In this podcast, our experts Chris Rivera and Brannon Poe had discussed Accounting firms and how to build your practice for tomorrow. Watch the podcast to know more.
#BKOT 22: BUILD A KICKASS OFFSHORE TEAM
ACCOUNTING FIRMS: BUILDING YOUR PRACTICE FOR TOMORROW
Hosted by: Chris Rivera, Director Client relations, Entigrity Offshore Staffing
Guest: Brannon Poe, Founder & CEO, Poe Group Advisors
Chris: Alright! Hey everybody welcome back it's been a minute since I've seen you guys been doing some virtual conferences been kind of busy on our side and helping out CPA firm but we are back today with episode number 22 of how to Build a Kick-Ass Offshore team #BKOT. So thank you for taking some time out and joining us.
Today I have an awesome guest with me Brannon Poe, is the CPA and is founder of Poe Group Advisors and we're going to be talking about accounting firms and building your practice for tomorrow and along the lines of practice management, development cloud technology, value pricing and MNA. So Brannon thank you so much for joining this afternoon nice to meet you and so tell us more about yourself yeah.
Brannon: Thank you Chris. So I'm based in Charleston South Carolina and I've been doing mergers and acquisitions just in the CPA firm space since 2003 and we're active in the US and Canada and last year 2019 prior to the covid situation, we started developing a practice management workshop for CPA firm owners and we started running the workshop back in may of this year it's called accounting practice academy so that's a little bit about my background.
Our primary audience is CPA firms that are under 5 million in revenue. That's kind of the market we serve, we sell, we're facilitating transactions that's our primary business and the coaching is sort of our secondary business.
Chris: Okay and so how did you get involved with this? You've been doing CPA for quite some time but everyone always has a backstory, so did you have your own practice or did you just get right into coaching. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Brannon: Well that's a little bit of a long story. So I started out at Ernst young as an auditor and I got into it and immediately knew it wasn't right for me and I wanted to get maybe four or five years experience. I thought I need four or five years of public experience before I ventured out and so I got that I went to work for a kind of a regional firm and got some more small business experience which was really good for my CPA career.
And then I got a call from an old high school friend and he and his father had a company selling of all things plumbing dish like a plumbing distribution company like a ferguson or something like that and they said we need some help with the books and I said well you don't really need a CPA for your company or small company to do your books I said, but I'm interested if you can get me into sales. I really want to get into sales work so I knew early on in my career that I didn't like the detailed nature of CPA work and the tediousness of it and I really enjoyed relationships and sales. Just I don't know I just knew that about myself and so the founder of the company that I went to work with said okay I'i'll teach you how to sell and so I called on building contractors and plumbing contractors and did the books so perfect and then they made me a partner and then we started another startup company like a little manufacturing company and I really liked that sort of startup. I liked the creativity of it and then we decided to consider a sale of that startup company and we engaged a lawyer to help us with that sale. And I got a glimpse of what mergers and acquisitions was like and I really liked it.
So fast forward I left the plumbing company and went to work as a controller for another company and then I decided well maybe I'll buy a CPA firm, maybe that's what I need to do. And I thought well I can buy it and I don't have to hire people to kind of do the stuff that I don't want to do and I went shot pool with a friend of mine and we had a couple of beers and he said I bought a CPA firm and I found this guy he broke her CPA firms that's all he does is sell CPA firms, you should contact him and see if there's one for sale in Charleston. I said huh!. So I get home the next day and I completely forgot the guy's name that he told me and I googled the wrong guy and I googled the howard holmes who started accounting practice sales and it was just a startup at the time and I said do you have any firms for sale in Charleston. He said no, but do you want to sell CPA firms and I thought huh, so I got on a plane and flew to dallas and he signed me up that day and I became one of the top agents at county practice sales and then when the founder left, I left and started Poe Group Advisors.
