Be the Fitbit for a Company (and Keep It Healthy!)

The Fitbit is among the over 300 million “wearables” that were sold in 2017 worldwide. This technology provides people with a slew of personal data such as heart rate, number of hours slept, or steps taken. Fitbit’s “Manifesto” states that they are about health, not just extending tech’s obsession with data:

“… fitness is the sum of your life… How you spend your day determines when you reach your goals. And seeing your progress helps you see what’s possible.”

Often I explain accounting services as a “Fitbit for your company.” By this, I mean that you can understand the general health of an enterprise and where it is (or should be going). It’s not a data read-out. If accountants can deliver a Fitbit experience to clients, they will improve the overall health of the company and be a business asset for the future.

Let’s try to extend this analogy a little further and look at some of the Fitbit features and their accounting counterparts:

Fitbit provides a stream of timely information. 

A balance sheet tells you, your company, even your non-profit where you are right now. Traditionally, accounting has measured performance solely in financial terms, but over the past decade, accountants have used the same tools to measure customer satisfaction, employee retention, website performance, security, and national happiness. Think of the balance sheet as the GPS position. It shows you precisely where you are right now, in any dimension.

The number of steps taken. 

Fitbit measures flows, such as the number of steps you’ve taken today. In much the same way, the income statement measures the flows into and out of any organization. The flows can be in dollars, customer loyalty, employee morale, or any number of other dimensions. The income statement provides dynamic information on where an organization is headed, much like a GPS does.

…the art of accounting…lies in helping people and organizations measure performance, plan for success and adapt to an ever-changing world.

Map of Route Taken

Combining the balance sheet and income statement gives us the ability to see where we’ve been, where we are, and how fast we’re moving. It gives us the information we need to set realistic goals and devote the resources needed to get there.

Progress Toward Goals

My wife loves her Fitbit. Last night, she was a little short of her daily goal (10,000 steps). That timely information changed her behavior, added one more walk to our evening, and gave her the satisfaction of another great day. In much the same way, financial budgeting helps us stay “on track” to achieve our goals and make small corrections when we stray from the path.

Visualized information

Fitbit has a way of telling a story about my health using whimsical charts and graphs. Just looking at the charts helps me gauge my performance and health. Accounting requires some storytelling too. Using charts and graphs makes the story come alive and helps clients make decisions about their overall financial health, customer satisfaction, market trends and much more.

Communicating with Friends on Your Progress

Okay, here’s the downside of the Fitbit. My wife is simply better than me at achieving her goals. It’s a little frustrating when I see the comparisons, and downright embarrassing knowing she sees them too. That said, it’s this easy access to benchmarking data that motivates me (and in accounting motivates a business) to change behaviors, become more customer-centric, listen to and reward their employees, and improve quality.

There is data all around us. The value of the Fitbit is how it measures, organizes, summarizes and displays the data. In much the same way, the art of accounting does not lie in debits and credits. It lies in helping people and organizations measure performance, plan for success and adapt to an ever-changing world.

About Fred Sroka

Fred Sroka, JD is the Dean of the GGU School of Accounting & Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation. Fred Sroka received his JD from UCLA, practiced as a tax lawyer for 18 years, worked as a tax accountant for 18 years, and managed a couple of years as a management consultant! He has been a member of the GGU adjunct tax faculty since 1983, and a member of the tax advisory board. Fred retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2014 and has served as the Dean of the Bruce F. Braden School of Tax since October 2014.

He holds an active CPA license in California and Colorado and is an inactive member of the California State Bar. Fred and his wife Ronda have two kids (both off in grad school), who provide constant coaching on the world from a millennial student’s perspective. Fred loves to play tennis and golf and is constantly puttering around the house with his tools.

Request Information about Accounting Degree programs at GGU >>


Audio Meets Auditing: Careers for Music Majors in Tax & Accounting

What can you do with a liberal arts or fine arts degree? It is a question that many millennials (and their parents) are asking more and more since the crash of 2008. Recent statistics showing flat or declining humanities majors and rising STEM majors back this up. However, students that lead with their dreams may discover, to their delight, that their degrees lead them to good salaries and satisfying work. Psychology majors may not wind up seeing patients but love management, where empathy and encouraging employee growth are considered key skills. English majors become content marketers and painters can become web designers. Gender studies majors might find a mission in human resources. Musicians become … tax professionals or accountants? That’s right.

