Meet our National Honour Roll Candidate

February 10, 2020

Meet Clayton Smith, the PEI Candidate who achieved his place on the National Honour Roll!


What was your reaction when you found out you achieved a place on the National Honour Roll? 
Finding out I was on the National Honour Roll sent me into a brief period of shock and I still cannot quite believe it even now. After spending four months waiting for results, I had prepared myself for the worst and when the news finally came it was surreal. The CFE was the culmination of 12 years of grade school, 4 years of university, and 2 years of the CPA program, 75 percent of my life. To pass at all would have been a relief, but to finish on the national honour roll made the hard work and dedication put into the process so much more worth it. 

Why did you choose to become a CPA? 
I chose to pursue my CPA early on. My father had taken accounting in school and managed several retail stores when I was young, so I grew up around business. This is what got me considering the CPA path as a potential option. Then in high school, I took an accounting class and it came so naturally that I knew it was my calling. I think what really drew me to the idea of becoming a CPA was the fact that a CPA is more than just an accountant. I am most passionate about strategy/governance and performance management and when I was exposed to those topics, I knew that I had found my career path.

What is your long-term career objective? 
Currently I am working with the Canada Revenue Agency and have spent a lot of my career thus far in public service or working with not-for-profits. I like being able help others through my work and these jobs have allowed me to do that. In the future, I would like to build on this passion of helping others through teaching. Teaching has always been a passion of mine and I would love to be able to help future CPAs get their designation through CPA Atlantic and at the university level.  

Which area of accounting are you most passionate about? 
I am certainly most passionate about strategy/governance and performance management. I have always enjoyed solving complex problems and puzzles and that is how I view performance issues and strategy deficiencies. It allows me to apply my accounting knowledge in a way that can improve an organization’s performance so there is a tangible benefit. As technology advances, I think that these are the areas where we can provide increased value to the organizations that we work with and that is very exciting to me.

What would you say to young people who dream of becoming CPAs? 
To those dreaming of becoming a CPA I would say, follow that dream. Do not let failure or setbacks stop you from reaching your goals. I would also tell them to put everything that they have into the program while they are in it. While two years might seem like a long time, it is nothing compared to the remainder of your, hopefully, long career. For those unsure of whether the CPA is right for them I would implore them to consider what it is to be a CPA. Being a CPA is more than being an accountant. It is being a manager, an educator, a CEO, a consultant and so much more.

How did you prepare for the CFE?/ What did you do the day before the first day of the CFE? 
My preparation for the CFE was simple, I did every case that was provided, studied the technical and trusted in the process. One thing that I think is uncomfortable for us all is focusing on our areas of weakness. We naturally try to avoid those areas, but the CFE calls us to focus on them and turn them into strengths. My biggest recommendation would be to be honest with yourself when debriefing and to identify and focus on your weaknesses rather than spending time on areas of strength. The day before the CFE I would recommend trying everything you can to calm your mind. To do this I spent time in prayer and with my family to ensure that I was at the top of my game. I think having a clear mind going into the exam is vital to being able to put your best work down onto the “paper”. I would recommend figuring out something that helps you calm your mind prior to the night before so that you will be prepared.

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Prince Edward Island is pleased to extend congratulations to Clayton on achieving his place on the National Honour Roll!