy and you’ll find there are many like Morgan who went on to achieve great things. In fact, whether you choose to stay in the accountancy field, set up your own business, or branch out in a completely different direction (like accountancy graduate turned best-selling author John Grisham), the consensus is that accountancy sets you up with skills for life and a vast range of opportunities.

Being a detective

Did you know, for example, that passing the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam is one of the areas of expertise considered essential for becoming an FBI agent in America? Thomas J Pickard, who reached the second highest position in the FBI, is a CPA, and used his skills to investigate white-collar crime along the way to reaching his prime position.

Meeting celebrities

Maybe you secretly wish to be a part of the entertainment world or rub shoulders with celebrities: finance and accountancy can still secure those dreams for you. Achieving Certified Management Accountant (CMA) status can be one way to enter a high-level accountancy or finance job in any domain. A CMA, for example, paved the way for Colin Kotchik’s appointment as Senior Finance Manager at Nike, which gave him the opportunity to meet Kobe Bryant (who was even nice enough to sign him a pair of his shoes for him). Monique Keshishian, on the other hand, used her CMA to become a Senior Financial Analyst at Warner Bros. Records, which means alongside putting together financial reports she’s also spent time in the studio with top name artists.

Aiming for the board

Indeed most audit / accountancy-related qualifications set you up for multitude of career avenues. Being a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) is a profession whose skill sets are highly transferrable to other departments within an organization. That’s because the work of a CIA involves spending time working with people in various departments, getting to understand the risks and opportunities of each, and learning about company operations inside out. This broad knowledge can not only be useful for moving careers, but eventually can propel a CIA towards a board position.

CEO in sight

If taking your accountancy career further into the world of finance is your goal, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is the qualification to look for. It’s widely regarded as the key certification for professionals in investment, especially when it comes to research and portfolio management. It is also your key to unlock careers in insurance companies, pension funds, banks, universities, or even governments (in the areas of public policy and regulation). A good percentage of CFAs also end up as chief executives.

Globally in demand

If you’ve got an eye on the future and your role as an accountant in it, the DipIFR stands out as a qualification that offers global opportunities. The certification is designed to give you the knowledge to apply International Financial Reporting Standards, the set of standards that are currently required or permitted for use by publicly-traded companies in more than 113 countries.

More popular than ever

Today it’s clear that the sky is the limit with accountancy careers, and there’s a wealth of qualifications available to get you started or further your career options. Earlier this year global exam results for ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) showed that a record number of students around the world had successfully completed their final exams. It seems that news is finally out that accountancy is one of the hottest, most versatile fields to be in.

Unsure about the right qualification for you? Contact our team today for a one-on-one career consultation session.

 

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What Every Auditor Needs to Know About Unusual Year-End Transactions

By Aimee Mhaolcraoibhe

Auditors are tasked with judging an entity and its overall environment; in order to do that they must hold an understanding of what relationships exist within the industry and businesses at large. An auditor will pay particular attention to unusual end of year transactions, including:

 

  • Unusual relationships between revenue and income should be noted, such as income or wages that are inconsistent with the yearly trend.

 

  • When looking at bad debt write offs or revenue streams, it pays to consider the industry standard and make note of any transaction that seems to be outside that range.

 

  • Any factors that create a misalignment between the sales volume and the production costs. These factors should be consistently in proportion to each other.

 

  • The responses given by the management of the business is watched closely by an auditor to determine whether any vague or inconsistent messages are being relayed. If a business shows signs of being dishonest or unduly quiet during an audit that can be taken as a red flag and auditors will usually look into those areas with a greater detail to determine why the business does not want to be forthright.

 

  • If there are a significant amount of transactions with any particular party that is outside of normal employees it is normally reviewed in full as it creates an unusual pattern.

 

  • If there are a high number of audit adjusted entries identified it is normally for the auditor to carefully review each related transaction.

 

  • If there are no internal controls or the implemented controls are quite weak an auditor will feel the need to delve further into the business affairs to ensure that it has all been done correctly.

 

  • Disputes over fees that are seen to occur regularly will spark the interest of any auditor.

 

In general, the auditor is highly capable of determining where an unusual transaction has occurred by taking into consideration the above points when they complete any audit.

For those of you who may be interested in an internal audit qualification, we would welcome you to take a look at the CIA course outlines.

