It started out as a nutty idea, says Jeff Wilks, director of the School of Accountancy. How could students really dive into the topics that current accounting professionals are dealing with?
The answer, it turned out, required more words than numbers.
Live since April, the blog RevenueHub.org features bite-size articles that analyze the implications of the new revenue recognition standard set to go into effect in 2017. The articles are researched, written, and published exclusively by BYU accountancy students in an innovative project that is already growing fruitful relationships among the program’s students, alumni, and recruiters.
“The idea behind the site is for students to get practical experience by researching difficult issues and writing articles that simplify and explain how the new standard will work,” says Jace Chambers, a 2015 MAcc graduate and one of the site’s writers.
Training accounting students to write as well as they audit is as unconventional as it sounds. BYU is one of only a handful of schools to offer an accounting research course in which students learn firsthand how to analyze standards, compose reports, and offer recommendations to the accounting community. The class has become the perfect incubator for RevenueHub writers. Along with fellow professor Cassy Budd, Wilks observes candidates in the class and extends invitations to write for the site to students who show the greatest aptitude.
An expert on revenue reporting, Wilks led the development of the new revenue recognition standard during a two-year stint at the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Upon his return to BYU, he wanted to find a way to provide students with an out-of-classroom experience that would help them stand out in their field upon graduation.
“We wanted to create RevenueHub to give students a chance to dive deeper into real, practical issues that professionals are dealing with,” Wilks explains. “By identifying a topic that students and faculty had a strong interest in, we were able to launch a great project.”
Support for the blog has come not only from inside the school. Top accounting firms in the country, including the Big Four, Grant Thornton, and Connor Group, have all partnered with the site by providing various resources.
BYU accounting students are adding a new skill to their arsenal: blogging.
Alumni have also played a vital role. After finishing a draft, the student writer reviews the story with a BYU alum who has expertise on that particular topic. This process has built relationships and provided a unique way for alumni to stay involved with the program.
The articles are proving to be a welcome aid to accounting professionals, and, as the implementation deadline for the new revenue recognition standard draws nearer, the writers believe the site will become even more important to companies around the world. But most important, RevenueHub has given BYU students yet another skill to take into a competitive workforce.
“There is a lot of writing that accompanies accounting,” says Austen Harris, a 2015 MAcc graduate and RevenueHub writer. “A lot of communication—written and verbal—goes into explaining what the numbers actually mean. My experience with RevenueHub has enhanced my ability to communicate clearly.”
Written by Jordan Christiansen