AJ Major, a partner in a California CPA firm, plays in a rock band and notes that he has run into a lot of accountant-musicians. In a blog post on music and accounting, he quotes a colleague who said: “I think there’s a connection between the left and right side of the brain. Accounting and music [are areas] where there can be that crossover.” It may be more than coincidence that audio and audit have the same Latin root that means “to listen.” Janet Jackson and Mick Jagger studied to be accountants, after all.

“You need some creativity and individual thought in both.
–Linda Weng, Assistant Tax Manager, The Clorox Company
and GGU student

From Symphonies to Schedules

Linda Weng was a top-notch violinist in the Shanghai Wanfang Symphony Orchestra, traveling to several cities in China to give performances. Playing Mozart’s music filled her with a sense of well-being and is her favorite composer to this day.  She calls herself part of the “professional audience” now, “because I know what I like. But music is a better hobby than a career path.” Does Weng draw a connection between her music background and journey toward a CPA designation? She says yes:

“You need some creativity and individual thought in both. The law is interpretive, like looking at a music score. You can listen to other symphonies, but each has its own way to understand a piece. We use software in tax and accounting, but there are different ways to solve problems. You don’t have to do like you did it last year. So it is each employee’s responsibility to solve a problem. My company encourages finding a way of your own.

Learning to adapt is important because in the symphony we are always learning new pieces. This kind of change keeps things interesting in both the symphony and my current field. You must learn quickly, or you get behind—especially with the recent state and federal tax reforms.

In a symphony, you must work together. You must be seamless in the business world too, as we always rely on another department’s calculations.

Weng is currently working as an Assistant Tax Manager at The Clorox Company’s world headquarters in Oakland, with a number of Golden Gate University Graduates who are in the senior manager and director-level roles.She has two classes left in GGU’s MS in Taxation program.

Music Majors in Tax & Accounting Schools

Weng is not alone in experiencing the “audio-audit” connection while getting a master’s degree in taxation at Golden Gate University’s Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation. The school’s Dean, Fred Sroka, says:

“Many of our successful accounting alumni have a background in liberal arts. In Taxation, laws are always changing and are subject to interpretation. Our graduates describe how they enjoy collaborating with executives to analyze situations and decide what moves to make. We have many music majors that have thrived in the GGU Master of Accountancy program, because musical literacy rests on an understanding of patterns and structures, along with a strong creative streak!”

In addition to musicians, The Braden School is populated by a good number of former history, psychology & sociology, and criminal justice majors. Accountants are not, as Sroka says, simply “math people.”

“One of the music majors in Deloitte’s education program wrote tick marks on working papers that were musical notes…This experience led Hurd to make non-traditional hires when he became Assistant Controller at a private company.”

Music Majors on the Job

When Rod Hurd first joined Deloitte in San Francisco in the 1980s, about a quarter of Deloitte’s new hires were liberal arts or music majors. Deloitte’s recruiter sought out graduates with these non-accounting degrees based on the firm’s experience with similar hires in the past. Deloitte sought graduates who exhibited strong critical thinking and communication skills with the expectation of drawing on these skills for auditing field work. “One of the music majors in Deloitte’s education program wrote tick marks on working papers that were musical notes,” Hurd says.  “He was one of the standout performers of our class.”

This experience led Hurd to make non-traditional hires when he became Assistant Controller at a private company.  Again, musicians proved to be top performers. Hurd has also been involved with a trade group, principally as the Chair of its Financial Accounting Committee, in the development of tax laws & accounting standards.  “Several of the top performers on that committee are non-accountants who bring unique insights and perspectives to the issues facing the industry,” Hurd says.

Rich Carson, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was a professional jazz drum and trombone player who toured the US and Europe with his band as a young adult.  PwC, he says, has periodically refocused recruiting to seek candidates from liberal arts undergraduate programs. “In a way, varying tempos, meters, key signatures, chord orientations and progressions, pitch and volume discipline, and teamwork are critical and are transferable skills to the profession,” he says. People with other fine arts degrees also do well in the profession. A dance major who Carson mentored worked her way up to Assurance Partner: “I saw her grow quite nicely in the firm.  She was a very thoughtful and productive Partner and there are many more like her.”

