UNI accounting team places second at national competition

The morning of what would eventually be a triumphant day for a team of University of Northern Iowa accounting students was not going well.

The group of five accounting majors was preparing to compete in the 19th annual FanTAXtic competition held last month in Westlake, Texas, having earned their spot in the national competition by winning the regional qualifier in November.

In both events, the team was presented with a hypothetical case scenario simulating a real-world client situation.The students researched and analyzed the issues and then developed a presentation giving their findings and recommendations to the hypothetical client, played by employees of Deloitte, the organizers of the contest and one of the largest accounting firms in the nation.

They had a scant few hours to prepare, and the presentation was off to a rocky start. 

“In our practice runs, we were a little shaky and were at a loss for words at points,” said team member Nathan Funke.

And while the team was strong - they had won the regional competition two years in a row - this was different. They were competing against the best of the best. The margin for error was thin.

But when the moment came, the team rose to the occasion, boosted by their collective talent and the preparation instilled by their UNI business education.

“When we presented to the clients, we didn’t miss a beat,” Funke said. “Through this experience I have learned what it is like to work with an amazing team that can achieve anything when they work together. I will keep that feeling with me throughout my career.” 

Their performance was good for second place, outpacing nearly 60 teams from more than 40 universities and colleges.

“Considering that the competition includes some of the top universities in the nation, a second- place finish reflects the tremendous UNI education that prepares our accounting students to succeed at the highest levels,” said Cathalene Bowler, assistant professor of accounting. “The students gained valuable experience working as a team and conducting research and analysis for a client.”

The interactive competition, designed to familiarize students with the tax profession early in their academic careers, offers students the opportunity to work in teams to solve a realistic business case. The task demanded the students work in high-pressure scenarios under tight time constraints.

“I gained experience and knowledge in tax that I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else,” said Carson Ehrenberg, a sophomore accounting major. “This experience inspired me to consider beginning my career in a tax-related area and gave me numerous opportunities to network with Deloitte tax professionals.”

Sponsored by Deloitte Tax LLP and supported by the Deloitte Foundation, FanTAXtic has engaged 6,249 students since its inception in 2002.