We're joined by Jennifer Johnson, CPA, and Sr. Lecturer in Accounting at the University of Texas at Dallas, along with her entire Accounting Information Systems class — our very first virtual studio audience! We take a break and let the students share articles of interest to them, including stories about smart speakers, how using social media the wrong way could keep you from getting a job (or help you get one); then share stories on celebrating WeWork's failed IPO, the AICPA Economic Outlook Survey. There's also a Q&A session with the class, where we share some insights and experience from our own careers in accounting and technology.
- 01:01 – Jennifer is bringing more than debits and credits to her accounting courses at UT
- 01:50 – Aspiring cloud accountants, get yourselves acquainted with high-quality video-conferencing software, such as Zoom!
- 02:56 – New new reviews!
- 04:44 – News from beyond the Cloud Accounting Podcast Studios!
- 05:09 – Are smart speakers recording your every word? | Consumer Reports
- 07:15 – Have we sacrificed our privacy for the sake of technological convenience?
- 11:21 – Caroline’s article relates back to our Sock-puppet discussion
- 11:48 – Does connection equal increased creativity? | Knowledge
- 12:54 – It's the newness of the person, their new information and new perspectives that inspires creativity.
- 13:36 – A substantial piece of David's work over the past decade is due to meeting new people on social media, however, he has yet to find the best way to balance digital distractions and real-world productivity
- 14:51 – Despite the negative aspects of social, it has opened up a wealth of possibilities for people to share, create, serve, and advance their professions
- 15:54 – David continually boosts his creative powers by accepting every LinkedIn invitation that comes his way!
- 17:17 – Be smart about building your personal brand, in order to make the best connections possible
- 17:44 – David highly recommends reading The Cluetrain Manifesto, and the 95 Theses, to learn more about the human connection to marketing, and social media
- 18:30 – Wanna boost your career? Stop lurking, start talking!
- 20:41 – Miguel's articles focus on job searches and hiring practices, such as background checks, as they pertain to social media:
- 22:26 – Saving face - If you wouldn't want the entire planet to see it, don't post it on social media, period.
- 23:51 – We're no longer able to lead separate work and personal lives anymore with the advent of social media.
- 27:33 – Think your private social channel is private forever? Think again, and then think about what you say there!
- 29:08 – Don't be afraid to talk about the things you do - hobbies, interests, activities - on social media. It gives potential employers a more well-rounded view of who you are and what you can do for them
- 30:01 – Accounting firms are looking for more than just accounting majors to build diversity within their firms | AccountingWEB
- 31:15 – Not to worry, though, up and coming accountants! As we discussed last week, there are still many accounting-related jobs available that offer top compensation and career opportunities!
- 32:36 – Are CPAs losing faith in the US economy? | AICPA
- 34:18 – Check out Sean Stein Smith's take on blockchain and accounting in episode 36]
- 35:05 – Cause for celebration? WeWork's failed IPO is proof that the free market system work |AIER
- 35:18 – Numbers don't really lie ... WeWork's S-1 filing | CNBC
- 36:35 – Since the trends are heading towards automation, aspiring accountants and bookkeepers should focus on the value-added services they can provide to clients
- 38:37 – Make learning the technology and the tools your side gig, if you want to get ahead of the game!
- 40:02 – Learn all the tech tools, not just accounting-related ... Calendars, social media automation, website design to build up basic skill levels employers are seeking
- 41:14 – Carpe Diem! It's never been easier to start your own accounting or bookkeeping business, with very little upfront expense!
- 42:14 – Get the itch for a niche ... There are countless opportunities for specializing in the accounting and bookkeeping realm
- 43:38 – Blake doesn't think regulation will hit the advisory specialty in the near future.
- 44:32 – When in Texas, don't bother calling yourself an accountant, unless you've got the CPA designation to prove it.
- 44:43 – In Cali, however, anything goes ... Anyone can call themselves an accountant, no degree required.
- 46:11 – Traditional accounting will stand the test of time, even though some may venture into more 'futuristic' areas. It's really a matter of personal choice
- 48:09 – No more snooze-fest - Accounting and bookkeeping can be as exciting and fun as you make it
Connect with Jennifer
Get in Touch
Blake Oliver: Welcome to The Cloud Accounting podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
David Leary: And I'm David Leary.
Class: And we're the University of Texas at Dallas!
Blake Oliver: Awesome. Well, I think that worked, but in case the audio wasn't quite clear to our listeners, we are joined today by a very special guest; many guests, in fact. Jennifer Johnson, CPA, and Senior Lecturer in Accounting has brought along her entire class as our virtual [00:00:30] studio audience. So, thank you all for joining us, and please give yourselves a hand.
Class: [Applause and cheering]
Blake Oliver: All right. Well, Jennifer, thanks so much for bringing your class along and being our audience today. I understand this is Accounting Information Systems. Is that right?
Jennifer Johnson: Correct.
Blake Oliver: We're really happy that you reached out to us and suggested doing something like this. What was it that prompted you to ... First, how did you learn about the podcast, and [00:01:00] what gave you this idea?
Jennifer Johnson: I've been listening to the podcast for about six months. I just stumbled across it, and ever since I started listening to it, I thought it would be great to introduce your topics to my class. Of course, we get the chance to talk about accounting technology and how accounting is not just about debits, and credits, and audits, and tax returns. This semester, I'm assigning them all the opportunity to listen to various podcasts, of which yours is one. Then, they get to share [00:01:30] the recent news and technology with the course. Everybody's learning something new, outside of the textbook.