Carson offers that computer gamers may be another non-traditional incarnation of the successful accounting candidate.  A student of Carson’s at GGU (and new Deloitte associate) reached the highest competitive rank League of Legends, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike and played with or against professionals. “This type of student,” Carson says, “might be more adept at the analytics and communication needed…even though he is not a ‘liberal arts type.’  He had a great capacity to recall, orient, and analyze data. I am very curious how his Deloitte internship will turn out.”

If you are surprised that musicians find a home in tax and accounting fields, you might want to look at the rest of Fred Sroka’s blog post that debunks accountant stereotypes or learn more about GGU’s tax and accounting degrees.


Which Financial Industry Designation is Right for Me?

Thursday, March 1st (12:00 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.)
Golden Gate University, San Francisco [Map]
Room 6208 (6th Fl.)

Whether you’re searching for a new career path or just curious about the different finance credentials, this panel will help guide you through some of the best known professional designations in the financial industry: Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA),  Financial Risk Manager (FRM), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Finance (MFin). Each of these has a core career focus, and although their abbreviations often sound interchangeable, each designation gives you something unique. Join us for lunch* on  March 1st to discover what careers each designation typically leads to.

Register Now >>

Registration is free for Golden Gate Unversity Students. For the special registration code, contact David Kaczorowski Professor of Finance and Program Manager at GGU.


Lu Cheng, CFA, CPA
Associate Portfolio Manager, BlackRock

Lu Cheng, CFA, CPA, is an Associate Portfolio Manager within BlackRock’s ETF and Index Investments (“EII”) group, currently responsible for the US iShares ETFs. Prior to joining BlackRock, Ms. Cheng was an Assistant Vice President at State Street managing the Equity Index Client Operations team providing fund accounting, custodial services and financial reporting for index equity and asset allocation portfolios. Ms. Cheng earned her B.A. in Economics and International Relations in 2009 from University of California, Davis.

Bryan Hasling, CFP, EASenior Financial Planner, JW Harrison

Bryan Hasling, CFP, is a certified financial planner and enjoys using his expertise to guide clients through their various financial topics, such as tax planning, investments, stock options, retirement, and more. Previously, he worked with firms in the Dallas-Ft Worth and Lubbock, TX areas, serving high net worth families and business owners. Mr. Hasling is Co-Director of his local chapter’s NexGen group within the Financial Planning Association – a group dedicated to helping young professionals with their personal growth and continuing education. Mr. Hasling attended Texas Tech University, receiving a degree in Personal Financial Planning and a minor in economics. In addition to his CFP® designation, Mr. Hasling also earned the IRS Enrolled Agent certification, which marks one of the highest degrees in tax education.

Jonathan Short, CMA, MBADirector of Revenue Management – Wine & Spirits, Constellation Brands

Jonathan Short joined Constellation Brands in 2008 to build out the company’s Grape Strategy capabilities. He was responsible for optimizing the $0.5 Billion spend on Constellation’s annual grape and bulk wine purchases and 12,000 acres of internally farmed fruit. Since 2014 Jon has worked in his current role where he manages pricing and promotional effectiveness for Constellation’s Wine & Spirits business. Mr. Short holds a B.A. in Economics from UCLA and an M.B.A. from UC Davis. He earned the Certified Management Accountant credential in 2016 and is the Director of Outreach for the San Francisco chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants.

Valerie Wong, MFinVice President, BlackRock

Valerie Wong, Vice President, is an Equity Index Strategist within BlackRock’s ETF and Index Investments group. Ms. Wong joined BlackRock from MSCI where she spent almost 8 years, most recently as a Senior Associate and part of the Index Client Coverage team supporting West Coast Asset Managers. Before MSCI, she served as a Financial Analyst at HSBC. She began her career as an Auditor at KPMG. Ms. Wong graduated Summa Cum Laude from the EGADE Business School (Tec de Monterey) with an MFin. She earned a B.Sc. in Accounting with a minor in Public Accounting and a B.A. in International Business with a minor in Economics from John Brown University. Ms. Wong passed Level II of the CFA Program.

