UFE results this Friday

It’s that time of the year again and I’m feeling nostalgic. It was just over a year ago last year when I learned that I had passed the final hurdle to obtaining my much sought-after CA designation (notwithstanding that pesky experience requirement which continues to elude me), the UFE.

This year’s results are out this Friday, and I have many friends sitting on pins and needles waiting to see if they passed. My office is having another party, as is the tradition, to celebrate that evening. I’m actually on the social committee so I was involved with the planning.

The night before there is another tradition. The offices in the Toronto region all get together informally (not a sanctioned firm event in other words) and go out in downtown Toronto, inevitably joining CA candidates from other firms and their well-wishers at a club or bar for some partying. The goal is to celebrate the efforts of all writers, not just those who will pass the next day.

Good times. Enjoy the evening(s), writers. And good luck.


Variety and experience at mid-size firms

I’m going to have a fast-paced week again. This week I’m working on two clients from jobs that have wrapped up field work and two clients whose field work has yet to begin.

On the two post field work jobs, I’ll be auditing the consolidation of several large private companies and clearing review notes and documenting big picture issues on the audit I just wrapped up last week.

On the two pre field work jobs, I’ll be supervising a group of junior staff working on some small company compilations and reviews and beginning the planning on an audit that goes in February, and interim work that starts the week after this one.

It’s tiring but it’s exciting to have this much variety and experience already in my career. Makes me glad I chose a mid-size firm.

Accounting Blogs

Accounting gets a shot of adrenaline

Bill Kennedy’s getting it done at Energized Accounting, a relatively new blog hosted by Google’s Blogger that so far has been host to some inspirational posts for me. The latest is all about a favourite topic of mine, data visualization:

If you want effective communications, you have to take responsibility for both the sending and the receiving of the message. You have to take into account how your stakeholders take in messages. Some people are just confused by spreadsheets.

Bill’s a CA and is from Toronto, making him a pretty cool guy right away. But his posts reveal his enthusiasm for helping his clients. He talks a lot about Microsoft Dynamics GP, which a lot of my clients use as well. I’m hoping to learn a thing or two that might help me help my clients!

From the sounds of things we’re on the same page in terms of providing clients with their financial information in innovative and illuminating ways.

On an interesting side note, Bill links to Francine’s blog and labels it satire! Oh, if only.

Accounting Standards

Income trusts get distributable cash standard

Canada’s CAs have announced guidance for a key metric of income trusts, that of distributable cash.

The term ‘distributable cash’ generally refers to the cash that an income trust could potentially distribute to unit holders. Investors use this information when assessing the entity’s ability to fund future distributions and to help value their investments.

But the problem with the measure is that investors had no way of knowing where the cash had come from: general operating activities, or selling off productive assets and related future capacity. There was no way to compare across trusts since they all defined the term differently, or even to compare the same trust year over year. The CICA recommendations seek to remedy this:

The CICA guidance recommends that income trusts report a new measure called “Standardized Distributable Cash” to improve consistency of reporting and comparability between entities. Together with other disclosures recommended in the framework, the new measure gives the industry a common methodology for providing investors with information.

Standardized Distributable Cash is defined as cash from operations, after adjusting for capital expenditures, restrictions on distributions due to debt covenants, and minority interests.

The recommendations are not without criticism, however.

Independent investor advocate Diane Urquhart noted that the new CICA measure of distributable cash is not an addition to generally accepted accounting principles and will appear only as part of management’s discussion and analysis. […] “It’s ugly,” declared Al Rosen of forensic accountants Rosen and Associates. “When you needed this – and in a tougher form – would have been at least five years ago.”

I believe those are the biggest criticisms of it: the “standard” isn’t part of GAAP officially, but merely guidance to help trusts provide investors with higher quality information, and the recommendations are a little late in coming.

Better something than nothing, and better late than never.


Most Chartered Accountants want interesting work above all

A recent CICA members survey has revealed what matters most to the Canadian Chartered Accountants who answer member surveys, and the August issue of CA Magazine highlights those findings:

Chartered accountants want work that is interesting and challenging, but only if it leaves them enough time to have a life.

Those are the results of a recent CICA member’s survey on workplace priorities, with 86% of CAs rating interesting work as “very important” and all respondents rating it as at least somewhat important. In addition, 20% ranked it as their top priority.

Retention of talented young CAs is a pressing issue facing all firms, as the demand for our services increases and opportunities outside the audit profession abound as the Canadian economy rolls along. Firms should make sure they are consistently challenging the brightest and best staff they have.