Re-imagining the CPA firm – How to Stay Relevant in the Future! – A Brief Interview with Bernie Ackerman, BNA CPA

As tax-deadlines loom, and with a busy tax season around the corner, we wanted to share some thought leadership. This interview with Bernie Ackerman, from BNA CPAs & Advisors, highlights his perspective on how to stay relevant in the accounting industry’s changing landscape. Additionally, it highlights how to ensure you are not only efficient but also effective!

Question: What is the primary focus of your business? How has that changed over the last few years? Do you see it continuing to change?

Answer: The name of our firm is “BNA CPAs & Advisors”. We named it this, as we are moving into more of an advisory role, which is where we see the future. Currently, we are a tax preparation firm that also does compilations and reviews. The world has changed with the impact of the cloud movement. It has been a real boom for the CPA profession. Cloud technology has allowed us to interact with clients on a 24/7 basis now that information is available. We have also really grown the financial services we offer. We almost act as a semi-controller for many of our clients because we are able to address issues without the hassle of getting data, loading it, and analyzing it. Clients love this change – so we do not even take new clients unless they are on the cloud! The cloud has really changed the landscape.

Question: What is most important for a firm like yours to consider, for continued success? Do you have any tips for how to stay relevant? 

Answer: Bernie had three tips to share:

  • Tip #1: The biggest tip for folks is to consider moving away from a time sheet model. If you are billing by time & not looking at the value you are giving to your customer, then you are missing out on revenue. We have not used time sheets for five years and our revenues have increased. Clients also love it so they can budget accordingly.
  • Tip #2: Everyone needs to be looking at getting servers out of offices, both for security as well as cost savings. There are a lot of savings for getting on SaaS based products, which is what Wolters Kluwer has with the Axcess platform. This is great for the industry.
  • Tip #3: You need to look at your personnel and ensure you grow your talent within. Consider using interns and keeping them on through college. Historically, firms used to have a lot of training within firms. Now there is an expectation that staff will come and be ready to go. You cannot really do this unless you support interns. Another key consideration for attracting talent is the technology used within the firm. If you are still a paper-based firm, you are more apt to lose, or not even get, the talent that you need for your business.  

Question: From a technology standpoint, what are the most important considerations? 

Answer: Again, Bernie gave three useful considerations:

  • Consideration #1: Be aware of what is out there! Go to conferences such as AICPA Engage and the CCH Connections conference. Also, do a lot of reading with what the industry is presenting.
  • Consideration #2: Do not be afraid to move to the cloud.
  • Consideration #3: Make sure to examine processes all the time. You need to get faster and more effective at what you do. Efficiency is one thing, but effectiveness is even better!

Question: Do you feel the newly launched CCH Axcess Financial Prep will address your critical business issues, and why?

Answer: CCH Axcess Financial Prep has been what the industry is looking for… everyone has been looking for an integrated solution that will take data from a client system and get it into a format that can be reviewed, examined, and seamlessly sent to the tax return. That is what CCH Axcess Financial Prep will do! Moreover, it is cloud based! There is really nothing out there, in the market that does this seamlessly. People are going to love it!

Find out how to stay relevant. Learn more about CCH Axcess Financial Prep today.

AUTHOR

Cathy Rowe

All stories by: Cathy Rowe