CPA Dish featuring Jon Tennent

Serving up advice for those working towards a career as a CPA.

October 2023

Jon Tennent

Jon Tennent, CPA 
Senior Manager

KyCPA member 

What was your educational path and why?

I took a non-traditional path to the CPA. My undergrad degree was not in accounting – I wanted to be a journalist, writer, and copy editor. I worked in that field for a few years and then had the opportunity to work abroad, where I became more involved in the business world. When I came back to the states, I was working closely with the accounting department at a manufacturing company in the supply chain for Toyota. It wasn’t long before I realized that I loved the accounting work; so I went back to school in 2016 and sat for the CPA exam in 2017.

What attributes, skills are good to have as a CPA?

There are “relationship” accountants and “technical” accountants, but since most of us seem to fall on the technical side, I’ll answer the question with that role in mind. The most important trait is being detail-oriented. I firmly believe that people from any background can succeed in accounting as a CPA if their personality is one that cares about the details and just wants to get things “right.” The rest is simply filling in the knowledge gap.

What is your favorite thing about your current position?

The best thing about public accounting is the variety. Instead of working for a single company, you see hundreds of different clients in different stages of life and business throughout the year. You need to study constantly as accounting standards or tax laws change; you regularly see the kinds of events and business transactions that even small business owners only witness once or twice in their lives. I find it exciting, and I enjoy relying on past experiences to help guide clients through their current challenges.

What is your day-to-day like in your current position?

I started out with a larger firm (Dean Dorton), but I currently work for a smaller firm (Besten & Dieruf) in Lexington. We have 10-12 employees, so the office is easily walkable, and we see or hear clients come in throughout the day. Some days I will meet with clients for tax planning; some days we have internal or external events; and some days I just grab a cup of coffee in the morning and work on some tax returns.

Where do you think the accounting industry is headed in the future?

Everyone is talking about the impact that technology and AI will have on our field in the coming decades. While I’m sure the impact will be significant, my impression is that technology usually targets the least interesting parts of our work. For example, we’re all aware of the reputation public accounting had fifty years ago of being boring – hours spent typing numbers into calculators and spreadsheets. Today, thankfully, most of the drudgery is handled by technology, leaving us with time to focus on the more interesting consulting work. I expect this trend to continue as we work alongside technical tools to deliver better and better products to our clients.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a CPA?

If you’re in a position to be able to defer the start of employment until after you’ve passed the CPA exam, you will be much happier at work. I believe in multitasking at the micro level but only having one overarching goal at a time at the macro level. Plus, when you’re studying full-time, you’re less likely to forget the material you studied at the beginning when you go to sit for the exam. Treat studying like a job and knock them out!

What’s a fun fact about you that would be fun to share?

I love to travel and have worked abroad several times. Many years ago, a friend and I jumped what was the second-highest bungee jump in the world at the time – 725 feet off the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland. It was the most trilling experience of my life prior to preparing my first client’s tax return.

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