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Take away practical tips to help you improve your processes, including documenting pain points, changing the way you look at a tax return, and key technology considerations. Our learning objectives include:

Let’s look at this tax season as a time ripe with possibilities! I will show you how I am taking a new approach to tax season as a launching point for advisory, too, including relationship pricing. Join me at this webinar and make 2023 your most productive tax season ever! Register now.

 

Episode Summary

This episode is sponsored by Canopy. Learn more at https://www.getcanopy.com/

Paul Hamann, the founder of RC Reports, joins Dawn to talk in-depth about reasonable compensation and how his business can help firms present accurate reasonable compensation figures to their clients.

Listen now to learn why Paul started RC Reports, the consequences of incorrect reporting, and how RC Reports can be an educational resource for you and your firm!

 

Episode Notes

RC Reports and their “Entity Planner”

Paul Hamann is the founder of RC Reports, a service that allows firms to give their clients reasonable compensation figures. Paul shares that he developed RC Reports because he struggled to find an efficient and accurate way to determine reasonable compensation, and wanted to solve the pain point for himself. Paul then sought to develop a solution for this problem and launched RC Reports in 2012

Dawn and Paul talk about RC Reports and their “entity planner”; a tool that practitioners can use to offer trusted advisor services. Dawn shares that she recently used this tool to discern whether or not one of her clients should classify their business as an S-Corp.

 

Consequences for Ignoring Reasonable Compensation

Paul also shares that when businesses get audited, they may be asked to prove how they achieved their reasonable compensation figures, especially if the IRS has flagged the amount you reported as above or below average. Paul also shared that the IRS just introduced the Compliance Initiative Project, which was formed specifically to check S-Corps and their reasonable compensation. 

It’s also important for the practitioners to remain compliant, and Paul talks about the penalties firms can receive if they don’t. Paul shares a frightening story about a practitioner who was fined $130,000 in paid preparer penalties due to reasonable compensation errors. 

Paul reiterates how important it is to properly determine reasonable compensation, and if your number was pulled out of thin air, it makes it much more difficult to prove and fight for.

 

Education Offerings from RC Reports

Paul also shares that RC Reports offers a wide range of education to help firms and practitioners understand reasonable compensation better. He shares that their core class is a two-hour deep dive into the basics of reasonable compensation, and helps to resolve many of the main points practitioners are struggling with. 

He also shares that they dive into fact vs myth, and that many practitioners believe incorrect information that could be hurting them and their clients. 

 

What Next Steps Should Firms Take?

Paul says that reasonable compensation should be revisited once a year. If an audit comes your way, you will be able to give the IRS a recent and accurate report of how you determined reasonable compensation for your client. 

 

Learn more about RC Reports!

Visit their website: https://rcreports.com/

Check out their classes: https://rcreports.com/classes/

 

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Dawn Brolin
Hi, everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin. I’m a certified public accountant Certified Fraud Examiner, the president of powerful accounting Inc, and the author of the designated motivator for accounting professionals. I’m here today to talk to you about canopy canopy is an awesome tool. If you’re doing tax returns or tax representation either way, what it allows you to do is pull transcripts from the IRS, they have an integration certified by the IRS to pull transcripts, what I love about it is I log in one time, I connect my E services account, and I can go into canopy and pull transcripts, I don’t have to continue to log into the E services, put in my password, get my code and get in. And finally just get through E services. It’s so cumbersome. So I use canopy it’s a one time connection. Let me give you a couple of tips. Number one, I like to pull transcripts for some of my clients who make estimated tax payments, maybe they don’t provide me a copy of the estimated tax payment. I want to make sure I know the correct dates of those estimated payments, okay, so I will go into canopy pulled an account transcript for my client and be able to see what dates they made their estimated payments just solves for a lot of problems. There’s no notices maybe I thought they did four or $5,000 estimated payments, when really, they only did three, they told me they did four, they only did three. And notice comes in because they didn’t pay enough in tax. And now they’re saying you do the tax return wrong. That happens all the time. So to eliminate that pain of that process, and that, you know, customer integration or customer experience, right? We want to eliminate notices and all costs. So that’s one really key thing. The second one is when you’re not sure, if the client is giving you all of their documents, maybe there’s a 1099 R that they had from the year before. And for whatever reason, they don’t think they can find it, I can pull a trace a wage and income transcript, pull down all that information. So at least I had the federal information on that 1099 If it’s applicable if they received one for that year. And it eliminates again, the whole concept of notices. So I find it really important as I’m preparing tax returns to have this tool in place. And so I love using it. So as a tax preparer, those are a couple of tips how you can use canopy in your practice. Thanks for listening.

Well, hello, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of the DM Disruption with myself Dawn Brolin and I am joined by a new best friend, Paul Hamann with RC reports and this episode. I’m so excited about Paul say hello, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Paul Hamann
Thank you Dawn. As Dawn mentioned, my name is Paul Hamann. I’m a founder of a company called RC reports. And our software determines reasonable compensation for closely held business owners.

Dawn Brolin
Very exciting. And it’s something that I think at least for myself, as a practitioner haven’t really put it in the forefront of my mind. I feel like there’s so many other balls I have to keep in the air. This is one I would have dropped. This is one I would have dropped in thankfully, I found Abby again. And so Abby Dever, that that is amazing marketing human being who is with you guys. And I’ve worked with her for years with SmartVault. And so when I ever she ever reached out, I was like, Whoa, we mean, what is this reasonable cop? Now I’ve seen it, you know, you will look on Facebook and you see it or you look on various avenues, but you’re like, oh, reasonable calm. Yeah, I don’t have time for that. And then when you realize the implications, you go, Oh, no, I better learn about this. So tell us about the evolution of RC Reports. Obviously, we know major compliance issue that people really may not be paying attention to.

Paul Hamann
Yeah, absolutely. So you’re spot on when you said you know, it’s out there. But people don’t really necessarily understand how many parts of their business it touches and it touches all the way from the very beginning. should I even be an S-Corp to Hey, I am selling my business. I need to normalize my comp before this business goes on the market. And all all places in between retirement planning, family planning. Sometimes it comes up in divorce is different places. So it is sprinkled out throughout the lifespan of a company. But I ended up in this space because I was I was in compensation prior to getting into even more specifically into reasonable compensation. Most of my career, but it was in the late 2000s That I was pulled directly into reasonable comp because there was a spike in compliance. And so practitioners reached out to me saying, Hey, Paul, my clients getting audited, and we have no idea how to come up with this number, right? And so I got pulled into that space. And I gotta tell you, I was looking for us. Seriously, I’m like, I need to find us out there because I need to figure this out quickly and affordably. And there wasn’t anybody doing it. So I was doing these one off studies that took me about two days to do, they were two to 3000 bucks apiece, I don’t think your clients would be all that excited to pay $2,500 for, for report, and I gotta tell you, I was nervous about defending them, because some of the data wasn’t that great. Quick, fast forward through through a couple of years. But I got together with some folks that are way smarter than I am. That’s always a good idea, by the way, oh, my gosh, and it’s so easy to find, too. In programming in statistics and wages, and we sat down, and we started brainstorming, and what we came up with is RC reports. And we launched in 2012. So we’re 10 years now, this is our this is our big decadeanniversary.

Dawn Brolin
That’s awesome. Congratulations. That’s that’s, you know, there’s always no, those milestones are always awesome. Like, Hey, I’ve been in business now for 10 years. And, and I think that it’s interesting how a lot of times how people develop either a new software, or they develop some new platform or whatever. It’s around a pain point they had, that they’re like, Oh, I sat there, no one else is solving for this. Let’s figure it out. And, and it’s easy to go on Google, the call the Google, you go on the Google, and you’re like I need reasonable compensation for it, blah, blah, blah. And it’s like, no, that’s not gonna fly. And that’s something that I have done that before I’m googling reasonable comp or whatever. And I’m like, I just need something. And then I’m like, oh, shiny, shiny coin or something. Okay, I’m going over here. Now I’m gonna go do something, forget that. I’m gonna go move on to this over here, because that looks like it’s too complicated. And I don’t have a resource. So RC reports is doing that. So tell us about because obviously, reasonable comp for the closely held the s corps, the C Corp, things like that. And that’s really important. We could talk a little bit more in depth. But there’s a couple other tools. And you mentioned one about the valuation and normalizing the payroll, there’s also a quick report. So let’s talk a little bit more about a couple of those other pieces.

Paul Hamann
Sure. So reasonable compensation for most closely held business owners revolves around compliance, and that’s going to be s corpse. But there are other there are other reasons you may want to run it, such as your C corps, or if you need to normalize it for evaluation. But taking that number, and then also figuring out how it applies to your company. We have some different tools around that as well. And one is our entity planner, I think that’s where you’re headed.

Dawn Brolin
Yes. Yep. Exactly.

Paul Hamann
So business owners are great about networking with one another, and then hearing that, hey, I should become an s corp because you’re absolutely gonna save money on taxes. Right? I will absolutely is one of those words I tend to stray away from you may see, probably, maybe let’s take a look. It depends. And that’s where they need to contact Dawn, right? They need to talk to you and say, Hey, Dawn, I’m either starting a business I’ve been in business for a while, I’ve heard I can save money. If I become a S Corp. Is that true? Right? Easy enough to do. But you do need to know what your reasonable comp is. Because that is one of the key components that plays into that piece. And so we do have a tool, our entity planning tool that you can plug that number into, along with some other pieces of information. And it’ll produce a nice one page layout, you can hand to your client that says, hey, look, you know what, it’s not quite time at least from a payroll tax standpoint, right. There’s other considerations, and we don’t want to get into the legal ones today. But from a strictly dollar standpoint, it’ll give you a very clear indication as to whether that makes sense.

Dawn Brolin
So that tool for me, has been very exciting. And the reason for that is people do they’ll call and they’ll say, and I had a call with somebody just a few weeks ago, and he was like, hey, so should I move to an S corp? And historically, my answer would have been? Oh, well, we usually recommend that once you get to the 90 to $100,000 in profit. Now we can, you know, let’s just say we paid you like 65 or 70,000, we can save you X number of dollars on self employment tax, right. That’s been the the general answer we give people because we didn’t have a tool. But now with a tool. Having that conversation with him was very different. It was like, listen, it’s not my opinion anymore, necessarily. It’s now I’ve got some factual data to show you where we’re at with that process. And I think that having that tool gives us a better ability to even if it’s, even if it’s a not, hey, it’s time for you to move to an S corp. Even if you did that analysis and said, Hey, but I think maybe next year, what are we looking at what are our projections and we’re starting to have that conversation to say, remember, we have January till March 15 To make that election, we know what’s happened so far this year, it wouldn’t have made sense for 22 or 23, whatever. Now, it’s a conversation to say, Hey, this is something we might want to think about, what do you think? What do we look at the first couple of months and then decide, like last minute, like be prepared. So those are helping us with factual information to have these conversations, which is so different.