Class: Having this event happen is just a technological marvel of the cloud, because we have two different technologies we're using to record. We've never done this before, with a studio audience like this - a virtual studio audience. It's a testament to the cloud.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, and for those who are interested in nerding out about the tech, we're using Zencastr to record the podcast audio. That's what we normally do, when we record, because David [00:02:00] is in Tucson, and I'm in Los Angeles. Then, we are now adding Zoom for the video-chat component so we can record locally to our computers to get high-quality audio. Then, we can also reach you through Zoom, which, by the way, students, if you're not familiar with it, I highly suggest you get familiar with the Zoom, because it's what it seems like all of the modern cloud-based accounting firms are using these days-
David Leary: Especially if you're gonna be a cloud accountant because you don't wanna have to drive to your clients' offices and do face-to-face meetings.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, [00:02:30] no, avoid that at all costs!
David Leary: So, we've got news to jump into, which is great because Blake brought articles; I brought articles; you, the students, have brought articles to discuss this week. We do have a couple of reviews we should probably get through, and then, we'll jump into the news.
Blake Oliver: This is from Johan Potgieter CA(SA), which I'm not sure what that means.
David Leary: I think it's South Africa.
Blake Oliver: Oh, CA in South Africa. Got it. He says - five stars - "I absolutely love this podcast! As the Cloud Accounting Manager and fully remote worker for Outsourced CFO, the insight, commentary, research, and witty feedback, regarding everything Accounting, Cloud, Tech, Xero, AI, and everything in between has become a staple source of knowledge and information in my week. For the past year and a half that I have listened to David and Blake on this podcast, I have not missed a single episode." Wow-
David Leary: Thank you!
Blake Oliver: "I can not recommend this podcast enough to any person that is even remotely interested in the wonderful world of Cloud Accounting. Even though they are based in the USA, I find that their content also relates to me as a professional in South Africa. They are truly Cloud Accounting Thought Leaders ;) Keep up the great work!"
David Leary: Thank [00:03:30] you very much! That's a great review!
Blake Oliver: Thank you.
David Leary: "Great podcast!" Five stars ... This one's on iTunes. "Engaging and informative. I love listening and staying up to date on the latest accounting industry news." This is from horizon_view in the United States of America.
Blake Oliver: TScottT said, "Love your podcast. I can’t get into a lot of podcasts, but I listen to yours on a regular basis. Always informative AND entertaining. I even made my husband listen to several episodes as we were driving home from XeroCon this summer! He’s not an accountant, but I think even he enjoyed it. Keep up the good work!" My [00:04:00] wife won't even listen to the podcast, so that's really a testament.
David Leary: Yeah. It's even better if you can get your spouse or significant other to actually subscribe and download the podcast separately. That'd really help out our numbers.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, help our numbers out.
David Leary: One more review. "Hooked! Hey guys, I've been listening to your podcast for the last two weeks. I'm addicted. For anyone wanting to know how to disrupt their profession and stay ahead of the curve, this is mandatory listening. Keep up the great work!" That's from astetic - A-S-T-E-T-I-C ... [00:04:30]
Blake Oliver: If you want to leave us review on iTunes or Podchaser, we'll read it on the air. But, let's get to the news, shall we, David?
David Leary: Yeah, should we jump in with one of our stories? One of the students' stories?
Blake Oliver: I think, let's start with the students. We're doing this a bit different this week. We have our studio audience here, and I understand that some of you have brought articles to share. So, we would love to go ahead and do that. Who [00:05:00] wants to go first?
Alex Dolan: I'll go first.
Blake Oliver: Go ahead and tell us your name. Maybe a little bit about yourself. Then we can get into the article.
Alex Dolan: My name is Alex Dolan. I'm a senior student here, or a senior accounting student here at UT-Dallas, and I'm like one semester away from graduating ... All this exciting stuff happening in my last semester ... I found an article from ConsumerReports.org, by Allen St. John and Thomas Germain about [00:05:30] smart speakers and how they pose potential privacy threats and are viewed as kind of invasive by some people.
A little bit of a summary of it is that investigative reporting has shown that smart speakers are recording transcripts of voice recordings that are being screened by employees for the improvement of devices, "and not for marketing purposes." Critics say this policy is unfair [00:06:00] to consumers. Perhaps it is spelling a bad habit for big tech for surveillance without the consumer's knowledge. I just wanted to know what you guys thought about this.
Blake Oliver: I have smart speakers. How about you, David?
David Leary: I have an unplugged Alexa. It's usually unplugged.
Blake Oliver: Are you guys scared by this whole thing?
David Leary: No, I just plug it in when I wanna use it and unplug it when I don't. Just been doing that since day one. So, this is good. Now that we have an audience here, we can take a survey. How many of you are using- actively use a smart speaker?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, raise [00:06:30] your hands, if you've got one. Okay, so, it looks like ... Probably, what, 20 percent? A third, maybe. It's funny, when this article came out, I kind of got paranoid for a moment, because I have a smart lighting system in my apartment. I bought all those light bulbs, Philips Hue light bulbs that you can control with your voice through Alexa. It's kind of a pain to set up, but once you do, it's pretty awesome. Oh, and I just woke her up. Let me see ... [laughing] She's listening to our conversation. [00:07:00]
Yeah, I got a little bit paranoid about this, but the good news is that now you can go in, and you can change your privacy settings, which is ... That's what's great about this article that you brought, is it ... Now we have options to control privacy and whether or not these recordings are gonna be listened to by human beings, right? I think there's a broader discussion, which is how much privacy are we going to have in the future? Because everything I read suggests that privacy might be going away, and we may not have a choice about it; in that there's all this- [00:07:30] big data companies now that can take in our credit card purchases, and our loyalty card purchases, and our location data from different apps. There's all these different-
David Leary: We talked about that two weeks ago, about how much you tip; that's being tracked now.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Not to mention, there are cameras everywhere now. People have smart doorbells; there are public surveillance cameras. There are companies that just aggregate this data and can use AI to know an incredible amount about you, automatically. I'm not sure there's a way to really stop this. [00:08:00] There's legislation that's been proposed. I think San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition, in San Francisco, by the police department. Ultimately, how much can legislation do? I think it ties into some of the other articles that you guys are gonna share later about social media and presence there. We may just have to get used to a world in which we don't have as much privacy as we used to.
