A Day in the Life at Calibre CPA Group-
Mark Batliner, CPA, CFE, and Audit Partner
What is your title? Why did you get into public accounting?
I am an Audit Partner in our New York office, and I’ve been in accounting for about 22 years. Prior to relocating to New York, I was part of our Chicago office. It doesn’t matter if I tell people that I’m a CPA, an accountant, or an auditor, the response is always the same: “Oh, you like numbers!” Yes, it’s true. In school, I did like math more than English, but honestly the financial and career growth opportunities were the numbers I liked most. That is initially why I got into public accounting.
What are three things you do every day? Do you have any morning “rituals”?
I’m not really a fan of routines. I prefer variety and spontaneity. For me, more important than keeping up any three daily rituals is trying to keep faith, family, and work the top three priorities in my life.
What has kept you in the public accounting field for so many years?
I usually joke that if had any other talent I would be doing something else, but I really do enjoy what I do. The variation in the daily schedule is a big reason. No two days are the same and there are always new challenges. Also, our client base is easy to embrace because they are working hard on behalf of their members and participants as well as doing great work for important causes. Working with our staff and training people is especially rewarding. I’ve always wanted the people I oversee to learn as much as they can so they can move up in their careers; I’m hoping to see that career elevation here in the New York office. There’s unlimited potential for people who stay with the firm to advance and grow with us.
How do you keep up with the latest updates/trends in the accounting field?
I attend the annual Accounting and Auditing (A&A) updates and other in-house training sessions provided by Calibre. I also try to keep up with relevant topics in the Journal of Accountancy and other publications by various state CPA Societies. Besides being a CPA, I am also a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). As a CFE, I attend the ACFE Global Fraud Conference each year. This is where I strengthen my understanding of the various fraud schemes and how we can help our clients prevent and detect fraud.
What is a typical day in the office like for you?
There is no typical day. You show up at the office expecting to complete some of the items on your to-do list. Maybe you grab a cup of coffee and sit down at your desk. Then immediately sirens go off. You grab your uniform and start responding to emergencies. You never know what issue or request is going to come your way.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?
The deadlines and workload can be demanding at times. Sometimes, the most challenging part of my job is just keeping up with emails. The most rewarding part of my job is working with our staff and our clients – it’s people, not numbers that I enjoy most. Most of our clients are good people. Nonprofits are working for a good cause and unions are working hard on behalf of their members. When I’m out in the field, I actually see the clients, get to know them, and understand their needs and how we can help them.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a role like yours? Are there specific character traits or skills/certifications you should possess?
If you want to become a partner or high-level accounting position, my best advice is to first focus on passing the CPA exam as soon as you can. The amount of responsibility in both work and life only expand as your career progresses. A character trait you need throughout the journey is perseverance. When employees reach the new senior level, this can be a challenging time because when you are responsible for an audit for the first time, you may feel a lot of stress. Evaluating others and delegating is tough at first, but if you stay the course, it’s extremely rewarding. People need to consider the long-term opportunities and growth that come along with sticking it out. I always tell people to hang in there and keep sight of your opportunity to build a career at Calibre.
What bit of trivia do you know that is very interesting but also very useless?
There are 23 ways to reach first base. There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
This is not completely useless – my point is there is usually more than one way to do something. Obviously, the number and extent of audit procedures performed can and should vary depending on the client. We are not checklist-driven robots; we are auditors with professional judgement and actual intelligence. As the firm grows, we want to continue providing our clients with a consistent end product. However, there is latitude, critical thinking, and judgement in what we do. If we are too formulaic, we won’t be auditing, we’ll just be checking boxes. With machine learning and robot technology that’s coming along, we want to understand things instead of just performing tasks.