Mail From Across The Miles

I like having this one as my 500th post.

Dear re: The Auditors Readers,

My name is James Ford and I am currently residing in Itapúa, Paraguay. On the suggestion of Francine, I am writing you today to tell you a little about myself, how I found this blog, and why I continue to come back and recommend it to others.

I hold a BS in Accounting from the University of Connecticut and am starting my Masters at the same school this month. As an undergraduate I was president of my chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an honors business fraternity, and had extensive contact with the accounting industry in Connecticut. During my undergraduate career I had the opportunity to do an internship. Although I interviewed with several firms, I found myself pulled toward the allure of a Big 4 experience. I chose to pursue a tax internship, as opposed to most of my fellow students who went into audit, because I believe that anyone, no matter their level within the firm, can be proficient if they study and become knowledgeable in the code and regulations.

I started my Big 4 internship in January 2005 and worked until I had to return to school in the fall. I had experience preparing supporting documentation, worksheets, and tax returns for corporations and high net worth individuals. I also lived through the busy season, with winter being what it is in Connecticut, not getting to see the sun on some days. Altogether, though, it was fun and new and a great experience.

After graduation, however, I decided that I was not ready to accept an offer for full time employment. At 21 years old is anyone ready to sit in a cubicle all day? I had known a few former Peace Corps volunteers and ended up joining Peace Corps Paraguay as a Rural Economic Development Volunteer. In this role I have had the opportunity to teach proper accounting and control techniques and to help prepare the financial statements for a small cooperative. I learned, first hand, how important control is in a country that is constantly rated among the worst transgressors by Transparency International.

As my service comes to an end this fall, I have considered my options and decided to return to the Big 4 firm where I was an intern. Due to my interest in international assignments and my preference for working with clients in more of a face to face environment, a tax partner recommended that I enter the firm in an audit role. I was told that there were always opportunities abroad for auditors and that it would help me develop a good background working with the financial statements, which would make switching to another department such as tax or advisory easier if I wanted to.

Although I look forward to the new environment and transition, I do worry. My friends from school are now a couple of years into their lives as auditors and complain about their lack of free time. Even the tax partner who recommended that I start in audit told me that he had hated it as a new associate with the firm. It will be a bit of a change of pace to say the least.

I found the blog re: The Auditors when I was contacted by Francine through I had mentioned a New York Times story about New Century and KPMG, which she had been writing about. I found that she had done consulting in South America and that we both hold similar interests in culture, travel, and corporate responsibility. We’ve started a correspondence via Twitter, gmail and instant messaging. It’s pretty amazing to both of us that it’s so easy given where I am. 

Although I’ve only recently come across her blog, I have quickly taken a liking to both its content and presentation and find myself checking back frequently for updates. Francine’s insights into the accounting practice are sharp, witty, and well thought out. I continue to check back on re: The Auditors for both the stories and the links to other sources, many of which I have also found very interesting and continue to check. I believe that having a resource such as re: The Auditors will help my transition back to be that much easier. Based on Francine’s recommendation, I have already been more proactive in getting in touch with the firm where I intend to be working so as to be a little more prepared for the move. I want to congratulate Ms. McKenna for a great service that she provides that I look forward to following no matter where in the world I might end up next.

Check out my web page if you’re interested in learning more about my work, Paraguay or the Peace Corps.

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  1. […] Cathleen and I met via Twitter.  Two girls with a sharp sense of humor were bound to find each other.  We have a favorite Chinese restaurant now, one we visit any time I’m in New York City. It’s cheap, it’s casual, and it’s near her place. Last month we put a group together after the FEI Conference that included Steve Burkholder of BNA – we were toasting the memory of our mutual friend Susan Webster – Matt Kelly of Compliance Week, Stacy-Marie Ishmael of the Financial Times and my favorite tax professional, CPA, anarchist who used to be a Peace Corp volunteer. […]

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