Students from the University of Kansas Take Home Top Honors as the Winner of the 2015 AICPA Accounting Competition

Three Finalist Teams Earn $40,000 in Total Awards for Creative Management Accounting Expertise

December 21, 2015

Durham, NC (Dec. 21, 2015) — The American Institute of CPAs today announced that students from the University of Kansas have earned first place in the 2015 AICPA Accounting Competition. Their top finish in the competition earned a $5,000 award for their school. Students from the University of Portland came in second, receiving $3,000 for their university. The third-place team from The College of Brockport, SUNY won $2,000 for their school.

In addition, each of the three finalist teams received a $10,000 award to be split among the team members and an expense-paid trip to Durham, NC to present their plans to a panel of judges. The awards are completely funded by the AICPA Foundation.

“All three of the teams in the finals demonstrated strong presentation and communication skills, which are important to a successful accounting career,” said Tommye Barie, CPA, immediate past chair of AICPA and a competition judge. “On behalf of the AICPA, I’d like to congratulate the winners for their outstanding work.”

The competition is hosted on the AICPA’s ThisWayToCPA website, which provides tools, articles and resources to accounting students and CPA Exam candidates. The site offers free sign up for AICPA Student Affiliate Membership, as well as information on AICPA scholarships.

“The AICPA has found that students who participate in the competition are more likely to sit for the CPA Exam and become licensed. We invite accounting professors across the country to visit and encourage their students to enter next year’s competition,” said Joanne Fiore AICPA vice president of professional media, pathways and inclusion.

This year’s competition, the sixth annual, challenged teams of undergraduates to play the role of management accountants, combine their accounting and financial expertise with strategic insight to take a fictional business to the next level and help the company reduce costs and sell competitively.

The business in question is a fictional company called Gizmo Toys Inc., launched in 2001 by a husband-and-wife team. The company creates high-quality electronic toys, and even though the business has done quite well, it needs help in deciding what direction to move in for future success. The company's products are now in demand by large toy retailers, with annual sales growing to nearly $3 million. Gizmo has outsourced all of its manufacturing to factories in China, to reduce its cost base and enable the company to price its products more competitively.

Fifty-seven student teams entered the competition and were whittled down to 15 semi-final teams. Those teams received an additional challenge and submitted a video plan, which was reviewed by a panel of judges and voted on by the public. The three teams with the best proposals and highest grades made it to the finals to present in person in Durham, NC, with the University of Kansas team emerging victorious.

The winning team’s plan took advantage of industry trends by creating a mobile app which allowed customers integrate with the company’s physical toys. This strategy increased profit margins, the company’s revenue cycle and increased the probability of successfully expanding overseas.

“The AICPA Accounting Competition placed teams right in the middle of a company at a cross roads that was in need of strategic guidance. This allowed the students to understand and appreciate the crucial role management accountants play, shaping the future of businesses and ensuring they are on course to succeed,” said Ash Noah, CPA, CGMA, vice president of CGMA external relations at AICPA and a competition judge. 

The winning University of Kansas team, named Let’s Get Fiscal, are made up of:

• Morgan Little, Team Captain
• Eric Harrison
• Ryan Hunt
• Kevin Cheng, Team Advisor

For more information about the competition visit ThisWayToCPA.