• Our CPA Program at BDO

    Enabling professional and personal success

Cecilia Doucette, now the Manager of CPA Programs at BDO, started with the firm as a second-year Wilfrid Laurier student on a first co-op term.

"I enjoyed forensic accounting, so I kept coming back," says Cecilia of the three co-op placements she did with the Financial Advisory Services (FAS) group in Toronto.

After she graduated with her business degree from Laurier, Cecilia began working with the forensic-accounting group on a full-time basis.

Her long-term goal was to get her designation as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA); since BDO offers a pre-approved program, Cecilia could get the requisite 30 months of practical experience in her role with FAS.

One of the first to test for the then-new CPA designation―Cecilia wrote the Common Final Exam (CFE) in the second year after the Chartered Accountant (CA), Chartered General Accountant (CGA), and Chartered Management Accountant (CMA) legacy designations were amalgamated―she only needed mentorship.

"I didn't have anyone in the office I could ask," she says. "There were a lot of changes in the accounting industry, including the merger of the legacy designations, CMA, CA, CGA, and a lot of changes in the educational and practical-experience requirements toward getting your CPA that we hadn't adapted to in the firm yet," Cecilia explains.

"But, my team was really supportive of the time I took off," Cecilia says. She was afforded five weeks off to study for the exam, during which she completed Capstone 2 and an external CFE prep course.

Testing among the top one percent of writers, Cecilia made the CFE Honour Roll in 2016.

"We have a performance and bonus structure that rewards all BDO staff members who pass the CFE," Cecilia notes.

The biggest reward may have been the opportunity that emerged for Cecilia next: Manager of CPA Programs, a brand-new position at BDO. Her recent experience afforded a lot of perspective on how to adapt the program for the changing accounting profession and the changed common designation.

Under Cecilia's leadership, those testing to earn their CPA designation have access to more consistent firm-wide support―in-house under BDO's 'enabling performance' structure. CFE writers now have:

  • Formal mentorship by trained CFE coaches who are also BDO colleagues (ideally, a CPA who has successfully completed the CFE and who is based in the test-writers' home office)
  • Access to preparatory courses through BDO University and an external provider, which includes live, interactive, self-paced e-learning and virtual-classroom programs
  • Flexible time off to study for the CFE
  • Bonuses and rewards after successful completion of the CFE

CFE writers have access to the support they need to succeed―the program at BDO is flexible and focused on how each writer learns best.

Cecilia suggests, in general, opportunities at BDO tend to be much more flexible than might be expected, and offers this advice to both co-op students and CFE writers: "There is a lot of potential for you at BDO―opportunities are not limited to tax and auditing. There are roles focused on forensic accounting, consulting, and other advisory services. Leverage your network in the firm―your people leader, your mentors. Share your goals―professional and personal. Ask how the colleagues you respect and admire got to where they are now."

To get more information on co-op opportunities at BDO, click here.

To get more information on the CPA Program at BDO, click here.

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