Gene Yoshida, CFA, Senior Director of Enterprise Risk Management, Prosper Marketplace

Gene Yoshida is the Senior Director of Enterprise Risk Management at Prosper Marketplace and became a CFA charterholder in 2014.  Gene is a practitioner of operational, credit, and new product risk at the line and in an oversight capacity. Diverse background in asset management, insurance, real estate, and consumer finance.


Dave Kaczorowski, CFA, MBAProfessor of Finance & Program Manager, Golden Gate University

David Kaczorowski has experience in the finance industry that spans both academic and industry practice.  He is a Professor of Finance and Program Manager at Golden Gate University.  He has also worked in both equity research and portfolio management.  His most recent industry position was as lead manager of a startup family office. Prior to that position, he spent five years as an equity research associate, covering technology companies.  Dave has both a CFA charter and an MBA in Investment Management from Yale University.


$15 Member/$25 Non-Member

This event qualifies for 1.5 hours of continuing education credit for CFA Charterholders.

*Lunch Provided.

Register Now >>

How do you make partner at a Big4 accounting firm and how long does it take?

Authors: Fred Sroka, Dean of the GGU School of Accounting & Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation; Richard G. Carson, Senior Adjunct Professor, GGU; Wendell Hutchinson, Associate Professor, GGU.


Only 10% of the people who start with a public accounting firm ultimately make it to partner, but whatever time you spend in public accounting will pay dividends throughout the rest of your career. What skills does it take to make partner at an accounting firm and how long does it take? The authors of this post — Dell Hutchinson, Rich Carson, and Fred Sroka — are all retired “Big Four” partners who now teach for Golden Gate University. Here they share their perspectives on accounting career paths and planning.

What is a public accounting firm?

Public accounting firms are amazing service organizations. Unlike most of corporate America, you don’t report to a single boss. Instead, you likely will have many assignments with many different supervisors. This can be both a blessing because you are more empowered to chart your own career and a curse because it is easy to get overlooked or overcommitted.

Timeline and Skills

Here’s a quick summary of the different levels within accounting firms and a rough timeline to chart your progress along the way:

Associate: For the first 2 or 3 years of your career, you’ll be classified as an “associate”. That means you spend a lot of time doing what other people tell you to do. The learning curve is steep and the hours are long. Since you are reporting to maybe 5 supervisors, you have to learn how to budget your time, ask questions, and manage the expectations of people above you. The most important skill — for associates and on throughout your career — is your ability to communicate clearly, honestly, and effectively.

As to how far up the ladder you climb, who knows? However, unlike many other career paths, public accounting empowers you to chart your own course and provides a wide range of exciting alternatives…

Senior: After 2 or 3 years in public accounting, you should have developed the skills necessary to be “in charge” of a project”. That’s when you’re promoted to “senior associate”. The good news is that you now have associates below you, which gives you much more control and leverage. The bad news is that you need much better management skills to manage your time, your staff’s time, and your client’s expectations–all on multiple projects. Seniors tend to have the highest stress levels, and many talented professionals quit during their senior years because of the pressure.

Manager: If you’ve survived to year 5 or 6, project management has become a core skill. You’re now ready to move on to overall relationship management. As a manager, you are expected to work closely with the client to make sure that all the individual projects run smoothly, are delivered on time and are delivered on budget. Along with better project management and relationship management skills, your technical skills should rise another level as well. While seniors are expected to be able to spot errors, managers are expected to be able to spot risks and opportunities!·

Senior Manager or Director: While the promotion schedule is pretty consistent from associate through manager roles, the time required to move higher up the organizational chart varies widely. Somewhere after 8 years, you may be ready to move on to practice management. Managing a practice requires great technical skills, solid project management skills, good people and relationship management skills, and an ability to build teams and systems that can serve multiple clients effectively. Senior managers and directors are often subject matter experts in fields such as international tax, state and local tax, mergers and acquisitions. They run many client relationships and also help coordinate staff development and serve as technical resources for other teams.

