UM-D grad youngest in state history to pass CPA exam

Photo by J. Patrick Pepper

Photo by J. Patrick Pepper

Bradley Brennan holds certification papers for passing all four sections of the Certified Public Accountant exam. Brennan, 20, is believed to be the youngest person to pass the test in state history.

Sunday Times Newspapers

DEARBORN — Bradley Brennan always has been a fast learner, but his latest accomplishment puts the University of Michigan-Dearborn graduate in a league of his own.

At just 20 years old, Brennan recently became what is believed to be the youngest person in Michigan history to pass all sections of the notoriously difficult Certified Public Accountant Exam.

The CPA exam comprises four parts: auditing and attestation; financial accounting and reporting; regulation; and business environments and concepts. Only about 10 percent of test-takers pass all four parts the first time around, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Brennan completed all four sections on his first attempts.

And with the presumptive setting of the superlative record, Brennan joins some elite company. He surpasses by four months the mark held for more than half a century by billionaire businessman and philanthropist Eli Broad, though the claim is tough to verify. State licensure regulators don’t keep track of such data, though Broad for decades has said – unchallenged – that he is the youngest person to pass the exam.

And it was actually Broad’s notoriety that led Brennan, in a happenstance occurrence, to recognize the achievement.
“I was reading a profile on Eli Broad (rhymes with “code”), and it said he was the youngest person ever to pass (the CPA exam) in Michigan,” Brennan said.

Knowing he had to be close to passing Broad’s mark, he contacted the Eli Broad Foundation, one of Broad’s philanthropic organizations, to see exactly how old Broad was when he earned his license.

“They responded back that he passed it a month before he turned 21, meaning I beat it by four months,” Brennan said. “They were really cool about it and said congratulations and good luck with your studies.”

In addition to passing the exam, Brennan in just three years has obtained the 150 college credit hours requisite to be a licensed CPA, graduating with a double major in financial accounting and finance.

All the hard work pays off this week, when Brennan will join the staff of Ernst & Young as a tax accountant. Company executives said they are thrilled to have him join the team.

“We expect a lot of great things from him, and we couldn’t be more excited about his achievement,” said Ernst & Young partner Dave Mullett. “It’s really pretty remarkable.”

Brennan, who has lived with his father, Mike, in the Residences at the TPC since enrolling at UM-D, said the thing he looks forward to most now that he is out of school is “not being broke,” a goal he already is well on his way to achieving.

In recognition of his record-setting performance, Ernst & Young gave Brennan a $5,000 hiring bonus, which he plans to use to finally buy the flat-screen television he’s been eyeing — and of course, some more business attire.

“I figure I am going to be wearing a lot more suits now,” Brennan said.

He hopes to attend a top business management school in the next few years and eventually go on to form his own financial services company. In the near term, he is trying to set up a meeting with the man whose record he broke.

“I told (the Broad Foundation) I would go anywhere, anytime, if he would be willing. I think it would be awesome to meet him,” Brennan said.