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Episode 23

Vice President of Strategy at Botkeeper and Author of "The Radical CPA" with 700,000 Followers - Wealth Management Forward Podcast

Jody Padar, Author of “The Radical CPA” with 700,000 followers

Jody Padar, the Vice President of Strategy at Botkeeper and Author of “The Radical CPA”, joins Rob and Rory in their discussion about how firms can implement technology in their business model. Botkeeper uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide bookkeeping and pre-accounting solutions for accounting firms. In this episode, Jody talks about the evolution of the accounting industry and how many firms have included the use of the cloud in their services. She also touches on future predictions for the industry, emphasizing the significant role AI will play in the years to come as a solution for the repetitive, time-consuming work of an accountant. Additionally, Jody adds to the conversation of CPA firms transitioning to and monetizing advisory services. With 700,000 followers on social media, Jody explains the key to branding yourself to get exposure in the competitive marketplace – authenticity. Think you know what the future accounting industry looks like? Could Amazon be selling CPA services soon? Think again as Jody spills all her insights about what to expect in the next five or ten years. Listen now!
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Speaker1: [00:00:00] And so if you think about Netflix, that’s the easiest example, the first time you watch a show, you know, it may not know that you like it. The next time you turn on Netflix, you have a 98 percent probability of liking the show, right. Until your husband watches the show. And then now he messes up your probability. Now it’s seventy six percent. But what happens is those probability ratings basically show where the data belongs on a financial statement. So if you think about a regular gal and something is coded as office expense, if there’s a history of it being coded as officers expense, the machine learning is going to pick that up and it’s going to say, wow, there’s a 98 percent chance of this expense being coded as office expense.

Speaker2: [00:00:47] Welcome to AFO Wealth Management Forward, a podcast about finance, accounting, technology and entrepreneurship. We apply our decade’s worth of experience and insight into what makes businesses work so we can help others grow both personally and professionally in this ever evolving marketplace. We help accounting firms and financial advisors grow their practice through the adoption of holistic wealth management services, learn from industry leaders in subject matter experts to unlock the secrets of their success. A podcast that shows people in companies the transformative power of technology so they don’t fear it, but instead harness it. Don’t fight the robots team up with them. And here are your hosts, Rory Henry, director of business development and CEO Rob Santos of Arrowroot Family Office.

Speaker3: [00:01:30] Hello, everyone. Today we have a very special guest. She is the VP of strategy at Barkeeper, which uses artificial intelligence to improve bookkeeping services for accounting firms. She’s also an incredibly accomplished author. She is the co-author of Barkeeper for Dummies, author from Success to Significance the Radical CPA Guide and the author of the radical CPA New Rules for the Future Ready for Fouch. You founded her accounting firm in 2006 called New Vision CPA Group, considering her countless interviews and guest appearances. I’m very excited to have her on as a guest today. So without further ado, let me introduce you to Judy. Peter. Jody, how you doing today?

Speaker1: [00:02:08] I’m good. Thanks for having me. It’s cool to be here.

Speaker4: [00:02:11] So glad to have you on. Jake just will hop right in here. Like in the bio that Rory just said, we started as a tax accountant and worked your way up to founding your own firm, writing books, becoming a VP at Baykeeper. Can you give us a little background on yourself and what made you gravitate towards this profession?

Speaker1: [00:02:34] So a lot of people know this, but my dad is a CPA, right? So I grew up in accounting firm. So taxes in my blood since the time I was six years old. She had a home office before they were trendy. Right. So I used to pick up the phone and make appointments for him. So he did 10 photos on the side, and he was a director of tax. And so I probably just got used to doing it like I took accounting in high school, whatever I in college, I wanted to be a psychologist. And my dad said no. He said, you’re going to do something, you know, where you’re going to get a job after the fact, like you’re not going to be a social worker, which I think actually pays in social workers. A lot of it, you know, crosses over. Right, because how many times are we that therapist to our clients? And so I ended up getting an accounting degree. I was OPW a couple of years in technology, and then I went to a mid-sized firm and just wasn’t happy. Well, a couple of mid-sized firms there just wasn’t happy. Right? I was a young mother and the lifestyle wasn’t conducive.

