AICPA ENGAGE: Liz Mason, Byron Patrick, & Rachel Fisch

Blake sits down with Rachel, Byron, and Liz to discuss the top threats facing the accounting profession, the best opportunities for CPAs as robots take over lower level tasks, the SEC's lawsuit against Kik, which is accused of conducting a $100 million unregistered ICO, and Tom Maxwell's question on Twitter, "Do you send text messages to your clients?"

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Show Notes

  • 00:53 - Welcome to the Cloud Accounting Podcast
  • 01:16 - We're at AICPA ENGAGE 2019
  • 02:09 - What are the top threats facing the accounting profession?
  • 04:53 - If I'm not doing audit, why would I go to the trouble of being a CPA firm these days?
  • 06:07 - What's going on with the CPA in Canada
  • 09:22 - Over the last 8 years, CPA hires have increased 4% but non-CPA hires have increased 10%
  • 12:03 - What's with this Canadian firm getting sued by the SEC?
  • 15:04 - Tom Maxwell on Twitter: "Do you text with your clients?"
  • 20:15 - What do you see as the best opportunities for CPAs as robots take over lower level tasks?
  • 30:13 - Follow @fischbooks, @byron_cpa, and @LizzyNorMa on Twitter

Get in Touch

Thanks for listening! Follow and tweet @BlakeTOliver and @DavidLeary. Find us on Facebook and, if you like what you hear, do us a favor and write a review on iTunes. Interested in sponsoring the Cloud Accounting Podcast? For details, read the prospectus.

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Transcript

Closing the books is a manual, error-prone, and time-consuming process. In fact, 82 percent of accountants find the month-end close to be a negative experience, 78 percent report having to reopen the books, and three out of four say they're not confident in their close. Meanwhile, management wants numbers faster than ever, and investor scrutiny on financial reports has only increased. There has to be a better way than email, Excel checklists, and endless status update meetings.
 
FloQast was built by accountants for accountants to help them close faster and more accurately. It provides a single place to manage the month-end close, aligning people, processes, and documents in one collaborative platform. The bottom line: teams relying on FloQast, on average, close three days faster. Learn more at CloudAccountingPodcast.promo/floqast. That's F-L-O-Q-A-S-T.
 
Blake Oliver: Welcome to the Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
 
Rachel Fisch: I'm Rachel Fisch.
 
Byron Patrick: I'm Byron Patrick.
 
Liz Mason: I'm Liz Mason.
 
Blake Oliver: Liz, you sound pretty good. We thought you were going to lose your voice. [00:01:00]
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, I got it back a little bit.
 
Blake Oliver: That's good. Well, I think that's just a sign that AICPA Engage is going very well, right?
 
Liz Mason: And I'm allergic to Las Vegas, so ...
 
Blake Oliver: Okay.
 
Byron Patrick: The list grows.
 
Blake Oliver: Here we are in Las Vegas at AICPA Engage 2019. How's it going for all of you?
 
Liz Mason: Pretty fantastic.
 
Rachel Fisch: This is my first year. You went to a great session yesterday, Liz.
 
Liz Mason: I did. I actually am [00:01:30] lucky enough to be one of the Leadership Academy alum. Every year they do a big reunion session and have a guest speaker come in, and this year was pLink, so Gretchen Pisano and Alexis Robin came in and spoke to us about vulnerability and how to use that to actually help lead an organization.
 
Byron Patrick: I've seen that session before, Gretchen's awesome.
 
Liz Mason: Yeah. I mean, she's just phenomenal in the way that she approaches things and the thought processes that go in and the stories she's able to relate back and [00:02:00] pull people out of their comfort zones.
 
Rachel Fisch: That's awesome. You're not good at that at all, Liz. 
 
Liz Mason: I'm pretty good at pushing people's boundaries, but ... 
 
Blake Oliver: Well speaking of pushing boundaries ... That's a terrible transition actually because-
 
Byron Patrick: Anticipation, I'm terrified.
 