References

Puncell L (2008), Audit Procedures, CCH Business and Economics

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Sharpen your skills with a Diploma in IFRS

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Perhaps the single most important development in the business world of the past decade – and one that will continue to impact the future – is the introduction and adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), these are the standards used by companies to prepare their annual financial statements. What began as a Europe-wide initiative soon spread to become a global phenomenon as the benefits to all of an international standardized financial reporting system became clear. At the same time, the increasingly globalized nature of world markets has added weight to the case for IFRS, with companies that conduct business in foreign markets being able to integrate their financial statements under the IFRS system.

 

To date around 120 nations permit or require IFRS for domestic listed companies, and the Middle East is among the regions where IFRS adoption has made major inroads. The worldwide take-up of IFRS is expected to continue growing, making it imperative for businesses to keep abreast of the latest developments. Crucially, though, this also means that those working in accountancy and finance have to be well versed in IFRS and its updates, too. To date workshops across the region have offered professionals a way to learn more about IFRS, but their short duration and ad hoc nature mean they fall short of providing a solid IFRS grounding that can be leveraged for career growth. This gap, though, is filled by the Diploma in International Financial Reporting (Dip IFR). This qualification can be completed in four to six months and demonstrates a superior insight into and knowledge (theoretical and practical) of IFRS as well as an adherence to high ethical standards.

 

The need for IFRS proficiency is especially relevant to finance and accountancy professionals across the Middle East. Because IFRS has been adopted by so many countries in the region, the ability to prove one’s credentials in this subject are essential to compete in the job market and demonstrate value in the workplace. Even in those countries where IFRS has not yet been adopted, working for a multinational will require all intercompany reporting to be done using IFRS, once again highlighting the importance of being fluent in IFRS regulations and procedures. For more information on Morgan International’s study program for the Dip IFR, click here.

 

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Cost Management Explained in 4 Simple Steps

 

By Aimee Mhaolcraoibhe

Cost Management is concentrated on how businesses use real resources with consideration as to how the resources can be best optimized. In this sense, the area of cost management can easily be referred to as resource provision, and is broken into four categories: planning, estimating, budgeting and controlling.

Planning

Making a complete list of all the money that needs to be set aside to fund the ongoing production or manufacturing and business operations is the first step in cost management, as well as budgeting what resources are available to cover all outgoings.

Estimating

Estimating the cost of future activities is part of cost management. There are different ways in which this can be accomplished and based on the amount of information that is known at the time of the calculation. Accountants will use either analogous estimating which uses the actual cost of past projects that are similar, or a parametric model can be used which would be updated constantly as new, specific costs arise. In time this will realize an accurate costing.

Budgeting

A budget will be a systematic calculation of the ongoing costs per a specific period in time, such as weekly and then monthly to form a budget that can be followed to ensure that there is enough money to cover all outgoings as they are presented.

Control

Ongoing monitoring of costs are constant in order to offer an opportunity to make adjustments where needed. Maintaining tight control over a budget is integral to cost accounting. The culmination of all work in the field will be borne in this aspect of the role.

For those of you who may be interested in a finance or accounting qualification, we would welcome you to take a look at the CMA, FP&A or CPA course outlines.

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Why Organizations Need CMAs

 

By Rebecca Langdon

We all know that the days of organizations surviving based on tactical decision making is over. Strategic decision making must be core within an organization if it is to prosper in today’s tumultuous and rapidly changing environment. The days of keeping some functions in the rhetorical basement are over. Teams such as marketing, accounting, HR, and operations, are now seen as having essential seats at the table when an organisation is strategizing. I believe that management accountants, particularly CMAs, are being seen increasingly as a key contributor to strategic decisions.

Why?

  1. The numbers don’t lie

I say this with some jest, as of course there are instances where numbers can be misleading. However the feasibility of all strategies is dependent on the cost model, i.e. what is it going to cost to implement, and what will the return be in the short, medium, and long term. A management accountant has the requisite skills to profile the costs associated with a strategy.

  1. Performance management

A key part of the CMA syllabus is performance management. This covers performance evaluation, variance analysis, and use of key performance indicators and balanced scorecards. CMA’s are trained to produce budgets and then measure deviations from those budgets. To ensure monetary control of strategies, budgeting and forecasting is of fundamental importance.