Paul Hamann
Absolutely. And having that conversation with an S corp and saying, or a potential S corp and saying, You know what, you’re not quite there yet. We can certainly go that direction if you want. But it’s not going to save you the taxes that you may have heard about or or seen on, as you call it, when you consult the Google,

Dawn Brolin
The Google or I love this one. Hey, I talked to a friend. And I’m like, punch your friend in the face for giving you bad advice. Like, you know, it’s so funny that you say that, because this is one of the things I don’t know how many times I’ve said this before, but so I tell my husband, he’ll say to me, Oh, the car’s broken, I think it’s going to cost five grand. So we should just go buy a new car, which we know that’s a ridiculous statement in and of itself.

Paul Hamann
Yeah. But if you want a new car, it’s not. Well, that’s true.

Dawn Brolin
If you’re fighting, if you’re trying to negotiate for a new car, I get it. And I’m like, have, I didn’t realize we’ve been married for 25 years, I didn’t realize you own a mechanic store, whether you work there because I’ve never seen you go to the shop. And he’s like, What are you talking about? And I’m like, so you’re telling me that you’re you as the mechanic is assuming there’s gonna be five grand? How about you go down and get an estimate on paper and bring that back to me. So we can actually have some facts to talk about. It’s the same thing. It’s no different. And so having those facts is so critical. And then obviously, and this is important that we talked about this, let’s talk about reasonable compensation, and the consequences for ignoring it, or not addressing it.

Paul Hamann
Yeah, so we’re all familiar with examinations and audits. Reasonable comp, can get challenged in a number of different ways. Traditionally, most people think of it through just your general S-corp audit where it comes up. And as part of the audit of the entire S-Corp, the examiner may say, Hey, by the way, how did you come up with your reasonable comp figure? Right? Or this looks high or low to me, we would not typically talk about high. It has come up more now that we have 199 Cafe. And that’s probably more detailed discussion where we want to have today but we have seen it go both directions. Okay. We both know Eric Green real well, he’s the three bears guy, right? Not too high. Not too low. Just right. Yep. So when those audits come, they can come traditionally, they can also come through the employment tax compliance program. If you’re familiar with that. That’s the one nine, that’s the that I pay my people correctly. 1099 or w two, specialty workstream in there. If it’s an S-Corp they’ll challenge it. Okay. So that’s another way you could see that coming with that you may not see that coming. And all of a sudden, it’s like, Wait, we were looking at, I paid myself wt, why are you looking at my salary? Right, because within that they built a specialty workstream. And then last, they did put a new CIP in place last year compliance initiative project just to go after reasonable competence S-Corps. So it’s heading, it can it can hit an S corp owner from those three different directions, and you just need to be prepared.

Dawn Brolin
And so on top of that, thinking about, obviously, our small business owners, we want to protect them from any kind of compliance, you know, penalties and all this stuff. But what I don’t think people may know is that the practitioner is subject to penalties as well, is that correct?

Paul Hamann
That is correct. So two places, I’ve heard this happened now. So one is that specialty work stream that I just described. They were instructed if they make a change to reasonable comp, to assess a pay prepare a penalty, and they’re right around $5,000. And we’ve talked to a couple of practitioners that had that happen. But Eric Green, just shared a situation he’s working through currently, where this happened to a practitioner has been doing this. You can please tell me if you haven’t heard this, but I know you have. I’ve been doing this for 35 years. It’s never been a problem. I’ve always done it this way. So it must be right. Well, it wasn’t right. And he had a number of clients who weren’t taking reasonable comp or enough reasonable comp and he had one of his clients, challenged, they re characterize they hit him with a $5,000 preparer penalty. And then they worked through his other s corpse. And I want to say like something like maybe 10 or 15 of them, but then they hit them for two years. So long story short, he ended up with a $5,000 preparer penalty on each of those clients twice. Wow. And so he ended up with $130,000 in paid preparer penalties that Eric’s helping him with. So yeah, and plus he has a whole book of business. That’s mad at him, right?

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, people are not happy because they’ve got penalized as well. So…

Paul Hamann
Oh, absolutely. And that’s about two and a half times the original tax, that would be Oh, just from a payroll tax standpoint. So if you would have owed $10,000, in taxes, you’re probably going to owe about $25,000 total, by the time you pay your taxes, penalty and interest.

Dawn Brolin
That if that is not frightening enough for anyone who’s listening, I don’t know what is, you know, it’s funny, because you say a lot of times, we as practitioners are like, I definitely feel this way, like I worked so hard for my three letters of the end of my name, I am not willing to do anything to jeopardize those. But sometimes we don’t think of it even at a softer level like that’s, that’s like, you really have to do something bad to lose your letters. But even even that point of the reputation that you have, that this has happened, is is way bigger than $130,000. Right? So now you’ve got reputation issues, you’ve got clients that are going away revenue, got lost revenue, and now acquiring new clients, hoping they didn’t hear about what you didn’t do, not what you did what you didn’t do. That fear of the unknown has to be i It’s part of my soul. I was up at five o’clock this morning worried about all kinds of stuff, you know?

Paul Hamann
Absolutely. Yeah. Well, as you said, the three letters at the end of your name. And so let’s see if I sometimes I forget the exact name of the offices is that OPR? Yep. So when you get that prepare penalty, guess where you get referred to? Yeah. And so there’s, there’s, that’s happening, too. Now you’re distracted from How to know how many different directions, including losing those three letters at the end of your name. So it’s a it’s a big deal. And we have a saying around RC reports, the first with a fact based figure wins. So if you aren’t showing up with a number pulled out of thin air, which a lot of folks are, it makes it so much easier for the other side to say, No, this is what we think the numbers should be. And then the fight begins.

Dawn Brolin
So now let me ask you this question. So obviously, like for me, this is a big part of November in December for my for my firm, we’re doing reasonable comp analysis, so we can make sure people are paid by the end of the year bonuses if necessary, whatever it may be. So I’m just thinking as we’re going through this process, are you are you seeing that people are starting to pay attention more? Are they are they starting to become more aware? You know, as far as like, because I think the the problem is, and I think that’s why this is really great that we’re doing a podcast, we’ve got webinars, and we’ll talk about where they can go for that. But we’ve got to get this into the forefront of the of the people who it is an unknown right now. And how can we get to them this information so quickly, and that’s what RC reports has been doing. You’ve been out there, you’re educating. And I know you have like a two hour webinar that really digs into the details. So can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Paul Hamann
Yes, so our one of our we do a lot of education, we’re very education forward. But our core class is a two hour deep dive on reasonable compensation. And we start off with the basics. But we go into some very detailed areas, we also go into areas that give a lot of practitioners, headaches and questions and we resolve help you resolve those questions and issues. We also go into the facts versus myths. There’s so many myths about reasonable compensation, they’ve been out there for so long. A lot of practitioners like the one Eric Green was working at working with, they’ve adopted those as facts they believe them to be true, right. And so finding out that they’re not is a wake up call, and this is the perfect time to talk to your client. At a I have a great friend who’s a CPA, he says I have this entire toolkit that I get to use up until December 31 to help you and on January 1, I have a screwdriver. So let’s talk.

Dawn Brolin
Exactly and so when you’re like so your your CPA friend, or even just me as you’re saying, Okay, listen, like right now I’m so pumped, I’m jazzed about this. And because I’m I found another way to protect myself. That’s the way I look at it. It’s another way one that I can protect myself from doing things incorrectly, because you don’t know what you don’t know, which is the fear. But you also are helping protect your client, which is also super important. So I’m here I’m doing my analysis November in December, I’m working through my clients. When is the next time I should be doing another analysis because obviously wages change, inflation, deflation, whatever it may be. So what does RC reports just recommend? Obviously, this is not legal advice. But disclaimer.

Paul Hamann
Yeah. So once a year is what is minimum because you throw that in your file. And if an audit comes your way, you’re flipping from defense to offense. Your IRS is like, hey, we don’t like that number or how did you get that number here. This is how I did it. Yep. Right. And now the tables are turned in. And the IRS is like, Oh, do we really want to fight this? Right? They actually know, they actually have an answer to this. Nobody usually does, right. But this time of year is perfect. Reconcile the year, did we pay enough do we overpay, we have some time to make those adjustments before year end. Right. Plus, it gives us a starting number for next year. So we get into next year, we know what we’re going to be doing through the first three or four months. We all take our two weeks after April 15, we get our sanity back. And in May in June, we start doing our consulting or reaching out to our clients to see where they are, sometime in that timeframe, say has anything significantly changed in what you do how you’re spending your time, maybe you want to do it, make another adjustment there, maybe everything’s going fine. So at least one once a year, but if something major changes, and you want to make those adjustments and payroll, run another one, right, run as many as you need to.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, and I love that becausethinking about, you just put something in my head that I don’t think I thought about before was the fact that their roles may change. Like I don’t even I never even like let that cross my mind till this moment. You know, again, you don’t know what you don’t know. But I was more thinking of okay, I need to make sure that w two is right at the end of the year. And I need to make sure when I’m doing a tax return, this is another little tip for people as you’re planning for your next tax season. And you’re just maybe hearing this as maybe you didn’t have a chance to do this in 2022. And now you’re in already in 2023. It’s not too late to start implementing the system and 2023. Right. And so thinking about not just what the inflation, deflation, whatever the market is bearing for salaries at this point, or whatever is determined, but rather what they’re doing, which is so true. Because I just went through this with a client a couple of weeks ago, we sat down, we went through all that. What do you do? What do you do this partner that partner? So we got to figure out exactly what everyone’s doing. And then what’s that reasonable comp look like? When six months from now, my I have a guy who they own an oil company that they deliver oil and one that they do cold cooling and heating? Well, this partner has kind of been the one doing all the oil stuff, but also doing this but what if he’s now 100% oil, very different being an oil delivery guy and running an oil company that it is heating and cooling. So that is so interesting, it’s like okay, as their roles are changing in their job descriptions, if you will, are changing responsibilities. That’s a great time to then hey, let’s recalculate this. And it’s not complicated. It’s a matter of having that discussion. And I think that that is so important. As we are moving to this advisory conversation. That’s what this is, this is advisory, and being able to say and tax planning, and kind of a little bit of everything, but being able to say to them, Listen, this is something that we need to do regularly as listen, if you start doing you feel like you’re doing things differently, as your role in the business, we can talk. But us being more proactive towards them, I think is what’s the important message here. We need to be the proactive professional that says, hey, this is important. We need to do it. Now. I don’t know if the people who are listening with their clients do but typically obrolan is calling you and telling you need to do something you better do it like it’s it’s like a parent child relationship when when you’re in charge that right?