Rachel Fisch: Yeah, like what is [cross talk]
 
Blake Oliver: I'm going to push your boundaries. I'm going to ask you guys a tough question here. We're here at AICPA Engage. This is a conference for CPAs, members of the ... 
 
Rachel Fisch: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, I got you.
 
Blake Oliver: I get confused because there's also the-
 
Byron Patrick: Association of International- no, Certified Professional Accountants. [00:02:30]
 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, so that just screws me up.
 
Byron Patrick: They have the same logo by the way.
 
Blake Oliver: Right, it's very confusing. Jeff Drew, from the Journal of Accountancy posed a question to me that I thought was great that I'd love to pose to you, which is what do you think the top threats facing the accounting profession are?
 
Liz Mason: The [00:03:00] accounting profession in total or the CPA designation?
 
Blake Oliver: Well, that's an interesting question because I would say for something to be a profession, the license is a big part of that, and we consider accounting to be a profession such as the way we have a legal profession, medical profession because of those licenses. To me, they're kind of wrapped up together. I mean, could we even have an accounting profession if we didn't have certifications and licenses?
 
Liz Mason: We absolutely could.
 
Blake Oliver: Yeah? That's what's starting to happen, right?
 
Liz Mason: It is. [00:03:30]
 
Blake Oliver: Yeah. I mean, I was a bookkeeper and ran a practice doing a lot of what accounting firms here are doing in the CAS world, in the Client Accounting Services world, and I only went back and got my CPA later. I'm curious to know, is the CPA staying relevant, is it fading, is it losing relevance, is there competition from outsiders? Byron, I want to know how you feel because you have a tattoo of your CPA on your arm. [00:04:00]
 
Byron Patrick: A minor vested interest in preserving the value of the CPA. Yeah, it's interesting, right? I think it's very much still relevant. Will the future that relevance exist? I don't know. I think the general public still looks to and trusts CPAs very much so, and it's a recognized credential. I do think there is outside market, CMA, and such, [00:04:30] that I believe could be presenting a relevant challenge to the designation and the license which we've talked about the challenges. The license, I think, is actually almost making it difficult to actually maintain the CPA for, especially, organizations that aren't a traditional audit and tax shop.
 
Blake Oliver: Right. If I'm not doing audit, why would I go to the trouble of being a CPA [00:05:00] firm?
 
Liz Mason: Right.
 
Blake Oliver: Liz, are you a CPA firm?
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, so High Rock is a registered CPA firm. When we started in Arizona, there was a law that said if you are doing any kind of accounting services, even if it was only bookkeeping, if you have your CPA designation and own it, you had to register with the Board of Accountancy. That was an interesting law, so we registered with the Board of Accountancy. Now, they've since changed the law in Arizona. They changed the law to say you don't have to register as a CPA firm, but if you don't, you cannot use the CPA designation.
 
Blake Oliver: So [00:05:30] you cannot say on your business card that you are a CPA?
 
Liz Mason: Not in conjunction with the name of my firm.
 
Blake Oliver: Okay. They have to be on separate cards?
 
Liz Mason: Yes.
 
Blake Oliver: Got it.
 
Liz Mason: At least that's the interpretation the Board of Accountancy is giving me.
 
Blake Oliver: Interesting. Okay.
 
Liz Mason: You can't say, like, Mason CPA and not be a registered CPA firm, which makes sense, that's a good rule. But, as a partner in that firm, I can't purport to be a CPA or provide CPA services. If I write a proposal and say, "As a Certified [00:06:00] Public Accountant, I will provide these services," I can't say that in conjunction with a proposal from High Rock if it wasn't registered.
 
Rachel Fisch: So I'm not a CPA.
 
Blake Oliver: You are certified though.
 
Rachel Fisch: Well I'm a Certified Professional Bookkeeper through Canada's IPPC program, but CPA Canada is also really different as well. Here, where there's the CPA and CGMA and CMA and all of those things, in Canada there is now only one at CPA and it's managed by CPA Canada, so then you have industry accountants [00:06:30] combined with practicing accountants of all scales and everything like that. It does seem to be maybe a little less restrictive than like what you're mentioning, Liz, but I feel like I need to tread really carefully now. The challenge, though, actually, was that I had actually gone through, got my degree waiver, was accepted into the accelerated program right as this merger was happening between all the designations, and I was adopted into an 18-month program.
 
