Darryl Ucheya is looking to speak up for his peers.
A tax associate at Big Four firm KPMG in Atlanta, Ucheya oversees his own blog, Shrewd CPA, where the 24-year-old covers the topics that are important to him and his fellow young professionals, with a special focus on the CPA Exam.
"The content on our blog is for ... accounting students who are trying to get to the promised land of the Big Four Firms, aspiring CPA candidates who are unsure what it takes to pass the CPA Exam, [and] current CPA candidates who are sitting for the exam, and need to hear from someone who has been there and done that," Ucheya writes on his site.
He has also amassed a following of over 12,000 users on LinkedIn, where he shares his views on a wide array of career topics. He's also been a featured guest on the Future of Accounting Podcast with Danetha Doe, served on the AICPA Scholarship Committee, and has written additional blog posts for Roger CPA Review and Medium.
We recently sat down with Ucheya and to discuss the big issues surrounding young pros like himself.
What made you first want to become an accountant?
I settled on accounting out of sheer practicality. I grew up wanting to become an airline pilot, but for various reasons I couldn’t go through with it. Additionally, I decided that if I wasn’t going the STEM route, accounting was the degree that would provide the best employment opportunity. So, I ran with it.
What do you consider to be the most important topics in accounting today for people your age? What have you found young professionals are expected to know?
I’m 24, so people my age are typically a year or two into their careers. Thus, we should be excited for and worried about automation and artificial intelligence because our roles are at the most risk for redundancy.
In the value pyramid, while young professionals play a pivotal role, we provide the least amount of direct technical value. I surely hope that my peers are paying attention and setting themselves up for success, because change happens fast.
The technical aspects of the profession are a given between college and the CPA Exam. After at least four years of college, we’re expected to know the basics. The rest, we learn on the job, in practice. Additionally, we’re expected to be team players and independent at the same time. We’re expected to be curious and also problem-solvers.
What was your inspiration behind creating Shrewd CPA?
Shrewd CPA came from noticing a lack of nuance in the “How to Pass the CPA Exam” advice on the internet. It was all “study, practice, and say goodbye to your social life." There’s more to the exam experience, and I decided to cover that since no one else was doing it.
I talk about squeezing in an episode of "House of Cards" on Netflix in between studying and using a fidget spinner to keep my mind from wandering as I listened to lectures. You know -- “nuance.”
The CPA Exam is a big topic in your writings. What are your feelings on the exam today? What do you think it does well, and what needs improvement?
I can tell you what my feelings were when I took the exam in 2017 — I was not a fan. It’s a grueling experience, and perhaps rightly so. The current format certainly tests candidates' abilities to deliver under pressure, which is expected in the profession. I think it’s a sufficient test and I don’t have any issues with its current format.
Where do you hope to see the profession move towards over the next decade? What should a professional 10 years from now be equipped with, concerning knowledge and know-how?
We’re going to progressively perform less of the tedious work and more of technical tasks to provide direct accounting value.
Therefore, 12-year-olds who would grow up to become accountants in a decade would be more equipped to manage impending technological advances because they’ve grown up with technology unlike any other generation. In addition to that, the necessary problem-solving capability and a general curiosity would never cease to be valuable.
"Accountants to Watch" highlights standout members of the profession who are striving to push accounting forward. If you or someone you know would like to be considered, send a submission to AcToday@sourcemedia.com with the subject line "Accountants to Watch."
See these recent installments:
- Professor and accounting tech advocate Dr. Sean Stein Smith
- Millennial financial planner Cortlon Cofield
- Newly-elected NJCPA president Sarah Krom
- The Daily CPA editor Jeremias Ramos