David Leary: This article didn't touch on all the apps you use. Every time you turn around, you install some app, and it's asking for access to your microphone. This has probably happened to [00:08:30] everybody ... About three weeks ago, I was complaining to my wife about my teeth were hurting. I went to Twitter, and I got Sensodyne ads in my Twitter feed. I know I didn't Google search that. I've never clicked on a Sensodyne toothpaste ad. It's a little on the creepy side at this point.
Blake Oliver: That's creepy.
Alex Dolan: I used to work at a pet store, and while I worked there, all the ads on my Facebook were all about pet food, and pet appliances, and stuff like that-
David Leary: Oh because the location [00:09:00] tracking.
Blake Oliver: Yeah-
Alex Dolan: Well, just because I was always saying stuff about pets' food because I was the sales associate. It always thought I was talking about pets.
David Leary: That's the thing with big data, right? It's so smart and so stupid. It thought you were just a person that loved dogs or pets. It's not smart enough to know, "Oh, he works there. He probably doesn't wanna buy any pet stuff," and they still advertise it. Or, it happens, like you buy something on Amazon, and then you see ads for that for the next two weeks ..." You already made the purchase, though.
Blake Oliver: So, what [00:09:30] is the tie-in to accounting here? If I'm gonna stretch here, I would say that we're talking about big data, and if you look at the future of audit, for instance, there's all these applications that are being developed now, such as MindBridge Ai, that ingest large amounts of data and then extrapolate risk on these data sets, without us having to manually do it.
That's essentially the same logic; the same systems are being applied to our personal data to find things out about us, but we can take that [00:10:00] technology, and we can apply it to accounting - to audit, in particular - to hopefully save ourselves a lot of trouble. Of course, the challenge is that we don't always know exactly how it works.
Then, as an auditor ... This is one of the reasons that this AI in audit has taken so long to get into use is that we don't often know how machine learning works, because it's an algorithm that we don't understand. It builds itself. So then, how do you ... As an audit partner, how do you use that [00:10:30] tool, if you can't explain it, or if you can't look inside it? Interesting questions, right? All right, well, thanks so much for sharing. Is it Alex?
Alex Dolan: Right. Can I ask one more question?
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah, sure.
Alex Dolan: Do you think that audit, in the future - like in the near future, with Big Data - do you think that privacy audit will be something that will exist?
Blake Oliver: That's a great question. If legislation continues to be passed, protecting consumer privacy, then a lot of these big companies are going to have to go [00:11:00] through audits of their consumer data to make sure that they're not collecting too much or that ...I don't know- that they're complying, right?
David Leary: I can even see that as being a service you could offer as your accounting firm to your clients. We will help you secure your private data; starting with your financial data online.
Blake Oliver: All right, who's next?
Caroline Dillard: Hi, I'm Caroline Dillard. I am also a senior in accounting here at UTD. I'm set to graduate next May. Then, I plan to fast-track, because UTD has a fast-track master's program. So, I plan to do that [inaudible] sit for the CPA exam. The [00:11:30] article I brought today is somewhat related to the article you brought up a couple of weeks ago about sock puppets on LinkedIn, and the fake profiles that you wanna avoid making connections with.
This article was published on Knowledge.insead.edu. It was written by Pawel Korzynski, and it's called, "How Making New Friends on LinkedIn Can Boost Creativity." Essentially, what it is, it's sort of [00:12:00] a summary of a paper that the author of the article co-authored. Basically it was a report of a study done on engineers. They found a correlation between the creativity and personal innovativeness of those engineers. Then, 1) their willingness to play with new social media technologies, and 2) their willingness to connect with new people that they hadn't previously known.
What I found was interesting is that there's a correlation [00:12:30] between making connections with new people - people you haven't met before - either face-to-face, or through another connection. But that same correlation with creativity doesn't exist, if you're just making connections with people that you've already met. Essentially, there's a correlation between creativity, and then a diversified network of [inaudible]
Basically, the study put forth that the reason [00:13:00] for this is, if you're making connections with new people, you're getting access to new information, and new data, and this builds your creativity. I was wondering, 1) your thoughts on it; then, 2) if there's a benefit of connecting with new acquaintances through social media; but there's also the detrimental effects of connecting with sock puppets or fake profiles. What are some things that we can look out for to avoid, when [00:13:30] making new connections?
David Leary: One proof of this ... This podcast would not exist, if it wasn't for social media.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: Chances are, I would have never ... I knew Blake through social media before I met Blake, or I knew of Blake, maybe is the better way to say that. I look at other projects and things I've worked on over the last five, six, seven, eight, 10 years, and a lot of these connections have been because of social media. So, it's totally valid.
But, equally, it's really annoying, right now, when I get 10 messages a day on LinkedIn, which I know are from bots, or fake things, or people [00:14:00] trying to sell me stuff that are not engaging. Sometimes, I feel like that sucks a little bit of your soul away. I don't know the best way to balance it. I don't know, Blake, if you came up with a great system, or if any of you, because it gets very distracting. I can't even imagine being a student nowadays with the amount of social media and the distractions. How do you study?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, it's crazy. I wasn't a student that long ago, and I didn't have a smartphone. I met my wife in college, and I never had to text her when we were dating, so I can't even imagine what you all go through, having to interpret [00:14:30] a text message of somebody that you're ... We had to talk on the phone. It's amazing what's going on with social media.
I would agree with David that our podcast wouldn't exist. We would not have met. Well, maybe we would've met at a conference, but we wouldn't have continued talking to each other, if it wasn't for social media. A lot of the people that I know who are really forward-thinking in the accounting profession, they'd be isolated, otherwise.