So, basically, four years of education in 18 months. In November, before the [00:07:00] program started in January, they said, "Oh, by the way, we don't have that 18-month program anymore, you have to do it in nine months." It was already going to be a huge stretch, and so it was actually the merging of the designations that is why I am not a CPA right now. It just didn't make any sense anymore. I'm sitting there going, "Okay, I don't want to be a tax firm, I don't want to be an audit firm, I just want to be doing these controllership services, so can I actually be doing those things and not be a CPA? Absolutely, so [00:07:30] that was my route.
 
Byron Patrick: I think one of the big differences there, right, is it's a federal designation, right?
 
Rachel Fisch: Yes, so it basically has the state society, so provincially. It's a federal designation that is rolled out provincially.
 
Byron Patrick: Are the rules different?
 
Rachel Fisch: Only slightly.
 
Byron Patrick: Only slightly, as opposed to 51 flavors of the United States?
 
Liz Mason: Yes, so it's a little different.
 
Blake Oliver: Just to put things [00:08:00] in perspective, for us to change the CPA exam is impossible because so many states have written it into the law that there are these sections in the exam and that's how you become a CPA. That's one of the big challenges people have proposed. I think it would be a great idea to have some different sections and be able to choose. Maybe I don't need to take audit, and I could take a technology-oriented section instead, but we can't do that because we have to have these four sections. It's almost like we didn't think ahead when we wrote all these laws. [00:08:30]
 
Byron Patrick: How dare you suggest.
 
Liz Mason: It is interesting. It's definitely interesting to see the evolution of the different states and the laws that are happening because we do need something to bring it all together and to actually make this a profession a designate-able one instead of having people try to undercut the rules, right? States like Arizona pass rules like that because they had a lot of firms that didn't register, and they didn't want to prosecute all of them when there's no need. You're not signing any audit reports, why do you need to register? [00:09:00] There are many states following or did it before, but there are some like Texas, which is still super strict.
 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, you can't even call yourself an accountant in Texas if you're not a CPA.
 
Liz Mason: Yeah.
 
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, and you have to have the last names of your partners in the name of the firm. I mean, there are very strict rules about who can invest and the advertising that they can do as well.
 
Rachel Fisch: I was at an event just a couple weeks ago actually with Mark Koziel who's the EVP of Firm Services for AICPA. It wasn't at this event; it was a couple weeks ago. What [00:09:30] he was saying was that over the last eight years, CPA firm hires have increased four percent, but non-CPA firm hires have increased over 10 percent. So, within firms, they're hiring more non-CPAs than CPAs or at least at a faster rate. Then, when you look at who they're hiring, well it's these data analysts and technicians that's really enabling these firms to go to the Cloud and to be more tech savvy. 
 
Byron, you were mentioning the cybersecurity elements and things like that, so we're seeing firms get more techy, and [00:10:00] then we've also seen maybe a little bit of disruption where we've got tech trying to be accounting and the complete disregard for the CPA rules and then trying to sell it to accountants or trying to leverage accountants to do that. I feel like we've got this really big imbalance right now happening, but I don't know what that means for CPAs or firms.
 
Byron Patrick: The interesting thing is, and I've seen Mark's presentation a million times on this, and to AICPAs [00:10:30] credit, it is in support for their pathways commission and trying to move that needle of what does a future CPA look like? I mean, I shouldn't even call it a needle. It's a massive boulder that they're trying to move and now you are trying to move a society of a lot of the large basis is traditional CPAs who have been in the profession for 50 [00:11:00] years. I can't even conceive the notion of a data scientist becoming a CPA. The AICPA is trying to do something. What it will look like, who knows, but they are acknowledging, and that's exactly what Mark's point is. The makeup of a firm is changing, and the professionals in a firm is changing, so should we explore?
 
