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P&A Grant Thornton Topnotchers


The COVID-19 pandemic stalled many of their plans, but it did not deter three of P&A Grant Thornton’s scholars from pursuing their dream of being Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).

Emmanuel Jerusalem of Bicol, Christian Dominic Amoncio of Davao, and Ron Niño Loon of Cebu even placed sixth, seventh, and ninth, respectively, in the CPA Licensure Examination held last May.

The newly minted CPAs joined P&A Grant Thornton -- one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the country -- as tax and audit associates across its different provincial offices. Amid an abundance of offers from other firms and private companies, they said they have chosen P&A mainly for the corporate culture and feedback from peers.

“I’ve seen this culture at work as early as my student days. University partnerships show P&A Grant Thornton cares about students and their future in the industry. Experience-wise, I know I’ll learn a lot from the firm,” said Niño, who aspires to build an emergency fund, travel to various places, and expand his mother’s house from his own earnings.

P&A Grant Thornton provided scholarship grants to the three as part od its continuing support for accounting and audit professionals. Under its "Go Beyond" campaign, P&A seeks to help open new avenues for the professional growth of its people -- now a thousand-strong with 24 partners across its nationwide network-- on top of its core audit and assurance, tax and compliance, advisory, outsourcing and managed services.

Behind their successful trek to the top 10 of the CPA board exams, all three had to contend with their own personal struggles that almost scuttled the pursuit of their dream.

Niño postponed full-time studying for the CPA exams to work online as a financial planning assistant. “When you think of financial difficulties and just the overall pressure to perform well, the pandemic really had a strong effect on mental health,” he said. He finished his accountancy degree (magna cum laude) from University of San Carlos. He was solely supported by his mother.

This was also true in the case of Jerusalem who had to earn his keep as an online tutor after his father stopped working as a vendor due to quarantine restrictions.

For Amoncio, mental exhaustion crept in after the exam got canceled twice (October 2020 and May 2021), and cancellation rumors started swirling again in late 2021 due to rising COVID cases. “Being self-motivated personally helped me get through the challenges of COVID and become more productive and effective in my review and work. This skill also plays a role in the increase in the exam passing rate,” said Amoncio, a summa cum laude from Ateneo de Davao University.

The national passing rate in the May 2022 exam is at 22.29 percent compared with October 2021's 15.28 percent.

In the age of automation

As auditors, “It’s crucial that we are able to adapt to new situations, like what recent lockdowns taught us,” Niño added.

It’s not just disruptions in health and mobility that the board topnotchers are anticipating in the field. They also recognize technological disruptions and potential threats that artificial intelligence and other forms of digitization pose to the profession.

For Jerusalem, a cum laude graduate of Bicol University in Daraga, Albay, the automation of mundane tasks and repetitive actions in accountancy is already well underway. Still, “accountants offer the ability to make informed decisions, which AI cannot,” he said.

Auditors remain relevant as one cannot fully automate problem solving and critical thinking, especially in how they lend credibility and integrity to the financial reports of companies and organizations, said Amoncio, highlighting the need for ethical professionals in the industry amid robotic and digital tools and processes.

In the coming years, P&A Grant Thornton expect client demand for digitalization to exponentially grow. This is where newly minted CPAs are seen to play a big role. “By going beyond number crunching, we add more value to our clients’ businesses and become a force for social good,” said Jess Obana, senior managing consultant of P&A Grant Thornton's advisory services division.


As published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, dated 04 July 2022

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