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After 150 hours of studying, Donald Brouwer walked out of his Common Final Examination (CFE) with a sigh of relief. Little did the Okanagan College alum know that just a few months later his name would be listed on the national honour roll, meaning his mark earned him a spot in the top one per cent of successful CFE writers in Canada. Announced in early January, Chartered Professional Accountants Canada shared on their website the 77 writers who earned the honour roll mention, Brouwer being one of nine from British Columbia.
“My first reaction was disbelief,” says Brouwer. “I wasn’t expecting to be on the honour roll, and was shaking with happiness. I texted my girlfriend and family as soon as I could to tell them.”
Graduating from Okanagan College's School of Business (OSB) in 2017 with his BBA in accounting, Brouwer spent a large portion of his 2019 summer studying, often up to six hours a day. Currently a senior accountant at Grant Thornton, he has his sights set on being a partner one day. From his perspective, starting in co-op in his second year at the College with Grant Thornton was invaluable to his career now.
“We are incredibly proud of Donald and the hard work he put in studying, preparing and writing his CFE,” says OSB Associate Dean Barry McGillivray. “To be mentioned on the national honour roll is a big accomplishment and it’s very impressive within the accounting and finance community.”
For what lies ahead, Brouwer is appreciative of his role in a problem-solving atmosphere and loves the ability to help business owners on a tangible level. His advice for those who want to write the CFE and pursue a career in accounting:
“Pick a good study partner and try to secure a co-op. Co-ops are a great way to figure out if accounting is for you, and study partners give feedback, and you can review cases with them.”
The CFE exam is written over three days in early September, formatted as a 13-hour case study. It is written simultaneously across the country by students wanting to further their accreditation in accounting and level up for future opportunities. It’s considered the standard exam to pass in order to become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in Canada, along with education and work experience.