Rachel Fisch: Right, but then does that mean that data analysts and scientists they need to become CPAs in order to work for the firm, or is it just that saturation [00:11:30] that you were talking about earlier where there's a certain percentage allowable, that in order to continue to call yourself a CPA firm, you are allowed to have a certain percentage of non-CPAs?
 
Byron Patrick: It's funny because there is the theory that maybe we should have them become CPAs but, on the other side, I don't think anybody's asked a data scientist if they have any desire of being a CPA, so- 
 
Rachel Fisch: What do you think the answer would be if they did? I don't think so.
 
Blake Oliver: I think their job prospects are too good at this point for them [00:12:00] to want to do that, yeah. Rachel, you mentioned the disregard of technology people for-
 
Rachel Fisch: That might be a great segue, there, Blake.
 
Blake Oliver: Some of the regulations or stuff that CPAs might not do. There was a Canadian app that was in the news recently getting sued by the SEC?
 
Rachel Fisch: That's right.
 
Blake Oliver: How do we even do that?
 
Rachel Fisch: How do we get sued?
 
Blake Oliver: Well, so-
 
Rachel Fisch: Here's how to get sued by Kik, um, yeah, so.
 
Blake Oliver: The SEC is claiming what, Kik did an illegal public offering?
 
Rachel Fisch: Well, essentially, [00:12:30] so the SEC is suing messaging app Kik, which is a Canadian born app for raising a hundred million dollars through an allegedly illegal token sale in 2017 on the grounds that Kin, the digital token, should have been registered as a security. Kik is saying no, it's a currency, and there's a lot of kind of gray area over what is what.
 
Byron Patrick: It was only a matter [00:13:00] of time. They were waiting for the right case to do it.
 
Liz Mason: Absolutely. I mean, ICOs have been happening for what, the last four years?
 
Byron Patrick: They've been waiting for this.
 
Blake Oliver: Why are they going after this Canadian company? Are they just picking on them? Why did they choose them instead of all these other ones?
 
Byron Patrick: I think it's the magnitude of it, the size of it.
 
Blake Oliver: It was what? It was like-
 
Rachel Fisch: A hundred million.
 
Blake Oliver: That's a lot, yeah
 
Byron Patrick: Yeah, and within the ICO world, I think that's one of the larger ones. Plus, for an established brand ... There's a million of these ICOs for people who want to build [00:13:30] a frog aquarium or something and nobody really cares about that.
 
Rachel Fisch: It would not be newsworthy if they sued the frogquarium.
 
Blake Oliver: I was a big fan of CryptoKitties. I don't know if any of you heard about that.
 
Liz Mason: Nice.
 
Blake Oliver: The trade-able, digital kitty cats.
 
Liz Mason: Yes.
 
Rachel Fisch: Yeah.
 
Blake Oliver: I don't know what happened to that.
 
Liz Mason: I don't know.
 
Rachel Fisch: Do you own any?
 
Blake Oliver: No, I do not.
 
Liz Mason: Is that like the evolution of the Tamagotchi?
 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, or the Beanie Baby. It's the virtual Beanie Baby because they [00:14:00] were limited, you know?
 
Liz Mason: Oh, okay.
 
Blake Oliver: You could breed them. I don't own any, I just know about it.
 
Rachel Fisch: Uh-huh, okay. You seem to be getting a little defensive. 
 
Blake Oliver: Any of you purchase, own, have bought or sold cryptocurrency?
 
Rachel Fisch: No.
 
Byron Patrick: Yeah, I have some.
 
Blake Oliver: You dabble in it?
 
Byron Patrick: Yeah.
 
Blake Oliver: Yeah?
 
Byron Patrick: Mostly just to play, just like I wanted to get familiar with the exchanges. I wasn't going to make a bazillion dollars. That was not my goal, but to [00:14:30] get involved in it, you know, throw a little cash in there, and play around. It's interesting, you know, my 90 bucks may be nine million one day. 
 
Rachel Fisch: Here's hoping.
 
Byron Patrick: Right?
 
Liz Mason: Maybe.
 