Paul Hamann
Oh, absolutely. And I think businesses that, in my opinion, humble opinion, businesses want that guidance. If if Don says, hey, look, we need to look at reasonable comp, then we’re going to look at reasonable comp, you wouldn’t ask your client, if they should look at reasonable company more than you would ask your client if you think they should do a tax return this year. Right? That would just be a silly conversation. Absolutely. To go to for sure. So yeah, having those conversations and then using those conversations in and around your advisor role is a lot of fun, because you may look at the report, and something might jump out in your mind, which is, hey, look, have you ever thought about moving over to a payroll service? Because look how much of your time is spent? But I’ll tell you the really fun ones are when the client’s head just goes, Wow, I don’t I didn’t realize how much time I was wasting over here where I could be making money over here. Let’s salute. Let’s figure that out together.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, that’s super important. So let me ask you this question is another I have so many questions for you, which I know we only have a certain amount of time on the podcast, but we’ve got we’re doing webinars, and we’re doing other things for education, but thinking along those lines of alerting them, if you will, of how much time they’re spending on certain things. So you have an awesome tool called a client. It’s like it’s called Client survey. Is that am I saying that right? Yes. Survey. And so is there a difference between me sitting down and kind of going through that survey with them and and helping guide them through it where I don’t actually send it to them? Is there any liability on that? Should I be should I always send the survey as opposed to sitting down and going over it? It’s almost like they’re signing off on what they’re doing or like what does that look like?

Paul Hamann
That’s really a good question, because I hear that question probably more often than you would think. And what I’ll say is it’s preference. So some advisors like to just fire off the email link and that their client go through it. And then have a conversation with them and say, hey, look, let’s talk a little bit about some of your responses on here. Did you really look at the job description for Chief Executive, there’s two people in your company, there’s multiple layers of management involved in being a CEO. I don’t think you have multiple layers of management and your reasonable comp is very, very high. If we make this adjustment, let’s look at the description, make sure it makes sense to you, oh, look, we’ve just dropped your reasonable comp by $20,000. I’ve now just saved you X dollars in payroll taxes and really showing that value. Right. So that’s one way another way is just to sit down and say, well, let’s kind of go through this. And as you’re going through this, talking with them about some of the different hats that they’re wearing. And different advisors have different styles. But depending on where you fit into their world, you may be able to help them and realize that some of these duties aren’t ones they either are particularly good at or wasting their time on. Let’s get out there and get you making money. And I

Dawn Brolin
love that piece. And that little nugget right there alone. I know for myself, I use use time a track time tracking tool, of course, we just use tee sheets, which was always like my favorite company ever. But you know, tracking that time I realized in 2000, I believe it was 2017, the fall of 17, where I have looked at my you know, what am I what am I doing on client work versus admin work. And I was at 6040 60%, administrative 40% actual getting work done. And I’m the highest billing person in the company. So I knew because of that evaluation, that analysis, if you will, I needed to hire an admin, I had no admin it was me and 10 employees, and I had no administrative person I was it. And I’m like, You’re an idiot, and you’re advising other people. So let’s just put that out there. I get it. And so I hired somebody. And that totally changed the financial future of my of my business, because I was allowing someone else to kind of take control over that. So being able to have that conversation and having them Oh, yeah, you know, what, I, I am mopping the floor, why am I mopping the floor, I can bring somebody else in here to do that, or whatever it may be. That’s an example. Right. And so I think that that’s another important conversation to have with your clients. So if you’re looking, I don’t know how to get into advisory, we’ve just given you like seven things to do, that you can put on your little checklist of these are the things I’m going to do as part of my advisory work.

Paul Hamann
And so we’re talking about just how they’re spending their time, we’ve even talked about their retirement, or their exit strategy. Right? Most people worry about the compliance piece, which they do need to worry about, don’t get me wrong, that is important. But the smiling, right, the client smiling, going, oh my gosh, I hadn’t thought about getting my retirement to where I need to get, or I do want to exit the business, let’s put that plan together. And let’s get reasonable comp figured out so that when we get an offer, and they’re normalizing those books that we get the valuation that we want.

Dawn Brolin
You know, I think that’s a such a super important point, because people are people are looking to sell their business we’ve had clients contact us about they’re ready to sell their business and we we you know, go through a process, I usually just outsource it, I don’t necessarily get heavy deep in that. But if I can at least do some groundwork to balance that reasonable comp and be able to to make that work that piece of it work for them. And the the buyer is going to be so much more attractive, the buyer will be attracted more attractive to the business to buy it. If there’s facts. So glad to say I’m looking to buy this company, here’s a copy of a tax return and I look at it says self prepared. So first thing I say hey, listen, this returns a self prepared, I don’t know if it was actually ever filed like this could be just a made up return. You know, so those kind of little things. Same thing with reasonable view, we’re looking at an S corp, you’re buying an S corp, or you’re you’re buying a partnership, if you’re looking even at an S corp, you’re saying, what was the officer salary on that line? And then you look at Oh, well, it’s a partnership. So well, what were the guaranteed payments? Are these people even paying themselves? And it’s like, well, we know they don’t wanna pay themselves too much, because they don’t want to pay taxes. And, Jeff, definitely partnerships, they don’t want to pay self employment tax, they certainly don’t want to take guarantee payments. So those are just some hints to a buyer, when there may be some irregularities or something that’s wrong, but when you can say listen, this officers compensation was based on calculations on what they did. And guess what, here are the things that this business owner did. You may not want to do the same things as this business owner, you may say, You know what, I don’t want to schedule calls. I would never do that. Okay, great. Now, you know, you need to hire somebody, but now you’re seeing what those owners were doing, not just what they were getting paid. What is a value you add to that business?

Paul Hamann
Absolutely. And if you’ve ever had a client come to you say, Don, I think I’m about buying this business. We look at the books. Yeah, and it’s like Hey, Paul just person’s only paying themselves $24,000 a year, they should be paying themselves about 100 and a quarter, right? That’s, that’s $100,000 difference, and you’re looking at a 10 multiplier, we’re gonna knock about a million dollars off your pie.

Dawn Brolin
Exactly. So those are those are just some of the things. And I think obviously, this is just a, this is a podcast where we’re at least, you know, getting some information out there. But there’s so much more that people can go to RC reports.com, and there’ll be a link in the podcast, you’ll be able to have a link right to their education platform that will you know, the on demand webinars that they can watch at any time. And just to get yourself more familiar with this super important concept, or, or actually two requirements, compliance related matter that we need to be paying attention to. And thankfully, Paul and his team at RC reports are giving us tools that we can just go and use and not have to use the Google which isn’t gonna give you bullet proof reports anyway. But and to think of it more, I think my message to people is to think of it more than just reasonable, just reasonable compensation, which, at $5,000, a client, I don’t want to take those chances. But it’s more than that. It’s a tool you can use in your advisory role with your clients to say, Hey, listen, let’s take a look at what you’re paying your manager for this restaurant. And, you know, is it is it what, you know, what’s the range out there from your location and those kinds of things? There’s so much more that we can that we can do with this tool. And it’s really, it’s one place with many tools, essentially, that we should be think about any last thoughts, Paul?

Paul Hamann
The only last thought I’ll share with you because when we started this, and it’s kind of a full circle conversation now how we went from, you know, having this be my own problem to helping it create, RSC reports is this. For the do it yourselfers out there, I get that that’s how I started out. It’s a two day process. This is now a five to 15 minute process, it will save you a tremendous amount of time if you need to figure this number out. And so from that perspective, I think that that’s where I come from, I love the fact that it’s used for all these other reasons and all these other things. But time is the only thing we don’t get any more of ever.

Dawn Brolin
Absolutely. I think there’s always the ability to make money, but to make time is really tough. So with that, thank you, Paul, so much, Paul, with RC reports. This has been an amazing discovery is what I would say, for my practice and what I’m able to do for my clients, it’s so important to me to help them in whatever way I can. And this is just an easy, by the way, super affordable tool, which I don’t want to say that Pollux I don’t want you to increase prices. But I can say with confidence that I was like, this is like a godsend for me and my firm and my clients. So I thank you for having pain points that caused you to move in the direction of giving us this tool that is going to be so helpful for all of us. But thank you again for coming on the DM disruption. We’ll talk to you next time in our next episode. Very excited to for those of you who are listening, and I hope you’re getting so much knowledge out of this and education. So with that, Paul, thank you again so much and we’ll see Miandad Absolutely. We’ll see everybody next time. Thanks again.

 

This episode is sponsored by Liscio. Learn more at https://liscio.me/

 

Episode Summary

Liscio joins the DM Disruption! Join Dawn as she chats with Chris Farrell, the CEO of Liscio, and Alison Ball, the Director of Marketing and Influencer Strategy at Liscio.

In this episode, you’ll learn the importance of maintaining proper cyber security in your firm, how Liscio can be the sole communication hub for your clients, and what new features are being released soon!

Listen now to learn why Dawn uses Liscio in her firm, and how their software can save both you and your client time!

 

Episode Notes

Why Security Needs to be Automatic

Chris, Alison, and Dawn start their conversation by noting how important it is to keep your firm’s data secure. Alison notes that many cyber attacks are now hitting smaller firms and that it’s crucial that everyone practices proper security measures.

Chris notes that many firms leave clients’ EIN or Social Security numbers in their inboxes, and that can lead to a leak of your client’s data. Alison adds that implementing security measures needs to be automatic; if it’s too hard to put into practice or too inconvenient people will not do it.

 

How Liscio Keeps Communication Clear

Dawn expresses her admiration for Lisicio and says she loves how all of your client’s data can be found in one place. Not only that, but in case she is out of the office, her team members can easily access each client’s string of data without needing her to forward any emails or text messages. Dawn even shares a story about how much time she saved by adding all of her clients to the Liscio app.

Chris joins in and says he wanted to create Liscio for every sized firm. They don’t charge by the client, they are fairly priced, and they are easily accessible for clients and firm owners.

 

Why You Should Separate Your CRM from Your Project Management Software

Alison also notes that having all your clients on a separate CRM platform can be very beneficial. It can take a long time to get all your clients to start using certain software, and having to switch them to a new application can take even more time. If you utilize Liscio, you can change your project management software as often as you like without disrupting your client’s relationship.

