Albion College is back as a player in the annual accounting competition sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs.
Albion was the underdog last fall as it was the smallest of the academic institutions to have a team reach the finals in Washington, D.C.
This year, the team comprised of students Peter Curry, John Rogers, Victoria Slater and Don Strite and advisor John Carlson are one of 15 to advance to the semifinal round of competition. The Britons have crafted a video telling the story of a financial services firm helping a fictional character realize his financial goals through retirement planning, risk management and savings and investments.
“We are taking the character James Gutierrez, and we have his financial information – credit card debt, loans, and income from the job he had – from the time he graduated from college. I believe we hit the executive summary for the first round out of the park,” Strite said. “The prompt we were given was pretty much our proposal for the second round.
“The second round provides much more detail about the character,” he added, mentioning that the fictional Gutierrez starts a family and gets a $50 million offer for a mobile app he created. “We’ll take that, which has more tax implications, and mold that to determine how we can serve him best,” Strite added.
Curry, a member of Albion’s Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management from Midland, has performed much of the data collection work, calculating interest rates and loan rates. He, Rogers, an economics and management major from Sterling Heights who is a member of Albion’s Gerald R. Ford Institute for Public Policy and Service, and Strite were all members of the 2012 team.
The familiarity with the process is paying off in terms of the efficiency in getting work done and the ability to create a unique presentation.
“It is helpful to have last year’s experience because we know we can bounce ideas off each other and receive an honest response,” Strite said. “We’re moving quicker. We have fewer meetings, but are getting more done.
“Our expectation is to make a great video and to be
different,” he added. “We’re coming with a
different theme to our video. We’re going to be exciting
– trying to put a little humor in there – but our goal
is to return to D.C. again.”
The Dividends ‘Are Going to Be Huge’
The CPA competition is just one piece of Strite’s fall-semester puzzle. A member of the men’s cross country team, the Ann Arbor Community High School product achieved personal-best times on the trail while also signing on for his job with Ernst & Young after graduation.
“It has been difficult [to juggle the activities], but with previous internship experience I’ve been able to work through it, planning my days out and getting the essential work done,” Strite said. “It is a relief to get where I am now and it is exciting to focus on the AICPA competition and running and not having to worry about a job. There have been a lot of late nights and early mornings getting everything done.
“Experiences like the CPA competition and competing in cross country demonstrates our ability to multitask,” he added. “It’s one of the things firms like to see – I’m a student, an athlete, and I’m gaining real-world experience. I am thinking outside the box, learning teamwork skills, learning what I’ll be doing on the job. I had to work as a member of a team on my internships. I had to put together presentations similar to the one we’ll make for this competition. I don’t know if all Albion students understand that real-world application right now, but in the future we’ll appreciate how we’re comfortable presenting in front of CEOs. The dividends from this project are going to be huge.”