Speaker1: [00:03:31] You know, 65 plus hours a week during tax season doesn’t make for a family friendly business. Right. And I said that I could do it better myself. And I left and I kind of joined my dad. And that’s how new vision was born. And what I realized is that it was a lot harder than I thought. Right. So, you know, those partners, maybe they knew a little bit more than that I gave them credit for. But anyways, I ended up building a practice because technology was just starting at that time that they didn’t call it a cloud. It was the Internet. And I realized that when you started working with clients in the cloud, that your business had to fundamentally change and it was a different environment. And so now fast forward. The next evolution of that is artificial intelligence and bots and machine learning. And and the reason I joined barkeeper is because I believe that artificial intelligence is the next big shift for companies that they’re going to feel right. So it was the cloud 10 years ago, and now it’s going to be machine learning and artificial intelligence because it’s going to fundamentally change the way accounts do their job moving forward.

Speaker3: [00:04:35] Yeah. And, you know, I don’t know if you noticed the tagline for us is, don’t fight the robots team up with them. So that’s part of our program.

Speaker1: [00:04:43] That’s awesome. Yeah.

Speaker3: [00:04:45] You have the book, The Radical KPA, Jodi. Can you kind of give a little bit more detail for those who haven’t read it or don’t know about ERTMS and your views on how accounting firms can kind of shift their practice toward that movement?

Speaker1: [00:04:56] Sure. So the idea behind the radical CPA is basically it’s a business model, right. What is that new business model look like and how do you get engaged in it? And, you know, realizing that you need to start looking at your technology, your processes, your pricing, which is key, and running a new firm as well as like marketing and social and all those things. Right. So if you think about a traditional firm, practice, management was the same for so many years. Right. And the radical CPA was essentially redefining the business model of a CPA firm. Now, about 10 years ago, the AICPA did a study saying what the firms would look like in the year 2020. And it was funny because I ended up meeting up with some of the leadership of the AICPA about 10 years ago. And there was a small group of us and they said, you guys. Look like what we think CPAs are going to look like in the year 2020, which is kind of freaky, right, because like two years later, we actually look like what their prediction was. So when people talk about like fixed pricing and kind of these advisory relationships, I was one of the people who was really figuring it out. I wouldn’t say that I invented it, but I was the practitioner who like iterated around how they were doing business and just worked and reacted to the way my client wanted to work with me.

Speaker1: [00:06:15] And now everybody kind of copies what we the early adopters, the early innovators figured out 10 years ago, which is awesome, because if you you know, at the beginning I talked about lifestyle and how a traditional firm wasn’t really conducive for a young mother. Well, when you look at the new business models, you can work as much or as little as you want and you can have a wonderful firm. And no. One, it doesn’t matter. Bricks and mortar don’t matter anymore. All those things that used to be so important. You really can define a firm and have it the way you want it to be. And like I said, work as much as you want or as little as you want. And it’s so funny because sometimes I take offense because people say, oh, you have a lifestyle. And I’m like, yeah, my lifestyle makes more than yours does. So, so well. Because people assume that just because you leave early, like you’re not making any money, but it’s all like subjective. Right? Especially when you’re in the wealth management stagefright. Right. Like think about the way wealth management makes money. Right? It’s the same it’s the same idea. Working smarter is not necessarily working harder. So, yeah, totally.

Speaker4: [00:07:21] And, you know, you mentioned kind of earlier on about A.I. you know, bookkeeping is known to be this kind of enormous process with lots of room for human error. How is A.I. been used to solve this issue and provide better solutions for for bookkeeping?

Speaker1: [00:07:38] Well, so what’s pretty cool is the way machine learning works as it looks at a number of different variables. And it basically checks them. Right. And the more data that is fed into the machine, the smarter it gets. Right. And it spits out probability. And so if you think about Netflix, that’s the easiest example. The first time you watch a show, you know, it may not know that you like it. The next time you turn on Netflix, you have a ninety eight percent probability of liking the show, right. Until your husband watches the show. And then now he messes up your probability. You know, it’s seventy six percent. But what happens is those probability ratings basically show where the data belongs on a financial statement. So if you think about a regular girl and something is coded as office expense, if there’s a history of it being coded as affixes expense, the machine learning is going to pick that up and it’s going to say, wow, there’s a 98 percent chance of this expense being coded as office expense. And so then it would categorize that transaction. So if you think about a regular G.L., you might have to categorize 2000 transactions. Well, when machine learning comes in, maybe you only have to categorize 100 because it’s sorted through all those other ones and automatically put them in the right place. So the accountant now has significantly less amount of work to do because they’re only doing the stuff that the machine can do, all that rote, repetitive stuff. The machine picks up right away and can categorize and then reconcile it.

