Book Club Bonus Episode: Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession (Chapters 7 and 8)

In Book Club episode 4, the Twins start Section 2: Growing in Your Early Career Years by Mastering Important Fundamentals. Listen to the Twins discuss chapters 7 and 8 of "Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession: How to Make Your Assets Greatly Exceed Your Liabilities" by Jerry Maginnis!

Norma: [00:00:10] Hello, everybody, and welcome back to the Accounting Twins Podcast Book Club edition. My name is Norma.

Rebecca: [00:00:16] My name is Rebecca.

Norma: [00:00:18] And we're super excited that you're here with us today. So if you've been keeping up with our bonus episodes, episodes one, two, and three of the Book Club were about Section one of Jerry Maginnis' book "Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession: How to Make Your Assets Greatly Exceed Your Liabilities." So Section one was all just kind of about like your college experience, being an accounting major, but Section two is titled "Growing in Your Early Career Years by Mastering Important Fundamentals." So Section two is more applicable to Becky's lifestyle or work right now because she's just starting out her accounting career.

Rebecca: [00:01:01] Exactly. Yeah. You have to be able to grow your career within the early stages. Like you got to start off strong. You can't just go from weak to strong, you got to start off strong. And there are a few things within the chapter that I think are really important. So Chapter seven is about core values that every accountant should embrace. There are six key characteristics of accounting, but I think two of them specifically are extremely important to me right now. However, every single one of them is extremely important. On page 61, some of the characteristics that I think are important are that the accountant serves the public interest and is bound by a code of ethics governing its relationships with clients, colleagues, and the public. I think, first of all, serving the public interest is something super, super, super important because, at the end of the day, every company is doing something for the betterment of people, society, or for others. And if you aren't thinking of the public interest, what's the point? You are here to make sure companies are running successful, their money is going in the right places, their tax returns are great. So you need to think of the bigger picture here, not just you.

Norma: [00:02:17] Yeah. And one thing that Jerry mentioned within this chapter that I found so important and I guess not fully talked about enough, is that accountants are held to a high standard because the public just essentially relies on them. They rely on their products that they make, the services they provide. But specifically, if it's a public company, the public relies on them, especially if you're a shareholder of a company or simply just for your livelihood. For example, when I was reading this chapter, I was thinking of Enron. We all know what happened with Enron. And Enron no longer exists. So not only did the shareholders who had money in stock of the company lose their money, but people lost their jobs because fraudulent actions were occurring within the company. It's important to think outside of yourself and how you affect everyone else, especially if you're an accountant. Of course, you want to be ethical and you have such high standards that you have to follow, but you also need to think about it. If you're thinking of doing something unethical, just realize the accounting that you do is going to affect other people. It's going to mislead them. It could have the company just no longer exist. It's so important to talk about.

Rebecca: [00:03:40] Exactly. For example, in revenue accounting, someone could easily misstate some numbers because let's say the more revenue that the company recognizes means the better we are off, means the better bonus I can get. Well, that's thinking solely about me, and it's not about the interest of the others. As a company who wants to help society, we need to be good at being selfless and having integrity. And so I would never do anything wrong for a company because I am one of those people who wants to be ethical and be held to high standards. If we as accountants want to prove that we are important in our jobs are important, we have to hold ourselves highly because the public holds us highly.

Norma: [00:04:21] Yeah. And this chapter, in my opinion, really talked about trust and integrity as an accountant itself. So trust is that people can rely on you to tell the truth, but integrity means that you yourself have a good character to tell the truth. And I think that the book set this up in a great way, comparing and contrasting the two, but also focusing how important it is within the profession itself. It also brings up the idea that accountants have to have high ethical standards, and it talks about it all throughout this chapter, which I think is great because ethics, in my opinion, is one of the most important parts of being an accountant.

Rebecca: [00:05:05] Exactly. Accountants need to have ethics just like every other job does. But as we all know, there can be ethical lapses within everyday jobs. For example, as the book mentions, the Houston Astros baseball teams illegally relayed information to the hitters. That's an ethical lapse. Now, the deflated football from Tom Brady, that's an ethical lapse. Ethics takes place in every single jobs, but as accountants, I think it's really important that we are ethical because money is kind of the basis of everything. We need to be ethical with that.

Norma: [00:05:40] Yeah. And I really liked how, in this chapter, Jerry included, I guess the sports reference of how ethics is important, because especially I'm assuming people who are reading this are a lot of college students. Maybe they're pre-business, not necessarily knowing what accounting is. By relating this information to sports or something that's even just like a current event, these students are able to understand the importance of truth, integrity, and ethics just through this really simple correlation. So I think it's a great way that he reached out to the readers to make an effort to connect with them.

