SFU Business congratulates the newest group of CA students to successfully complete one of the most challenging professional examinations in the world – the CA profession’s Uniform Evaluation (UFE). Out of 1037 CA School of Business (CASB) students who successfully challenged the uniform evaluation (UFE), three of the top 12 are graduates from Simon Fraser University.
“Growing up, my career choices were all over the place,” says Sumeet Sangha. “I never saw myself as an accountant, but as I grew older, I realized that becoming a CA would provide me with a wide array of opportunities and career flexibility.”
So after earning a bachelor of business administration (with a concentration in accounting) from Simon Fraser University in 2007, Sumeet began articling with BDO Dunwoody LLP, in the firm’s Langley office. Currently, his focus is on assurance.
Looking back over the UFE experience, Sumeet says the biggest challenge was actually learning to study less.
“I knew the UFE was going to be the biggest exam I’d ever written, and my natural instinct was to study every waking hour and cram as much information into my head as possible,” he explains. “So I had to learn how to take my mind off the exam at the end of each study day, and take time to relax and recharge my batteries to keep my focus throughout the summer.”
That’s why Sumeet advises future UFE writers to maintain a level of balance.
“It’s important to not let the UFE process overwhelm you,” he says. “Maintaining a balance during the preparation will enable you to walk into the exam feeling fresh and sharp mentally.”
Sumeet says friends and family helped him achieve this balance by “keeping me level-headed, and providing the support I needed to get through the exam.” He also credits his success on the UFE to the support of several key people at his firm.
“David Reznick, CA, my UFE mentor, and Dan Rudd, CA—both from BDO—shared their UFE experiences with me, and provided various tips and pointers to help me succeed,” he says. “And my study partner at BDO, Justin Leung, provided the feedback and constructive criticism I needed to address my weaknesses.”
Sumeet remembers feeling a mixture of relief and uncertainty after the last day of the UFE. Now, with this hurdle past him, he says he’s excited to see what the future holds.
“I felt an enormous sense of relief, but I had no idea how I’d done,” says Dylan Vokey, remembering his post-UFE mood. “I’m sure I was just as nervous as the next writer about my results until I received the good news from my firm.”
The firm is KPMG LLP in Burnaby, where Dylan is currently focusing on audits for mid-size private companies. The articling student graduated from Simon Fraser University in June 2009 with a bachelor of business administration and a certificate in liberal arts. Through his co-op terms with KPMG, Dylan had the opportunity to write the UFE right after graduation, before starting his articles full-time.
Looking back, he says his biggest UFE challenge as learning to trust his gut.
“The analytical side of my brain was approaching each new case with the previous one still in mind,” Dylan recounts. “It wasn’t until I began to follow my instincts fully, in the final week of studying, that I was able to adapt to each new scenario thrown at me, and offer analyses and solutions that were truly my own.”
He credits the “enormous” support provided by his firm for much of his success on the UFE.
“KPMG provided rigorous in-house preparation and a strong support system, and my KPMG UFE mentor, Steven Bao, CA, had an uncanny ability to call me at exactly the right time,” Dylan says. “Also, my study buddy Dorothy Woo and her mentor Ian Wells, CA (both at KPMG) marked my responses and really helped me keep on my toes.
“I am also grateful for the support of my parents Richard and Arlene Vokey, former journalists and now novelists, and my wonderful girlfriend Rebecca, a literature student,” he says. “They helped me find my personal approach to the UFE: ‘First, find the plot; second, finish the story.’”
As for how his own story will unfold, Dylan is weighing several possibilities.
“I’ve always had an interest in corporate finance and private equity,” he says. “But I also like the idea of graduate school.”
Ni (Nina) Wang
“Overcoming anxiety and believing in yourself is extremely important,” says Nina Wang. “For me, the most challenging thing about the UFE was staying focused and confident throughout the summer—especially toward the end of the process.”
This includes the actual writing of the exam. “The UFE covers a broad range of knowledge, so staying focused and confident over the three days is quite challenging,” she says. “I was definitely relieved when the exam was finally over—I didn’t know whether I had done well, but I knew I had given it my all.”
A graduate of Simon Fraser University, Nina earned a bachelor of business administration degree with a concentration in accounting and finance in 2008. She is currently articling with Deloitte & Touche LLP in Vancouver, with a primary focus on telecommunications companies.
“I chose the CA profession because it will open multiple opportunities in my life and provide flexibility for international learning,” she says. “In the future, I can see myself making a difference as a CA, and having an impact on people and things around me.”
Looking back over the UFE experience, Nina says she’s grateful for the amount of knowledge she gained throughout the summer leading up to the exam.
“I learned so much through my firm in-house, through module 6, through self-study sessions, and through discussions with my study group,” she says. “Along the way, I also had the opportunity to establish close relationships with my study group members: Ryan Chan, Nancy Kurokawa, and Andrew Lau. They were instrumental to my success.”
These study buddies were part of a larger support team of family, friends, and colleagues.
“My grandparents and my parents have provided tremendous support throughout my life, and were very supportive during the summer leading up to the exam,” Nina says. “My boyfriend and UFE mentor Sam K. Wong, CA, a controller with Pathway Capital Ltd., provided a lot of support and advice as well. My other mentor, Jason Tong, CA, a senior accountant at Deloitte, also provided valuable support and guidance. I thank him, and everyone at the firm—especially those on the UFE Committee—for their help.”
Her advice to future UFE writers is to remain relaxed and confident throughout the study process and during the exam.
“Believe in yourself,” Nina says, “and trust your professional judgment.”