Accounting field offers new challenges, rewards

By Robin Respaut
Contributing Writer
When Kristin Fraser was 22 years old, she started her first job and never left. More

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BUSINESS WOMEN

Accounting field offers new challenges, rewards

PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST: When Kristin Fraser first started to work at KPMG, she did not expect to last very long, but the constantly shifting challenges have kept her interested and fulfilled.
By Robin Respaut
Contributing Writer
Posted 5/28/12

When Kristin Fraser was 22 years old, she started her first job and never left.

Today, Fraser is an audit partner at KPMG LLP, the international public accounting firm, as well as the first female managing partner at KPMG’s Providence office, where she helps lead 40 audit professionals.

When Fraser took the job 18 years ago, she did not expect to last longer than a few years. Burnout is high at big auditing firms, she was told. But Fraser’s experience surprised her.

“The job changes, and with the challenges, I didn’t end up wanting to go anywhere else,” said Fraser, who grew up in Warwick. “It’s kept being interesting.”

Fraser oversees audits for businesses of every size and scale, from international firms attempting to expand into new markets across the globe to family-owned businesses down the street in Providence.

As a result, Fraser has to keep on top of PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board) requirements, U.S. GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) updates, and U.S. SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and Hong Kong Stock Exchange filings. In addition, she needs to review financial statements for mergers and acquisitions, IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) conversions and pension plan audits.

Each of these financial arenas has long and convoluted regulatory requirements, not to mention a stockpile of regulatory acronyms. To keep on top of one is a job. To maintain working knowledge of all of them is a significant challenge.

“It’s a constant education,” said Fraser, who attends more than 80 hours of continuing-education classes annually to keep up with changing standards and regulations.

Her tasks were compounded in the last year when a client decided to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange – the first KPMG client to do so. Fraser coordinated the global KPMG services to support the listing.

“It was a long process with really late nights,” said Fraser, who travelled to Hong Kong seven times over the course of 15 months to “make sure we were building a global network of people.”

Fraser coordinated a team of 40 to 50 people and ensured they were comfortable with the new regulations to satisfy their clients’ needs.

But the evolving standards in the United States have also kept KPMG staff “on our toes,” said Fraser. Ever since the financial-sector meltdown and the ensuing Great Recession added extra scrutiny to financial markets, Fraser said her clients have felt more stress to maintain accurate documentation.

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