Rebecca: [00:06:16] So as Jerry mentioned, it's important that we are ethical as accountants, but it's also very important that we are courageous. On page 65, Jerry talks about avoiding ethical lapses can take a lot of courage. Sometimes we have that little devil sitting on her shoulder, but we need to just brush them off. So whether it be we own up to our mistakes or we have the courage to call out a coworker for some mistakes that they have made, we need to avoid our own ethical lapses and be courageous as people to make sure the job is done right. Because remember, we want to have the interest of everybody else. We need to have the courage to do that.

Norma: [00:06:50] Yeah. And as an accountant, especially if you're an auditor, no one wants to tell someone who's paying them that they're wrong, but that's exactly what auditors do. They have to have the courage to tell your client, "Hey, the financial statements there misstated. Hey, there's probably fraud going on in your company." And I think Jerry did a great way of summarizing this, showing an example of how his firm, when he was starting out in the accounting industry, lost a client who didn't want to adhere to a new FASB rule connected with your related parties. And the firm placed ethics above a potential profit from the client, and it kind of just showed the courage to drop this client, but also how you need to have so much integrity while being an accountant. So the takeaway that I really got from this chapter kind of was like, you have to have short-term pain for long-term pleasure in the sense if you're an auditor, you might have to approach your client. If you are like Becky, who's in private accounting, You might have to tell your boss about something. It might be an uncomfortable conversation and it might take a lot of courage to do, but in the end, it's the ethical thing to do to tell them something they probably don't want to hear. So basically that was Chapter seven, "Core Values that Every Accountant Should Embrace." I personally really like this chapter because as someone who's not even doing accounting yet, it kind of just really solidified to me how important it is to be ethical and to have the shareholders trust that I'm doing my job correctly. And to be honest, the idea that Jerry brought that you have to have a lot of courage to be an accountant, I like that. Because sometimes I think of myself as a scaredy pants. I hate confrontation. And I think being able to go into a career where I have to do that, it's going to force me to come out of my shell. And honestly, just that point alone of accounting, accountants having to be courageous, I think sets this book apart from a lot of others. Because I have never heard the idea that accountants have to be courageous before this book. So kudos to Jerry. So now we're going to speak about chapter eight of section two, and this is titled, "Developing and Enhancing Your Technical Skill." So now we're going to talk about chapter eight of the book, and it's called "Developing and Enhancing Your Technical Skills." So at first, I was just thinking this chapter is going to be a lot about the technical aspect of being an accountant, how you're going to have to learn all these different systems that your company is using or that your client is using. But no, this chapter was set up in a great way by Jerry, that your technical skills will be developed even further in your career, especially once you start your job. And he defined technical skills as being specialized knowledge in areas of expertise in order to perform a specific task. So I think it's great, honestly, just that he even showed us that technical fields does not beep, beep, boop, I'm on my computer, it's like the knowledge that you have as an accountant.

Rebecca: [00:10:07] When talking about enhancing your technical skills, I know we've mentioned growth mindset a lot and we've talked about a learning curve in accounting, but you need to enhance your technical skills to be good at your job. On page 67, Jerry mentioned pretty much that continuous learning and investing will serve you well in your future. You know how people always say you have to invest in yourself to do better? You need to invest yourself into your skills to be able to do a great job. And that builds on the idea of a learning curve. You're always going to be learning and succeeding. In the States, culture develops the fundamentals to help you grow once you start your job. You don't stop learning once you get to your job, you continue. And it's also important to stay current and to read in all of this stuff.

Norma: [00:10:48] So we all know that I love to read. Update, I'm now at 235 books. Jerry's is 236 that I've read this year. But outside of also just reading for fun, mind Becky's generation does not read much. Specifically, when it comes to current events and reading the news. I don't know about everyone else who's listening. I'm going to call out myself and probably a lot others from our generation, when I get my news, it is from social media. And when I say it is from social media is 140 characters of what's going on in the world. Yes, I may have a news article linked to it and if I think it's important enough, I'm going to open it. But a lot of it's just from social media. And our generation needs to get better about reading about the world and current events. And Jerry really kind of pinpoints this. And I really like this because he's telling us that we have a lot of improvement to do as a generation. And it's not a bad thing, it's just we need to start thinking outside of ourselves.

