The Accounting program at Merrimack provides the gateway to the accounting profession, preparing students for entry-level positions in public, corporate/managerial, not-for-profit, and governmental accounting. As business, accounting, finance and financial reporting, and filings/compliance have become more complex and regulated there has been a significant increase in demand for qualified accountants in all fields.
Students are exposed to areas of the profession through course work, cooperative education and internship opportunities, the study abroad program, career functions, guest speakers, and career fairs and events.
Meet our New Faculty
A Fascination with Accounting
During her senior year at Nanjing University in China, Fang Zhao was offered a job – “a very good job” – at an electric company. An accounting major, she was about to receive her bachelor’s in business administration.
But, yearning for more adventure, she declined the offer. Then in her early 20’s, Fang says she wanted “to further my education, have more experiences, understand different cultures and see other parts of the world.”
She set her sights on the United States. Realizing that graduate education in economics, business, and accounting is more advanced in the United States than in China, she decided to pursue graduate study here. Now, Fang is anticipating receiving her Ph.D. in accounting and coming to the Girard School to teach accounting.
Beginning at the Girard School in the fall, Fang will teach an undergraduate course in Intermediate Accounting and a graduate course in Financial Reporting and Statement Analysis, part of a new Master of Science in Accounting program.
“I feel really excited to contribute my effort in the developing stage of this new graduate program,” she says.
The small class size and the community feeling – “it feels like a family” – attracted her to Merrimack. And the region appeals to her:
“I like Boston and the New England area. There is a great history and culture. I love living in a small town but close to a big city.”
Coming from China, Fang knows about big cities. Nanjing is a city of more than 3.6 million people. Nanjing University has more than 35,000 students.
She spent her first four years in the U.S. in Indiana, receiving an M.A. in economics from the University of Notre Dame and an M.S. in accounting from Indiana University. She then entered the Ph.D. program at Florida International University in Miami, where she concentrates on financial reporting issues.
After nearly eight years in the United States, she appreciates the American emphasis on the individual.
“I am more suitable for the lifestyle in the U.S.,” says Fang, who now teaches at Florida International University’s School of Accounting. “Individualism is emphasized here. People make decisions on their own. Personal needs are respected and considered in every aspect of the society. Although my educational background and professional ethics are Americanized, I still value the traditional virtues of the Chinese.”
She employed these virtues in her studies. “The process is long and not easy, but I am so happy that I went through it with persistence and hard work,” Fang says about studying economics, then returning to accounting.
“I found financial reporting issues most fascinating, since they help me understand thoroughly firms’ financial reporting, the incentives and techniques of earnings management and how different internal and external factors affect firms’ financial reporting quality,” she says about her research.
Her dissertation, “The Implication of FIN 46 on Accruals Quality and Investment Efficiency,” examines effects of changes in the accounting consolidation procedures of off-balance sheet activities on financial reporting quality and investment efficiency.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board issued Interpretation No. 46 (FIN 46), on the consolidation of variable interest entities, in 2003. Under FIN 46, Fang explains, “companies are required to consolidate special purpose entities (SPEs) on the financial statements if they are the primary beneficiaries of the SPEs, regardless of their voting interests in the entities.”
Her research has two objectives, she continues:
“First, to investigate whether the implementation of this new guidance affects accruals quality for firms with SPEs. Second, to investigate whether this new guidance affects investment efficiency for firms using SPEs.”
She was named an American Accounting Association/Deloitte Foundation/J. Michael Cook Doctoral Consortium Fellow for 2013 and successfully defended her dissertation in June 2013.
“My research experiences help me discuss financial reporting topics in class more in depth, thus broadening students’ perspective and understanding of the course materials, she says.
Teaching an introductory financial accounting course at FIU for three years, she says she always tries to think from the student perspective. She will ask herself, “What is their learning curve for certain difficult topics? Why do they have difficulty in understanding certain concepts? Then I explain in a way that best helps them to learn step-by-step until they understand it completely.”
Fang takes pride in her individualism, nurtured by her move to the United States.
“I am proud of making my own decisions in many transitions in life,” she says. “I never regret any of the decisions that I have made.”