In addition to communication, here is a list of needed skills as you climb the ladder:
Time Management
Project Management
Stress Management
Managing Client Expectations
Technical skills (audit, tax, consulting or a variety of other specialties)
Building teams and systems that can serve multiple clients effectively
Spotting risks and business opportunities
Meeting with current and prospective clients to sell services
Mentorship, growing professional staff, and building the firm’s culture for success
Dealing with urgent issues and managing the firm’s legal, professional, and ethical responsibilities

Partner: When are you ready to make partner or principal? Nowadays in the “Big Four” accounting firms (Deloitte, PwC [formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers], EY [formerly Ernst & Young], KPMG) 12 years is considered early, 15 years might be average; and some folks may take a little longer. Partners own the business, share in the profits, and have the ultimate ownership of all client relationships. It seems like the end of the professional road, but frankly it’s just another milestone in your professional development. As a partner, you’re partially architect (watching the market and designing your firm’s services to meet changing demand); partially a salesman (meeting with current and prospective clients to sell services); partially a fireman (dealing with urgent issues and managing the firm’s legal, professional, and ethical responsibilities); and partially a mentor (growing the professional staff and building the firm’s culture for success).

What accounting career paths are there?

Few millennials are confident of their career path 15 years into the future. Happily, you don’t need to commit to any single firm up front. The skills and personal brand built up in your first 5 years will produce dividends for the rest of your life, whether in public accounting or working in a corporate environment.

If you like people, like solving problems, and are willing to work hard, then public accounting can be a very rewarding career. As to how far up the ladder you climb, who knows? However, unlike many other career paths, public accounting empowers you to chart your own course, and provides a wide range of exciting alternatives (public accounting, private industry, government, nonprofit and academia) the further you climb up the mountain.

Request information about GGU’s master’s degrees in accounting >>

Accounting Graduates Share Advice, Experience About Their Chosen Career Paths (Video)

If you are interested in starting a career in accounting or getting promoted to a senior position, this video features alumni of the Master of Science in Accounting program who are working in IT consulting, forensic accounting, and auditing at KPMG — one of the Big Four accounting firms. The graduates were asked:

  • Why did you pursue the career?
  • What is your job like?
  • How did GGU prepare you?
  • What advice they can you offer people considering an accounting career?

Here is some of what they said:

Dan Haigh, Senior Financials Consultant, Appirio (’16)

“I decided a Master’s-level degree at GGU would help me because, as a consultant with different clients, having many classes to choose from would put me at a different level than my peers. I applied the things I learned almost immediately.”

Justin Hibbard, Forensic Accounting, Forward Forensics (‘14)

“The great thing about GGU is that you have practitioners teaching.  So I might be learning how to assess damages with someone who is working on a case like that during the day.”

Stephanie Dodge, First-Year Associate, KPMG (’16)

“Associates to the bulk of the test work and the seniors will do organizing, planning, and review work. Promotion to a senior position takes about two years. The energy you need in the cohort program is same as when you are working and need to push through the busy season. It is challenging, but rewarding.”

Request information about GGU’s master’s degrees in accounting >>


GGU Helped Me Get Hired by a “Big Four” Accounting Firm in San Francisco

By Noah Lee, Master of Accountancy (’18)

Golden Gate University is different than my undergrad school, UC Berkeley. Cal has definitely helped me build my fundamental foundation in learning and thinking, while the Master of Accountancy program at GGU taught real-world skills.

I was skeptical at first, because there is only so much you can mimic professional situations, right? However, as I began interviewing for internships at Big Four accounting firms (that include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers), I could tailor my answers to show my grasp of what the job really entails. Getting the job as an Audit Intern at one of the Big Four companies was the most satisfying proof that I learned something relevant.

For example, we had to deliver a mock board presentation as part of a course called Communication and Analysis of Financial Information for Accountants. Professor Ric Jazaie (GGU’s Director of Accounting Programs), gave us a mock budget and challenged us to answer the client’s question: What should we do; and why are our numbers the way they are? Up front, we had to learn (on our own) the textbook terms that you might find in an academic class and go right to applying them.

I took inspiration from Prof. Jazaie, who knows what the skills employers are looking for in the accounting field.