 

How Liscio Can Save You Time

Chris talks about how Liscio can save you time, especially while you are on vacation. Many practitioners find it difficult to turn their email off during vacation because they need to forward certain clients’ information to their team members. With Liscio, all of your team members have access to each client’s data, which allows them to access any information they need without emailing for support.

Dawn says she appreciates how Liscio functions like “texting” but she doesn’t have to give her clients her personal phone number. She appreciates the ability to be able to close the app when she is out of the office, and it saves her time from answering “quick questions” when she takes time off.

 

Learn more about Liscio: https://liscio.me/

 

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Transcript:

Dawn Brolin
Hi everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin, I’m a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, a president of powerful accounting, Inc, and the author of the Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals. I’m here today to talk to you about one of my favorite new application implementations. And that’s with Liscio. We were finding that we were chasing clients and wasting a lot of administrative time chasing them for documents for information for answers to questions as we’re going through tax season. And we found that we’ve really could be working a lot less hours if we could solve for that pain point. So we found Liscio. And because of implementing liscio, we were able to save hours of time every single week, chasing clients, not only wasn’t the time that we were spending, but it was the frustration of trying to get in touch with them. And for them to securely send us documents and information so we could prepare their tax return in a timely fashion. No more picking up and putting down tax returns, because we don’t have everything we need. What I love is that it’s one central place for us that all of us in our firm can see all of the communications, whether it’s via text, or email, or a document that we’re looking for anyone in the firm can go grab that document or that communication and know exactly what’s going on with that client at all times. What’s even better about it is that it does integrate with our project management and workflow solution, as well as our accounting software. So we’re entering contact information for our clients in one place and pushing it out to other other solutions that we use. And I find that application integration is critical. But being able to save us that time, so that I can be on the ball field coaching in the spring, or whatever else it may be being with my kids, whatever it may be. But we found that we were being so unproductive, doing that administrative chasing that we were just like it’s not the clients fault, it’s our fault, we have to offer them a solution that’s going to work for them. And what we found with as we were implementing Liscio with our clients, the best feedback we would get in this was almost every single client was wow, that was easy. And that’s what we need it to be in order for our clients will get us what we need. And it’s got to be secure. We need cloud to cloud secure document exchange and secure communications. We no longer give out our personal cell phones, which is awesome. I don’t want to hear from a client at midnight. If I happen to hear from them through my liscio app, then that’s cool. Maybe I respond, maybe I don’t, but it gives me that flexibility and that time of peace and quiet when I’m not in the office. So I’m telling you go out, get yourself a demo of Liscio, implement it for your business so you have a successful upcoming 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond tax season. Thank you so much for listening. And I wish you the best as you move forward.

Well, hello everybody and welcome back to the DM Disruption. My name is Dawn Brolin. I’m a CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner. And I just want to help you and your firms have a better experience and or whether it’s busy season, not busy season, how about just daily, maybe we could have just a great experience daily. And so who better to bring to the DEM disruption if we want to talk about experiences and client experiences, then listen to themselves Chris Farrel and Alison ball two of my favorite people ever. If anyone’s ever had a conversation with me, you can say sorry, Chris. But I think really Allison is probably the favorite person of the year when it comes to the accounting profession. And it doesn’t mean that you’re any worse. She’s just unbelievable. So I want to thank you guys for taking some time with me because I know Lucio is out there kicking butt. And I want to we want to hear all about it. Talk about some great examples that we’ve been experiencing ourselves here at powerful accounting. And so welcome. Welcome, and thanks for coming, Chris. Hello.

Chris Farrell
Hello, Dawn. How you doing? Good to see you again.

Dawn Brolin
Yes. Great to see ya.

Alison Ball
Hi, everybody. I’m just so delighted to be here. Two of my favorite people. Chris and Dawn. Dawn you and I go way back. Oh my gosh.

Dawn Brolin
Like way back. We have so many conversations. We were at ‘Appy camp, and the conversations around which was nice to be able to sit down and just have some time together and be able to just kind of really visit for real and not like crazy conference running by saying hello to people like on the fly. We’re actually able to talk to each other. And you were a major topic of conversation throughout the weekend.

Alison Ball
Oh, yeah, yeah, we really, we really had a tough call there because I was a speaker in Calgary, right, a different conference. And so it was kind of like couldn’t you know, yeah, yeah. So I had serious case of FOMO seeing seeing you guys on social. Yeah, we had a lot of liscio users there, there were a lot of people who use liscio in their firms. And so that was kind of interesting. I was like, you know, I wonder what the conversation was right? You know, about Lisicio?

Dawn Brolin
Well, it was positive, I can tell you that and really understanding that concept of the integrations, and certainly security is so gotta be in the forefront. And a lot of people are still forgetting that Chris, you were gonna say something I want, I want to let you say what you have to say. And then we’re going to just rip it.

Chris Farrell
Rip it. Let’s just get right into it.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. So that’s a great segue. Because the conference, a lot of conversations were around that client experience and the security of exchanging information, which I think people’s information is more valuable now than it’s ever been before. And people are taking it, they will take it whenever they can. I’m cautious about it. Just as matter of fact, I had a colleague was a client actually out of out of Rhode Island. And she was I said to her, Hey, I need to, we need some documents. You got audited, we got to deal with this. She goes Well, right now I’m in the middle of solving for a problem. I got, I got side angled by some scam, she got scammed, and to the tune of $85,000. Oh, so she was like, I really can’t think about that right now. And I said, Well, you kind of need to because you owe 30 grand after the audit. So now you’re at 115. So we might want to talk. But that’s really important, right?

Alison Ball
Heartbreaking, heartbreaking and serious, serious cash, and they’re going after the small firms now. And, and, and business email compromise, I think is the big one. That’s the one you got to worry about. Right? As a practitioner.

Dawn Brolin
Yep. So Chris, that’s, that’s one of the things that I find for myself, as we’re trying to educate our clients to at the same time, you know, for them, it’s not at the front of their mind till it till something like this happens. And so to educate them to understand that, not just with us, you should never be emailing your stuff to us period. I don’t care if they’re if the social security number is masked, there’s enough information on an insurance document, a W 2, obviously, or any of these other things that even just those last four are those socials, addresses, maybe where you bank or whatever appears there. And that becomes gold to those people who are stealing it.

Chris Farrell
We don’t meet anybody to be honest, who when we asked them how many social security numbers or how many ein do you have in your email? Right? It doesn’t say too many. Right, everybody’s done. I think it’s probably one of the big, you know, dirty, not so secrets probably in the profession. Right. And what’s interesting about it is, you know, the IRS education, I’m super glad you’re talking about this, because you know, and you’ve seen it and too many people get impacted their businesses. And even their, you know, their peace of mind, right? When somebody’s been in stealing from you. It’s like somebody’s in your house, right? But what’s even worse is in your house with your client. And you know, that that part’s actually frightening. But we look at what’s been happening, whether it’s the NIST or the IRS, right, you have all these bodies, the AICPA? Everybody’s been talking about this for how long? A decade? Yeah, the problem is this. Probably more right. Yeah, probably more doesn’t for at least a decade. And every year, it gets worse, right? It used to be big firms, that’s middle size firms. Now it’s everybody, everybody gets a dose because you can get a Bitcoin or two out of it pretty effectively. And it’s become big business. Right? So, you know, we can get as a consumers, we can get any little thing a cat food shipped to our home, inside 24 hours services everywhere, right? Because businesses are figured out to scale. These criminal organizations are no different. Right? This guy’s for Bitcoin, just like we can get a small package. That is just amazing, right? Yeah. And that’s happening left and right. And unfortunately, we hear a lot of it because a lot of people come to us say, hey, look, I’m client experience means security. They become synonymous. Right? We’re talking about how to do this little differently. And I think that’s, we obviously want to get to everybody before that happens. Sure. But yeah,

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, we want preventive maintenance if we can, right, Allison?

Alison Ball
Yeah, security’s got to be you know, in addition to what Chris has said, security’s got to be automatic, right. And it’s got to be easy. And so, I everyone out there, all of the practitioners that I talk to, they all have secure systems. But the problem is, is that there’s such a, there’s so difficult to use, right? Like, and who stops who even knows how to encrypt an email? Like you do, but does your client, your clients, your clients? That’s not enough, right, but do your clients know how to encrypt an email so it’s like, like, you start putting these barriers in so when you make it sort of as easy seamless, and, and and part of your day like you think about like an online banking app, right? How easy did the banks make it for us to have security and ease and on the go all in one, and would anybody bank at a bank now that didn’t have now like, you’d be like, Oh, I don’t think so. I’m not using that bank. I’m not using it. No.

Chris Farrell
I see the billboard now, bank with us over email.

Alison Ball
Or fake with us only in person. Right? Yeah. All you have to come here. Bring bring us your bring us your checks. Yes, your

Dawn Brolin
Deposit slip, I’m bringing it. Yes. And it’s like, well, it’s so funny too, because the clients, I think, and one of the things I find interesting with with with us, as practitioners, we want the ease of use, I want the ease of having an app that my clients can communicate with me. And sometimes I’m just like, I just want to be easy. I don’t, I’m not even thinking the security side around it. We think about it, we just want ease of use. But that’s the mistake we make. That’s a mistake, because we’re not putting the real priority in front of it. Now, we love that product. We love that client experience. We want it to be easy for them. But we have to, for our side of it, it has to be secure. And so I mean, if I never could go to have to go to an email again, I would be in heaven. I could just never be an email again. And I I can’t wait for that to actually happen when we get rid of email. And we’re communicating the way we should be, which is more direct, like you said, and I was, you know, kind of prefacing a little bit earlier about my experience with this client who I’ve had since 2011. She’s a phenomenal client when it comes to paying. Like she’s at the top. She’s the number one client in our firm when it comes to baby number two, one and two, when it comes to paying their bill never complains. But I can’t get stinking anything from her. I can’t get her to respond. I’m like, I’ll text you historically, I would text her. Help me help you. Hey, I really need that document. Hey, and I was it was a real struggle for us, I think primarily because, you know, in every client’s so different for her. We couldn’t get her to upload to SmartVault, we couldn’t get her to get her documents in she could wouldn’t. She’s not doing it. And so we were just so frustrated, but we weren’t frustrated with her. We were frustrated the process. So we knew we had to do something different. And until liscio came along, I was like, I’m just gonna drive to her house. I’m doing drive bys. She’s in the parking lot. I’m gonna go in and get what I need. It was almost at that point. And then we put her on Liscio. And this is how I explained it to her, which I think is a really great tip for people who are maybe struggling getting clients to, to, you know, jump on board and buy in, which it’s just because they’re humans. But I said, Lisa, I’m going to put this on your phone. And this app is called Liscio. I bought liscio I’m subscribing but I tell her it’s my app. It is Dawn Brolin. Why did I call it Liscio none of your business is called Licio. Put the thing on your phone. And then when you get in the look, turn on leave your alerts on for the app. And when you see an alert on your phone from this app, put it on your homepage, you think, you know it’s coming from me that means I need you. And when we did that with her, it has been night and day with her tax season was smoother because of it. We were able to message through the app. And it was funny because she’s got five or six entities that she running. She’s running three ice rinks, a racing horse company, she owns two rental properties. She also like a coach, she’s a she doesn’t 7 million things. So I’m able to go into her profile. And when I’m in Liscio, I can go Lisa, Lisa, blah, blah, blah, Lisa. And then I can pick which account we’re talking about. We’re talking about the race horse, I need a copy of the printout from companion or whatever the app, the thing is, they used to track the revenue and whatever, I need this report. So she can go into that, that task or the message or whatever, and be like, bang, here you go. Now it’s in the files. Yeah. And the best part is it’s a scanner as well. And we’ve I’ve talked that about the I would say it’s not even the it’s not the client experiences the professionals experience when they get a PDF of the 2048 coming back to you and not a JPEG. That’s usually blurry and the IRS doesn’t accept it. Like, those are the things that sometimes we that’s an example of where I love the convenience. And the in the client experience I get I get responses from her right away. Right, yeah.