Byron Patrick: Yeah, maybe.
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, I mean there's been a lot of big ups and downs, and it's always fun to play in a market, right, so it's effectively like investing in something that's completely unregulated for-
 
Blake Oliver: Well, for now, until the SEC decides to regulate it.
 
Liz Mason: But how are they going to regulate it, right? 
 
Blake Oliver: That's the question. [00:15:00]
 
Byron Patrick: It's the wild west.
 
Liz Mason: There's no possible way to do that with the current technology, so.
 
Blake Oliver: Hey, random thing I saw on Twitter that I'm curious to know. Tom Maxwell, from Practice Ignition, he asked on Twitter, "Do you text with your clients?"
 
Rachel Fisch: I saw that, yeah.
 
Blake Oliver: The responses were really interesting. Some people are like, no, never, I would never do that, some are like all the time. I'm curious to know, Liz, if you text with clients and how and if you do that?
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, so when I started High [00:15:30] Rock, I gave everyone my cell phone number because I didn't have a business line yet, right, you know, like baby startup, fine ... People would text me all the freaking time. I started getting really bad anxiety any time my phone buzzed, because I thought it was a client asking for something that I was like ... I couldn't handle it, so I ended up changing my phone number and refusing to give clients my cell phone number, so I have four clients that currently have my cell phone number and they are allowed to text me, nobody else is given it.
 
Blake Oliver: Okay, got it.
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, so but my team members [00:16:00] text with their clients all the time.
 
Byron Patrick: That was my next question.
 
Liz Mason: Yeah.
 
Byron Patrick: So you don't have a policy or anything like that?
 
Liz Mason: No, there's no policy. 
 
Byron Patrick: Okay. 
 
Liz Mason: It's just a personal preference. I like separation and to be able to turn things off without turning off my whole personal life. If I turn my phone off, then I'm ignoring all my friends and family as well.
 
Blake Oliver: That's interesting because they're texting with your clients, and what about that communication going back and forth? Wouldn't you like to be able to track it, see it, archive it? If you're a big firm, then you probably have to.
 
Liz Mason: Right, so we [00:16:30] actually turned on the texting ability with our Cloud voiceover IP software.
 
Blake Oliver: Oh, so that's what they use.
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, so they use that to text with their clients on their phone. It's all tracked through that. It's like a messaging app, but the client looks like just a normal text message.
 
Blake Oliver: What are you using for that?
 
Liz Mason: RingCentral. 
 
Blake Oliver: RingCentral?
 
Liz Mason: Not my favorite, but it's the cheapest.
 
Blake Oliver: All right.
 
Rachel Fisch: I did see Tom's tweet, and then the next half of it, because I think that context is important as well, so the next half of it was, "My dentist just texted me to book my next appointment, and I responded and booked immediately. Found [00:17:00] it effective. Would need to be cautious about overstepping." My immediate assumption was that it was bots, was that that wasn't somebody actually sitting and texting, and if you can do kind of those auto-responders, that's totally different. If I'm giving my cell phone number to a bunch of people, I totally get your anxiety.
 
Byron Patrick: I've had CPA firms asked me how ... I get dental reminders. Why can't I send a tax appointment reminder via text? There's solutions like Acuity Scheduling where it'll integrate, [00:17:30] capture, and send those reminders. It's super easy to do.
 
Liz Mason: Right, but you can't have the conversation.
 
Byron Patrick: It's not a dialogue.
 
Liz Mason: Right, so it's a one way and then you can confirm, like you can say yes or no, and that's it.
 
Byron Patrick: Yeah.
 
Blake Oliver: I had an experience like this. I was looking at apartments, and I was trying to book an appointment, so I called [00:18:00] the leasing office. They didn't answer, but the voice message said, "If you'd like us to text you, press one and we'll coordinate it that way," and I did. I have no idea if this was an AI or a person or a call center, probably a mix, texted me back and then I was able to book that whole appointment via a text message exchange, which was way better than trying to get somebody to call me back. I was thinking everybody should have this. It would be fantastic. [00:18:30]
 
Rachel Fisch: When I heard that story the first time, I also just thought it's bots, like who would be sitting there doing a one-on-one thing? I don't know.
 