Prof. Jazaie gave us barely enough instructions for the presentations, which was slightly unnerving. Aggregating all the broad ideas he gave us and having to narrow it down was our task. We had to decide what we wanted to portray to our audience—and be ready to say why. The reasoning for the assignment is that you may not get all of what you need or get something ambiguous from a client. In the same way, traditional school is different than a business setting where you must eventually succeed.

Prof. Jazaie asked us questions after the presentation that he did not give us in advance. He has a lot of experience giving presentations in court and in front of clients. He wanted to make us feel like we didn’t know what to expect and it brought out the best in us.  Because he threw us into high-pressure moments, we just got used to it.

What did we learn in the Communication and Analysis of Financial Information course?

  • Differentiating what is presentation versus what is casual conversation
  • Critical thinking, which means deciding what is important from hundreds of facts
  • When questioned, coming up with a reasonable explanation without overreaching
  • Having a story to tell rather than just a report of findings, which means linking company strategy to financial statements

I took inspiration from Prof. Jazaie, who knows what the skills employers are looking for in the accounting field. He really opened my eyes to the profession and inspired me when he said that as an accountant, “what you are doing is really impacting the company.” That was great to hear.

Request information about GGU’s master’s degrees in accounting >>

What is Forensic Accounting? Hear from This GGU Student in a New Video

Joey Byers will graduate this year with a Bachelor of Science in Business with an Accounting Concentration. One of his aspirations is to pursue fraud cases as a forensic accountant for a government agency. In this short video, he discusses his attraction to forensic accounting: “a field in which you become a number detective.”

Byers’ next step is to tackle the forensic accounting concentration in GGU’s Master of Science in Accounting program. The concentration was designed by Director of Accounting Programs Ric Jazaie, a veteran of forensic investigations at the FBI and his consulting firm.

Request information about GGU’s accounting programs >>

An Accounting Master’s Degree in One Year for This Golden Gate University Student

Joe Byers is taking advantage of the option of finishing a Master’s Degree in Accounting in less than a year at GGU. This opportunity is available only to students like Joe who have a BS from GGU with an accounting concentration. Known as the Path2CPA program, it allows undergraduate coursework to be applied to the graduate level. Students also get to skip GRE and the graduate school application process.


Communication Skills for Accountants: Lessons from GGU’s Director of Accounting Programs

cropped-ggu-outside3.jpgRic Jazaie has given presentations throughout his career to senior leadership at the CIA, FBI, in judicial proceedings, and at his own Forensic Accounting practice. “You are always presenting as an accountant to large and small groups and communicating with people one-on-one. The era of the guy in the green visor and the lamp is over,” he says.

Accountants and auditors communicate daily with their clients and constituents. Jazaie says: “Communication skills, analytical skills, and critical thinking are the most important skills accountants can possess and develop—in that order. Clients look to us for answers to help clients achieve their goals.”

Jazaie has used his communication skills to influence successful prosecutions of terrorist financiers as an FBI agent/analyst, loan servicing companies at the FBI, and even small Bay Area nonprofits as the head of a consulting firm. Students get a direct pipeline to these techniques in Jazaie’s Communication and Analysis of Financial Information for Accountants course.

“One of my students in the communications class came back from an interview at a Big4 accounting firm,” he says. “He told me that he asked the interviewers what they seek in a candidate. They said critical-thinking skills and communication. He could put a tangible work product from the communication class on the table and discuss those principles. They were very impressed. He was beyond himself with excitement.”

We asked Jazaie to list his 10 most important communication skills…

  • Storytelling: “You want to get your audience excited and tell them a story. The presentation should be as interesting as a hearing about an interesting first date from a friend. Tell the story through your analysis of financial information.”
  • Eye Contact: “For example, when you answer a question in court, you turn and look directly at the jurors in the eyes. They love that.”
  • Be Credible: “If you are asked a question, it’s OK to say, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I took a different approach.’ Never, ever, lie about the facts. Our credibility in this profession is of utmost importance.”
  • Understand their point of view: “It is also important to be an active listener and hear the other points of views in a discussion with the people you are presenting to.”
  • Pace Yourself: “Your audience, especially a jury, needs time to process the information so you don’t need to talk quickly.”
  • Clear visuals: “Accountants for the prosecution on a grand jury were able to make a two-slide presentation that connected essential numbers (slide one) to the law (slide two). They proved that the prosecution had a strong case.”
  • Communicate the solution: “Clients that hire auditors/accountants want to know what controls should be in place to prevent fraud. You need to have a simple answer.”
  • Be friendly: “Your audience, whether clients or jurors, want to see a friendly and generally happy accountant. Your audience will not respond well to you when they see an angry and argumentative person in front of  them.”
  • Confidence: “It is important to be confident when you present. Confidence does not mean arrogance. In fact, to the contrary, a confident accountant is one who has done his or her homework and is prepared to respond to questions.”
  • Feedback: “Being able to appropriately give and receive feedback is an important communication skill.”

