UAF Students get down to business at accounting competition semi-finals

Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star Reporter
November 13, 2012

“You’ve joined a team running an election campaign for the next President of the United States of America. Your organization has seen its clients struggling with the financial issues faced by many Americans and you believe that your years of experience in management accounting gives you the big picture perspective needed to provide practical solutions to these issues.”

This was the challenge presented to hundreds of accounting students at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants 2012 Accounting Competition. This fall, the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Management sent two teams of UAF students to this national accounting competition.

This competition is for college students around the country and put on annually by the AICPA. Each year, hundreds of college students compete to present, in a group, their best idea for how to solve some of our country’s most prominent economical issues.

The competition is separated into three rounds: the beginning round, the semi-finals and the final round. Two UAF teams competed in the first round to place in the top 20 teams. One of the UAF teams “Nanook Accountants,” proceeded to the semi-final round. During the next round, which is being voted on at the moment, “Nanook Accountants” will be competing for a place in the top 3 teams. The final team wins a prize of $10,000 and trips to Washington D.C. Public voting for finalists will be open until November 14.

“This competition is a great resume builder, not to mention the experience of competing in a national competition,” said Ruth Prato, an Accounting Instructor in the UAF School of Management, “Here they’re competing against their buddies in the classroom, but now it’s students from all over the country.”

Each year, the competition features a different scenario to the groups, who are then expected to come up with a solution. They then present this solution to a group of professional judges in Washington, D.C. through a 1,000 word essay during the first round. This year’s challenge presented each group of students with a campaign and a their own imaginary presidential candidate. According to the AICPA website, the individual groups then developed their “candidate’s proposed solutions to address current issues as part of the candidate selection process” as well as to “outline proposals for 2 of the 3 main issues: social security, income taxes, and the deficit”.

During the second round, each group is expected to create a video presentation expanding on one of the previous three ideas they chose at the beginning of the competition. The Nanook Accountants chose to expand on their thoughts regarding the national deficit. Some of these solutions included enforcing compliance auditing for government entitled programs, as well as increasing the amount of eduction American youth receives regarding national issues. By increasing their eduction and understanding of these issues, Nanook Accountants hope these students will then develop skills needed to deal with the financial future that they have inherited.

“We’re really proud of them,” said Amy Cooper,  Term Instructor of Accounting. “The competition has been a huge undertaking and they’re exceeded my expectations every step of the way.”

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