Alison Ball
And it’s organized so that your team can actually go in and collaborate on her documents and put them where they need to be for your back end systems or what have you. But and also the team can see the whole string of all the communication. So if you’re out of the office, you know, Tracy or Nicole can pick up and you know…

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, and it’s perfect. So like, obviously, as we’re all so busy and in the fall especially super busy with conferences. I’m not here a lot, but I want my clients to get the answers they need at any time. Right. So from a second hear the perspective, that’s awesome. And I think, I think another great practitioner experience, since I said, security is really important. There’s two letters in that word that will freak anybody out. The SEC. Security was cut off some of those letters, say the SEC. So we have an experience. Right now we have a client who’s a hyper Liscio user. But so we have a client experience now where this is a company that has multiple entities, who was doing quite and this is this, these people came to us late, but they were doing a lot of loans. So they’re taking in investor money, a lot of millions of dollars of investor money, and the SEC caught wind of it. I don’t know how they do that. So he’s now under an SEC investigation. And so we got subpoenaed, and we gave him most of the financial information on the first subpoena, gave that to them. And now they’re like, We want everything. We want all of your communications. And I said to Nicole, I said, Nicole, you know what is awesome. It’s all in Liscio. Every bit of it is in Liscio. So we can just download what we need, throw it on a flash drive along with the financials, and send it off. And then we’re totally covered. Like, we didn’t have to go to Oh, emails, we gotta go find all the emails from him. And then we gotta go over here and find all of this and text messages and all, it’s just all right. And Lucia what? What a way for us to send it to the SEC so that we look professional?

Alison Ball
Because are you gonna are you gonna go also with the bat? You’re gonna go in with the bat.

Dawn Brolin
Always. I’m always got my softball bats right over there. Just I need the I need to be on defense every once in a while. So, you know, but yeah. So I mean, it’s just that these things that I think this message is we don’t think we don’t think forward. Right? We really don’t. We’re always thinking about this moment. And today, which, you know, our philosophy is that isn’t a motivator is what’s important. Now, the when philosophy What is important now, and I get that, and there’s time for that. But there’s also time to reflect and think, Hey, what are we prepared for? What’s coming next, if anyone told you that the pandemic was going to happen, and you needed to be prepared? Would you believe it? No.

Alison Ball
Well, we thought it’d be a couple of weeks, right? When it did have and we were like, Oh, I’ll be home for two weeks, you know, flatten the curve. Yeah.

Dawn Brolin
And that’s, it’s so funny to say that because we were in like, 2020 20, we’re at practice. In we get the news that the seasons shut down. And we go over, we put them on the bleachers. And we have this, we have the diagram that they put up where it was like, we’re here, and we got to, we have to flatten the curve and all this. And the kids were like, Coach, how long do you think we can do? It’s like, what if it’s only a couple of weeks, can we still have a season and like it was this whole unknown thing? But if you look back, and you’re like, if we knew it was gonna last like it has, would you have done something different? So as you’re making decisions on your workflow, so one of your clients, they, they somehow hack into your system and your clients information is compromised? What is showed up coulda too late. And I think from a security perspective, that’s what we miss. We miss that. We’re not thinking about what could happen. And we think about oh, well, it hasn’t happened yet.

Alison Ball
What if that you know of that, you know, that’s the interesting thing that people that I know that have gotten business email compromise, compromise, they figured that those scammers were in there for like, months, like just lurking, watching their patterns.

That’s the thing, Chris?

Chris Farrell
There’s a perception thing we’re talking about here, right? Because everybody knows we’ve all known hey, look, we’ve got those three numbers in our email. Okay, it just kind of how it is right? Right. Or no, hey, we should probably think about maybe using a system where we can work better with the client, or you know, we kind of know these things kind of tangentially, but solving them all together. Like if you wanted to create an online banking app look like big banks, big banks have great apps. Super great. Look, small banks. They don’t have good apps that have good website stuff, right? Yeah. So it’s like, it’s kind of like a hey, look, that sounds great. It sounds totally idealistic and totally impractical. Right? Because I don’t have the money for it. The time for it. I’m busy. Right? I think, you know, I spent 12 years in accounting. And I think the work ethic is always I’m gonna get through it. I’m gonna pound my way through it. I’m gonna keep working, keep working, keep working. And it’s really, really hard to like, pick up, you know, the eye, you know, the perspective, if you will, and say, I should actually do this, and maybe it won’t be as hard as I think it might be. Right. I think what we try to do is, you know, the price has to be incredible, right? Like super inexpensive. The service has to be impeccable. We’ll do you know as much as we can for you, make sure you’re successful. And ask the dead simple for the clients so we can still keep on working. right not have to get totally distracted. Right? It has to be approachable. And I think that’s probably the biggest gift is I think we think about what the world where the world is today versus even just a couple of years ago, the way SAS software is delivered, we can make the price point super amazing for even the smallest companies like nobody’s priced out. And nobody’s under serviced. Right, I think that’s really that was the key insight we had, you know, a couple of years ago is like, look, accounting profession, we know, we know, these people, we love these people, we know these people, you know, we come from, you know, this group, it has to be a kind of a $40 a month kind of price point, right? Yeah.

Alison Ball
And, and not by client either, like, you can’t charge by client, because what ends up happening is it ends up getting just really massive. And the other thing, the other thing I think is don’t try to find one system for your, for your clients, and for your staff back end like that. The front end, that’s what the banks did. That’s what they created something really awesome for us to use. But the banks use a totally different system on the back end to manage things, and it’s probably really ugly. Like we wouldn’t, we wouldn’t, as mere mortals be able to work with that system. Right? Like, right. So your practice management stuff should be separate from your, from your clients stuff. And if it’s not, the problem is like hurt. Heather, Heather Satterlee said this a while back, she said, you know, the practice management suites always, they think a certain way. And they and they, they they create, like, they want you to do your workflow in a certain way. And maybe you want to do it differently. And then you decide, oh, I don’t want to do it this way. And then you go for a different system, you’d have to change all your clients again, right? So keeping them on something like Liscio is like, we don’t care if the banks change their back end system, they’re probably changing them every few years, right? Or upgrading them doing what have you, right. But it doesn’t affect us as consumers, right? It doesn’t affect us as customers. And so that’s kind of the philosophy, I think of having a separate, really affordable solution for your clients, that your team also gets a lot of benefits from, right, but not tying it to your sort of like your soup to nuts entire workflow, because your clients aren’t involved in most of that stuff. Right?

Dawn Brolin
Right, exactly. And I think that’s one of the pieces where we don’t we typically think the opposite exactly what you’re just saying, but realizing why not have it for best best of breed for both the client and your firm. And you’re so right about how practice management works. Because it’s, what you need to do internally is very different than the way you need to, you know, communicate and work with a client. But what better than to have both, if you can have both, you’ve got your practice management, and you have the ability for Liscio to update Karbon in which we use Karbon. So I’ll just throw that out there that we do. So liscio, working with Karbon is an awesome way for us to only enter data about the client in one spot, which is liscio. And let liscio push it to Karbon, let Liscio push it to my accounting, you know, QBO, because we just use it for everything so that from a firm functionality, perspective is seamless. And we’re not having we’re not having to enter in three places, which is what we would have had to do. So now we’re entering it in one and it ends up in three. And so that’s really important to me, but I just look at it, if you’re trying to evaluate, like what’s happening with that communication with your clients that you are getting it from all of these different places, and I kind of compare it to ADP. So like I’m an ADP user, because it does everything I need. It gives me client insights that I could never get an any other way to analyze payroll, whatever it may be. But what I love about is I’m going one place, I’m going into all of my payroll clients are there. It’s the same thing. I want all of my client communications in one place. I’m all about, listen, I’m getting older. I know you don’t believe that. I’m getting older. So for me to remember, oh, this person only uses email, oh, this person just text me, oh, this person does this, this person does something different. They want to call and you’re sitting there going. I just especially Oh my goodness. Okay. blow me away about texting. So let’s just talk about texting for a minute. Right? A lot of people want to text. I love the functionality of texting for my personal life. It’s great. I can communicate with my kids. I can whatever you know, play, you need to get a hold of me. On my private side. I don’t want any text messages coming in from a client ever. I don’t want I don’t take my phone for you to text me while I’m at dinner. So but if I if I see if I get a notification from my firm dash on my phone. Now I can choose whether or not I want to communicate with them. Yeah, you give them that full blown access to you through a text. They’re gonna expect an immediate response. You have to control that right, Chris?

Chris Farrell
Absolutely. I mean, I think you know, nobody wants to use email, right? If you try to email you know, somebody who’s a you know, Um, you know, born sometime, but you know more recently, they’re not going to look at the email, right? They’re gonna text, or they’re gonna use an app. So we have to have the app experience, I think, you know, the world has changed. I think it’s fair to say the number of texts sent per day between important clients. Don’t want to be careful with this, because there’s a lot of volume and email. But the most important conversations we have in our personal lives are happening on text. Most important conversations we’re having are on text. So I think it’s actually a little bit of an honor to be invited by a client to text them means we’re close, right? Yep, means you’re close. They’re not they’re not really getting us to email with all the spam and all the junk, right? That’s a great thing. And why would you ever want to say no, like, hey, no, I don’t want to text you basically say, we’re not close.

Dawn Brolin
Let’s have this client relationship. But yet, you have to really get in touch with me somehow.