Blake Oliver: Well there's services you can pay for now.
 
Rachel Fisch: That do that?
 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, it's like the modern version of the answering service, right?
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, definitely. I know everyone at this table travels a lot to conferences. What I've noticed this year, in particular, is many of the little boutique hotels will send you a text message when you get there and say, "What can I do to help you?"  [00:19:00]
 
Byron Patrick: Yes.
 
Liz Mason: I asked at one of them, I said, "What technology are you guys using?" They use a system that links into their hotel technology, so they sit at their computer and respond to the messages, so it actually is live people at the front desk. It saves them the hazard of 25 phone calls coming in at the same time when people can just text in a request.
 
Byron Patrick: I saw somebody on Twitter the other day actually responded and requested a picture of Steph Curry to be on the reception desk when they checked in and they made it happen.
 
Liz Mason: That's weird.
 
Byron Patrick: A little random, [00:19:30] but-
 
Liz Mason: Was that you?
 
Byron Patrick: No, not at all, not at all, shh! 
 
Liz Mason: No, because you'd be requesting a picture of Barry Melancon. 
 
Byron Patrick: How'd you know? 
 
Liz Mason: A signed head shot.
 
Byron Patrick: Signed, only signed. Actually, my State Farm agent, she ... I don't know what they use. I haven't asked her. Frankly, I don't think she'd know, but the number I [00:20:00] have for her which, to my knowledge, is her cell phone, her entire office uses to text me like, "Hey, I need your kid's report cards for grades," and I respond and then they'll respond right in there. It's so convenient.
 
Blake Oliver: Well bots came up, so let's talk about bots. Here's another question that Jeff from the Journal of Accountancy asked me that I'd love to ask you. What do you see as the two to four best opportunities for CPAs as robots take [00:20:30] over lower level tasks? Byron, I'm going to toss that one to you first. 
 
Byron Patrick: Why? Why?
 
Blake Oliver: You're with this company now called, what is it?
 
Byron Patrick: Botkeeper.
 
Blake Oliver: Botkeeper.
 
Byron Patrick: Botkeeper, yeah.
 
Blake Oliver: Oh, what is that?
 
Byron Patrick: Any listener of the show I am sure is well aware. Right, so our solution is automating those lower level tasks through various platforms of technology and software. I heard a really great term recently. I don't know if anybody's familiar with Calum Chase, but he's a futurist, talks about the singularity and some really interesting, thought-provoking stuff. He shared an article recently where he said, "The future workforce needs to be up-skilled," and I hadn't heard that term 'up-skilled', and [00:21:00] I think it's so great. If we can take these low [00:21:30] level, highly labor intensive but low-skilled tasks, automate them so we can upskill our staff, I think it's great. Yes, absolutely. It means a smaller workforce to accomplish more work.
 
Blake Oliver: That's the question. What are we going to do though? Is it advisory? Sorry, I'm really sorry.
 
Rachel Fisch: I was just going to say, what's the right answer to every question in this conference? Advisory.
 
Byron Patrick: Disruption.
 
Liz Mason: God, that makes me so angry though because people throw this word out advisory as if it's [00:22:00] something new. This is not a new concept. This is something that accountants have been doing since forever.
 
Byron Patrick: The beginning of time.
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, if you're an intelligent human looking at numbers, you identify trends, you talk about things that are happening, you help your clients figure out where their expense sucks are and how to get their receivables faster. All of these advisory basic services are ... That's not a new concept, so the way that it's being repackaged and distributed as a, "Hey, guys, level [00:22:30] up to advisory," is BS.
 
Byron Patrick: The irony is for many years it was about CPA firms getting away from the accounting and bookkeeping, like, get rid of it, get rid of it, get rid of it.
 
Liz Mason: Right.
 
Byron Patrick: And now, "Save your firm. Do client accounting services."
 
Liz Mason: Right, and the fun part about that is that is because of technology because, at the time, those services were not profitable to be doing at that high level. It was way too much manual labor, but now we actually have tools and some [00:23:00] companies do robot stuff that help make that happen and make the timeline so much more feasible. It's efficient to do it.
 