Maybe you're one person in your firm who kind of is getting what's happening. In the past, you would have been that one person, and your ideas would have been [00:15:00] crushed, and you would have just gone along with what everybody else was doing. But now, you can connect with like-minded people in firms or in industry, all over the country, and you can come together.
There are these groups that exist, and David, and I are part of one together - people who work all over the place, all over the world, and we connect, and we share ideas as to how we can better run our firms, build our applications, serve the community, advance the profession.
David Leary: If you think about that, it applies to school, right? It's the same model. You're in classes; you're [00:15:30] going to different classes every semester; you're constantly meeting new people. These collisions are happening. You're at your creative peak there, in college. Then you get out, and you take a job with a company, and you only talk to the same six people every day for the next five years if you stay there that long. Of course, your creativity is gonna get stifled.
Blake Oliver: I think the key is use social media intelligently. David, I wanna know, do you still accept every LinkedIn invite that comes your way, or have you changed your behavior?
David Leary: Well, apparently, I'll be more creative if I connect with more people, so I just accept them all.
Blake Oliver: David, [00:16:00] and I are of different opinions. I won't connect with somebody, unless I can trust that they're real; that we have connection. You can't just look at connections in common, though, because there's lots of bots that are really good at connecting with many, many people, such as David, who don't look at their profiles ... I try to be smart about it. I think the key is just connect with people who you know are real and that you wanna continue conversations with.
It's not like online is the future of everything. It's a hybrid, like many things. We take these meetings [00:16:30] that we have at conferences, for instance - maybe a technology conference - and then we continue talking and sharing ideas with those people throughout the year until next time. Whereas, in the past, it would have just been I see this person once or twice a year.
I think it's important, too ... I like this article that you brought, because it mentions, at the end, employer policies about social media. One day, when you guys are running firms, or running accounting teams, or finance teams, I think it's really important to let your staff, especially if you have a firm, have their own identities [00:17:00] on social media. A lot of firms, I think they kind of ... They don't like it when the staff are out there on social media. They want the firm brand to be the only thing that's out there; but people don't buy from a brand, they buy from people, when it comes to professional services.
You need to be out there building your own personal brand, and I don't mean this in a like a sleazy marketing kinda way. I mean this in a you are, to most people, your social media profile, because [00:17:30] you can only have so many one-to-one, in-person relationships these days, but you can have many, many more, via LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or Snapchat, or TikTok, I guess. I don't know ...
David Leary: People wanna connect with other people. They don't wanna connect with companies or brands. There's a good book that you guys should all read. It's called The Cluetrain Manifesto. Even if you don't read the book, there's just the 95 Theses, if you just read that; takes you 20 minutes. It's all about how markets are conversations. [00:18:00] Those guys wrote that over a decade ago, now, and it's so dead on. This is pre-Facebook. I think Twitter was just becoming a thing, and social media was just becoming a thing. They really got that things are changing, and intranets were changing, internally, and the internet was changing the way communications were happening; it's not so much one way anymore. Yeah, being a face for your company is important because that's who people wanna connect with - other people, ultimately.
Blake Oliver: The [00:18:30] tip I would leave you with is, as you get out into the professional world, and you start using LinkedIn, don't be afraid to post. If you read something interesting, share that on LinkedIn, and ask a question, and interact with your colleagues, and share ideas and information. It takes guts, I think. A lot of people- the vast majority people never post on social media; they're just lurkers.
I saw a study that, on Facebook, something like 80 to 90 percent of people never post. They [00:19:00] only look at other people's posts, and maybe 10 percent of people are out there commenting, and creating content, and that sort of thing. I can tell you, just based on my own experience, that getting myself from that lurker point into that 10 percent has made all the difference in my career.
David Leary: So, let's get into the next couple stories, because I feel like this is the other side of the coin and pendulum here, Blake, of social media.
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Blake Oliver: We've [00:20:30] got another story from Miguel-
David Leary: Kinda three related stories.
Blake Oliver: So, Miguel, same thing for you - your name, a little bit about yourself, and then go ahead and share that story.
Miguel Calderon: My name is Miguel Calderon, and I'm also a senior here at the University of Texas at Dallas, and I graduate this December; so, a few more months. Being that we are college students, and our search for employment is a lot higher than probably the average person, I was looking at a couple of articles [00:21:00] for a survey done by CareerBuilder.com. It says, "Roughly seven out of 10 employers search for candidates using social networking sites for background checks, and about 43 percent of those employers continue using social media to check on current employees, once the onboarding process is complete."
Like everything, there's good and bad to this. About 37 percent of the background information supporting the professional qualifications that the employee had in his resume, and [00:21:30] 22 percent of the candidates had great references from the job candidates, probably through one of these bots or something. The bad part of all of this was that 27 percent of the people actually lied about their qualifications in their resumes, and 20 percent shared confidential information from their previous employers.
I know you mentioned just on the last topic about using social [00:22:00] media intelligently, but probably saying it on private was my thought. According to this article, about 47 percent of employers said that they wouldn't call a person back, if they couldn't find them on social media. What kind of balance would you ... Can give us, so we can have a balance, or something?
Blake Oliver: I love that you brought these stats. These are fantastic. It really [00:22:30] shows a difference between when I was a student, and now. When I was a student, the advice was just don't be on social media; if you just avoid it, anything public, then you can't damage your employment prospects. But now, if you're not on social media, then the employers want to know why aren't you on social media? And it can hurt you. You're kinda caught. You have to be there. If you really wanna be safe, just don't ever post [00:23:00] anything, anywhere, that you wouldn't want the entire world to see - that's the safest thing to do, right?
David Leary: That's my policy, too. I don't use any of those "Only show this post to 16 of my friends," or, "Only show this to a certain audience," or, "This one's gonna be a private post," because all it takes is one mis-click and you're in trouble. So, I just assume every time I post everything, it's wide open to the world - everybody can see it - and it just keeps me safer that way, knowing I just choose not to put anything that should be private online.
