Success in accounting requires many skills – tenacity, curiosity, and a way with numbers.
But, as with most professions, aspiring accountants need more than just a knack for figures. It requires just as much dedication to study as it does any innate talent.
It’s a difficult path, but a path that everyone at Borland Benefield has walked, which has given Borland Benefield associates plenty of experience to do their jobs – and plenty of experience to share with hopeful accountants.
Associates like Leigh Anna Hall, a Borland Benefield Tax Manager, focused on individual and entity tax returns, consulting, and planning.
Finding a Passion
Accountants usually find themselves drawn to the profession from a young age, and Leigh Anna was no exception.
She became intrigued by accounting in high school when a female CPA came to talk about the profession and how the field of accounting was a great option for working moms, allowing for flexibility and job security.
As Leigh Anna explored it more, she came to realize that accounting is more than mindlessly scrolling through long lists of figures. Accounting is a numerical representation of activities and transactions in the real world, whether that’s an individual’s finances or the growth and change in a small business.
This is Leigh Anna’s favorite aspect of the profession. “The problem-solving is the most engaging part,” she says. “The numbers are just how you see that problem in front of you. It’s a challenging puzzle, and it’s very rewarding once the pieces all fit.”
Accounting at College
Leigh Anna decided to start her accounting career path in earnest by attending Auburn University, where she declared for Business.
“The accounting path works similarly to any other path you’d go down in college,” she says. “You have what I’d call the ‘weed out’ classes that introduce you to the accounting world and let you know if it’s really for you.”
But there’s one more challenge to overcome after graduation.
The CPA Exam
The Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination is designed to test if an individual is worthy of becoming a U.S. Certified Public Accountant.
“There are two main avenues you can take after graduating,” Leigh Anna explains. “You can either go on to Graduate school to eventually take the CPA exam, or you can go out and enter the workforce while you study for the CPA exam on your own and take additional classes to complete the hour requirement for your state. I chose the latter because I was ready for experience in the field.”
Leigh Anna says the CPA exam is not something to put off studying for until the last minute. “My advice would be to treat the CPA exam like a second job. It’s that serious,” she says. “But in the end, it’s worth it. Accounting is a necessary profession; you’ll always find work, even if it’s not at an accounting firm. Other institutions like banks or government positions would love to have access to someone with accounting experience. It’s also a very family-friendly profession that gives me plenty of time to spend with my family.”
A Profession, a Family
Many accounting firms operate similarly. Someone new to the accounting world will likely be doing the same tasks, no matter what firm they choose. This is also true for Borland Benefield, but this firm has something many others lack: a strong sense of unity.
“It sounds a little silly,” Leigh Anna says, “but Borland Benefield feels more like a family than a business. That’s why Borland Benefield is such a strong leader in our industry – we’ve been around for one hundred years, after all. We have very little turnover for a reason, and I’ve chosen to stay here for fifteen years for a reason. It’s rare to actually feel good about going to work, but that’s exactly how I feel about working here.