Interview with Wray Rives, CPA, President of Rives CPA

    Wray Rives is the owner of a public accounting firm in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area, Rives CPA. He is a CPA and a Chartered Global Management Accountant. Rives is also an accomplished author. He contributes to the American Institute of CPAs’ CPA Insider and to the Bottom Line for Outright.com. Rives has published The Pocket Guide to Sales Tax in the 50 States and the Pocket Guide to Individual Income Tax in the 50 States. Wray Rives takes the time in this interview to impart the experiences that have taught him that technical accounting skills are not the only skill sets needed to become a successful accountant in these competitive times.

    wray-rivesWhat event or series of events led you to pursue accounting or the study of accounting as a professional choice?

    I had to choose an elective class to take my junior year of high school. When I got to registration, the bookkeeping class had 15 girls and 2 guys signed up, so I thought bookkeeping sounded like an interesting elective. I discovered that not only did bookkeeping come easy for me, but I was actually able to explain it to several of my classmates who were totally confused by the concepts we were learning. Pursuing a degree in accounting just seemed like the natural next step when I was planning for college.

    Name 1 or 2 specific challenges you have faced in your accounting career and the steps you took to meet these challenges.

    As much as I had a skill for accounting, I also did not want to become the accountant who sat in his office all day just crunching numbers. Throughout my career I have sought to balance my accounting and finance knowledge with broader based general business knowledge. Sales, marketing and operations people don’t always welcome the insight of the accounting guy, but I have always tried to show how every activity in business will in some way tie back to the numbers.

    How would you advise an individual entering the accounting profession to proceed? What are the challenges, or obstacles that may be faced?

    Accounting tends to be a more technical business degree and I think a lot of new accounting students get into the profession thinking accountants do spend their day working on spreadsheets and don’t have to interact with other people that much. If you really want to succeed in accounting you have to have good people skills in addition to the technical accounting skills.

    Can you give us an example of an interesting case or project that you have worked on and your role in helping to achieve a positive outcome?

    I worked with a company once that had over 10,000 inventory items and spent an inordinate amount of time and money keeping track of all those items. I was able to work them and show them how to simplify their inventory and many of their other business processes. Over the course of two years we doubled their operating profit, just through simplification and teaching the sales team that not every dollar of revenue is equal.

    If you could suggest a role model for a new accountant, who would it be and why?

    I would suggest a new accountant find a great salesman like Zig Ziglar to emulate. Most new accountants don’t know enough about selling.

    As an accomplished author of a blog related to accounting, what advice would you offer to the new accountant concerning the role of social media in their profession?

    Adopting social media is a great way to stay ahead of the curve in the accounting profession. I still know accountants in public practice that don’t even have a website. Be an early adopter in the accounting profession and you will stand out from the crowd.

    This is the last question and time for the inner accountant in you to break free. What is the key strength you bring to your career and how would you advise new accountants to mine their own strengths to further their careers.

    I think a key strength to mine is being able to explain complex accounting and tax issues in a way that the average non-accountant can understand what you are talking about.

    We enjoyed this interview with Wray Rives. His refreshing answers portrayed an accountant who has polished a wide range of skills to create a successful professional career. Wray Rives can be reached by visiting his site at Rives CPA. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn.