Helping Manitobans Reach Their Goals

CPAs can be found in every industry, being experts at more than numbers – and they’re great with those, too.

Every month, CPA Manitoba spotlights the diverse and dedicated professionals that prove CPA is more than a designation. 

I like helping others reach their goals.

The saying “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” is exactly the way you would describe Kyle Lopez, CPA. Growing up in Dauphin, it’s no surprise he would end up back in a small town after finishing his CPA designation.

“I like being in rural communities. I’m not a big city guy and I never really have been. I lived in Edmonton for one year of school and it just wasn’t for me,” said Lopez.

Right now, Lopez is a Tax Manager at BDO in Portage La Prairie, but when he first went to college he had another career in mind.

“I had no clue about what I wanted to do. I originally thought I was going to go into Lab and X-ray, but I never got into that program,” Lopez said with a laugh.

And good thing he didn’t.

Lopez moved back to Dauphin and got a job working at the local Credit Union. It was there he began to recognize his love of numbers. Shortly after working there, he enrolled in the Business Administration program at Brandon University (BU).

“At BU, I got to pick my path and I took an accounting class -- it kind of just took off from there,” said Lopez.

After his third year, Lopez applied as a summer student to BDO in Brandon. It was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“I worked there for the summer and was actually able to apply what I was learning in university to a job. I liked it so much, I asked if I could stay on during my 4th year of university, so I could work part-time while I was going to school,” said Lopez. “It was busy, but BDO was flexible.”

When Lopez graduated, BDO took him on full-time and he applied to the legacy CA program with the intention of pursuing his accounting designation in the fall of 2015. By the time he was to begin, the merger of the accounting bodies had taken place, which made him one of the first people to take CPA’s Professional Education Program (PEP).

Even though it was an unexpected change, Lopez excelled in the CPA PEP and was awarded with the James W. Clarke award (Presented to Indigenous candidates who have successfully completed the CPA Common Final Examination (CFE)).

“Just graduating and getting my designation in itself was something I was excited about and then all of a sudden being recognized in your peer group and winning an award like that one is icing on the cake,” Lopez said with a smile. “It showed me that years of hard work were paying off and being rewarded. It was pretty special to get that.”

Lopez owes his success in the CPA PEP to having a good work-life balance.

“You have to figure out what works for you. But, if I could offer advice to those going through the program, don’t overload yourself."

"You have to take some time to sleep, decompress or do something other than your studies. You do it all day at work and then another two or three hours at night. It can become 12-hour days pretty quickly and you can get burnt out,” he explained.

The balance Lopez found was to buckle down and get all his work done Monday to Thursday and then have Friday to Sunday for himself. Majority of these days, Lopez would escape to Brandon’s surrounding wilderness to participate in his favourite hobbies, hunting and fishing.

Today, Lopez finds his balance by working on projects like personal tax returns, corporate tax returns, estate returns, succession planning and transition planning.

Most of the people that he sees are working in agriculture and a big chunk of what he does revolves around succession and estate planning for Manitoba farmers. It’s one of Lopez’s favourite parts about his job.

“I like helping others reach their goals. People come in and they have the end goal in mind, but they don’t always know the best way to go about it. So, we break it down for them and show these different steps to help them get to where they want to be,” Lopez explained. “It’s nice to see people leaving the office happy and not just coming to get their tax bill. A lot of people think that’s all we do.”

On top of work, Lopez is furthering his education and will be completing CPA Canada's In-Depth Tax program this fall. Lopez wants to continue learning so he can reach his future goals.

“My goal is to become partner at a public firm. That’s why I’m trying to learn as much as I can. I’ve seen the importance and positive impact that partners can have in the community and I want to be at that level too,” said Lopez.

In terms of advice for candidates going through the CPA program, Lopez has a good one.

“You know a lot more than you think you know. It can be overwhelming when studying for the CFE, thinking you have got to go relearn the material covered over the past couple of years, but the CPA PEP does such a good job to prepare you for it. You already know so much, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Be confident in yourself. You already know the answers; you just have to figure out how to get it on paper.”