Chris Farrell
Yea we’re gonna do this over email. I mean, come on. Right, which I think I could put practitioners puts us all in a really awkward position, right? Because we were service oriented, right? And we’re people oriented. And so I think that that puts a lot of people to buy. And I think that’s precisely why so many, so many people in the profession are texting. I think when we look at it, we say, hey, it doesn’t have to be FHS. There’s a lot of people who are doing things over WhatsApp, for example. But that’s even better. And we start to compartmentalize it to start to be a little more in network. It’s not fully a network, right? We’re moving towards being a network, which is really what people want. How can you bring them in network in the right place? And then give them all the tooling? Because I think when we look at it, we say, okay, yeah, you want to tax but we can’t text, large files, I can’t get a QuickBooks Desktop file on it. We can’t text things to be signed, we can’t text a lot of different things. It’s a second, we say, inside the firm, we’ve got 10 different systems. If we’re using five different systems to communicate with the client. We know we can’t balance a 10 internally that easily. We certainly shouldn’t expect a client to juggle five things to work with us. Okay, we’re gonna tax but now go check this portal or now go check this signature thing are now go check something that blows them up, so they can’t find anything. The second we blow them up, what happens? They start texting us again, hey, can you send me? You know, we have to be thinking like, hey, just like we want to consolidate everything for us, we have to have the same same lens for our clients. And once we do, then we win. Right? Then we have the Bank of America, the chase experience, and then we’re just in the habit of hey, I just go here, for Bank of America, just…

Alison Ball
That one place. It just makes all the difference. Doesn’t that one place? Yeah. And a habit.

Dawn Brolin
You know, it’s, it’s so this is such like, I don’t know, I just love talking to you. And you talk to the two of you for days, really. But think about what’s happening in the industry right now. And that’s really important for people to keep in perspective, the whole com… Ron Baker just did a great conversation at Intuit Tech Summit. Okay. And he talked about where everyone went from hourly pricing. And they even hanged himself at one point, value pricing has been the big conversation, though. I don’t think a lot of people have bought into that a lot. Some have some haven’t, regardless. But he’s he’s at a great place where he says, and I changed the term because I, you know, it’s about me. So he talks about subscription pricing. Okay, now I take a step further. And this is where liscio comes in. Because this is exactly what it is. subscription pricing, to me is like a Hulu account. So I don’t really want to call it that. And I agree with Ron Baker, and even had a conversation with him about it. And I want to make sure that I hashtag this and that I can this right, I have to trademark this because I want to win is relationship pricing. That’s what we’re doing. There you go. Subscription. There you go. Right. Right. You shouldn’t hit pricing. And I am Allison just launched relationship pricing. Tomorrow will be the firt. Well, I I had a couple people for October. But I’ve got four clients who are some have been at the $9,000 a year billing, jump to $18,000 a year because we put them on a relationship because…

Alison Ball
They they’re at but they’re getting more as well. And they’re getting a deeper relationship and the value there is for them because they don’t have to worry about picking up the phone. They know that it’s all included.

Dawn Brolin
And if I have an app like Liscio, they have a direct connection to me. They can’t get me on the phone, but they can message me through Liscio and I can go Yep, those are one of the about the relationship pricing clients. They’re getting first priority. That’s right. And so when we’re talking about having this new way of being a professional of moving forward in our practices, and so I worked really hard with giraffes. They’ve been instrumental in helping me get to this point, which has been great. Just like they’ve like we’re an extension of my firm and even helped me put my webpage together for it like, awesome. But they got me through the process in my brain of understanding what relationship pricing really is. And so if I can see, here’s an app for you, you’re on value pricing, you can get me anytime you need me. And I’m able to fulfill that promise, what if I don’t do that? Let’s step back from it. I’m gonna do relationship pricing. And we’re gonna be that firm for you. And you can call me anytime you want. But email me or text me or call me or leave a note on my door, or however you want to communicate with me now, what am I doing? I’m setting the relationship up for failure. Yeah. Because they’re not going to get me when they want me, they’re not going to get answers as quickly as they could have, because I don’t know where it went.

Alison Ball
And you won’t have the full picture either, you won’t have that full picture of what everybody said to that client and what they said to you and what they sent. And that’s where having that single source, single source of truth single place. And Chris, I think they call it now in larger firms single portal. So it’s like, you know, that one place for the clients to go.

Chris Farrell
There’s patterns here, right, we always looking for patterns. You know, in, in our lives, I think one of the patterns that a lot of firm owners fall in, it’s a firm owner trap. The firm owner trap is I can’t delegate to my staff, the second failure to my staff fully, I don’t have the complete picture. So what do we do? Now the complete picture, firm owners end up getting CC and BCC got everything. And then it got stitched together. Otherwise, you just don’t know what’s happening. I think every look at a different way. Which is a pattern that works, where you can actually get up to date on somebody really fast. We’re gonna go visit some some second cousins we haven’t seen in two years. Where do we go? Right? Go to Facebook, go to Facebook, go to Facebook, scroll down a timeline. Get up to speed. How long does it take you up to speed on two years to scroll through Facebook? Not long. Now you’re ready? How else would you do it? How else would you do it? So what we’re doing let’s see, this is a this is a feature we’re releasing in the next two weeks. But we call it timeline. Okay, in the Liscio timeline is going to have all your client requests, everything they sent you invoices, you sent out messages, everything files, everything is in a timeline. If you want to see the files, you want to see the requests, you can see it in one place. So anybody on the team to Dawn you can be out at the Super Regionals. Right there you’re doing anything. Anybody on your team could scroll through timeline. Hello, hey, yeah, great Dawn’s out right now. But the question, okay, great. And while they’re getting the input from the client, as they’re managing the relationship, they have all the data right there in front of them. Exactly. No handoff, I gotta go call, Dawn. You know, how much do we like getting routed? When we call an airline? Hang on Ron, department, we put you on hold. That’s not a relationship? That’s the pattern that we see that we’re really, really excited about servicing.

Dawn Brolin
And with that, if you think about it, just that what you just described, you can’t get from having a phone with a text, or an email over here, or files over here or whatever, your you’ve got these pieces everywhere. And I think that’s what’s gonna go.

Chris Farrell
What’s gotta go and the way you’re doing it, right? You have the other client, just horse racing and three strikes. Okay, calling in, I got a question about horses. Now, do you want to have to scroll through everything from that person? How many of us have done the search for search for client aid in Google or Microsoft, and you get a laundry list? Everything too much. But he can say I want to target the horse racing business. Now we have a timeline for just worse.

Dawn Brolin
Yes,exactly.

Alison Ball
Pinpoint everybody’s and everybody’s, I think the big thing is everybody’s communications are in there that have had that with that one client. So or about that client? It like everything that’s kind of like, you know, allocated to that, to that account. I can’t see inside Chris’s inbox unless he copies me. And even then, I can’t see everything that happened. That was just between Chris and the client, right? So you can’t man you can’t actually manage relationships based on email. Like, Chris, you gave an analogy, in a meeting we had last week about can you imagine like a customer service organization managing on email? It’d be just a mess or a sales organization managing without their CRM, like it’d be just a total mess. Yeah. And you just couldn’t imagine so why do we do that in the accounting industry, right,

Chris Farrell
Every every other business it’s Kelly’s. It’s really I mean, I love it. It’s just such an amazing part of the world to work in. But if you’re running professional sales team to use Salesforce or something like it right, how many companies are out there do we meet that aren’t using anything?

Dawn Brolin
Very, very few of them are using nothing.

Chris Farrell
And how many people or how many, how many people were just emailing into customer service? And it’s going to somebody’s personal email box or business email? Nobody. It goes to a help desk, right? Wherever we can collaborate. But accounting is this weird this really this really, you know, interesting adolescence? Well, yeah, yeah, we’re in search of that moment. And that’s really, that’s really what it is. So the patterns are super established. We know they work. We know clients adopt them like crazy, right? Because we do everywhere else. But it’s tougher to counter.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, so definitely. So is that is this timeline, the this big thing that’s happening here? The next couple of weeks, we just kind of talked a little bit prior that there’s what’s happening at Liscio?

Chris Farrell
Absolutely, there’s a bunch of things that are coming out. But I think you know, two things, we’re putting out what’s called time one, which is simply look, while you have to speed up by accounts or by person come here. If you want to actually understand what you need to do we have another page inside of it called in focus. So you can go to a client and see, you know, how many tasks are waiting for for them? How many things have we received for them that we haven’t I mean, documents came out that we haven’t processed yet, how much money do they owe us? How many invoices are outstanding, all that through a single view. So somebody calls up, you can say, hey, I’m looking at your account right now looks like we have two requests waiting for you can go take a look at those for us yada yada, yada. But you will know, at a glance where that class dance mix aligns,

Alison Ball
or any member of your team will know, that’s the cool thing. Any member like so it’s not just you will know. Right? You have a team. Yeah. And they’re and they’re assigned, you know. And then the other thing we have is client service teams. So if you’re worrying that you have just everybody else to see everything you don’t you can assign clients to you can assign people to clients to segregate if you have a really large team. But the thing is, is that you create this visibility, right,

Dawn Brolin
which I love, because like I want Tracee to manage those communications communications as much as possible. I don’t have to so she can go. I’m excited about the timeline. She’s gonna be excited about that, too. Because she’s able to go in and someone calls She’s the face of powerful accounting. Thank God. So you know, if somebody calls, they’re usually calling Tracy. And they’re either looking, did you get this? Or did you get that? Or did this happen? She doesn’t have to be calling me or slacking me or whatever, at any point, because she can go in just look and see what needs to get done. Or yeah, it looks like Dawn sent you the 2048. You didn’t do anything with it.

Chris Farrell
You can take a proper vacation! That’s the whole point. Everyone takes a vacation. If you don’t do this, then we’re dealing with I used to sit at you know, I’d be in this is, you know, sad, but so true. But I think it’s relatable. And go on vacation. You’re sitting, you know, somewhere, great view, your family’s there. And you’re checking emails, you can route things, because I don’t route it right now. Even though I’m on vacation. I don’t router right now, the clients waiting. Right? I wouldn’t feel terrible in six hours when they don’t get service during the business day. Yep, that’s what we do. We became routers, right? That’s, that’s….

Alison Ball
Oh, it makes my head hurt.

Chris Farrell
They’ll come back and they’ll tell us, hey, look, I have control over my business. I can actually take vacations. You still they still we all still have the habit of checking things. But it’s not the same as when I gave Tracy’s out. You’re blind. Right? That’s not the case. Because you can be out. And you can say we got you covered. Tracy, you have a great plan. We’ll see you in a week.