Before job interviews or professional presentations, students must get past Jazaie as an audience. When they present their analyses and recommendations to the class, he deducts points for loss of eye contact and wants to see them apply what they learned from his experience. He says: “They need to make mistakes at GGU because at the Big4 they expect you to be a pro by the time you get there.”

“[My Student]…could put a tangible work product from the communication class on the table and discuss those principles [at an interview]. They were very impressed. He was beyond himself with excitement.”

Jazaie continuously looks for ways to provide his students with constructive feedback during and after presentations: “Giving feedback involves giving praise as well – something as simple as saying ‘good job’ or ‘thanks for such a great presentation’ to a student can greatly increase motivation.” Jazaie’s students have impressed him with their ability to apply what he teaches: “They continue to amaze me with their creativity and analysis of difficult financial information and their ability to present their points of views.”


Communicating one-on-one is crucial to audits and investigations. By taking the attitude of a helper, a series of conversations can make a difference. “The process of Forensic Accounting is to keep turning rocks until you run out of rocks. Then you look for patterns in the soil. Then you find another rock. Somewhere in there you find your next lead. That’s where the excitement is. Forensic accounting is like solving a large jigsaw puzzle. That is, you have clues everywhere, but you have to think logically and methodically and try to fit the pieces perfectly to build the bigger picture.”

Ric Jazaie has a master’s degree in Accounting from Golden Gate University (’15) with a concentration in Forensic Accounting.

Request information about GGU’s accounting programs >>


Accomplished Finance Professional Stays on Top of His Game at GGU

“Why would I go back to school? That’s what everyone asks me!” It’s a legitimate question for Marc Loupé, who has more than 25 years of experience and has worked in global-level roles in accounting and finance. After a few years at Deloitte as an external auditor, he progressed from positions in internal auditing, financial planning and analysis, and controllership roles. Most recently, he was CFO of AAA of Northern California, Nevada & Utah. As he transitions from corporate financial management to a consulting practice, he wants more education to keep performing at the highest level.

“When people are younger,” Loupé says, “they think they get a degree and finish their education. As people mature, they have a better appreciation that learning is continuous. You always want to stay on the top of your game, and the best way to do that is to be in (or close to) classroom interaction with other students and business counterparts.”

There is an ongoing requirement in business to communicate effectively and use current and proven tools to accentuate a presentation. There is always a missed opportunity to improve communication skills. You don’t want to fall back into habits that may not be effective.

GGU’s reputation in the accounting field—as well as its instructors who demonstrate their real-world application of theory—persuaded Loupé to start its master’s degree in accounting program. For example, the Accounting Research and Communication course informs students how to make presentations more effective by using technical tools with clarity. Loupé also notes: “It also helps one to consider the audience’s background and familiarity with the presented content.”

Loupé’s team was challenged to present a written and oral presentation about how Chipotle could raise its stock price after the E. Coli scandal. The group presented a solution that addressed marketing, supply chain, public relations, and product development. “We were taught the specific Excel automation commands that are useful to summarize data for an audience,” says Loupé. “I also learned from other students who used some of the newer tools, such as Prezi.”

Communication in Real-World Situations

Loupé says good communication is about being clear and succinct, noting: “A presenter should never conclude with the audience saying: ‘You lost me in translation.’” To present effectively, you need to listen and communicate so clients can engage in a conversation to achieve the ultimate answer. Ultimately, as financial and business consultants, we are solution providers.”

More about Mark Loupé

Marc Loupé is a Partner at CFOs2Go, which provides CFO advisory services in finance and accounting on an interim and consulting basis and recruitment for direct hire positions.

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