UF accounting students test skills at six-week competition


Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

An international audit, tax and financial advisory firm is holding its first student auditing competition and students in the University of Florida's Fisher School of Accounting have been selected to participate in the six-week competition, which began Monday.

UF was one of 22 schools selected for the six-week competition by KPMG. The contest forces students to confront and handle real-life auditing dilemmas.

"The students will receive just-in-time firm training to help de-mystify some of the highly technical, judgment-laden accounting and auditing requirements for difficult transactions," said Tim Bell, KPMG's Global Services Centre director of academic research. "They will receive feedback after solutions are uploaded to help complete the learning loop and bring teams to a common understanding before undertaking the next module."

The five top teams will be invited to New York on April 16 to make presentations to a panel of judges composed of professors, scholars, audit committee members and KPMG partners. The top prize, which will be awarded to the school's accounting department, is $25,000. Second place will receive $15,000 and third will receive $10,000. Each member of the five finalist teams will receive $2,500, and all students participating and completing the modules will receive $500.

The competition is divided into three modules that contain multiple parts. KPMG has designed software and multimedia presentations to simulate the auditing process for the students. Partner mentor videos, audio, PowerPoint slides and simulated e-mail will be used to provide background information and instructions for required audit activities.

UF's team is made up of Robert Lee, a fifth-year student; Sam Hadley, a fourth-year student; Lauren Wencel, a third-year student; and Kelly Popielinski, a second-year student. Bob Tucker, an auditing instructor in the Fisher School of Accounting, is the group's sponsor.

"It's great to be one of the 22 schools selected by KPMG to be a part of this program," Tucker said. "We want to make this a part of the curriculum to help students get the real-life experience of what auditing is about."

Tucker hopes KPMG will not only continue with the auditing competition, but also that it will become part of a capstone class giving students the ability to practice auditing skills, he said.

"It's difficult to replicate the auditing environment to the students because of client confidentiality," he explained.

The four students selected to participate had to meet the criteria given by KPMG. They must have both a cumulative and accounting grade point average of 3.2. The students are not allowed to receive any faculty input on their modules.

"This is a great opportunity for the school," Tucker said. "It's great that KPMG is taking such an interest in the students and wants to provide them with a higher quality of education. And we are glad our students were willing to take the time to participate in this. We are very optimistic about our chances."

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