Joel N. Morris
Tax associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Portland
Degrees: BS in Accounting and Finance from Portland State University
OSCPA member since: 2019
New OSCPA member Joel Morris is one of four Oregon winners of the presitigous 2018 Elijah Watt Sells Award. To qualify for the award, CPA candidates must obtain a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination, pass all four sections on their first attempt and have completed testing in 2018. (A condensed version of this interview appeared in the June/July 2019 issue of The Accountant magazine.)
What are your responsibilities at PricewaterhouseCoopers?
I work as an associate in PricewaterhouseCoopers’s tax practice, where I am primarily engaged in performing tax compliance for corporations and partnerships, with additional work on quarterly and annual tax provisions. As an associate on a tax compliance project, I spend most of my time incorporating information provided by our clients into our tax return workpapers and preparing the tax return forms.
Where did you grow up? Tell us a little about your background and the people who have influenced you along the way.
I grew up in Portland enjoying the beautiful Oregon summers for the first 16 years of my life. In high school, I started to pursue a career in classical music, attending schools in Michigan and California and getting a bachelor’s degree in music composition from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After college, I lived in San Francisco for several years teaching piano lessons and playing gigs as a pianist before deciding to return to Portland and pursue a career in accounting.
In classical music, there are a large number of talented musicians competing at a very high level for a small number of opportunities. At the conservatory, my teachers always stressed this fact when motivating me to practice harder and perform at a higher level. When I made the switch to accounting, I was able to carry those high standards into my studies and work, which has served me well so far in my career.
What strategies did you use to study and prepare for the Uniform CPA Examination?
Becker CPA Exam Review helped me tremendously. I was fortunate that I was able to study full-time for several months, so I could listen to all the lectures and complete all the multiple-choice questions within the program. After completing each section, I used flashcards to help keep both the new and older topics near the surface of my memory. Finally, before sitting for each exam, I made sure I knew the various frameworks and Becker-provided acronyms well enough to write them from memory on a blank sheet of paper.
What advice do you have for new CPA candidates as they are preparing?
If you are able, try to complete the exams before starting work. There are so many things to learn in a new job, it’s hard to have the capacity to add the full breadth of topics you need to know for the CPA exam, many of which you may not be using every day.
What were your first thoughts when you found out you qualified for the prestigious Elijah Watt Sells award?
I knew I was in the running for the award from my first two scores and found out the final two exam scores in the same score release. When they came back high enough for the award, I let out a shout and called a friend to go celebrate.
How do you think earning this award will impact you in the future, personally and professionally?
I don’t know what the award will mean for my future, but I’m excited to find out!