Speaker3: [00:09:07] Yeah, it makes total sense. And Jodi kind of to shift topics here, and I know you recently spoke with somebody I somewhere about the last 18 months and what’s happened during this pandemic and how the profession has really shown resiliency and that they’re flexible and that by nature, they are advisors. I think someone to use the term franchise responder’s. Can you kind of talk about how the profession has shifted over the last 18 months, how it has grown and evolving, and what does it point for here now in the future?

Speaker1: [00:09:35] So I think accountants and CPAs have always been finding it. Well, they’ve always been advisers, right? Maybe they didn’t call it advisory. Maybe they just gave advice as they turned over a compliance document. But they’re always sitting in their client’s financial underwear drawer. I don’t care what state you’re talking to. There’s a certain relationship with their client, right? Yeah. And that client is there’s a special relationship there. Right. And so they’ve always been advisory. They just didn’t know it. They didn’t call it that. And they just kind of gave it out. I’ll say without necessarily making reference to it or kind of focusing on it.

Speaker3: [00:10:12] Yeah, we just because we just we just had Dan Hood on and he made the same point. He said that inkpad would file returned to her attorney as the client was going to the door. Oh, you may want to do this because people in your industry are doing this. And that was where the real value was, was in that conversation.

Speaker1: [00:10:32] Yeah, right, so that was always that’s in our DNA naturally, right? Like that’s just part of, you know, customer service and the interaction. Well, what happened was is when Covid had all of a sudden we became that first responder and the laws were changing so quickly and ppy was coming out and there was all this chaos. And of course, those small businesses came to their spouse for help because they needed help. And what the CPA is, I think, really got comfortable doing, which they hadn’t maybe necessarily been comfortable in the past or is kind of walking alongside their customer and making decisions with them as opposed to being the know it. All right. So a lot of times like this is like, oh, this is the right answer. Well, guess what? When ppy was happening, there wasn’t a right answer. We didn’t know the right answer. And so we really had to guide our clients along. And so I think what that did is it gave us the confidence to really understand what advisory is. And then now they can take those lessons learned and they can apply them to everyday transactions. All those things that I’ll just say, it just makes it more pronounced than it had been in the past. And I think she pays got comfortable with, I’ll say, interpreting laws and making decisions on me, even though things weren’t final. Because if you think prior to that, maybe there were tax law changes, but we had a year to figure it out before they actually applied. And now, like, you know, with everything that happened in the past year, there was no time that, you know, you just had to make a decision and move.

Speaker3: [00:11:57] Yeah, I think this is the way our program might be resonating. The marketplace does. This mindset shift is huge. And that gave them the confidence to maybe adopt new service offerings, wealth management services, and be able to, you know, offer that type of advice to clients, whether they themselves become an R.A. or partner with the firm. They’re getting more comfortable with a diversified business model.

Speaker1: [00:12:18] Well, absolutely. And honestly, in my second book, that’s what I talk about is the wealth management piece, because honestly, if you serve small businesses like under 10 million, that’s their financial future. And you have to understand how that business is going to happen and how they’re going to exit from it, and then what’s going to happen when they exit. Because one of the reasons we went into wealth management and we went down that road was because I was a small business advisor for many, many years. And then they exited and then they took their assets and they went to someone else, someone else. We weren’t we weren’t servicing them. And I was like, wait, I’ve been with you for all these years. I’ve taken you through all of this. And now you’re going to go to some financial advisor, like down the block. What’s up with that? Right. And so that’s when I really realized that the importance of the CPA being kind of that quarterback or being really involved in those conversations, whether they be the area or whether they’re connected to the advisor, and they’re just really engaged with it. It became so important because otherwise, when those businesses sell their businesses, guess what? They’re going to go to whoever is going to manage their assets. And chances are it might not be a CPA. And what’s interesting about that is there are many advisors now who aren’t CPAs but are partnering with CPA to do that, the tax planning and all that other stuff as well. So it really they go hand in hand. I mean, like you have to look at their whole financial picture. You can’t just look at a piece of it.

