Crunching the Numbers for 50 Years

Jack Arnold reflects on 50 years in the accounting industry

Jack Arnold
News Story
| 11/26/2019
Jack Arnold Celebrates 50 Years in Accounting

At Crowe MacKay LLP our history runs long and deep. We have Partners who’ve built their careers with us and have been instrumental in the firm’s success. These are the people who have created the foundation so Crowe MacKay could leave a legacy in the accounting industry. Not many can say they have been serving clients for 50 years across Northern and Western Canada.

Jack Arnold is one of these leaders. He has been with Crowe MacKay for over 20 years as a Partner, and now as an Associate, as he transitions to retirement. November marks Jack’s 50th year practicing. He shares his journey and how he's seen the industry change and progress over the last half of a century.


November 17 1969 is the day I started working in a CA firm. I did not know what a CA was at that time (Chartered Accountant). I had been working; waiting to decide if I would go back to university when my sister phoned me and asked if I wanted to be a Chartered Accountant. My response — “what is that?”

After 50 years I think I figured it out.

I can’t say that everything went well because the first firm I worked for fired me two days before my one year anniversary, advising me that I would not become a CA. I was stubborn, and one week later I found another job where things worked out a little better. I wrote my Uniform Evaluation (UFE) in 1975; got my CA in December 1975, and became a partner in July 1976. This firm then merged with MacKay and Partners and here I am today — a retired partner, still being stubborn, and still working.

Jack Group Photo 50th Anniversary

Jack Arnold and other pivotal Crowe MacKay partners are recognized for their contributions to the firm's success at our 50th Anniversary celebration

The profession has evolved over the years and if I had to summarize what that means to our profession it would be: we are trusted advisers and change is a constant.

I get asked for advice on creating an impactful practice and accounting career, and I think I’ve got it down to five simple keys to success:

  1. Always treat people with respect
  2. Talk to people
  3. If you want to give the correct answers make sure you ask the correct questions
  4. Remember you are the advisor: it is always your clients who make the decision
  5. Make your coworkers, clients, (and even the tax auditors) laugh when you can

These pieces of advice have guided me through an ever changing industry. The profession fundamentally does the same job as it did 50 years ago, but with constantly changing rules and tools. We are service providers that our clients want and need. In my career the training has gone from hiring non-university articling positions to university graduates only. I have met a lot of students over the years some of which became partners, some went into industry, and some are still here at Crowe MacKay.

I used to be called a CA and now I am a CPA. The UFE exams used to be four days handwritten, and now it’s the CFE (Common Final Examination), completed in three days and done electronically.

I can remember when computers were massive machines and now we have laptops …

Rather than go through all the changes in accounting theory, (which is many), I thought it would be fun to describe the changes in our tools of the trade



  • All working papers were done in pencil
  • Hand crank manual adding machines
  • Tax act — 2 inches max
  • Calculators — NONE
  • Bookkeeping manual debits and credits 
  • Timesheets completed weekly, manually entered by staff
  • Personal T1’s done manually including calculations
  • Audit programs were created manually   
  • Everyone can type faster than they can write
  • Calculators or EXCEL spreadsheets with formulas
  • At least 4 inches and we Google everything
  • Calculators are everywhere and built into many programs
  • Computerized
  • Enter data daily by everyone (but some things never change and this is still a struggle to get done)
  • Computers (heaven help us if we had to do the calculations manually still)
  • Computers can do the bulk of it but there is still some “old school” ticking and slashing

Reflecting on 50 years is quite a job in itself. I don’t think there are many people who can say they’ve dedicated this much of their time to one career, and decades to one firm. Both are something I am very proud of. In 2013 I was awarded a FCA, now called FCPA, for contributions to the profession, a recognition I am honoured to hold.

One thing is simple: I wouldn’t be here, still practicing, if I didn’t love my job. My clients bring meaning to what I do, and building these relationships have brought me great joy. Accounting has given me a good life. But, to get where I am today, there is a very important person who has supported and stood by me this entire time, my wife Judie. We’ve been together for 52 years and married for 46; I am beyond grateful for her — thank you for joining me on this journey Judie.

Jack and Judie Arnold at Crowe MacKay's 50th Anniversary celebration

And where would I be without my sister, who just happened to ask the question:

“Do you want to be a Chartered Accountant?”

I can full heartedly say, “Yes. Yes, I do.”


From all of us at Crowe MacKay LLP, Congratulations Jack on 50 wonderful years!