Chris: So every guest that I've had on here always has an awesome story and it's refreshing to hear because you know you stayed in the industry but you knew that the day-to-day work just wasn't for you but you didn't go off into any other industry. You wanted to figure out how and why you could help out your fellow colleagues and you found your niche. And that's awesome! I love to always hear the backstory of how; because myself too right.
I'm not an accountant or a tax preparer by any means but I just love working with clients, I love talking which is why I do this and it's a lot of fun and you have. It's a different personality though and you have to be able to give everybody all you can whether it's the first person today, the last person of the day. And so especially coming from our ernst and young background and you're working in practice management and so what does that mean to you or when people come to you and ask about it. How do you describe it to a fellow colleague and how to help them about practice management in particular?
Brannon: Well I think I probably start by asking them a lot of questions about their practice and see kind of where they are but when I think of practice management I think the biggest thing that CPAs often miss is you know I don't know a CPA that's been in practice for very long it's not very very busy.
And I think that comes from a lot of different places. Like you can have a scarcity mindset you feel like you'll never have enough clients or you never and then you get a scarcity of time mindsets you never have enough time right. And so where I think practice management where we come in is when somebody's got an established practice and they gotta figure it all out.
In other words they've gotten it up off the ground or they've grown it to a certain level where they're just at a peak in their minds right like how you can go to that next level right and you can't go to the next level when you're too busy. So when I think of practice management I think of okay the first thing we have to accomplish is we've got to create some capacity here because if there's no capacity you can't possibly grow right. So when we go through accounting practice academy we go through an analysis a client list analysis a some goal setting and just an overall practice snapshot of where you are with your practice and then the first thing you need to do is like okay what can I cut all together what can I delegate all together, where do I create that capacity and once you've done that then you can start about growing with more intention and profitability. So in order to make more money you first have to create more time.
Chris: Absolutely! You're spot on and I mean literally this two-year tax season with all the changes two years ago and then this year what a year it and I've been speaking with clients myself they're they're fed up, they're just tired right and you know the industry is always that go go go attitude and you're constantly busy, but it's a little too much now and so they're rethinking and and trying to figure out how to better serve their clients, how to better onboard their clients how to whether they want quantity or quality. I find this shift more towards quality clients focusing on what they currently have and how to help them even more.
So my question is when working with a firm and they come to you and are you utilizing a lot of cloud technology is it like all you go for or are you suggesting based on their current practice now or what are your thoughts and how do you go about that?
Brannon: Well with first of all I'm not a tech, I'm not a technology expert my sort of strength is more about mindset and fundamentals and business strategy, that being said I'm a big believer in technology and we just did a tech workshop with Daniel Moshe with a tech guru and they just serve CPA firms and you know it was it was interesting his perspective because we just did this workshop like I said this morning and there's not a one size fits all tech stack for CPA right there's just not right you've got to figure out what your needs are for your clients. What your team needs, it's very specific and there's so many different applications out there's different applications for workflow, tax bookkeeping there's so many different apps out there. Yeah if I was starting a CPA firm from scratch browser only tools like go cloud, no question about it.
Our business is completely on the cloud our CRM is on the cloud our we use zero for bookkeeping everything we use, a project management application it's all in the cloud. I can't imagine doing it any other way, so that's definitely where it's going every firm on the planet should be going cloud right now.
Chris: Yeah I found that prior to the pandemic and working with clients with us doing offshore staffing and the concepts been around for a long time and everyone was fine with the idea of an associate in India but the remote aspect of it was a big stopping point. And just how to set this up I've never had to work a remote worker. Everyone comes into the office right, and then I'll come to pandemic and boom. Everyone's gone, you know not either fully virtual but they have to go partially virtual and now changing the way they approach their clients and one piece is the pricing model. So are you I know the traditional ways kind of by the hour when clients come to you trying to figure out that piece. Do you have any ideas or recommendations on how to approach that?
