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Boomerang Spotlight: Armand Capisciolto

In the first of our Alumni spotlights, we sit down with Armand Capisciolto, who began his career at BDO Canada as a Staff Accountant.

Armand returned to BDO in 2002 as a Senior Manager and stayed with the firm for 20 years before moving on to his current role as the Chair of the Canadian Accounting Standards Board. Armand discussed why he returned to BDO, stayed for many years, and offered advice for young accountants early in their careers.

What was the most memorable thing that you learned early in your career working as a Staff Accountant at BDO Canada? And what are you most proud of achieving during that time?

One of the biggest lessons I learned early on in my career was that things will go wrong and that's OK.

My first audit was a disaster. Two weeks into my first work term, the audit senior asked me not to continue for the second week of an out-of-town audit. I was left feeling discouraged, and I wondered if I was really meant for this job.

Although failure is inevitable, it's how you respond to that failure and the lessons learned from your mistakes that define you as a professional.

Looking back, I'm really proud that I was able to get past those initial hurdles because they prepared me for future obstacles and even more challenging situations down the road.

How did BDO impact your career back then? And what skills did you bring to your next few job positions?

"I believe there is no better place to learn than BDO. The variety of clients I encountered early on was instrumental to the success I've had in my career."

In the early days, I worked with a few clients who didn't have the best bookkeeping practices, often coming in with boxes of receipts. It required a lot of journal entries and sorting through their accounts. Going deep into the details and understanding the basics of debits and credits was critical. I still apply those skills today, using T-accounts and taking a step-by-step approach to determine the necessary journal entries.

It was through these experiences that I developed my passion for the technical side of accounting. Being exposed to a variety of clients and getting into the weeds gave me the accounting skills that I've used throughout my career.

You rejoined BDO in 2002 in a more senior role and stayed for 20 years, ultimately taking on the role of National Accounting Standards Partner. Throughout this period, what skills did you develop and refine?

As I advanced in my career, I learned that while the fundamentals of accounting were still important, gaining a deep understanding of your clients' business and appreciating the types of transactions that occur within it is equally important.

I began to prioritize understanding the companies and organizations I worked with, their goals, and the nature of their operations before looking at the accounting aspect.

I often tell others that it's impossible to figure out the accounting if you don't have a solid understanding of the transactions and the business itself. As I progressed in my career, this realization became even more vital, and it shaped how I approached my work.

What brought you back to BDO and why did you stay for 20 years?

I can pinpoint two crucial factors. Firstly, the sense of community that BDO fosters and the significant role it plays in the communities it operates in. This sense of community is an integral part of BDO's identity and is something that really resonated with me.

However, equally as important was the opportunity to engage in interesting and impactful work in a flexible and remote capacity. I was able to work remotely from my community in Sault Ste. Marie for the National office. The combination of being able to do the type of work I enjoyed and living where I chose to live was incredibly important to me and was a key reason for my decision to stay with the firm for many years.

I appreciate the sense of community and flexibility that BDO provides its employees, and I believe that these values are fundamental to the organization's culture and will continue to drive its future success.

You've been an active member on numerous boards and organizations, how did you balance that with a full-time job at BDO?

First and foremost, I want to emphasize how supportive BDO is of partners and staff contributing to their communities and to the accounting profession in meaningful ways. BDO actively encouraged and supported these efforts, making it an integral part of my job as a partner.

What was particularly valuable to me was the ability to bring back the knowledge and insights gained from these organizations and apply them to my day-to-day work at BDO. Whether it was serving as a volunteer member of the Accounting Standards Board or engaging in other initiatives, I always saw it as an essential aspect of my role at BDO.

The firm's unwavering support for these endeavors is a clear example of its commitment to the personal and professional development of its people.

What advice do you have for the young accountants out there just starting their careers?

I strongly recommend focusing on understanding the businesses you work with.

Armand Capisciolto
"From my perspective, the most crucial aspect of the audit process is having an in-depth knowledge of the company. When you fully understand the business of your client, the audit becomes much more intriguing, and you begin to gain a deeper insight into the organization as a whole."

I worked with a diverse range of companies and encountered unusual transactions, which helped me gain extensive business acumen beyond my accounting skills. This knowledge will help you succeed, whether you are striving to become an audit partner, take on an advisory role, or opt to work for another organization.

I'd also tell accountants early in their careers, that it's OK to leave an organization and it's OK to come back. Remember to embrace learning opportunities regardless of the organization you are working with.

Working at BDO was a tremendously rewarding experience, not just professionally but personally as well. I hope that every person who works with BDO feels as proud of their achievements as I do.

With two months as the Chair at Canada’s Accounting Standards Board, Armand now regularly shares insights into the rewarding work that he does in accounting standard setting. Follow his journey on LinkedIn.

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