Welcome to the incoming class of the Belk College of Business Master of Accountancy (MACC)!
As a primary part of the recent welcome and orientation program, leaders from several major firms sat down as a “Partner Panel” and had an open and candid dialogue with our new MACC students. The panel, moderated by Dr. Jack Cathey, MACC Program Director and Associate Professor of Accounting, shared advice, insight and reflection unavailable anywhere else. Students benefitted from the behind-the-curtain look into the industry. With this significant and unique view into the accounting profession, students heard directly from top firms about case studies, client relationship advice and how the industry is changing. The Belk College thanks the visiting professionals, who included Ben Hume of Deloitte, Tom Coley of Grant Thronton, Cheryl Greer of DHG, Shanna Morales of Elliott Davis Decosimo, Charles Bolliger of PwC, and Tony Smith of GreerWalker.
In particular, one point the panelists discussed was the need to evolve with times and technology, rather than being left behind by old paradigms. As an example, Amazon began by just selling mainly just books, and was not well-received. However, they adapted to the needs of users and are now a leading retail entity. Similarly, accounting professionals must evolve with the times, for example, in sales tax since this area is a changing creature.
"It's also an exciting time in the world of audit,” added Ben Hume of Deloitte. The industry is working to keep up with advancing technology. For instance, in select cases, drones are beginning to be used in inventory counts, rather than a human conducting inventory manually. With this and similar changes, the panel estimated that audits will take 50% less time in 5 years due to automation.
The panel reminded the audience that, “a high percentage of costs in accounting firms today is in compensation and space. That will be shifting to technology very soon.” Therefore, students should be working toward their graduation while also continually exploring ways they can add value to their firm.
One way of adding value, the panel explained, is to always keep relationships top of mind. Relationships are so important—with coworkers and with clients. This will eventually land you in the best seat of all, being a trusted advisor.
The panel agreed, that by keeping up with technology and focusing on relationships, you will lead yourself to success.
Students were also treated to a Q&A session with the panel.
One student asked, “Will all this upcoming automation negatively impact the job market as I am graduating?” A panelist was quick to respond, “I wish this room was three times this full because there has been, is, and will be a staff shortage in accounting.”
When asked by a student, “What day-to-day job advice can you give us?” the professionals provided several strong recommendations, including:
Leave the drama at the door. Bring your common sense.
Don’t be scared to talk to the partners. Get to know them, and let them know you.
Don't change who you are. Stay true to yourself and be genuine.
A favorite of new students, the Associate Panel provided encouragement and advice from working professionals who were in the new students' seats just a few short years ago. Special thanks to these panelists, who included Kelly Kay of the City of Charlotte, Caroline Adams of CliftonLarsonAllen, Derek Gallello of DHG, Bee Xiong of Elliott Davis Decosimo, Cori Moore of Grant Thornton, and Morgan Harris of PwC.
MACC students were warmly welcomed with an evening reception following the orientation, giving them time to speak one on one with alumni and working professionals, including the panelists.
Belk College of Business welcomes all new graduate students!