Rachel Fisch: You can't adopt a CAS practice without a level of automation, and so people who are like, "I'm going to start to do bookkeeping. Let's have all paper and all desktop," it's like, "Okay, I can't even help you," like that's not what this is about. It has to 100 percent be about technology and automation so [00:23:30] that we can get to the good stuff. That's just the getting stuff done. I'm trying to be careful, so you don't have to bleep me. That's just the getting stuff done.
 
Blake Oliver: I've got it ready.
 
Byron Patrick: He's already downloaded the sound block.
 
Rachel Fisch: I was in a session yesterday, and they were talking about basically, so it's a lot of hard work to get even your bookkeeping piece transformed into the client accounting service model, but that foundation [00:24:00] absolutely has to be laid before you can even start approaching the virtual CFO services, and CPAs I feel like just want to jump directly to the virtual CFO without effectively creating the strong foundation to actually build that piece of the business off of. They were saying that, basically, it's so hard to do the first part that most CPAs actually quit before they ever get to delivering these virtual CFO services, and then they're like, "Oh, CAS doesn't work, it's broken, it's not profitable, blah, blah, blah, and then it's kind of this [cross talk] thing. What's that? [00:24:30]
 
Liz Mason: Actually, High Rock last year developed a model called our nucleus model where we do all the back office for them and they can just do virtual CFO.
 
Rachel Fisch: So you do the back office for other firms? 
 
Liz Mason: We do the back office for other CFOs.
 
Rachel Fisch: Oh.
 
Blake Oliver: All up to controller type stuff.
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, so we'll do everything up to controller for them, and then they take it from there [cross talk]
 
Byron Patrick: That's right, flip the switch. 
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, exactly.
 
Byron Patrick: Right.
 
Blake Oliver: And that's why companies [00:25:00] like Botkeeper exist, too, right?
 
Byron Patrick: Well that's right, and it's kind of interesting because we've had a lot of interest here at Engage, and the number of conversations I've had where people say, "But you can't work with QuickBooks Desktop?" If this is a path you're going to go on, it's about time we consider some Cloud solutions.
 
Liz Mason: Oh my God, you guys, did you know you can still buy 12-column paper? [00:25:30]
 
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah.
 
Rachel Fisch: Yes, at Staples.
 
Byron Patrick: How is this possible?
 
Liz Mason: What? It blew my mind the other month when I found this. 
 
Blake Oliver: One of my coworkers from Armanino, I was catching up with her and she's now in tax. She received the closing journal entries for a client from the previous account and they were taking over the book of business, right, or they were taking over the return, and I think they were in New York or something and [00:26:00] they said, "Oh, yeah, it's not digital. We'll have to send it to you," she's like, "Okay," and it comes in a giant envelope. It is that big ledger paper, and all the year-end entries are on paper, and this was for a return like two years ago.
 
Rachel Fisch: Wow.
 
Liz Mason: What the …?
 
Byron Patrick: I known a CPA who acquired a firm, didn't do much due diligence apparently because after the acquisition, she requested that they provide an [00:26:30] employee list. So it came on a scan piece of 10-column ledger paper, and she said, "Can you put that in Excel for me?" And they said, "We don't have Excel." This is a CPA firm.
 
Liz Mason: I get frustrated when the Journal of Accountancy is publishing Here's the Five Tips to Mastering Excel.
 
Byron Patrick: I'm going to write an article of how to move away from 12-column ledger paper to Excel.
 
Blake Oliver: I like that. 
 
Liz Mason: Please, do that.
 
Byron Patrick: Twelve steps to give up your 12-column. [00:27:00]
 
Blake Oliver: Let's do a webinar on CPA [crosstalk] 
 
Rachel Fisch: You need to actually do it in print form and then mail it to them, a self-study. 
 
Blake Oliver: We'll do a DVD, VHS?
 
Byron Patrick: Maybe fax. Can we fax the presentation?
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, we can totally fax the presentation.
 
Blake Oliver: I like that.
 