Dawn Brolin
Right? Exactly. So so it’s been really a game changer for us. And for our clients. Like we’re just able to communicate better. And with relationship pricing, the way I look at it is I have to make sure that I have a tool that I can, yes, I can respond to timely anyone can respond to you, we’re all able to stay on top of things because we are shrinking our client base, that’s we want to laser focus a little bit better. So we want to make sure that experience for those that we keep that we did that by the way we decide to keep we’re going to we’re and we’re firing clients right now, as we’re going as we see appropriate, you know, those either those people who are constantly calling and asking the same question 10 times are still haven’t gotten us what we needed. And we still haven’t given them an app to be able to get us things. We’re not doing it anymore. You don’t want to adopt our processes, you don’t want to do the things we’re doing. It’s not going to work, the relationship isn’t there. So we and that’s what we’re establishing, which is really exciting. And if you haven’t gone through that process, it’s something to go through is to be like, You know what, like, we have this one client, this guy, he’s never wants to pay anything for anything. But once all the help in the world, and it’s like, okay, guy, guess what we’re done later? Well, you know, and we were telling them now, so they have a couple months, three months to find another practitioner and tax planning whatever they may need. But in order to have a relationship pricing model, you have to make sure you’re able to cultivate the relationship in a way that’s positive for both of you. And with Licio. You can do that. And I think that that’s really important for people to hear, and most importantly, that it’s secure. But we’ve got to get this we got two components we’re just trying to solve for and we’ve got one app that can solve for both and that’s what we need. Get out of email. You’re out of your mind like I can’t wait worse We’re working towards directing people to the app. And we’re, you know, we’re still trying to help them get over there. But imagine, you know, I think maybe it’ll take another six, maybe another tax season to get them all to be like, Okay. And then I won’t ever have to check email again. And because they’ll call and they go, don’t never respond to my email. Well, yeah, you’re supposed to be in liscio. member, and Oh, okay. And then they send a message, you’re like, Hey, welcome to the party.

Chris Farrell
It’s like, the two things we can do there. I mean, obviously, we integrate with email, too. So you always categorize email, and we’re actually working on one of the big things you’ll get in about 90 days is we’ll pull it in by clients. That’s what works. Audible just like Salesforce does. But where I think you’re going, where I think you’re going is so brilliant, what you’re saying is the right client super matters, right? And you’re changing, you’re changing how you’re working with them to make sure it’s not the right client, the right relationship it matters. We did a survey recently. And, you know, we asked people how important is getting the right client versus any client? You know, neutral sunlight, extremely Guess how many firms responded? This is hundreds first, because my firms responded extremely important.

Dawn Brolin
Half a percentage, obviously.

Chris Farrell
80! I’m saying almost nobody said not important. Almost no, it is somewhat or because I think a lot of volume shops, right, but the volume shops get burned, because people don’t pay or whatever, right. But four out of five, four out of five firm owners are saying it’s extremely important. Just what’s the game that everybody is competing for the best clients. Right? Right. And you’re just saying, I’m moving, I’m moving to relationships, I’m not selling a commodity, I’m not selling a commodity subscription. I want to work with the best people and I want to commit. I’m in on that. Right. So it’s really, really, I think what you’re doing is really,

Dawn Brolin
yeah, what’s great is I don’t have to have right now I have 250 clients, I would like 100. Because I would rather infuse my soul into those clients that want. And I’m just asking them, listen, with one two weeks ago, and I said, Listen, you know what he wanted to ask me some for tax planning, blah, blah, blah, we’re going through the questions. And I said, Listen, this is where we’re at this and I had prefaced the conversations, and we knew we were gonna talk about this. Listen, this is where we’re moving it, this isn’t something that you feel like your company needs right now. It is not a big deal. Let’s get you where you’re going to be the most productive, the most successful. And maybe that’s not with me. And I’m okay with that. I just want you as the business owner, to be successful in whatever way that means to you. And that just for you right now, doesn’t mean you want to talk to me every quarter, and talk about tax planning, help you run your business and all the questions you’ve been asking me on this call. Those types of things, you’re not worried about what I’m charging you, you just call let’s just talk, whatever you need, and call me whenever you need me not worried about whether I’m gonna bill you or not. And he was like, Yeah, I just don’t think I need all that. I said, Awesome. He goes, You don’t as a matter of fact, I’m maybe I’m gonna go local. Maybe I’ll find someone local. I go, that’s awesome. If that’s what you need, then get it? I would rather you do that than to stay with me and be miserable. Like we here’s the here’s what it is. I want to get paid on the first of the month. And I want to pay all of my employees, all two of them, including my Well, three, including me. I want to pay all three of us on the first of the month. Yep. Our bills are paid. We pay all our bills on the first of the month, we can move on. And then guess what we do? We Wow, we sat we Zazzle that’s even a word. We do we do? Are we go 110% to do whatever we need to do for those clients. That’s take a vacation. I don’t care. We don’t care if you’re off three months a year. You’re getting done. I don’t care. Yeah.

Alison Ball
And practitioners can have that we’ve, we’ve, I think I think the biggest thing that I see, when people move to when they when they when they when they get control of their client communications and stop that madness of having a look in so many different places. their personal lives improve. And where did we end somehow we all got the idea that you had to work, you know, 6080 hour weeks and you had to have tax season was you can never do anything extra in tax season. You’re just working, working, working. And really, Chris is Chris and me. I mean I once I once I learned about the problem and really saw the impact of it the knock on effect of it Using all these disparate systems, just the pain, the pain that everybody’s under, we can do something about that. It’s and there is a solution. And it just just requires just thinking a little bit differently about how you work with your clients. And, you know, bringing them into all that one place where, and then everything starts to calm down, and it starts to end you can have you can, you can leave the office at a regular time every day, and you can, you know, take walks during the day, and you can be healthy again, it’s like, it’s just a big deal. It’s really, really a big deal. And you can and then you can move to the relationship that you’re talking about. Yeah.

Chris Farrell
It’s inevitable, everybody’s, it’s all gonna end up here. Just a matter of who’s going to get on the bus when they when did they go choose to get the bus? Because the state of the profession is not sustainable, right? People don’t want to do it forever. People don’t want to join the profession, right? People have been doing all the same way forever. Why? Why are you doing this? Well, it’s how we’ve always done. We know that’s not sustainable. It’s totally unsustainable. It’s the whole point. The whole point of everything I’ll put in putting systems and all this is to make things enjoyable, right? 100% why we do that we should do our jobs make them enjoyable. So anyway, I think this is entirely entirely, you know, inevitable. It doesn’t matter will take another 12 months. 24 months 3640 of I don’t know. Yeah,

Dawn Brolin
I don’t know. I’m not waiting for it. I’m just going you can pay for it. Or you can go for it. And I’m just somebody who’s a go for it. Person.

Alison Ball
Go for it. Absolutely.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. Any last thoughts? Any last thoughts from you guys?

Alison Ball
Love you pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing you in person again soon.

Dawn Brolin
we’re real excited to you guys and excited excited for the new things that are coming and you guys are always moving forward. And, and I just see, you know, great things for Liscio as we move forward. And hopefully people are smart enough to not get left behind when it comes to you know, having the client experience and in your firm experience. So thank you, Liscio for joining us. Allison, do you have anything you wanted to say?

Alison Ball
No, I was I was just I was yeah, thank you.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, so thank you. Liscio. And thank you guys for listening to them disruption Dawn Brolin here, and we look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Thanks, everybody. Take care. Bye bye.

 

It’s no secret that the accounting profession is a specific target for cybercriminals, especially during tax season. The risks get higher each year, which is why it is so critical to take a fresh look at your security protocols and make sure they are up to speed, and your team, clients, and third parties that you work with are all aware of how to keep themselves, your firm, and all relevant data secure. 

The IRS and its security partners recommend six specific steps you can take to comply with the latest regulations regarding client data and the Swizznet Obsessive Support® Team is here to help you implement them.

Use the following summary of the IRS Security Summit  “Security Six” recommendations to “deep six” cyberthreats and put the following best practices in place for your firm including a written data security plan to meet the IRS 4557 requirement.

1. Anti-virus software

Generally, anti-virus software scans computer files or memory for certain patterns that may indicate the presence of malicious software (also called malware). It is recommended to complete the following scans regularly:

When selecting an antivirus package, tax professionals should learn about its features, so they know what to expect. Remember, keep security software set to automatically receive the latest updates so that it is always current.

2. Firewalls

Firewalls provide protection against outside attackers by shielding a computer or network from malicious or unnecessary web traffic and preventing malicious software from accessing systems. Firewalls may be broadly categorized as hardware or software. While both have their advantages and disadvantages, the decision to use a firewall is far more important than deciding which type used:

Firewalls primarily help protect against malicious traffic, not against malicious programs (malware), and may not protect the device if the user accidentally installs malware or falls for email phishing scams. 

3. Two-factor authentication

The use of two-factor authentication and even three-factor authentication is on the rise, and you should always opt for a multi-factor authentication protection when it is offered, whether on an email account, tax software account or any password-protected product to prevent their accounts from being taken over by cybercriminals and putting their clients and colleagues at risk.

Two-factor authentication helps by adding an extra layer of protection beyond a password. Often two-factor authentication means the returning user must enter credentials (username and password) plus another step, such as entering a security code sent via text to a mobile phone. 

4. Backup software/services

Critical files on computers should routinely be backed up to external sources. This means a copy of the file is made and stored either online as part of a cloud storage service or a copy of the file is made to an external hard drive. You should ensure that client data is backed up and also encrypted – for the safety of the taxpayer and the tax pro.

5. Drive Encryption

Given the sensitive client data maintained on tax practitioners’ computers, users should consider drive encryption software for full-disk encryption. Drive encryption, or disk encryption, transforms data on the computer into unreadable files for an unauthorized person accessing the computer to obtain data. Drive encryption may come as a stand-alone security software product. It may also include encryption for removable media, such as a thumb drive and its data.

6. Virtual Private Network

This is critical for practitioners who work remotely. If a tax firm’s employees must occasionally connect to unknown networks or work from home, establish an encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN) to allow for a more secure connection. A VPN provides a secure, encrypted tunnel to transmit data between a remote user via the Internet and the company network. Search for “Best VPNs” to find a legitimate vendor; major technology sites often provide lists of top services.

How to meet the IRS4557 requirements for “Security Six”

All accounting and tax professionals also should review their professional insurance policy to ensure the business is protected should a data theft occur. If you put off upgrading your tech stack in 2021, do it now to support your new remote or hybrid work environment. 

