December 12, 2022

Five in five: Rock Lapalme

1. How did you get into accounting?

I hadn’t planned on being an accountant. My favourite subjects in high school were chemistry and physics, so I wanted to pursue an aerospace engineering degree, then join the Royal Canadian Air Force and eventually become an astronaut ⁠–⁠ the movie Armageddon was out at the time, which may have inspired me. However, when it came time to apply to university, some friends told me about the Commerce program at Laurentian University, which offered a specialization in Sports Administration. That piqued my interest since I loved basketball. I applied and was accepted. Early in the program, I attended a campus event hosted by CPA Canada. The offer of free pizza lured me initially, but I quickly learned how in-demand the accounting profession was and all the interesting career paths it offered.

2. What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Without question, it was obtaining my Chartered Accountant designation in 2009. Although this was early in my career and I have accomplished much since then, it is what paved the way for my great career. The exam process was challenging, even grueling at times. I studied every day for months and full‑time throughout the summer leading up to the final exams. I think my fellow CPAs would agree it is an incredible accomplishment, but an experience they would never want to go through again! Two other proud achievements would be my promotions to partner and, most recently, associate director of National Tax Services for Baker Tilly Canada.

3. What are the qualities that make Baker Tilly Canada unique?

Our member firms enjoy the benefits of both smaller, regional firms and larger, national firms. Since each firm is independent, they can react and adapt to their unique local market demands, including the needs of their clients and staff, and can “call their own shots,” so to speak. At the same time, member firms have access to a wealth of resources beyond their practice and region due to their membership in Baker Tilly Canada. This includes professional practice tools and services, professional development, marketing support and access to a wide range of specialists within our network. It’s a great arrangement for our entrepreneurial member firms.

4. What is the most common misconception about your profession?

The belief that accountants are boring. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have yet to meet the stereotypical boring accountant. Like every profession, accounting draws all types of personalities ⁠–⁠ introverts, extroverts, people who collect stamps, people who skydive, you name it. A great thing about our profession is you often work with team members who have very diverse and interesting backgrounds. I have never been bored talking to another accountant!

5. What industry trends are likely to continue over the next year?

As a profession, accounting and how accountants work will benefit profoundly from the trend toward greater automation and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. The increasing complexity in the profession ⁠–⁠ most notably, for me, in tax ⁠–⁠ will require accountants to focus more on high-value work and find more ways to automate routine elements of our engagements. I have heard many young accountants express concern over how automation and AI will affect their careers in the future, but I expect it will benefit them and the profession as a whole, enabling us to focus on more interesting, meaningful and rewarding work.

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