Author: Matt Waldman

Published

A team of accounting majors from the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business reached the finals of the KPMG National Audit Case Competition (KNACC) held in New York City on April 14.

The four members of the team were chosen by the J.M. Tull School of Accounting faculty and advised by professor Michael Bamber. They were joined in competition by teams from 26 other top accounting schools. Student teams completed a series of audit tasks and used a Web-based application to simulate a series of interactions with a KPMG audit client. This year's case involved a retailer of manufactured homes.

Five teams, including the Tull School team from UGA, were selected as finalists and traveled to New York to present their audit findings and answer questions posed by a panel of judges that included academics, audit committee members and KPMG partners.

UGA's Tull School team included second-year student Ryan Friday, third-year student Lauren Pavia, fourth-year student Katie Morris, and fifth-year student Suraj Amarnani, who recently accepted a job with KPMG and will join the firm following his graduation this spring from the Master of Accountancy program.

The other universities reaching the final round of competition were Bentley College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Virginia.

UVA, which won the competition, and UGA were the only repeat finalists from last year's competition.

"To have a team among the five best in the nation is something that everyone at the Terry College should be proud of," said Dean Robert Sumichrast.

Amarnani said that a judge touted the Georgia team's technical proficiency as a key factor in the team reaching the finals. In fact, UGA was the only school to correctly identify one of the key accounting issues in the case study, he said.

"The materials and the interactions with the KPMG engagement partner through the web portal are very realistic," said Bamber, who noted the students were on their own with the research and reporting. The faculty could only provide feedback if the team made the finals.

Amarnani said the process involved completing three modules "addressing some of the most judgment-laden accounting and auditing issues relevant to the case."

The students said they drew great value from the experience. "My presentation and public speaking skills benefited enormously," said Friday. "Since we were strictly prohibited from seeking any outside help, Suraj took on the role of mentor and filled it superbly. We all put so much time and effort into every aspect of the competition. I know each of us was happy because we really had given it our all."

Amarnani found the realism of the competition good preparation for the full-time position he'll assume with KPMG. "Presenting to an audit committee especially made me feel more confident about this aspect of the job."

Friday said the competition encouraged him about the career path he's chosen. "It really has gotten me excited for my future accounting studies at UGA and hopefully a career in the field," he said. "I believe that I will look back on my undergraduate years and see this case competition as a defining experience of my time at UGA."