Speaker4: [00:13:46] Yeah. And, you know, we see this a lot from both the CPA side, but also from the client side that clients are really looking for that trusted quarterback, holistic approach type of solution. You know, and and we’re and we’re seeing a lot less hesitancy to accountants from accountants embracing that role of that holistic, you know, quarterback advisor, which, you know, we think I think there was a lot of trepidation there about, you know, having an arm’s length approach, not not focused, just focusing on compliance work, but talking about that mind shift change to go towards advisory. Are you seeing that, too, starting to thaw? Yeah. Greater across the industry?

Speaker1: [00:14:37] I think so, because I think people are trying to figure out what their niches. Right. And so like I think you could go industry niche. I think you could grow wealth management network. I mean, I think there’s a lot of different ways you could go. I also believe that when you look at partnering with wealth management or doing something with wealth management, some of the best advisory chainey training you’ll get is from the wealth management side. Right, because they really talk about goals and kind of expectations, which typically is not on the typical CPAs plate. Right. Like typically they’re looking at the past and they’re trying to figure something out where they’re not talking so much future driven, whereas when you’re talking a wealth advisory, you’re talking about the future, and that leads to advisory. So when you marry the two, I mean, it’s really it’s dynamite. You have a really awesome way to serve your clients better

Speaker3: [00:15:26] Than we really have. Firms try to adopt this technology. We dimmest to demystify many of the technology. Is out there, especially on the wealth management side, saying, hey, it’s not that difficult. You know, it’s almost like Netflix or Amazon is Eske in a sense. And so really what we come across is the light bulb goes off. It’s not that easy. You know, clients can can go through this almost like a turbo tax fashion. So they get really excited when I see that, like on offer for firms. But, you know, on that kind of train of thinking, you know, adopting technology is overwhelming. And we know that especially for advisors and even clients. So in your experience, Jody, how confirms introduced new platforms in a way that appeals to clients as well as, you know, appeals to staff to adopt as well?

Speaker1: [00:16:15] So I think it’s about training. Right. And when you say so, everyone says, oh, it’s easy, right? Yeah, it is easy. If you’re a digital native. Right. Or if I mean, even though they try and make it easy, I still think that sometimes like e it should be easier than you think. Right. Like it’s somehow like it becomes a little bit more complex. But what you have to do is you have to set the expectation up front with your client and also be there for your client. Like it’s so funny to me is like, you know, some people will say like they can’t connect to bank accounts. Right, OK. Or they don’t have their you know, they say, oh, I won’t connect my bank accounts. Right. Like I’ll just send you the information. And it’s not that they can’t or they they don’t want to appear looking stupid, that they can’t figure out how to connect their bank accounts. So they don’t. So they’re just like, oh, I’ll just send you the statements. Whereas you can take 15 minutes, get on a zoom call with them, have them log in and let them kind of fumble through it if they make a mistake. Ok, go ahead. Reset your password here. I’ll wait with you. I’ll be patient and then have them connect our bank accounts. And then they’re like, oh, this is so easy. Now it’s on my iPad. Right. And yet, like, CPAs won’t stop and take that 15 minutes or they don’t have someone on their team who has that that 15 minutes to take the time to help that person through the connections. And then what happens is then the CPA doesn’t like the technology, the client doesn’t like the technology, when really it’s about really expectations like communications and just holding their hand to get them through it. And then once they do it, then they’re like, good. And then they’re but they’re not going to tell you that they don’t know how long into their account, because that would be like, you know, they’re embarrassed. Yeah.

Speaker4: [00:18:00] So that makes sense. Kind of shifting topics here. You know, we are seeing an aging demographic and it accounts. What kind of advice would you give to that account? And that is maybe coming up on on retirement and and toying with the idea of trying to sell the practice or evolve the practice or find junior to kind of take over. You know, I’m sure you see a lot of that. We see a lot of that industry. Any words of wisdom for some of those folks?

