François D’Anjou: Spotlight on Quebec’s 2019 CFE gold medalist

Alexandre BilodeauOn January 7, François D’Anjou learned that he had earned the highest standing in Quebec on the September 2019 CFE. This thoughtful young professional’s calm and composed demeanor upon hearing the news belied his astonishment.

With both feet firmly on the ground, he is already thinking about the possibilities that will surely come his way thanks to this achievement.



Portrait of an inspiring future CPA

Why become a CPA?

“Because I can combine two of my interests: administration and IT. It didn't take me long to realize that the CPA designation would give me excellent versatility in the business world, so that I can work in any field, including technology. Eventually, I would like to specialize in risk management and develop my expertise in IT audits and automated controls.”

The achievement you are most proud of

“Having the opportunity to participate in academic competitions during my studies, such as the Financial Open and the Jeux du Commerce. These events are an intense and unique opportunity to test our skills with a tightly knit team. You feel like you’re in a bubble, and it’s extremely motivating.”

Someone who inspires you in particular

“Actually, it's not one person, but a group of people. It’s my CFE study group. They are genuinely driven and bright people who inspire me with their determination. The coach who assisted me in my efforts is also a true source of inspiration. He really helped me prepare for all the situations that crop up along the way.”

A funny fact about you

“Maybe it’s because of the lunches that everyone brought to elementary school, but I have had a real aversion to pâté chinois ever since I was little.”  Clearly, in our medalist's case, “steak, corn and potatoes" is not the recipe for success.

Do you have anything you would like to say to future CPAs?

“The most important thing is to keep going. Perseverance is the key to success. Staying mentally present and organized at all times is more valuable than making smart moves from time to time.”

Tips and tricks on how to prepare for the CFE

How did you prepare for the CFE?

“My study group and I did 7 to 8 case studies per week at the beginning of the summer. Having group discussions about the cases really helps you get the full measure of them. Towards the end of the summer, I focused more on the theoretical aspects to complete my preparations.”

The ideal study session

“The thing that helped me the most was simulating the exam conditions and doing the case studies in them. For instance, I put in ear plugs and sat alone, working on the same laptop that I used during the CFE. For the theory, I cut myself some slack and often went elsewhere to study or even outside.”

Rewarding yourself after a study session

“Usually, during a session, I would follow the same routine: a case, some exercises and then the correction. Afterward, I would give myself permission to meet up with friends so that I could clear my head and unwind.”

An inspiring quote that set the course for study sessions

"Quebec’s 2016 CFE gold medalist came to our university to give us a pep talk and his message was right on target. He said that we needed to see the case studies as professional development tools and not as a chore, even though we may not see their usefulness at first. They help us prepare for our career. The exam is not the end goal.”

The perfect breakfast

“As motivation to get up and study, I often made myself a big breakfast. It gave me an incentive to get out of bed! Three eggs with a little hot sauce, two pieces of toast and, of course, coffee."

Learning to listen to yourself and make the most of the present

“To help yourself study effectively, you need to find the method that works for you first. Study at your own pace and, above all else, make the most of this unique moment. It’s hard, but in retrospect, you will never again experience such an intense period with a group of people like this one, where you are all striving to achieve such an extraordinary goal. You have to see the good sides of the experience."

What did you do the day before the first day of the CFE?

“I put together a list of lessons that I had learned from each case study during the summer. I reread that list several times so that I would remember all the traps and important points. Then, I took a long walk. I also kept the same sleeping schedule that I had begun several days before.”

* Information valid at the time of interview