Your CPA Practical Experience: Public Practice, Industry or Nonprofit?

By Kate Jessup, Senior Account Manager

CPA chartered professional accountant practical experience reporting tool

You are on the road to your CPA designation, congratulations!  Now you find yourself at that crucial time when you need to make choices about how you will acquire the experience to complete your Professional Experience Reporting Tool (PERT).

It’s important to educate yourself on the options available. Public practice is often seen as the fastest way for aspiring CPA’s to obtain their letters as students are exposed to a variety of industries and accounting work. However, choosing to do your practical experience component in industry or the nonprofit sector can also be viable options.

The question to ask yourself is, “What do I want out of my CPA career and my life?”

It is important to reflect on your personal life goals when making career choices. The choices you make at this stage of your career will have a major impact on your lifestyle and long-term career goals.

Life in Public Practice

Large public practice firms, by their nature, can often be compartmentalized. Students looking for diversity of work and more opportunities should make sure to ask questions about exactly what kind of work they will be exposed to. For example, students placed in departments specializing in assurance or tax may not have the chance to move between departments.

Small to mid-sized public practice firms, on the other hand, usually provide accounting students with a more generalized experience. Typically, these kinds of firms do not have the volume of specialized work that a large firm does. As a result, students often get the opportunity to work on a variety of things, such as Notice to Readers, bookkeeping, payroll, tax and advisory services.

Bottom line? If you decide to go the public practice route, make sure that the work you are doing is relevant to your overall career and lifestyle plans. Ask yourself the questions that count!

Life in Industry and Nonprofits

The industry and nonprofit sector are often full of unexplored opportunities for completing the PERT.  If you are considering work in those sectors, inquire with potential employers about how they can help you fulfill your PERT requirements.

When exploring your options for practical experience, make sure you perform your due diligence.  Seek out the experience that will open doors,  provide you with multiple opportunities AND give you the life you want.

Kate Jessup CPAKate Jessup is a Senior Account Manager with Loren Nancke & Company and is responsible for human resources, training and client services. As a senior accountant, her work focuses on the human side of the equation.

Your CPA Experience: 8 Questions to Ask

By Kate Jessup, Senior Account Manager

CPA program Practical Experience Reporting Tool PERTOne of the reasons for investing in post-secondary education is to expand career opportunities. The CPA program is a significant investment in time and money and you want to ensure that you are maximizing your career options.

Your Practical Experience Reporting Tool (PERT) is the final frontier on the road to your designation. It is important that your practical experience provide you with as many career opportunities as possible. If your PERT is too narrowly focused, you limit your options.

When considering your practical experience, think about your life goals beyond your schooling.

1. Do you want to travel?

2. Do you intend to buy a home and build a family?

3. Is pursuing your hobbies or volunteering in your community important to you?

4. How can you make your career and life goals align?

Another aspect to consider is the opportunity to grow within the organization in which you are gaining your practical experience.  Questions to consider before taking a job include:

5. Will the job require you to work a high volume of overtime? For how many months of the year?

6. What will the learning curve be?

7. What tools does the organization provide for training and professional development?

8. Is there room for you to advance within the organization once you have your designation?

When seeking employment, make sure that you reflect thoughtfully on why you chose accounting as a career path. For any career, there are significant gains to be had but also sacrifices to be made. What are your career goals, what are your life goals, and what sacrifices are going to be acceptable for you?

kathleenjessup

Kate Jessup is a Senior Account Manager with Loren Nancke & Company and is responsible for human resources, training and client services. As a senior accountant, her work focuses on the human side of the equation.

Small Business Snapshot: Who’s Alan Anyway?

By Candace Nancke, Managing Partner

small business in BCLast year, for the first time in our firm’s history, we launched a creative ad campaign. We’ve had a lot of fun with it and it’s generated quite a bit of interest — both in our BC business community and online. Creativity and accounting seldom go together, but in this instance it worked.

We’re often asked, who is Alan? Or more often people will say, I want to BE Alan!

Alan is a composite of the clients that we meet with every day. He has a growing business, an active family and a desire to do great things. He loves adventure and wants more of it in his life. We get that.

Alan is reasonably good with numbers – he can keep his chequebook balanced and even run a decent spreadsheet. But as his business has grown, his available time has shrunk. He wants to focus his efforts where they matter the most. He needs to know that he’s not missing anything and he needs someone to summarize his best options honestly, in plain language. Tax regulations? Not on his radar. But accounting and tax strategies that can accelerate his company’s growth? That’s where things get interesting, and where Alan’s business gets a big boost.

How can you be Alan?

There are three basic elements that have helped separate Alan from his competitors:

  1. He asked the right questions at the right time:
    • How can I improve the financial wellbeing of my company?
    • How can I reduce by my taxes payable?
    • How can I support and finance my business growth?
  1. He actively networked with his business contemporaries to find out which business advisors he should talk to. He knew he needed a lawyer and an accountant who knew small business, and who were familiar with his industry.
  1. He resisted the urge to listen to his brother-in-law, who is a great dentist (and a wonderful brother-in-law) … but probably not such a great accountant.