Speaker1: [00:18:32] Well, it depends how you want to exit, but if you want to get the most for your practice, then you need to update it before you sell it. Because if you try and sell it when it’s not updated, you’re not going to get the the multiple that you want on it. Right. Like so you’re not going to get that worst. Now, you can bring in someone younger and like you can do kind of a transition. But now there’s a lot of funds out there that are just buying up practices and they’re taking them through the transition. So, I mean, I think it depends on what the CPA wants, but I think the CPA is they don’t really get it. If they really think that they’re going to get 100 percent of what they think their practice practices worth, if that’s not automated, because you know what? Like, it’s too easy to automate it and it’s too easy to discount that practice significantly because it’s not what made it. So, you know, and that’s kind of sad, right? Because these these firm owners, like I mean, that was one of the things like everyone’s like, oh, why do you want to help all these homeowners? And and it’s funny. It’s because like, first of all, CPA is a wonderful profession, but all they need is a little help and a little education. It’s not that they like

Speaker3: [00:19:43] They pass this exam. They’re they’re smart people.

Speaker1: [00:19:46] Right. Right. They just need a little just kind of like, OK, so back to the you know, how they don’t want to they don’t want to appear stupid. So they don’t ask the question like your client doesn’t because they’re afraid to do the bank log in. Same thing with siblings, right? Like they don’t want to appear stupid, but it’s like, you know what, I’m happy to help you go through these practice management changes. And once you do, you’ll realize you can have time back and your practice will be worth more. And then, you know, and then there are some CPAs will just die on their desks. And that’s OK. If that’s want to, you know, do that list.

Speaker3: [00:20:17] Actually hope you’re stupid all the time. Judy, I do improv. And so I go up on stage and they’ll give me a word and then I just jump on stage and I have a good thing. I have good teammates to help me out and make me look good. But now I’m consistently making stupid up there.

Speaker4: [00:20:32] You never really stop

Speaker3: [00:20:35] To kind of go back. You know, I am fascinated by the fact that you have 700000 followers, Jodi. So I mean, kudos to you. So what is your advice to firms out there who are looking to expand their marketing capabilities? What are some some pointers and give to them to get a better outreach, as well as kind of better brand themselves to get seen in this marketplace?

Speaker1: [00:20:58] So I think there’s a couple of things. The first thing is it’s take time, 700000 followers happen overnight. It’s a 10 year process. Right. So it and I was an early, early adopter of social media when everyone told me that I shouldn’t be on it right there. They were all saying, oh, it’s too risky. You can’t go on social media, blah, blah, blah. Right. And now, 10 years later, right. Yeah, I’ve sponsored content. Right. The other side of it, though, is, is get help. Like you don’t have to do it yourself. What you do need to know is you need to know your craft. You need to know what’s important. You need to know what your customers are asking for. But you can have someone to help you write a blog. You can have someone help you draft a social media post and don’t buy canned stuff because like realistically, nobody reads the canned stuff. I mean, a meme is funny every now and then, but realistically, they want to hear from you. They want the personality of your firm. And the only one who’s going to be able to create that is someone who works with your firm closely, whether it be internal marketing person or like even a partner or whatever. But the social has to represent the brand that you’re selling. And if it’s canned, you’re not going to get that. And the other thing is, is it’s a lot easier to create content when your customers are asking you the same questions over and over again. And we all have the same questions asked. And that’s what you just go to market with, because if they’re asking you that question, chances are you have other clients who want the same answer and then you just respond to them. And and that’s how you start a blog. I mean, because everyone’s like, oh, well, how do you know what to do? How do you know what to write about? Well, what are your clients ask you all the time? Ok, we’ll just start a list. Yeah.

Speaker4: [00:22:38] Yeah, I love it. Yeah. No, I mean, congratulations on that. You know, we get so many accountants that think that they’re marketing effectively and they don’t realize that some of these really simple things can really change their practice. Yeah. Looking forward into the future, what do you see for the next five years and what do you think, you know, other than some of the stuff you’ve already kind of told us today? What do you think firms can do to get future ready?

