Where public meets private
The 2013 Veris CPA Trek started before the W&M MAcc program even left town.
In keeping with our tradition of helping our students look beyond the balance sheet, we primed our students for this year’s Veris CPA Trek with a thought-provoking series of films and guest speakers. For two consecutive Fridays, we gathered at the Kimball Theater in downtown Williamsburg to watch the Frontline series “Money, Power and Wall Street” together.
We were thankful to have two expert friends to help us get the most out of this experience. Jeanette Franzel, PCAOB Board Member, with a focus on Internal Risk joined us on August 23rd and Frank Fehrenbach, Managing Director with Deutsche Bank, joined us on September 6th.
Tom White, W&M accounting professor emeritus and emcee of the event, sums it up this way: “It really helped the students get a sense of the bigger picture – how the housing crisis and credit default swaps got started and ultimately how they played into the US fiscal crisis. In turn, this allowed them to see more clearly the role of accounting and how it continues to affect today’s business environment. The questions they asked at the sessions really showed me that they were ready to delve deeper into regulatory issues – and that is exactly what they had the chance to do on the trip.”
And what a trip it was. Check out our itinerary here.
Tuesday, November 19
Our first trip off the bus was to the Top of the Town in Arlington, VA to meet with other MAcc and W&M alums. It was great to meet some of our future colleagues, and see how the alumni events can help promote networking even after we graduate.
Tyler Condello, Class of 2013, had this to say about the event, "This interaction gave us insight into what an amazing alumni network there is in the area, and what it truly means to be able to call yourself a William and Mary Alum. Many of us were able to network and obtain business contact information, and expand our networks. The main thing we were able to take away from this experience is the key insight and advice that the alumni were able to give us in regards to the area, and working in it."
Wednesday, November 20
We began our three-day marathon of meetings with a presentation at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We learned how the IMF helps facilitate expansion in trade and high levels of employment in the global economy. The speakers explained the many functions of the IMF from crisis prevention to crisis response, and their various tools to accomplish their mandates.
MAcc student Harry Boafo found his past visit in 2012 especially illuminating. "I was amazed to see how people from diverse cultures work together, with a common goal and interest, to achieve a common objective," he says.
We spent the afternoon at the William and Mary campus and learned about the tax policy and Financial Report for the US from U.S. Treasury representatives. We learned about the complexity in implementing tax policy. Scott Bell, from the U.S. Treasury, gave us a dose of reality when we learned about the financial report and the many obligations that the U.S. has accrued.
Thursday, November 21
Thursday started off in the expansive Federal Reserve Board Room. Students were able to sit around the Board Room table as we learned about the many duties of the Fed. From monetary policy to financial stability, we received a crash course in how the Fed fulfills their dual-mandate of maximizing employment and creating price stability.
Fellow student Matt Richards, Class of 2013, agrees: “Being able to sit around the Board of Governors' table and learn about current monetary policy issues is the ideal way to learn about the government's fiscal processes. The grandeur and history of that room is seriously impressive and it expresses the magnitude of the Fed's responsibilities for our nation's well-being. It's an experience that I will never forget!”
From the Fed, we trekked over to Capitol Hill where we met with Senator Michael Bennett's Chief of Staff, Jon Davidson. In true Capitol Hill style, Jon played to both sides of the aisle and elicited a rousing discussion about entitlement spending, healthcare and political posturing. He ended the session with a call for all interested accountants to consider political office.
Friday, November 22
The next morning we headed a short distance to the PCAOB. This visit was very relevant to many of the MAcc students as a large percentage of them will become CPAs and enter the audit career path. The PCAOB representatives went over some of the ongoing projects that have the potential to impact auditors going forward. In addition, PCAOB representatives walked us through issues in international accounting firm inspections.
After a short break, we headed to our last visit, the SEC. We learned about how the SEC protects investors, maintains efficiency and fairness in the markets, and facilitates capital formation.
“The overarching goal of the trip is to demonstrate the critical private sector –public sector interplay in the US economy,” Tom White explains. “And I think we did that.”
MAcc student Matt Richards sums up his experience in 2012, “One of the things I discovered from visiting all of these organizations is the range of opportunities available to accountants. Each of the organizations we visited depends upon the knowledge and experience of accountants in writing and enforcing regulations. Even Capitol Hill was sincerely interested in getting more professionals into their ranks with a financial/business background. While I am still very intent on a career in public accounting, it is exciting to know that there are many other career options available to accountants as they gain experience.”
It isn’t easy getting the whole class on the road and in the door at so many key places. But it is a project the W&M MAcc team commits to every year because it provides our students an unparalleled education.