Rebecca: [00:11:56] Not only does reading make us more well-rounded as people, but it increases our knowledge. And as accountants, things are always changing. We need to stay up to date on information. We need to know about those unethical things going on. We need to know about courage. People are taking in the workplace like we discussed earlier. So it's really important to stay up to date on information. As accountants, not only could we be reading about the industry, we should be reading about it. We should be reading about stuff from the AICPA. We could be reading stuff again about the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. We need to be staying up to the current events on everything.

Norma: [00:12:36] Yeah. Sure, we need to be reading because there's probably stuff in the economy that's severely going to impact the business industry. We need to be reading up on the current trends of the recession that is highly predicted. But then we also, like for Rebecca, she needs to be reading about the technical industry and safety and all that stuff and how it's going to impact her company. And then once I start working in auditing, I need to focus on the industry of my clients. And I really just like how Jerry, like I said earlier, just really enforces the idea that we need to be reading. So when Rebecca and I were freshmen, we were in a management information class, but really it was just more of like, I would say, a current events class with our professor Brandon Marshall, and every single class period, we had to find a different current events article, summarize it, and present it to the class. So as tedious as it was, I enjoyed it. I will say I don't think I've known so much more about the world besides that class. It was amazing. Like I've said, I've read a lot of books this year. Imagine just even like 5% or 10% of that was current events articles, I'd be so much more knowledgeable. I would set myself apart from my peers and really impress potential employers or the people that I'll be working with next year, just about my knowledge. So listen to Jerry's advice, listen to mine and Becky's personal experience. Read the freaking news.

Rebecca: [00:14:13] Exactly. The only news I get is, again, from social media. Another important thing that Jerry mentions within this book is on-the-job training. He really enforces the idea that there is no such thing as a stupid question. No task or job is clear cut, and there's no one thing that tells you that there's a right way or a wrong way to do something. You have to learn from experience. You're always progressing your mind. You're always learning. You are always absorbing new information. So accounting really is an important thing to where you need to be able to grow and you need to expand your knowledge. So you're always training and learning something new.

Norma: [00:14:53] Yeah. And speaking of training and learning, this little subsection in the book is titled "Training and Professional Development Programs and Overlooked Fringe Benefit." And honestly, I never thought about it this way at all, but Jerry brings up such a great point that the training provided by your company is an overlooked benefit. Yes, there is amazing fringe benefits such as your medical and all the snacks at the office and drinks and everything. But he says training is an amazing benefit that you really are just overlooking. Sure. Maybe you have to go to training sessions. That's a requirement from the company. But it grows your overall knowledge. So think about it. If you were not going to these training sessions, you would not be updated by the new accounting and law regulations that are affecting your work, and you would make many mistakes. So if CPE training was not required for accountants, they wouldn't be up to date with what's going on. Especially like, for example, if you're a tax preparer and you didn't go to training on new tax laws, all your returns would be wrong and you'd be having to do so much more work. So think about it in the sense that not only are you learning how to be a better professional and increase your knowledge on the work you're doing, but quite literally just increasing your knowledge about something in life. This small module in itself is a great way to show new professionals the importance of training. But I've always thought of it about something like, "Oh, now I have to do it, check it off, have it done on my to do list." But the way in which Jerry reinforces the idea, I'm now understanding the importance of doing actual training at work. Sure might be a little tedious. You're like, "I have to do my CPE training. I have to do my new hire training." But overall, it's really going to increase my knowledge. In chapter eight itself, I think if you have a negative look until learning really changes it.

Rebecca: [00:17:13] Exactly. As we discussed earlier within this episode that there's always a learning curve outside of something. If you don't want to do on the job training, you're going to be stuck because you don't come out of college with all of the knowledge that you need to succeed. You still have to learn. So if you won't accept the training, you're going to be stagnant and you're not going to succeed. To be able to be a good accountant and a good person and a good coworker and a good peer, you need to do the training. You need to be able to be that mentor for somebody while also being able to be the mentee. So that's it for episode four of our Book Club of the book "Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession: How to Make Your Assets Greatly Exceed Your Liabilities." We hope if you haven't already, go buy a copy of this. The Amazon storefront is linked in the show notes below. Go connect with Jerry on LinkedIn and read his book because it's really just an amazing way to learn more about the accounting profession. And I'm excited to talk more about what's going on in section two. Especially because as someone who is not even in the workforce yet, it's really going to prepare me for what I need to be looking for and paying attention in my first year, next year when I start my job.

Norma: [00:18:29] Thank you all for listening. Again, please go by the book, leave us reviews on all of our social media platforms and everything. We want to hear your opinions about this book and if you've been following along. So thanks, guys. We'll catch you next time.

Book Club Bonus Episode: Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession (Chapters 7 and 8)
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