Blake Oliver: I [00:23:30] know that's hard, right? Because you wanna be able to have that close circle of friends that you share with. But depending on your ambitions, somebody might screenshot something, and that might come back to bite you someday. Is it really worth it? I agree with David that you should really be the same person you are online, that you are in person, that you are at work.
I think there's a big shift happening in the world of work, where ... It used to be that you had this private person that you were at home and with your friends, and then, you [00:24:00] had this professional persona when you went to work. Those two things could exist separately and be completely different. If you've watched the show Mad Men, you see that. Most of the show, the drama is around people having these dual identities. Don Draper, perfect example, right?
But now, with social media, with everybody carrying a camera around in their pocket, you can't do that anymore. We can see that there's actually some positive, I think, effects of that. If you look at the whole "Me Too" movement, I [00:24:30] don't think any of that would've happened if it wasn't actually for social media and people getting together online to talk about this kind of stuff. If you do something inappropriate, chances are somebody will pull out their camera and record you doing it. You can't do that anymore. We were just talking about privacy ... This is one of the - I think - good things about lack of privacy is that you can't hide. Either-.
David Leary: Unless you're Michael Mann, with the MyPayrollHR fraud [cross talk]
Blake Oliver: That's right. Yes.
David Leary: That guy hid pretty well.
Blake Oliver: The best thing to do [00:25:00] is, yeah, every time you post, think, "What it what if my parents saw this? What if my future employer saw this," and then don't do it if it's a question. Also, I don't think that means you have to be buttoned up, because employers, they'll look at your profile, and they'll figure out if it's not real. I think the key is to be yourself to the point where, "I'm not gonna work at somebody's office, if they're not okay with me being myself." It's the only way we all get to a situation in which our jobs don't suck. I [00:25:30] know that can be hard, but it can work out. David has made a whole career out of essentially being himself in a corporate environment. David, you wanna talk about working at Intuit, and your role? You stood out from the crowd there.
David Leary: I was maybe one of the first five or six employees at Intuit that were on Twitter and just started getting out there on social media. It took a big company like Intuit years before they kinda got good at it, or even knew what they wanted to do with it. In the meantime, I kinda saw [00:26:00] it as an opportunity, because if you look at historically ... You guys have probably heard of Guy Kawasaki.
Blake Oliver: He was the chief evangelist for Apple-
David Leary: For Apple, for years. Some of you guys play Xbox; Major Nelson, who's on Xbox ... Even though Xbox, the brand, and Xbox is a platform, there's still these people or these faces of those platforms ... I kind of saw that as an opportunity; like, "Oh, we have this platform, QuickBooks Online; we have a platform for developers - the APIs; but we don't have a face." People wanna talk to a face. They wanna think of a person when they think [00:26:30] about that product. I just went out there and started becoming that person ... A little consciously, but not really. Really, I just helped a lot of people, and it just kind of snowballed and built from that.
Blake Oliver: David's being very modest, but he essentially was the face of the QuickBooks Online ecosystem for many of us, looking from the outside; at least that's how I perceived you, David.
David Leary: I was good at smoke and mirrors, huh?
Blake Oliver: That's a big thing at a multi-billion-dollar company ... By the way, guys, if [00:27:00] you don't know Intuit, maker of TurboTax and QuickBooks - one of the largest developers of accounting- cloud-accounting software in the world. Yeah ... So, David did it. It may not be easy, but I think you were able to carve out a role for yourself because of it, at Intuit, and it has led to great things.
David Leary: One thing, just to build off of these articles - yes, you as a student have to worry about - to get hired - what you post on social media. But I heard something this week, and I'm not sure what I [00:27:30] was listening to, so I’m gonna have to do some digging to get this link in the show notes ... Just the analogy would be this - you now have graduated; you work for accounting firm B, and it's a smaller firm; you guys have a Slack channel, and you guys are communicating on that. Maybe you're talking about all your competitors in there - good, bad, immature talk, whatever it is.
In theory, it's a private channel. Now, accounting firm A gobbles you up, and now you're part of that accounting firm. Slack lets them take [00:28:00] all those Slack messages and merge it into their instance of Slack. Now, every single person could just search all your old messages on Slack, so, even the "private" channels have some risk of not being private, now.
Blake Oliver: That's a really good point. We've kinda known this about email for a long time. When you send an email, that's like a postcard in a lot of ways. Would you put this on a postcard and send it in the mail? Somebody else could read it at the office where you're sending it to ... Same thing with Slack, with email. We have to be really conscious of how [00:28:30] we communicate.
David Leary: How many of you have posted something on social media that you fear is gonna not let you get a job?
Blake Oliver: I'll admit it, but that was back before anyone was warning anybody about that ... Let's talk about some of the positive things about posting on social media. First of all, I wouldn't have gotten my last three jobs if I wasn't active on social media, and posting, and all that stuff, so that's a great thing, for me, personally. In the last the last three jobs I've interviewed for, I have not had to submit a resume because my LinkedIn profile [00:29:00] and the stuff that I was posting on LinkedIn was plenty. They knew who I was. They knew what I could do. So, that's a big bonus, right?
Some of these other stats of reasons why employers hired a candidate because of what they saw on social media - that your background info supported your professional qualifications; it shows you were creative; that you conveyed a professional image; that you showed a wide range of interests. I think that's important, too. Don't think that because your employers are looking at social media, you can't post pictures of [00:29:30] yourself kayaking or something because you like doing that. That's great, actually. People want well-rounded employees. Especially if you're going into public accounting, they want people who are going to be developing business someday, and if all you do is accounting, you're not gonna be able to bring in business. You're not gonna develop relationships, and that sort of thing.
David Leary: We could jump into some of the articles you and I brought, Blake. I have one that actually ties into exactly what you just said.
Blake Oliver: Okay, let's hear that.