Pre-pandemic, remote workers tended to be the exception, so network security and access were managed from an in-office perspective. Now, enabling staff to access a secure, virtual desktop through devices that have antivirus (AV), endpoint detection and response (EDR) and multifactor authentication (MFA) allows them to be productive while giving the organization a stronger cybersecurity defense.

Take time now for a tax season cyber security reality check to prevent a busy season business interruption. 

Putting these steps in place will help to reduce your firm’s immediate exposure to cyber threats during the busy tax season and beyond. Now is the time to do a pre-tax season cyber security audit to make sure you have all of your bases covered. This is where the team from Swizznet can provide guidance and break down the components of a solid cyber security strategy designed specifically for your accounting firm. They can also help identify gaps in your current strategy which may need your attention. 

Remember, the best offense against mounting cyber security threats is a strong offense. At Swizznet, their Obsessive Support® will ensure your accounting firm has the best possible protection and expertise available to keep your remote teams and practice running as efficiently and securely as possible. Join us for a webinar on Nov. 9 to get all of your Security Six bases covered!!

 

The inaugural #AppyHour Camp came to a close a few days ago and I have to tell you, the experience was epic! A huge shout out to Liz Scott and Heather Satterley for having the vision to bring so many top-tier accounting profession educators, upcoming rockstars, and dedicated solution providers together.

It was an honor to be the MC for Appy Hour Camp and as The Designated Motivator, it was truly inspiring to see a whole new level of peer-to-peer motivation be ignited. I brought along my Starting Lineup of technology solution providers, too, in the form of these cool new #DesignatedMotivator blackout t-shirts. You can bet that Appy Camp is just the beginning of where you’ll see these! 

As I mentioned prior to my departure for Appy Camp, I knew there would be some amazing takeaways from the talks given and the time spent unplugged for the most part, really connecting in the most human and creative sense with my peers. It was an amazing experience and I came back primed to do even more to support all of you and to help others in this profession do the same.

I know that there are so many #DesignatedMotivators in our midst, each day we have the opportunity to take on this role and lift each other up whether that is on stage, in our firms, or in other organizations we belong to (family systems included!). As we head into busy season I see it as my role to keep being #TheDesignatedMotivator and this includes working with my Starting Lineup of apps and technology solutions to share how they support a better quality of client experience, workflow, and overall firm management capabilities. 

I truly believe that my partners including  ADP®, Bookkeep, Canopy, Fishbowl, Jirav, Liscio, Smartvault, Swizznet, Corpay, RCReports, and Truly Financial are not only technology providers but motivators for us all, too, to keep us accomplishing more with less effort and enabling more balance on all fronts. 

Let’s tackle the next quarter of the year like it is the last of 2022, because it is! And because with all of us in the accounting profession participating in the #MotivationMovement we can keep nurturing the spirit of collaboration  that we started at events such as Appy Camp so they continue through #QBConnect and all of the other places we go in the next few months.

For those of us running public accounting and bookkeeping practices, we are continually called on to be a trusted advisor to our business clients, a credible conduit between the government and the rest of society when it comes to communicating and interpreting the tax code, plus a dedicated “doer” of the work. Oh, and that’s all before breakfast! Some days it seems that way, doesn’t it? 

Here is what I know: this feeling of being overwhelmed and out to sea has become our new normal, and to me, that’s not the way anyone should live because life is too short. I’ve been there and done that, it’s stressful and soul-sucking.I know I am not alone in this view, but for too many other peer professionals, burnout is inevitable. Or is it?

If you are feeling like your options are to 1)keep doing what you are doing and burnout or 2) abandon the ship of an old-school firm I want to introduce youtube a different mindset. Engaging in a community of peers.

Does this seem too simple to work as a strategy for beating burnout? The truth is, we all need to have other people and perspectives to help us cope. Whether it’s professional or personal, or a mixture of both, having others to bounce ideas off and collaborate with can be life-changing. It’s not just a theory, either. A study by the National Center for Biotechnology  Information  shows that the more we connect with others who have similar experiences in a supportive way, the happier, less stressed, and prone to burnout we will be. 

In fact, this week as I am surrounded by other accounting professionals with similar goals and mindsets as mine at Appy Camp, hosted by two of my favorite peers, Heather Satterley and Liz Scott, I am reminded of this fact. I hope you’ll make a mission of finding yourself a supportive peer group this week, too. 

Here are a few accounting communities to consider:

Ecomm As You Are, The Designated Motivator Community, the Woodard Membership Community, and of course, attending events online, connecting on social media and, if you can, going to conferences in person is another great way to meet new supportive peer professionals.

It’s so important for accounting professionals to remember that you are not alone. It may feel that way when you get mired down with work, clients, deadlines, and then the life you have to manage outside of your firm. However, you can make a choice to think differently and see connecting and taking the time to nurture relationships as a critical part of keeping your productivity high and purpose for doing what you do front and center. Both of these benefits of engaging in community will ensure that you beat burnout and achieve the goals you have for yourself and your business.

There are so many people who shine bright in this profession who are ready and willing to help you. This is why I fundamentally believe that the more connected we are as people in this profession the greater the opportunities are for each of us. So don’t wait on the sidelines. Reach out to someone, be human, be humble, ask for help if you need it. And always remember, together we rise. 

I am super excited for Appy Hour Camp coming up September 19 to 21! Who wouldn’t be? It’s going to be a fun adult camping experience hosted by Heather Satterley and Liz Scott, and me, The Designated Motivator, as the M.C.  Let me assure you, however, this isn’t going to be all s’mores and camp fire songs! In fact, what I am most excited for (beyond the fact that we are going to be staying at the same place Dirty Dancing was filmed!) is that it’s going to be a truly educational experience.

Liz and Heather invited many thought leaders and educators in the accounting space to support us as intentional educators and to serve as an incubator for the next round of aspiring educators in the accounting space. I know with the lineup of speakers and contributors this is going to be an awesome camp!

According to Appy Camp headquarters, “the entire educational, inspirational and entertaining retreat will be a co-mingling of established accounting industry educators, up-and-coming educators, and app developers. All camp attendees will be immersed in the sessions and activities together in a shared space to facilitate community and collective innovation.”

In other words, we are going to get some of the most brilliant minds in the profession together and learn from each other about new ways to engage and expand the knowledge base for all of us. From talk to technology, I am planning to come home with some really inspiring action items that I can share with all of you.

I know whenever I get together with peers like entrepreneur wizard Melinda Emerson, Ted Callahan from Intuit, Misty Megia (can’t wait to hear her speak!), Virginia Lacayo, a business coach for thought leaders, Dan Gertudes from GrowthLabs, Ian Vacin from Karbon, and Mariette Martinez, Accounting Strategist the learning opportunities will be immense!

I am so looking forward to packing up my camping gear and heading to Appy Camp in just a couple of weeks. I don’t travel light to camp, either! I will be bringing along my entire Starting Lineup of apps and technology solutions to share with everyone including ADP®, Bookkeep, Canopy, Corpay One, Fishbowl, Jirav, Liscio, Smartvault, Swizznet, and Truly Financial. These are literally the solutions that have allowed me to create a cloud-based firm that is so efficient I can actually take four days to go to Appy Camp and not feel stressed about it, knowing that my team can use the system we have created to manage the workflow and my clients are still completely taken care of.

While I’m away, I’ll be posting on my social channels so please follow me so you can be part of the whole camp experience, too!

Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE was recently welcomed as a new member of the Intuit Tax Council. The Intuit® Tax Council, a group of forward-thinking tax professionals who help lead positive change in the professional tax community, and provide inputs and insights that help shape the Intuit ProConnect™ business strategy. You can read Dawn’s interview about why serving on this council is so important to her as she works to help other accounting professionals succeed.

 

Bookkeeping and time-consuming are synonyms in my mind (I can think of a few other choice words, too). Seriously, there is absolutely no need for manual bookkeeping any longer…and no, adopting this modern mindset and automating the process is not going to put your firm out of business! In fact, it will help you grow it exponentially, if that’s your goal.

Consider how many businesses there are today all using ecommerce payment apps, almost every business uses at least one or more, likely three or four. There’s no way to accurately and efficiently track all of the transactions into accounting software. And why would you want to handle this manually? 

I don’t. I use Bookkeep for all of my clients’ ecommerce payment transactions. This app was literally a life-changing discovery I made a couple of years ago at a conference. I met the awesome Bookkeep team, learned about the amazing QuickBooks and ecommerce integrations and I was sold! In case you are wondering, it’s completely affordable and the implementation took maybe 10 minutes. That’s all it takes and, as I can personally attest to, Bookkeep’s automation saves on average at least 20 hours per month per client. Seriously, it’s freaking amazing!

When you use Bookkeep you will be able to master multi-channel ecommerce payments for any business from brick and mortar service-based businesses like restaurants, medical offices, hair salons… the list goes on, plus all of those ecommerce businesses. If you are handling any of these, you know what a nightmare it can be to sort through transactions from all of the various apps, payment processors, and sales platforms.

Bookkeep seamlessly takes all of the transactions from just about any digital point of sale payment app including Square, Shopify, Grubhub, Amazon Seller, Squarespace, Stripe, and many more. The app takes all of those thousands of transactions (including up to five years of historical data in QuickBooks) and automatically syncs them with QuickBooks, which means it can all flow to wherever you need it to go next such as your tax, reporting, or other software for sales tax returns, tax preparation, and profit and loss reports, to name just a few engagements where this data is critical.

Another thing that is so important when selecting apps is the quality of the partner you choose. Bookkeep is the leading provider of summarized financial automation and deposit reconciliation for retail, restaurant, cannabis and ecommerce businesses and they have invested in deep integrations with accounting systems like QuickBooks, Xero, Sage Intacct and NetSuite. 

So if you haven’t already stopped reading this blog to immediately implement Bookkeep to manage your mess of manual bookkeeping, why the heck not? Ecommerce clients should not eat away your efficiency! Do not let this happen, go get Bookkeep now, and stop the insanity of multi-channel ecommerce bookkeeping with a single app! 

The secret to maximizing the takeaways from any professional education event is to have a plan of action when you return home, especially if you are planning to go on summer break.

Here’s my plan for taking all of the connections, education, and opportunities I gained at the conferences I attended in the spring, that you can use it as your guide to putting a post-conference plan for you and your practice:

1. Cultivate the Connections You Made

I hope if you were at a conference you made some new professional friends and deepened your current connections with your peers. Make those connections count by connecting on social media, following through on actions you discussed and, checking in regularly- long after the conference is over. Keep the conversations going! You can read the full plan for doing your homework the right way over at Accounting Web: Doing Post-Conference Homework Before Summer Break | AccountingWEB

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