Three Ottawa students make CPA profession’s Honour Roll

TORONTO, Dec. 01, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario (CPA Ontario) congratulates Richard Despatie, David (Chun Yu) Lao and Robyn Smith of Ottawa who have been named to the National Honour Roll as three of the top writers of the Common Final Examination (CFE) in the province. Written in September, the CFE is a national three-day evaluation that assesses competencies including essential knowledge, professional judgment, ethics and the ability to communicate. 

Of the 69 students listed on the prestigious National Honour Roll, 32 were Ontario Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) students. Ontario also had 2,252 of the country’s 5,580 successful CFE writers. Completion of this exam marks a milestone for these prospective CPAs, acknowledging years of hard work, dedicated study, steadfast work-life balance and a true commitment to the accounting profession and their careers.

The CFE is an important component of the CPA qualification program, which includes prescribed education, practical experience and examination requirements. Only those who complete all three of these required elements of the CPA program successfully are entitled to use the internationally recognized designation of Chartered Professional Accountant, a profession known for financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight and leadership.

Having achieved a Bachelor of Commerce degree at McGill University, Despatie works at KPMG LLP in Ottawa. The former Cornwall resident noted: “I am focusing on having a career where I make a difference and am able to use my knowledge to help a company or any organization grow. The CPA designation will help open doors for me.”

“I realized in my high school business class that the field of accounting combined my love for math, problem-solving, critical thinking and communication,” said Smith, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting degree from the University of Ottawa and works at the local office of Deloitte LLP. “The decision to work towards obtaining my CPA was a natural step in my career choice due to the prestige and recognition that is associated with the designation.”

Lao has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from Brock University. He works at the Department of National Defense in Ottawa. On why he chose a career in the accounting profession, Lao said: “I always did well in my business and accounting classes, and my academic success led to my interest in becoming a CPA. In addition to that, becoming a CPA opens unlimited opportunities for my future personal and career developments.”

Separate from the overall CFE process, CPA Ontario introduced the Kenneth Victor Chernick Award, which was established by the late Kenneth V. Chernick – a member of CPA Ontario, and is given to a CPA student who demonstrates distinguished performance on the Common Final Examination (CFE), and works in the Federal Public Service in Ottawa. The inaugural Kenneth Victor Chernick Award and an accompanying $3,000 went to Lao, the Honour Roll recipient. The second-place finisher, Amanda Bernier of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, received $2,000 and the two students who tied for third – Casey Bromley and Craig Nichols – each received $1,000.

“Congratulations to the members of the National Honour Roll and all of the successful Ontario CFE writers,” said Carol Wilding, FCPA, FCA, President and CEO of CPA Ontario. “The high standards of the CPA certification program ensure that graduates are equipped with the skills, knowledge and professionalism needed to navigate the ever-changing business landscape, while protecting the public interest. During the course of their careers, these students will benefit Ontario and its business community for many years to come.”

Interviews with Honour Roll students are available on request.

About the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario

CPA Ontario protects the public interest by ensuring its members meet the highest standards of integrity and expertise. CPA Ontario serves and supports its more than 89,000 members and 19,000 students in their qualification and professional development in a wide range of senior positions in public accounting, business, finance, government, not-for-profits and academe. Chartered Professional Accountants are valued by organizations of all types and sizes for their financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, management skills and leadership. For information on the profession, visit

For more information, please contact:
Perry Jensen
Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario
416-969-4271 or 1-800-387-0735, ext. 4271

Share this post