David Leary: This is an article that was on AccountingWEB. "Why Non-Accountants are the Growth Engine for Accounting Firms.". [00:30:00]
Blake Oliver: Oh, I saw that.
David Leary: Obviously, with all of you being accounting majors, guess what? You didn't have to do that if you wanted to work for an accounting firm. arguably, as they're getting way from compliance work and going to more technology driven and advisory work, a different skill set's needed. What's good is it feels like Jennifer's preparing you guys for that, right-
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: -beyond just compliance work. He goes into very specific thoughts about this, and how it actually even helps with the culture and the diversity, [00:30:30] et cetera. It really drives back to what Blake was saying, that they want diversity; they need different thoughts. Especially in accounting firms, I think there's just one marching order, and people- they need to stray from that more.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, and I wouldn't like take this trend as like a bad thing for accounting. It's really a good thing because accounting firms are diversifying, and a lot of the fast-growing accounting firms actually don't describe themselves primarily as accounting firms. They describe themselves as either professional-services firms or consulting firms [00:31:00] that happen to be run by CPAs. So, there's a lot more opportunity inside of these firms that are growing to do a lot more than just audit and tax; not that audit and tax are bad. We had a story last week ... This latest episode on the podcast about how tax manager is one of the best jobs in the country, right? High compensation and tons of opportunity for career growth.
David Leary: Well, I think, of the top 15 jobs in America, weren't four to five accounting-related? [00:31:30]
Blake Oliver: Tax manager, audit manager, and accounting manager were all in the top 10 or 15. I can't remember. It was a list that was ranked by career prospects. The idea being that it's not really so important what you're doing as how much opportunity you have to grow inside of that field. If you can get to the manager point quickly, if you can get past that staff level and get to manager, then you've got a ton of options for career growth, [00:32:00] and it's a lot more fun. Let's see, what else should we talk about? I've got a story here ... How many of you subscribe to - just a show of hands - read the Journal of Accountancy? Is that something you guys are paying attention to? Yeah? Okay, cool, so, like half? That's great. That's awesome-
David Leary: Those of you who aren't, I'm not either, so, it's okay ...
Blake Oliver: Well, it is the most widely read publication in accounting, so if you don't have a student subscription or membership, I suggest you - and you wanna be a CPA - get [00:32:30] one of those with the AICPA. They're not expensive, and you get the journal as part of your membership. The article that I'm talking about now is the AICPA's Economic Outlook Survey. They do this every quarter, and it's a survey of CPAs who are AICPA members in business and industry holding executive positions in both public and privately-owned organizations of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries - the CPAs in executive positions in business and industry. They [00:33:00] survey them every quarter.
There's kind of a slightly worrisome trend ... CPA Outlook Index - this is the number between 0 and 100 that this survey uses to give you an idea of how positive CPAs are about the economy - dropped from 75 to 72, but the index component for optimism about the US economy dropped 10 points in the third quarter, from 70 in the second quarter to, now, only 60, which is 19 points down from the third quarter of 2018. [00:33:30]
If you've been following the news about a potential worsening of the trade war with China, about a possible recession coming, it seems that CPAs, who are in these leadership positions in industry, are also worried. Doesn't mean that necessarily it's going to hurt job prospects, because accounting is one of those rare industries in which it continues to grow, often, in recessions. Actually, here's the bright spot in here ... For the last five quarters, the number-one [00:34:00] challenge facing organizations has been availability of skilled personnel. If you are a skilled accountant, you'll probably be just fine.
David Leary: Yeah. I brought an article for your economics class, I guess. It's written by, actually, another professor, Sean Stein Smith. He's been on the podcast before, really heavily focused on bitcoin and blockchain ... Everybody's familiar with WeWork, right?
Blake Oliver: WeWork the co-working platform. Nod your heads ... Yes, no?
David Leary: It's like the library. You [00:34:30] go there to work, except for they have kegs and coffee. It's great ... You go into work [cross talk]
Blake Oliver: -and they have internet; high-speed internet ... Well, I guess they have that at the library, too.
David Leary: Anyway, WeWork's had this dramatic rise and fall to where they were about to IPO. I think they had a crazy valuation. They wanted to IPO at $43 billion. Now, they've completely pulled back. They're not gonna IPO. Sean's article basically points out that everything about the failed WeWork IPO proves that free markets [00:35:00] work and that we should be celebrating it. The quote I really love in here, that he wrote, was, "To succeed, any company must create more resources than it consumes, and WeWork simply has not met that requirement." I thought that was just the perfect way to phrase it.
Blake Oliver: Markets work and accounting .... It wouldn't be possible without accounting. This is one of those things that we don't talk about a lot, but like the entire capitalist free-market system relies on financial statements, and they worked, in this case. People [00:35:30] realized that you cannot run a real estate company with operating expenses twice your revenue, and go public, and expect people to invest money at this insane valuation. Check out their ... I think it's their S-1 filing? I can remember the name of the form but check out WeWork's filing. It's kinda crazy-
David Leary: Take that article to your economics class and try to get some extra credit.
Blake Oliver: So, David, I think we should pivot now to the Q&A section. We've got a special segment here. If you want to ask us any questions, you're welcome [00:36:00] to do so at this time.
Jennifer Johnson: We've got a handful of students who've got some questions in the classroom. I'll just pass the mic around to those guys and let y'all answer them.
Blake Oliver: We know that you've prepared questions, but if you wanna- if something has come up, based on this discussion or just is at top of mind, feel free to ask whatever you want.
Student: Yes, hello. My name is [Olus Lavi]. I'm a senior here at UT-Dallas. I'm graduating in May. My question is - from the perspective of someone who is [00:36:30] aware of the global trends in cloud accounting, what can a fledgling professional do to put themselves ahead of the curve?
