How to Succeed at a Small CPA Firm

How to Succeed at a Small CPA Firm

By: Simran Jassal
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When I first started at Thomas Chimick Ltd. I had little to no accounting experience. However, over the course of 8 months I gained knowledge that will stay with me for the rest of my accounting career. The firm, run and managed by the owner, is small in nature and is located close to Simon Fraser University. With a group of 4 it handles all aspects of tax and accounting with the only exception being audits. As accounting is very deadline driven, there is heavy emphasis on completing your own tasks, which all come together at the end to complete an assignment. Everyone is patient, supportive, and helpful which makes working here enjoyable. It is a casual and hands on work environment and offers flexibility of work hours. Since it is a small office, it’s easy to get along with everyone and build professional relationships. Towards the end of my 8-month work term we hiked the grouse grind as an office before starting our work day. This helps you to get to know your coworkers outside of the office. 

You are given a lot of responsibility with this job and will work on personal income tax returns, corporate income tax returns, and other files relating to clients. With corporate income tax returns, comes the bookkeeping component that you become proficient in by the end of the work term. I would recommend taking the two tax courses at SFU because they help in understanding the rules. Also, asking questions when help is needed is important because this is still the beginning of your career, and it is impossible to know everything right off the bat. Every file is different so spending a bit of time to understand what line of business the client is in and their business model is important to correctly allocate their expenditures. 

Some tips to excel in this job or in the general accounting field, would be time management, attention to detail, and being able to take quality notes. Time management skills are crucial in accounting, as we bill according to our time. It is important to understand where to expand time on files in order to add value, and where to streamline work if possible. I feel as if my time management skills have improved drastically, and I will not only take this skill to my future accounting career but also to my academic career. Attention to detail is another asset in accounting because you are dealing with other people’s financials, and it is imperative to not make mistakes. Finally taking quality notes helps to keep track of your questions and assumptions so it’s easier to review your work and pinpoint any queries. Towards the end of my work term I had to review all of the files I had worked on. I was able to complete these well ahead of time with the help of being able to pick up small queues from prior years. However, I had to refresh my memory as it had been a while by reading my notes so I could quickly communicate them.


Over the course of my work term I have developed great relationships with our clients by speaking with them through the phone or by email. I am very grateful for the experience I received with this job and will take my new-found knowledge with me wherever I go.

Simran is a third-year student at Simon Fraser University getting a Bachelor of Business Administration while concentrating in Accounting. Simran is constantly trying to learn new skills and increase knowledge through both professional and educational experiences. In their free time, they like to bake and read. 

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Posted on February 16, 2021