The AICPA announced on Thursday the opening of its 2015 AICPA Accounting Competition. The sixth annual competition, which will award a total of $40,000 to the winning teams, challenges undergraduate students to work together as management accountants to help a business hone their strategic plan, analyzing complex financial issues and recommending strategies for growth and continued success.

This year’s three-part competition involves a fictional independent company called Gizmo Toys, Inc. based in Joliet, Ill. The company needs help deciding their strategic direction as they move forward in several areas of their business. Entries must be submitted before 2:59 pm ET on September 28. Subsequently, qualifying teams will receive two more increasingly difficult challenges confronting Gizmo Toys, testing their ability to provide sound financial advice to guide the company through rough times.

“This year, we’re asking students to take on the role of management accountants. In this instance, that means stepping in and helping a business in crisis emerge profitable,” said Joanne Fiore, AICPA vice president of professional media, pathways and inclusion, in a statement. “Management accountants add value to companies by analyzing financial information and other data and developing innovative business strategies for long-term success. This case is fitting because – while challenging – it mirrors the job that CPAs working in businesses do every day.”

Fifteen teams will be selected from the first-round submissions as the semi-finalists for the competition. The top three teams will each earn $10,000 as well as a trip package to present their cases to an executive panel of judges at the AICPA’s offices in North Carolina. Faculty advisors will accompany their teams to support them as they present. The teams will compete for a first place prize of $5,000, a second place prize of $3,000 or a third place prize of $2,000 to be awarded to their schools.

Teams must be comprised of three or four currently-enrolled, fulltime undergraduate students that attend a 2-year or 4-year institution in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and/or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Two students must be declared accounting majors, one of which must serve as the team captain. The remaining students can be from any other field of study. Teams have the option of selecting an advisor who must be a faculty member or a graduate student at a 2-year or 4-year institution, or a local CPA who is a member of the AICPA.

“Participating in the AICPA Accounting Competition last year was an invaluable experience for the students,” stated Daniel Siciliano, lecturer and internship coordinator, dept. of accounting at the University of Las Vegas Nevada, and Faculty Advisor to the Rebel-ations, 2014 winners of the AICPA Accounting Competition. “Our team learned that management accountants who serve as financial executives need to be very well-versed in operations and have the ability to make decisions quickly in a fast-paced and uncertain environment. I believe the competition prepares students for real world challenges and demonstrates the importance of accountants as strategic business advisors. While the competition involved a lot of hard work, we always had fun and I do not think we fully realized how much we learned until it was all over.” 

The competition’s finals awards are funded by the AICPA Foundation.

For more information on the competition, head to the AICPA's site here