Blake Oliver: The question is - from the perspective of someone who is aware of global trends in cloud accounting, what can a fledgling professional do to put themselves ahead of the curve? I could tell you that, based on my study of technology trends, that everything is headed toward more, and more, and more automation. That was true in my career, starting as a bookkeeper. 10 years ago, 80 percent of my job was doing [00:37:00] data entry. I was doing bookkeeping to put myself through school to get my CPA.
Within five years, that had inverted, and maybe 20 percent of the job of bookkeeping today is data entry, and the rest can be whatever value-added services you want to provide on top of that. Maybe that's doing cloud-based bill pay, or payroll, or analyzing financial statements, even, if you've got those skills. That happened in the small business world. David, as [00:37:30] the ecosystem guy for QuickBooks Online, you saw that automation happening.
David Leary: I saw it even before that. If I go back to early in my career, I'd gotten into quality assurance, testing QuickBooks, before we'd ship it. In those days, you'd have to test it, and make sure everything was perfect, because you were making a CD that you'd physically have to send and ship. If you shipped the bug, it's very hard to send a new CD; costs millions of dollars to do that. Now, with cloud accounting, if there's a bug, they just fix it; somebody refreshes their browser, they have the fix.
What I saw, in those days, is things [00:38:00] started moving from manual automated testing, where you were clicking everything, and clicking every button, typing every field, deleting every field, you'd start using tools to automate that. So, I've been on this automation trend for probably 15 years now, I've seen it across the board.
Blake Oliver: The accountants who learn to master automation tools and technology are gonna have unlimited opportunities, so that is my recommendation to you. You may ask me, "Well, how do I do that? How do I actually get experience? Because [00:38:30] when I go work for a firm, chances are, they're not gonna let me touch that stuff right away. Maybe I start in audit, or maybe I'm in tax ..." I would say do this on your own time, on the side.
Go find a small business that will let you do their bookkeeping and play around with the technology; build a QuickBooks Online general ledger that's hooked up to some sort of cloud-based bill pay system and try doing integrations. Play around with these different apps. Maybe do an internship in an outsourced accounting department in [00:39:00] an accounting firm. That's how I got all my experience doing this.
You can't learn it in school because it's developing too quickly. You can learn the general principles of integrating information systems, but to really know it, you've gotta do it. Even if that's not your dream, say, working with QuickBooks or with Xero, and you wanna work in larger enterprises - you wanna go work for Coca-Cola or something like that - all the principles of integrating systems, and data flow, and automation, they all apply. It's the [00:39:30] same stuff, it's just more complex.
If you're working with QuickBooks, or you're working with NetSuite, or you're working with SAP, or Oracle, fundamentally, these are the same principles, and you can learn a lot doing it on the small-business side to train yourself for that enterprise-level work. I would say the same thing about robotic process-automation technology. Companies like UiPath that build this incredible automation technology that you may not be able to get access to, right now, but you could learn how to do [00:40:00] basic automation with macros ...
David Leary: I think you could even just start on your own personal level with small tools, like calendar tools for scheduling. It sounds dumb, but ... "Oh, we're gonna go out for drinks tonight ... or what's the best time we can all go out for drinks tonight?" There's tools ... You can start incorporating these into your life now. There's also tools that can post to social media. You could have it automatically ... I'm just throwing this out there ... Automatically read the show notes in a Cloud Accounting Podcast, and then grab all those articles, and tweet [00:40:30] them out from your account. An employer would be like, "Wow, this person really finds great articles and tweets these out!" But there's all these tools, and just by using those, you're just gonna start building fundamentals on how to connect different apps together, and move data around, and sending data to where you want it to go. Even though it's nothing accounting-related, but if you just get those as a basic skill level, you're just gonna put your head on that path.
Blake Oliver: All right, next question.
Student: Hello. My name Heather Hoagland, and I very much appreciate you mentioning how important that is, because I currently work at a small company, and I'm doing bookkeeping, so I'm glad that that's giving me experience, and taking me somewhere. My question for both you and David is what would you say to someone who dreams of starting their own accounting business? [00:41:00]
Blake Oliver: I would say it's never been easier. That's the beauty of it. I was kind of in your situation, where I was doing bookkeeping. I was getting to apply the skills that I was learning, or the theory that I was learning, in reality, I got to apply the theory in this business. Here I am making [00:41:30] journal entries, making mistakes. Luckily, with accounting, you can always undo your mistakes ... You can delete that journal entry, or you can post a reversing one.
I would say you could literally, these days, probably graduate from school, and if you have enough work experience, you could start doing some basic work - bookkeeping, some tax ... You don't even have to go into ... If you're good at selling and marketing, you don't even have to go to a firm and get experience, these days. That's insane. That never used to be the case-
David Leary: In this day and age, it's cheaper [00:42:00] than ever, right? You need a laptop, and a Starbucks with internet. If you're just gonna do cloud accounting for others, you can create an accounting firm for almost nothing; relatively cheap.
Blake Oliver: You're talking few thousand dollars of investment.
David Leary: Yeah.
Blake Oliver: What I would say is that, if you wanna own your own small firm, David always talks about specialization and niching, and becoming an expert in a particular industry, because that's where everything's headed. Accounting firms used to do everything for everybody, and you can see [00:42:30] it changing. Right now, there's a CPA firm just for breweries. There's multiple, actually; there's many. There's people who focus just on working with dentists because their needs are specific. It could go on and on. I worked with a lot of entertainment people here in L.A.
Getting experience in that industry is going to really strengthen you for owning your own firm someday, and I've seen that. Some of my colleagues worked as controllers before owning their own firms. Instead of going the whole public-accounting route, they got out of that as [00:43:00] quickly as they could. They got into industry, and then they learned their craft there. Then you can be a really great management accountant working in public.
Student: Hi, thank you. My name is Colton [Irvey]. I'm a senior accounting student. My question is, I'm curious about the growth of the field of advisory, and if y'all think that that particular field is going to see a lot more regulation in the coming years? Or, if not, do you see there could be issues with lack of oversight of these consultants?
