Bimpe shares her thoughts on various topics, including her career, CPA licensure, accounting education and the future of the profession.
Texas Society of CPAs
Keys to Success in an Evolving Profession
The body of knowledge required of newly licensed CPAs has transformed and evolved – a professional reality that is being addressed through CPA Evolution. A joint initiative of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), CPA Evolution focuses on subject matter that truly reflects the realities of practice and is designed to prepare future licensed professionals to succeed, now and in the future.
Bimpe McMillon is a Certified Public Accountant and a Technical Reviewer in the Peer Review Department of the Texas Society of CPAs. She obtained extensive assurance experience in a wide variety of industries including School Districts, Governmental Audits, Single Audits, ERISA, Construction, and Oil and Gas, during her three years with Weaver LLP. She also obtained investment accounting experience from Hudson Advisors. Below, Bimpe shares her thoughts on various topics, including her career, CPA licensure, accounting education and the future of the profession (one in a series of discussions with CPAs, educators and professionals on the path to licensure).
Choosing an accounting career: My [late] mom was a forensic accountant. I grew up watching her thrive and grow in her career. There are so many people she encouraged to pursue the accounting profession, and a lot of them can say it changed their lives. It gave them meaning. It advanced their career. It helped them be who they want to be. So that was an inspiration for me. And it's actually even part of why I'm in the role I currently am, because I feel like I'm in that position – a role where I also get to give back in whatever way I can.
Career variety and flexibility of CPAs: My current role is with the Texas Society of CPAs, an organization that serves licensed CPAs and CPA firms in Texas. I'm a technical manager, or a technical reviewer, in the peer review department. The easiest way to explain it is I audit the auditors of audit firms. And that's a thing people don't know. As an accountant, you don't have to stick to one track. There's so much you can do. I worked in a bank. I did a lot of information systems audits with the bank, basically protecting financial information. Then after that, I tried public accounting. I realized I love public accounting. I love auditing and investigating.
The value of CPA Iicensure: The value of the CPA is priceless. Those three letters with a name add another layer of trust, competence and security to an individual. We are in a profession that places a lot of emphasis on public trust, so the CPA designation makes the public see us as people they can call on for their financial and business needs. I network with all kinds of individuals. Whenever I say I am a CPA, immediately there is this level of trust that gives them the confidence regarding their personal finances, business needs, tax needs and so on. What helps is the standard that has been set in terms of the [CPA] exam itself – most people realize the examination is not easily passed without an adequate amount of study including an advanced education. That level of education requires a high level of determination and grit. Because of that, CPAs continue to have a high level of respect from the general public.
The impact of CPA licensure: I know some people always feel like it's all about the money, right? As a licensed CPA, you make more money. If you're going to go into public accounting, you can't get promoted to the manager level unless you have a CPA. If you're not a CPA, there's a ceiling you can't break, but as soon as you get that CPA license, it's open. You can go wherever you want to go, you can do what you want. A lot of positions right now, that require an accountant, almost 9 out of 10 times require you to be licensed as a CPA. Just being a CPA, people automatically find you competent, trustworthy. People find you technically sound because you took this rigorous exam, and you went through this whole process to become licensed. It may separate you from the crowd. When I tell people I'm a CPA, automatically, there's just a higher level of respect.
Recommending CPA to students: The CPA helped me advance in my career. If a student is looking at developing their career in the public accounting industry, it is difficult to advance to the managerial level until the CPA designation is obtained. If a student is also looking at higher-level positions such as CFO, Controller, Director of Accounting, etc., it is highly difficult to advance without the CPA designation.
Accounting education today: if you don't keep up with new trends, you're going to become extinct. The accountant’s role is evolving. Technology is becoming the new order of the game. When I think back to 2009, when I was taking my master's degree classes, information technology was just one little sliver of information that I had to learn. Everything else was more technical stuff like cost accounting. Now you have to do a lot more technology and data analysis, making use of auditing software to manipulate data. No one is doing manual accounting anymore. For faculty, if you're not empowering your students or revising your curriculum to give students the skills that they're going to need when they face the real world, then I almost feel like we're doing them a disservice. Because you can stick to the curriculum you have, but when [students] get into the real world and start working with people, if you don't have those necessary skills, you become irrelevant.
On learning soft skills: Accounting involves a lot of professional judgment. So many things that were done manually can now be so automated, especially the data entry process, and it gives us as professionals more time to focus on client services. If we're doing manual paperwork all the time, we're missing out on developing real client relationships, which is really the point of accounting in the end. In [school], in my accounting classes, I don't feel like we had a class that dealt with soft skills. A lot of it was technical, with a little information technology. So many times in public accounting, I saw people who were technically sound, but they lacked personality and soft skills to deal with clients – which employers are looking for in the real world in accounting. My advice: on your own time, learn more leadership development, more personality development skills. How do you handle conflict? How do you ask questions? And how do you ask questions the right way to get the right answers that you want.
Advice for CPA candidates to pursue licensure: Don’t ever give up. It took me five years to pass the exam and there were times I honestly wanted to give it all up, but I did not. I stayed the course and kept practicing and studying, knowing that I’d eventually pass. Don’t compare your journey to any other person’s journey. Some people pass all parts on the first try, and some have to study so much more to pass it all. At the end of the day, the goal is to get that designation and begin your career advancement.
The future for CPAs: I have a very positive outlook, especially when I consider the impact of CPA Evolution – it is proof that the profession is doing all that is necessary to advance and adapt in an ever-changing business landscape. The focus on technology is another element that shows the profession is moving in the right direction. The CPA designation will only improve and become more valuable with CPA Evolution.