Brannon: Yeah tear up your time sheets get rid of them, shred them I don't know just stop keeping time and people say well how do I know if my employees are productive. Well without looking at your time reports do you know who's productive and who's not you know you know you don't need timesheets to tell you that. You can look at the collection reports per you know by staff look at what the earnings are, that's all that's important and clients don't care how much time you have. It goes back to what I was saying about the scarcity of time, the scarcity of a number of clients. It's because you're using the wrong metric time the time you put into something has nothing to do with the value that you're creating.
Like in my business we sell CPA firms. I remember I had a client we sold a firm gosh this has probably been 15 years ago and this guy listed his practice with us and we sold it like we had a buyer within a week and we got it under contract it closed you know 30-45 days after that and he wanted a discount on my fee and he said well you didn't put much time into it and I said wait a minute wait a minute hold on I was like time has nothing to do with this and you didn't see how much time it took me to build all those connections and build the systems and create the environment where you could sell quickly and sometimes it doesn't sell quickly we would have put more time in had we needed to but you're paying for a result you're not paying for my time and that's what I mean. He didn't understand that because he always billed for his time so he was looking at my time differently whereas he should have been looking at his time differently.
Chris: Now that's a great example right he literally thought because of the hours of the input that wasn't there but doesn't understand everything that's done behind the scenes and bottom line is he got what he wanted the practice.
Brannon: Yeah! he said it like we need to talk about your fee and I said oh should I charge more because I got it done so fast. He didn't like that.
Chris: I see that the client calls that I'm doing maybe a year ago or so one or two out of ten would be in the talks of acquiring a practice or possibly being acquired and wanted to have staff but nowadays it's almost you know four or five out of ten calls are looking to build that capacity and so are you seeing an uptick or are you seeing from trying to figure out what to do or well.
Brannon: We definitely like 2018-2019 were some of our strongest years; they were our strongest years ever. 2020 has been an odd year I think there's definitely been a bit of a pause this year just because I think everyone's been so busy they've been too busy to think about doing much of anything selling or buying so we're probably seeing a little bit of a decline this year. However we're still getting a lot of deals done. We put a cloud firm on the market in Tennessee this year and we had over 300 inquiries on it.
So the demand is there especially for cloud firms and I think we've probably sold more cloud firms than anybody else in the marketplace. The demand is there for those firms and the multiples are going up in the traditional firms and the rural markets and small towns we're seeing people or I'm hoping maybe that'll shift like I hear this trend in the industry that people are going to smaller towns but there in those in those small towns this probably applies to your business like I think it's even harder for them to attract talent in small towns. And technology is really even more important than those smaller towns.
Chris: So we're going to wrap this up in a second now any final thoughts. I know you have at this eight week virtual workshop you talk about that and then any final thoughts for our audience today.
Brannon: Yeah I just mentioned the workshop it's called accounting practice academy our next one will launch in May of 2021 so we run it you it runs it doesn't run just anytime. We have a couple of dates a year where you can get in and the reason is we group CPAs with other CPAs all throughout North America so there's a big community component to it and people are making big moves with the academy and it's all a virtual workshop. Check it out accountingpracticeacademy.com
Chris: Perfect awesome so Brannon, thank you so much for joining today providing feedback and ideas and and hopefully our audience enjoyed our episode number 22 #BKOT and thank you again for joining us. We'll talk to you soon so the audience enjoys the rest of your week. Take care and we'll be back thursday for episode number 23 and we'll see you then take care bye-bye thanks.
Entigrity™ is a trusted offshore staffing partner to over 500+ accountants, CPAs and tax firms across the US and Canada. Our flexible and transparent hiring model gives helps firms of all sizes to hire staff for accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation or any other task for 75% less cost. As a firm 'run by accountants, for the accountants', Entigrity captures the hiring needs of accounting firms most precisely, providing staff that works directly under your control and management, still you are left with least to worry about compliance, payroll taxes, overheads or any other benefits.