Blake Oliver: Interesting. The question is, then, is advisory [00:43:30] going to see more regulation?
David Leary: As far as like you have to pass some sort of certification, or testing, in order to provide advisory work?
Blake Oliver: Because, right now, anyone can be an advisor. You don't have to be a CPA to do it. It's a good question. I don't think that's gonna happen anytime soon, because I think the AICPA has enough on its hands, just trying to deal with the changing CPA exam and requirements for education. They've got a whole initiative called CPA Evolution, [00:44:00] about how do we change the curriculum, the exam, to modernize accounting? Extending the accounting franchise into advisory, unlikely - or the CPA franchise into advisory is unlikely.
David Leary: It's interesting, because I think Texas has interesting regulation on - you can't say that you're an accounting or bookkeeping firm, unless you're truly a CPA. Is that correct? You can't call your ... You can't use the word accounting in your company's name-.
Blake Oliver: Unless you're a CPA firm?
David Leary: I think that's true in Texas. [00:44:30] Would you guys know this?
Jennifer Johnson: Yeah, that's correct. You can't technically call yourself an accountant, if you put your services out to the public, if you are not CPA. They do find people and ask them to cease and desist.
Blake Oliver: That's interesting, because here in California, that's not the case. That's why I was able to start my "accounting services" firm as a student before I was a CPA. Anybody can call themselves an accountant, even if they don't have a degree here. It's kind of a total [00:45:00] free-wheeling situation in California.
I actually am not- I'm not a huge fan of regulation, in general. I think a lot of accountants and CPA tend to be a little more conservative, when it comes to that, because we see our business-owner clients suffering from overly burdensome regulation, especially here in California.
But in that one case, I think it's kinda confusing to the public that we have certified public accountants, but then, anyone can call themselves an accountant. Texas is actually ... It's funny. It's kinda flipped. Normally, [00:45:30] California is overly regulated, but in this case, Texas has more regulation and, I think, is doing the right thing.
Jennifer Johnson: Great. I think we have one more question unless somebody else has got one?
Student: Hey, how you doing? My name's [inaudible]. My question is do you think professional accountants will be doing the same thing they do today, in five years, or in 10 years?
Blake Oliver: This is interesting, because it ties into this discussion that we have had over the last few months, this summer, about [00:46:00] the move to advisory from compliance. There's a lot of people out there saying, "Oh, compliance is getting automated. You gotta do something else." By compliance, I mean traditional service areas, like tax and audit.
My view is that that's not going away. It's just a lot of the administrative and rote work in those fields is going away, which is actually great, because that's why being a tax manager and audit manager is gonna be a great job, because there's a lot less crap you've gotta deal with; a lot less boxes to fill in and all that stuff. What do you think, David?
David Leary: I think [00:46:30] the answer is more of what kind of professional accountant are you? I guarantee you there will be professional accountants still doing stuff 10 years from now, the same exact way they did it 20 years ago.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: So, I think it depends on who the professional accountant is, and that's gonna define that.
Blake Oliver: We see that in surveys of growth rates of firms. 75 percent of firms are growing at about five to six percent per year, which is standard for the industry, and that's considered good. If you're a traditional accounting firm, if you [00:47:00] grow five-six percent, you're happy.
The firms that are leading the way are growing 20 to 30 percent, which is insane rates of growth for a professional services firm. That's what I saw, when I had my own firm, because they're doing things differently. Yeah, it depends, I guess, if you're part of one of those high-growth firms or if you're part of a traditional firm.
Maybe in the past, I would have been more critical of that traditional firm. But honestly, if that makes you happy; if that's what you wanna do, that's great. It's gonna be a good business for a long time, like David said. But if you wanna do [00:47:30] something completely different, there's a lot of opportunity now to rewrite the rules.
David Leary: Hopefully, you all want to be accountants, still ... We're not ruining this ...
Blake Oliver: Yeah, yeah. Actually, can we see a raise of hands of who in the class is intending, at this time, on going into accounting? Okay, good, yeah. So, most folks. We haven't ... We should've taken a poll at the beginning and then at the end to really know if we made a difference. We're not statisticians. [00:48:00]
Jennifer Johnson: I think the difference really is that they get to see all the different opportunities, now, and you're not just boxed in to having to do a tax, or audit, or just basic accounting-
Blake Oliver: I think that accounting is the biggest secret in school, right now, because it has this image that has ... Over the last hundred years, we've had this image of being this boring, stodgy profession. Now, you can pretty much do anything, and you can make a lot of money, and you [00:48:30] can have a lot of fun. I always tell people, I used to be a musician before I got into bookkeeping and then into accounting and got my CPA. I think that what I get to do as a CPA in technology is way more interesting than when I was a musician. People don't believe that, but it's true. It's changing so rapidly. If you're a lifelong learner, if you love learning new things and trying new things, there's plenty of opportunity for that. I guess, with that, we can [00:49:00] wrap it, right?
David Leary: Do we get to say "Class dismissed" or anything like that?
Jennifer Johnson: Yes, you can dismiss the class.
Blake Oliver: So, as always, you can follow me on Twitter. I'm @BlakeTOliver. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. I would love everyone in the room today ... Feel free to reach out and connect. If you do, though, just write me a note so that I know you're not a bot. How about you, David?
David Leary: I'm really easy to track down on Twitter - @DavidLeary. I'm also on LinkedIn at David Leary, and you can find The Cloud Accounting Podcast on all the socials. We [00:49:30] probably need to get on Instagram. I imagine many of you are Instagrammers, and we're not there yet, so we probably- we should get on that here.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, but it would be the same picture every week of just us talking. We'll have to figure that one out.
David Leary: I'd pick out random fashionable clothes on the closet and post those to the Instagram.
Blake Oliver: So, thank you all, and thanks for joining us. Best wishes to all of you in your careers.
David Leary: Class dismissed.
Class: Thank you!