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What is one thing you wish you knew before becoming an accountant, auditor, consultant, and/or in the taxing career?

#tax #taxing #taxes #accountant #accounting #auditor #auditing #consulting #consultant #consultants

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Erin’s Answer

Great question, Mireia! I wish that someone told me that once you get the job the learning is nonstop. I was originally under the impression that I had to know it all before going to my first client, but I was refreshed to find that that wasn't the case. In my 2 years at PwC I have learned new things about business, people, and technology every single day. I've grown to understand that being a consultant does not mean having all the answers, but rather means having the problem-solving skills to guide our clients in finding answers to their hardest problems. consultant professional-services
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your insight! Mireia
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Matthew’s Answer

Definitely a great question, Mireia. From a tax accounting perspective, I think one thing I wish I had known when starting my career is just how diverse the field is. There are a lot of opportunities and interesting aspects of tax accounting, and it's certainly not limited to what you'll often here as "compliance" (that is, preparing a tax return). A lot of the larger accounting firms have a variety of services within tax, so I would highly recommend prior to seeking out a certain position, you take time to look through the different types of work available and try to start in the area that interests you most.

Also, knowing how diverse the work can be can assist you in identifying opportunities to diversify your skill-base and/or work focus (much of the foundational knowledge is transferable). That is, starting in one area can open doors for transitioning to other areas once you find your niche and the option to make that change will almost always be available (I can speak from experience in that regard).

Matthew recommends the following next steps:

Search for different work focuses of tax (e.g., compliance, preparation, consulting)
Determine a general field or market you're interested in and see what tax work is available within those
Ask questions about your focus area when you're in interviews or networking
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Jasir’s Answer

Speaking with regards to auditing, the one thing I wish I did know was how truly comprehensive an audit really is. There's alot more to auditing than just testing financial statements of a company. You also have to pay extra attention as to what may not be stated on the financial statements that should be.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for your insight! Mireia
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Vic’s Answer

The one thing I wish I knew was that ambiguity is innately tied to the job. Each engagement is different and you will need to learn each time.
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Sakina’s Answer

It is alright if you do not know all the tax answers, and no single tax specialist may know all tax areas as tax rules are so extensive. E.g., international tax specialist may not know state and local tax rules well. Part of being a tax specialist is to develop strong communication and interpersonal skills to identify issues, and work along with specialists from other tax areas to find best solutions. To be a good tax specialist one should learn reading tax laws, and expect staying up to date with new rules.
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Bridgette’s Answer

Hi Mireia

This is a great question. I wish that I knew how fast past the tax consulting world is and how you are always learning something new no matter how long you have been in the industry. This is something that I realize I like but it was something I did not expect when starting my career. I hope this helps and good luck!
Thank you comment icon Your insight is much appreciated, Thank you! Mireia
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Chris’s Answer

As an auditor, one thing I wish I knew is how much of the job would be focused on your communication skills both verbal and written. Public accounting jobs are heavily client facing and it is nothing like timid accountants you may see in popular TV.
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Maureen’s Answer

One thing I didn't realize, but one of the reasons I love my job, is that I have to critically think through unstructured problems on a daily basis. Making sure I understand the client's overall organization processes and risks to their organization are what help me be effective in providing solutions. This type of thinking is far different than most of my schoolwork which required memorization/recall.

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Mark’s Answer

I wish I had known that auditors impact all industries, not just accounting, tax and finance. If I had an interest in healthcare for example, I would have been more inclined to focus some of my education toward healthcare, in addition to business, accounting and finance. So diversifying your knowledge in college, may benefit you in the future.

Additionally, an internal auditor audits many departments within their company. By getting exposure to many departments, you see the inner workings of the groups as well as the company in general that most employees don't get. So if a position became available, you're knowledge of the departments you audit is an advantage. My boss always said that internal audit associate and senior positions are temporary and that he loved to see people move into other roles within the company because he knew that the auditors would bring their knowledge of procedures and controls into their new role.
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Michelle’s Answer

What I wish I had known before starting my career in public accounting was the potential for continued growth and career development. I did not know how important this aspect would be, but quickly realized it is a critical aspect of any profession. Being able to be in a profession that continues to evolve with technology and is very interactive with clients and works in teams is a fantastic way to not only launch a career, but to continue to invest in yourself!
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Jennifer’s Answer

I wish I would have known how important it is to develop your public speaking skills - people who do this well tend to move up more quickly in firms and companies. This isn't specific to accounting/consulting/etc. - this is applicable to all careers. Also, not limited to accounting/consulting/etc., it is really important to know how to sell yourself and your company - you have to have confidence that the service or product that you are delivering will benefit your client, and you have to be able to convince them buy it.
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Vincent’s Answer

Hi Mireia,

I would highly suggest you trying to pass your CPA exam while in school. This will help open many doors and will make life much easier when you start working. It will help you know what field you want to get into and will prepare you for your first year! Good Luck!!
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Karly’s Answer

Great question! I think the one thing I wish I know before becoming an external auditor is how important your verbal and written communication skills are. When I started studying accounting, I assumed that that being accountant meant that I would sit in a cubicle and crunch numbers all day. In my day-to-day, I interact with client contacts and write about business processes way more than I work with numbers. Overall, I think that the job creates an environment in which you can become a well-rounded professional!

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Vito’s Answer

One thing that I think is helpful for people to know about the bigger consulting firms especially is that the model is somewhat similar to college. In the same way that you are less marketable for internships and full time positions with a 4.0 and no extracurricular activities, your performance related to your client work is only one piece of the larger puzzle of your career growth and development. To truly succeed in these environments, you need to excel in your client work, participate in business development, or other 'reinvest' type opportunities that can be related to any number of things including learning, employee resource groups, fundraising, etc.
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Jason’s Answer

Hi Mireia,


One thing I wish I knew going into my career as public tax accountant is how different it is learning on the job as compared to how you learn in school. The group I work in is very compliance based so we prepare tax returns for our clients to file to the IRS or state tax authorities. Our process starts when we receive various information from the client in order to prepare the returns. While on the job we are creating workpapers and using tools and programs in order to provide support for the information we include in the tax return. Some of what I learn while on a job may not be very tax technical like learning from a textbook in school, but it involves acquiring skills in using programs to create workpapers (such as Excel, Alteryx), and knowing the ins and outs of various tax preparation software. Overall, the process on the job is how to create quality work in an efficient way for our clients, which is quite different than learning tax specific material in your college curriculum.

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Amra’s Answer

Besides the fact that learning NEVER stops, I wish I knew that people skills are as important as technical skills. Auditors usually focus their attention to the audit techniques and technical stuff (accounting, tech, industry specific knowledge), but it is important to understand that learning communication and dealing with variety of different personalities is just as important. So, do not forget that:)
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