Speaker1: [00:23:11] So I think, first of all, they just need to start, right. Everyone talks about like what to do and like nobody started you. Right? Just started. Let’s take that first step. Right. So I think that’s the first thing is just start and don’t be freaked out that you’re behind because like just start moving. Right? Like because what what happens is once you start moving, other things come into place and it’s easier to move and you get capacity back and you can change things. Right. So I think firms just need to start. But I think what is really going to be interesting in the next five years is what the landscape is going to look like, because if you look at how venture capital is coming into our space and competing with CPA firms, if you look at the pilots and the benches of the world, I mean, Jeff Bezos puts one hundred million dollars into pilots. Yeah, right. Like into pilot. Right. And Roboshark, you don’t think. Right. If you don’t think accounting services are going to be sold via Amazon, you don’t know what you’re talking like. Come on. Like if if just people businesses there, he’s like he’s thinking ahead. Right. So I don’t think accountants necessarily grasp how much money is coming into the space. And when money comes into the space, the market moves.

Speaker1: [00:24:25] And so I think that’s the difference that’s going to happen in the next five years. That hasn’t happened in the past 10 years, is we haven’t had the influx of capital to push the market. And so kind of the convergence of technology, of venture capital, of the aging of the profession, it’s all going to come together. And what a firm looks like today is not going to be what it looks like in five years. It truly it isn’t going to look like that in five years. It’s going to be a very different landscape. And I think there are very there lots of CPA firm owners who don’t realize how big of an impact it’s going to have on them. And again, because of the money coming into the space, how much how much firms are able to the firms with money are going to be able to adapt and change a lot faster than they have in the past. So I think that’s that’s kind of like boots on the ground that people don’t like. I have a lot of insight into because of the circles that I hang out with that I don’t necessarily think that Joe CPA really understands what’s happening. And in five years when he blankest, he’s going to be like, wait, Amazon is selling CPA services. Yeah. Yeah. Right.

Speaker4: [00:25:34] Yeah. Bezos is going everywhere. Yeah. You know, we see that in the wealth management industry as well. Absolutely. You know, and all of these industries, you know, legal that all these services industries and we really try to coach our accounting partners, build more moats, you know, make yourself more relevant and build more moats to make that relationship, which is ultimately so. Valuable with your clients, relevant. You know, down.

Speaker1: [00:26:04] And when you talk about relationships, right, if you’re aging, guess what, your clients are aging as well. And that child of your client may not have that relationship with you. So you better figure out how to connect with that millennial or Gen Z, who’s under your client, because ultimately they’re going to be one making the decision and they’re used to going online first. So unless you have that tight relationship with them. So I think that’s one of the biggest things. People talk about succession all the time when they talk about it from the CPA’s perspective, but they forget that if the CPAs business is that old, that chances are most of their clients are as old as they are and that they haven’t necessarily developed those relationships with the next generation. And when that transfer wealth happens. Hello. You have to be there or they’re going to go elsewhere, which I mean, it should be scary for CPAs and they should be thinking about it.

Speaker3: [00:26:55] Yeah, we I mean, we we’re seeing it here. And we use the planning as a as a great service to be able to connect those generations. You know, we believe in we stick our flagpole down during say we believe the family office model is the model of future, providing all those professional services under one roof or within collaboration. So now we see that as really where these industries are heading to is is that comprehensive service that can be to be quarterbacked by, you know, an accountant or maybe an financial adviser, but having that family on this model

Speaker1: [00:27:26] Over it because people don’t want to go everywhere, it’s just too much. Right? Like it’s they’re lazy. Right. So it’s like, let’s go to one place. Let’s get it all done at the same time.

Speaker3: [00:27:35] Totally agree.

Speaker4: [00:27:36] Really appreciate your time. You know, super insightful. And we’re big fans. And look forward to hearing more from you. You know, books and postings and articles and everything else, you know, really, really appreciate it. And looking forward to learning more as you go out there and hope to have you back on the show again sometime soon.

Speaker1: [00:27:58] Awesome. Well, thank you for having me on.

Speaker3: [00:28:02] Thank you so much, Jody. Thank you, Gerri.

Speaker2: [00:28:04] All opinions expressed by Rob Santos and Rory Henry on this website, podcast, interview are solely their opinions and do not reflect the opinions of every group Family Office LLC or their current company or affiliates. And they have increasingly disseminated on television, radio, Internet or another medium. You should not read any opinion expressed by anyone as a specific community to make a particular investment or follow a particular strategy, but only as an expression of their opinions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.



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