Dhillon School of Business alum makes top one per cent on CPA exam

Ryan Parks (BMgt ’17) scored in the top one per cent of candidates writing the Chartered Professional Accounting (CPA) Common Final Examination and was one of four Alberta writers named to the National Honour Roll.

“CPA Alberta called me a week before results were publicly released to give me the good news but they told me I was not allowed to tell anyone,” the University of Lethbridge, Dhillon School of Business alumnus says. “I was at work at the time and had to pretend like nothing had happened, all the while having the most ridiculous grin plastered across my face. I felt good about the exam, but I had no idea that I had done so well.”

Ryan’s success doesn’t surprise Dhillon School of Business Accounting professor Dr. Carla Carnaghan.

“Ryan always worked hard and performed well both as a student and as my teaching assistant,” she says. “I am delighted he pursued the CPA designation, and his success is well deserved.”

The Common Final Examination (CFE), the three-day exam that candidates write to demonstrate their competency in accounting, is just one step of many to becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant. Parks started with a degree in accounting, then secured a job through his co-op position at public accounting firm BDO in Lethbridge.

Parks then worked on completing required modules through the CPA Professional Education Program (PEP), working on two modules at the same time.

“That was a huge time commitment, but BDO was willing to let me take time off every day to work on my assignments,” Parks says.

The hard work paid off and Parks was able to write the CFE a full year earlier. To prepare for the CFE itself, Parks took approximately two months off work to study and hone his case-writing skills.

Parks says he now only needs to complete a certain number of hours in assurance-related services at his job, and then will be able to apply for membership as a CPA. Being so close to the membership finish line, Parks has some advice about perseverance for other students going through the process.

“Through the CPA PEP you will receive feedback from facilitators on the work you submit. Never get discouraged when the grades you are getting back from your assignment aren’t what you hoped they would be. Just learn from your mistakes and move on,” says Parks.

They’re encouraging words from a CFE writer in the top one per cent of the 6,163 people who wrote the exam.