We want all small business owners to live Alan’s charmed life. The key is information, education and getting the answers you need (even when you might not know the questions to ask!). Get responsible, reliable advice from a trusted professional .. so you can grow your business and enjoy your life.

candaceCandace Nancke, FCPA, FCGA is the managing partner at Loren Nancke & Company. She has served as Chair of the Board of Governors for CGA-BC and has been designated as a Fellow of the Chartered Professional Accountants (FCPA), one of the highest honours awarded to accountants in BC. You can reach her at 604-904-3807 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

 

Taking Care of Business: GST Basics

By Brett Pavan, Partner

learn the basics of GST for small businessTalking with entrepreneurs at our monthly seminars with Small Business BC (TaxSense For Your Business), one of the most common areas of confusion is GST. Here, we share some of the key questions that business owners ask.

Who needs to charge and collect GST?

A business that has sales of $30,000 or more in a calendar year (or fiscal year if a corporation) must register with CRA for a GST number and charge its Canadian customers GST or HST.

If your sales are less than $30,000 in a year, you do not need to charge and collect GST. (Note: taxi and limousine companies are exceptions — companies in that industry must register and collect GST from the very beginning of business.)

This is not a cumulative number but rather a year-to-year calculation. In other words, if your business has been operating for three years and each year your income is less than $30,000, you do not need to register and charge GST.

Who is exempt from GST?

There are a few businesses that are exempt, such as:

  • most health, medical, and dental services performed by licensed physicians or dentists for medical reasons
  • childcare services (daycare services for less than 24 hours a day) for children 14 years old and younger
  • educational services such as:
    • courses from a vocational school that leads to a certificate or a diploma to practice a trade or a vocation, or
    • tutoring services for an individual who takes a course approved for credit by a school authority or the service follows a curriculum designated by a school authority
  • music lessons
  • arranging for and issuing insurance policies by insurance companies, agents, and brokers

Did You Know?

Typically the sales tax you bill depends on the billing address of your customer, not you. That means if your customer lives in BC, you charge 5% GST and 7% PST (if applicable). But if your customer lives in Nova Scotia, you’d charge 15% HST on your invoice. And if your customer lives in Seattle, you’d charge no Canadian sales tax.

How to register for GST

Register directly with CRA for a GST/HST account. Another convenient option is BC Registry Services, where you can do most business registrations and transactions all in one place.

For more information, including a full list of GST/HST exemptions, read Learning the Basics of the GST/HST, published by the Canada Revenue Agency.

If in doubt, ask your professional accountant. He or she can help you navigate the ins and outs of GST/HST and PST accounts.

Coming up next. Three methods of calculating GST, and how they can affect your taxes payable.

brentBrett Pavan, CPA, CGA, is a partner with Loren Nancke & Company. Brett’s practice is focused on personal and corporate tax services for incorporated professionals and small business … and helping the team learn and grow in their professional development.

 

The Big Phony: 5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Fake CRA Calls

By Alex Young, Senior Account Manager

protect yourself from CRA scam callsFor several months Canadians have been getting hit with aggressive calls, text messages, emails and letters from scam artists claiming to represent the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). These fraudsters call individuals at home threatening penalties, jail, even deportation — and demanding immediate payment for “taxes owing”.

Typically, the impersonator demands payment by some unofficial means – often by credit card, PayPal, wire transfer or even your bank’s e-transfer service. According to recent news reports, the demands tend to range from $700 to $3,000. Many Canadians have been victimized, including seniors in Victoria. And there is growing suspicion that newcomers to Canada unfamiliar with CRA processes are among those being targeted.

Since the real CRA does make phone calls and send letters – and the calls can seem very convincing — how can you protect yourself from fraud? Here’s how. Continue reading>

Lifestyle or Legit: Travel, promotion and restaurant expenses you can claim for business

Loren Nancke tips for business expenses(without landing in trouble with CRA!)

By Gabrielle Loren, Founding Partner

This time of year, many business owners are getting ready for summer holidays and travel with their family. With any luck, your annual business convention is being held somewhere you’d like to take the whole family. Or perhaps you’re visiting prospective clients while on your family vacation. Or you’re heading out on a reconnaissance mission to do some market research. We’ve heard all these stories and more. And while we don’t judge, CRA definitely does.

Here’s what you need to know about the kind of expenses that can legitimately be claimed and which ones might land you in the kind of hot water you’d rather avoid.  Continue reading>

Should You File Your Own Taxes? What to Know Before You Click

By Candace Nancke, Managing Partner

resourcesFiling your own taxes seems easier than ever, but how do you know what’s involved and whether this is a good option for you?

For some people it makes a lot of sense to use these free or low-cost services. For others, it may not be worth the time or uncertainty. And for many, especially those who are business owners or those with financial scenarios that are beyond the basics, you might miss out on tax savings that a professional accountant – a person with experience and professional judgment – can provide.

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Slaying Dragons: The Strategy that Led to Business Success

George Hunter Small Business BC

George Hunter, CEO of Small Business BC

An exclusive interview with George Hunter, CEO of Small Business BC

As 2015 approaches, we asked George Hunter, CEO of Small Business BC (SBBC) to share his insights and tips to help business owners hit the ground running in the new year. Known for his leadership in BC business and technology communities, George gave some candid advice for business owners on one of the key ingredients to success.

On the day of our interview, one of SBBC’s alumni was scheduled to appear on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Jason Mason of Mason’s Industrial Wear had gone through several of the programs at SBBC and was about to face the dragons. (Spoiler alert: Jason’s pitch was a hit and he ended up securing a round of financing on the show. Missed the episode? You can watch it here – http://youtu.be/yZK0exMmypU)

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