  1. Decision making

Another element of the CMA syllabus is decision analysis. This teaches the budding accountants to use financial data to perform analysis for the decision making process. This includes a number of tools and techniques which all contribute to strategic decisions, such as cost volume profit analysis, marginal analysis, make vs buy decisions, and pricing methodologies.

  1. Financing decisions

Many new strategies will require financing. This may be from internal funds, or perhaps a new funding round, or maybe a bank loan. There will be a piece of analysis that needs to be undertaken to ascertain which type of finance best suits the particular strategy. CMAs are trained to undertake this analysis, underpinned by the key concept of risk and return. They also have an operational understanding of short and long term financial management, in addition of the pros and cons of major financial instruments.

Summary

Above are just 4 of the reasons why qualified Management Accountants are so fundamental to the strategic decision making process within an organisation. There are of course many more. It is positive to see that there has been a seismic shift in the last decade in terms of how accountants are viewed and if you are interested in undertaking the CMA qualification, have a read through our website.

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Internal Audit: More Important Than Ever

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Now is a great time to be an internal auditor, and predictions are that the importance to business of this role is set to increase: salaries are on the rise, and internal auditors with certain specializations are increasingly sought after.

So what’s making this role so in demand? Internal audit has always been a vital function to business, helping to add value through its systematic approach to improving the areas of risk management, control and governance. But in recent years certain global events have given internal audit even greater importance. First there was the financial crisis, which sent shockwaves across the world and saw many businesses with long-established, solid reputations collapse overnight. Later, economies become mired in recession, a period that also saw a number of high profile fraud cases come to light: awareness of fraud risk to businesses became heightened and internal audit was under pressure to minimize this risk through strict controls. Throughout this volatile economic period, tighter regulatory frameworks were brought in with a view to setting businesses on a path with greater oversight and control – once again internal audit was in the hot seat to ensure businesses complied with new rules.

In short, the role of an internal auditor is evolving. And this need to manage risk better is making internal auditors (IAs) more strategic. Twenty-eight percent of executives in a Forbes Insights/EY study from earlier this year said that IAs currently play a strategic role, but more than half said that within the next two years they expect the role of “strategic advisor” to become the IAs’ primary mandate. Experts also predict that by the end of this decade the profession will have evolved further toward an increasing focus on risk management, governance, and technology issues. In the same Forbes Insights/Ey study, three of the top five emerging risks cited by executives related to IT. All this seems to fit with the results of a 2012 survey conducted by the Institute of Internal Auditors, that declared internal auditors specializing in information technology, fraud, and forensics to be particularly in demand.

With so much pressure to perform, businesses naturally look to internal auditors with the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation as a reflection of competence in the principles and practices of internal auditing. Sponsored by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the CIA serves as the only internationally accepted designation for internal auditors worldwide. According to the IIA, the CIA is enduring because it requires candidates to master the ability to identify risks, examine alternative remedies, and prescribe the best initiatives to control these risks. In the words of John J. Fernandes, CIA, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Institute of Internal Auditors: “CIAs master auditing standards and practices as well as management principles and controls, information technology, and emerging strategies to improve business and government.”

Do you want to get certified? Find out about Morgan's CIA Exam Preparation here.

 

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Gain and Maintain the CPA Credential

 

By Rebecca Langdon

There is global demand for candidates with the CPA qualification, and perhaps you are reading this because you have decided you want to become a qualified Accountant. The eligibility requirements to undertake the CPA exams differ between US states and territories; therefore the best thing to do is take our quick and easy eligibility questionnaire.

Once you are ready to start studying for your exam, you can contact Morgan who will be pleased to use their extensive experience to increase your chances of passing first time.

Once you have passed the exam you will want to earn your CPA accreditation, and to do that there are specific work experience requirements that also vary by state. For more information, click here. Once you have successfully achieved your accreditation there will be state specific requirements to maintain the accreditation. Again you should research the exact requirement, but it will involve gaining a certain number of CPE credits.

The good news is that whilst some of the eligibility and maintenance requirements may seem a little confusing at first, Morgan is on hand to help you every step of the way. We also offer Morgan alumni who have passed their exams the opportunity to access Morgan Connect free of charge. Morgan Connect is a cutting edge online platform which provides a way for globally reputed employers to find qualified employees (such as yourself). For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.