By Cece Leung; Lioncrest Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-5445-2114-5

Reviewed by Dan Torpey

Cece Leung’s Dear Accountant is an innovative and creative work in accounting. It is both inspiring and entertaining, and provides a smorgasbord of enriching and helpful career journeys of extraordinary people—all of whom are accountants! The stories show professionals who have struggled, explored, and excelled in a variety of accounting and business disciplines, building a community of mentorship and insights this reviewer had yet to see compiled in the accounting profession.

Dear Accountant defies the stereotypes of accountants through real-world examples. I didn’t find any boring bean counters. Although all the stories are worthwhile, I particularly enjoyed the following: Chuck, who grew up in the inner city of Detroit, now owns and runs a financial planning firm; Kurt, a cab driver, decorated Navy veteran, accountant turned professional corporate recruiter; Tom, a former Big Four partner turned financial crime novelist; and Kimberly, an accountant who failed the CPA exam her first time (like this reviewer) but went on to pass and ultimately became a technology and finance leader at a leading Silicon Valley technology firm. There are others, like an adrenaline junkie helping others climb mountains, or a podcast host focusing on the importance of collaborative teamwork. It’s such an eclectic group of people that I felt like I was in the room with the “Avengers of Accountants.”

The stories are inspiring, no matter where you are at in your career journey. For me, having served various roles in public accounting for more than 35 years, the stories reaffirmed what I have observed: accounting professionals who take the risk and branch out in the periphery are often rewarded with career fulfillment in more ways than they imagined. For accountants midstream in their career who may be questioning their next move, this book provides both a boost of adrenaline that insists, “You can do it!” as well as a laundry list of opportunities to consider. For aspiring recent accounting graduates, Dear Accountant will plant seeds to help them grow during their career.

Aspiring accounting professionals deserve the valuable insight and perspectives that brilliantly line the pages of Dear Accountant. The professionals in this book become mentors as you read through their stories and witness their honest, open, and often difficult career journey that demonstrates the routes that brought them where they are today. Furthermore, Dear Accountant may help answer questions that accounting professionals have early on, and empower them to walk into the field with clarity and excitement. The book covers topics such as the transition from an individual contributor to a leader; the process of realizing one’s skills and leadership potential; and how to effectively delegate, take risks, ask for help, and adapt to a new environment. The stories take the reader across the country, continents, cultures, and industries.

Dear Accountant sets the stage for readers to see how the profession is not only expanding for those in public accounting, internal audit, or accounting departments, but also can be the starting point to many opportunities elsewhere in the business world. My dad, who was also an accountant and auditor for the state of New York for over 30 years, would say, “Starting your career in accounting presents many options, and there is never any shortage of jobs.” Dad’s advice rings true so many years later, as Leung has shown us. This book is essentially her love letter to all accountants, through the diverse individuals with a variety of experiences and backgrounds, reminding us all that the mission and purpose of our profession is to protect the public trust, do the right thing; and teach and mentor the next generation to help make businesses and individuals’ lives better, which in turn will help make the world a better place for generations to come.

At the minimum, this book provides a community of mentors and stories that will illuminate the path towards personal fulfillment in the accounting profession. At the maximum, it’s a never-before-seen take on what it is really like to be an accountant, how the best of the best got there, and which steps a promising accountant can start with to build themselves an incredibly meaningful career and make a positive impact in the world.

Dan Torpey, CPA, is a partner with Ernst & Young in Dallas, Texas.