Rachel Fisch: This is where I think we still have a lot of work to do. We may be in a bit of a bubble as kind of the early adopters and whatever, but there are so many laggards. [00:27:30]
 
Liz Mason: There are.
 
Rachel Fisch: This, honestly, is why I think that QuickBooks Live, why Botkeeper, why all of these ... there's some other ones as well ... why they're going to be successful is because there are still so many businesses that run on that. There are still so many businesses that only use Excel. There's still so many of those that there's still a lot of opportunity for everybody.
 
Liz Mason: I saw a statistic the other day, in the United States there's 30 million small businesses. Ten percent [00:28:00] of them are using Cloud accounting technology, only 10 percent.
 
Byron Patrick: I believe it. Yeah, that makes sense.
 
Liz Mason: That's crazy.
 
Blake Oliver: It's a crazy number. 
 
Liz Mason: That's 27 million companies that are not ... Using desktop products, server-based products, Excel, 12-column paper, nothing. It blows my mind. It's a huge opportunity though.
 
Byron Patrick: It absolutely is, and I won't make up this statistic, but the maps are [cross talk]
 
Blake Oliver: You're welcome to, if you like [cross talk] 
 
Byron Patrick: The MAP survey, which is done by PCPS every year and CPA FMA surveys small firms [00:28:30] and larger firms on what are they doing, what are they adopting, what are their services, where are their challenges? And one of the questions is still are you paperless and how many monitors do you have on your desk? Seventy percent of firms may be paperless, which 30 percent of firms is kind of a ton of firms. 
 
Rachel Fisch: That seems high. I [00:29:00] mean, I know these are like stats Byron style, but that 70 percent seems-
 
Byron Patrick: Well 70 percent are paperless, so 30 percent are no?
 
Liz Mason: Yeah, but paperless includes server-based programs as well. It's not a Cloud statistic.
 
Byron Patrick: Oh, right.
 
Liz Mason: It includes other programs.
 
Byron Patrick: Right, it's not even Cloud.
 
Liz Mason: It's really interesting. I was actually reading that MAP survey last week, two weeks ago. I was writing a white paper for Maryland Society of CPAs about how to scale a practice through efficiency and innovation and talking about the statistics in those, like what are the current problems, and so I pulled a lot of statistics from the MAP survey, which is really interesting to look at how bad it is and the areas of opportunity, so what people are currently doing and how we can fix it. [00:29:30]
 
Blake Oliver: When are we going to see that blog post?
 
Liz Mason: It's a white paper, and I think it's publishing next month.
 
Blake Oliver: Awesome.
 
Liz Mason: I'll let you know.
 
Blake Oliver: Looking forward to it. 
 
Blake Oliver: I think Rachel's got to go to a meeting, and I'm sure you two have plenty to do, so-
 
Liz Mason: We have absolutely no lives. 
 
Rachel Fisch: Or I can just leave you guys still talking [cross talk]
 
Blake Oliver: We can try to set a record.
 
Byron Patrick: Nobody wants to meet with us. [00:30:00]
 
Rachel Fisch: The longest Cloud Accounting episode.
 
Blake Oliver: Before we go, let's go around the circle here, Rachel, where can people connect with you online?
 
Rachel Fisch: Sure, so I'm on Twitter @FischBooks.
 
Blake Oliver: How about you, Byron?
 
Byron Patrick: Twitter, @Byron_CPA, I think.
 
Liz Mason: You should know this.
 
Byron Patrick: I totally should. I think it's @Byron_CPA.
 
Blake Oliver: Are you not on Twitter all that much? You can [00:30:30] choose a different social-
 
Byron Patrick: I don't tweet at myself, that's the problem.
 
Rachel Fisch: It's like not knowing your own phone number, right?
 
Blake Oliver: That's true. How about you, Liz?
 
Liz Mason: You can find me on Twitter @LizzyNorMa. 
 
Blake Oliver: I am, as always, @BlakeTOliver. Thank you so much for joining me and see you again soon
 
Byron Patrick: Thank you.
 
Rachel Fisch: Thanks.
 
Liz Mason: Yes, you too.
 

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