The emotions felt before, during, and after taking a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Licensure Exam reflect the many struggles faced by aspiring accounting professionals. In this blog, Mazars Tax Manager, Erickson Padilla, shares his experiences, actions, and insights regarding the revered "Three Letters", CPA.
CPA. Short for Certified Public Accountant. These THREE LETTERS might be ordinary three letters for some. Still, these letters may symbolise challenging work, sacrifice, dedication, determination, perseverance, and fulfilment to many successful examinees whose dream of becoming a CPA turned into reality! It was indeed an answered prayer and a dream come true!
As the result of the October 2022 CPA Licensure Examination (CPALE) was released last October 26, I had the same feeling as the time I was looking through the list when I took the exam in 2017. It never gets old. The excitement. The feeling of nervousness. The tension. But when I finally got the result, I was on cloud nine! Unbelievable. I passed the CPALE, and I am now a Certified Public Accountant.
We have our own stories to tell. Stories of hardship, endless battles, breakdowns, and sleepless nights before triumph came. This is the first time I will be sharing my story – a very personal experience – about the THREE LETTERS that changed my ways, my goals, and my path.
I took my Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (BSA) at Phinma-Araullo University in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. This is one of the most competitive Universities in the region for producing professionals like teachers, engineers, criminologists, and CPAs (Certified Public Accountants). BSA is a four-year course in the University taken before the board exam. A grade of not lower than 2.25 must be maintained. Otherwise, the candidate will no longer be qualified for the BSA curriculum. I was just an average student back then, and unfortunately, because of the grade requirement, I failed not just once but twice.
Let me share with you my realisations:
Take failure as a learning path
My grades in Business Taxation and Advanced Financial Accounting were below average during my third year. Therefore, I needed to retake these two subjects during my fourth and final year. Our fourth year was the most crucial part of the curriculum because of our integrated review and because we were loaded with other requirements that consumed our time. Looking back, it was exhausting; nonetheless, I had to do well to pass the pre-board examination, which was one of the requirements for graduation. The two subjects I failed were part of the six we needed to pass. I continued to persevere, making me more knowledgeable about these two subjects. I passed both classes and even ranked fifth during our final pre-board examination in Taxation. I thanked God for bringing me to this failure because I had the opportunity to push myself and become even more confident that I had what it took to pass the two subjects in the actual board exam.
Therefore, if you think you are failing right now, know that it might be God's way of teaching you and redirecting you to the right place. Sometimes failure and disappointments are God's way of directing us to learn and be more confident on the path we deserve.
Another obstacle that I needed to take during college was our financial difficulty. I had to work in the morning to earn a penny for my allowance, tuition, and miscellaneous expenses. Working in the morning and studying after lunch until 9 PM was challenging. Here's what I learned:
Begin with an end in mind
Working part-time in an accounting firm for three years was hard, but it allowed me to manage my time well. I skipped some hours of sleep, with some nights having no sleep at all. Getting ready and doing my best despite the difficult exams was more important than dwelling in the demanding situation. I just kept in mind that my end goal is to become a CPA. The hardwork will pay off eventually, and it really did!
So, if you are in a difficult situation right now, remember why you started. The pain and the struggles are temporary, and these too, shall pass.
These are two of the most significant realisations that lead me to who I am today. The CPALE is one of the most challenging exams you will ever take. Hence, to the 25.84% new CPAs this October 2022, congratulations! But to the 4,943 individuals who finished the exam strong, this article is for all of you! As I said, do not dwell too much on failures. Use it to your advantage. Begin with an end mind. Persevere. Life may pull you hard but keep on trying and do not stop. God is always with you in achieving your dreams.
After passing the board exam, I got two different job offers. One was from a large private company, and the other was with one of the Big 4 Auditing firms in the Philippines, where I got employed for more than three years.
Working in the Big 4 was a great privilege. Since it was my first time working in a diversified company and group of people, adjusting took me some time. My colleagues were incredibly competitive and competent. This opportunity allowed me to be exposed to different industries from clients of local and multinational companies.
Steppingstone to Great Privileges
My grit gave me more opportunities that opened along the way. Because of the pandemic, I decided to work in the province and after another year, decided to join Mazars in the Philippines, one the leading auditing firms in the country, which gave me many more opportunities to work with different experts, with our international clients, and with other managers from the Asia-Pacific Region through its global conferences.
Achieving the THREE LETTERS is indeed not an easy journey. It is a dream that must be fueled by hardwork, sacrifice, dedication, determination, and perseverance. It might be one of the most challenging roads you will take that will push you to your limit. But if you know your end goal, failures and difficult situations might slow you down, but these should not stop you.
There are a lot of opportunities waiting for you once you achieve those THREE LETTERS. It will be your ticket from one opportunity to another. So, to the CPAs-in-transit who are reading this, do not lose hope. Rise up. Keep pushing. And go for your dream!