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Breaking Barriers and Building the Firm of the Future

Published by Summit Marketing Team on Oct 10, 2023 6:00:00 AM

The Young CPA Success Show: Episode 1 

Welcome to the first episode of the Young CPA Success Show! In this inaugural episode, hosts Joey Kinney and Hannah Hood discuss the launch of their podcast and goals for the show. They express excitement about starting this new venture and their intention to have conversations and ask questions that are not commonly addressed in the accounting industry. They highlight the growing accountant shortage and the need to address systemic problems in the industry to make it more appealing to younger generations.



intro (00:00:00) - Welcome to the Young CPA Success Show. If you're a young accounting professional, this podcast is your ultimate guide to navigating your early career. Join us as we share valuable insights, expert advice, and practical tips to help you kickstart your path to success and excel in the accounting industry. Let's embark on this exciting accounting journey together.

Joey (00:00:23) - Hey, Hannah. Guess what?

Hannah (00:00:25) - What's that?

Joey (00:00:26) - We've got a podcast. Are you kidding me?

Hannah (00:00:29) - Who gave us the keys to this car? Joey? How did we get here?

Joey (00:00:33) - I don't know, but I'm a little nervous about it. But I think we're going to be okay. First off, shout out to you producer Rob and producer Roxanne for having those conversations. Maybe, maybe a couple of drinks in at our retreat in Arizona about hosting a podcast and when we were looking at Hannah, this was before we had first had conversations about it, but we were looking at podcasts. We'd look at the existing suite of podcasts, as, I like to say, an Anders CPA joint.

Joey (00:01:00) - Right. Hello to you, Spike Lee Um, we were looking at the suite of podcasts and we're like, Man, we've got something for CPAs, existing CPAs, business owners, we've got something for our clients. But you know who we don't have anything for our employees. And so that was kind of the idea behind this. And I honestly think we started this out with a great episode.

Hannah (00:01:24) - I do to Robert was a fantastic way to set the tone for what this podcast is, who we plan to reach, what we plan on talking about here. I don't know about you, Joey, but my intent here is that we ask some of the hard questions that we have, some of the conversations that other people aren't having because our goal is to really shape the future of this industry and to speak to topics that are important to to our generation that may not have been quite as important to the ones that come before us. And granted, those topics were super, super valuable, important.

Hannah (00:01:59) - But I think we've learned a lot of lessons from those. And we want to garner some conversation around that that maybe others aren't having.

Joey (00:02:06) - Yeah, I mean, that's that's been the thing that's been missing in accounting, in my opinion, is we haven't really addressed the elephant in the room, which is and this is this is from an article that that was written a few months ago by the Society of Human Resource Management. The folks over at Sherm, we're talking about the growing accountant shortage. And there's some facts here. 300,000 accountants left their jobs during the pandemic. It's a lot of people.

Hannah (00:02:29) - That's wild.

Joey (00:02:30) - Some more facts, too. We're projected to have around 135,000 new job openings every year for the next decade. So that's per year for ten years. Um, only around 50,000 students each year are graduating with accounting degrees, and that number has been decreasing by about 10% every year. So I know, you know, I like to joke with people all the time, like, hey, I'm not an accountant, but the math ain't math in on this one.

Hannah (00:02:56) - Exactly!

Joey (00:02:57) - And that's the thing I think that we're most interested in solving. And we know it's not something that like the two people in this room and our guests, like, we're not going to be able to solve it on our own. But what we really want to start talking about is like, let's have a dialogue, let's have a conversation, and let's really start digging into some of the structural or systemic problems in accounting that are maybe making this industry not the most appealing to certainly our generation that's been leaving and younger generations that aren't wanting to come in. So. You know, I'm really excited to dive into some of those issues. And Hannah, thank you. To your point. We asked some difficult questions of the managing partner of Anders CPA, Robert Minkler, today, where we asked him some of those questions about, you know, what are we doing to address. Some of the systemic problems in our industry. What are we doing to actively promote women and individuals from more marginalized communities? How do we make sure that everybody's got a seat at the table and how do we build the firm of the future and really lean into the changing demographics of America so that everybody feels like they have diversity, equity, inclusion? And the fourth one that I kind of learned a little bit about today, the be the belonging.

Hannah (00:04:19) - That was big. Yeah, it really was. Feel like this is a great inaugural episode for us to start out with here, I feel like as listeners you're going to go on a journey with us throughout the course of this podcast and I'm excited for you all to go on it with us. But buckle up because it is going to be a wild and fun ride because of these difficult conversations that we hope that you can gain value from. And we are excited to have you with us on this journey.

Joey (00:04:49) - Yeah, and a couple to follow up on that too. You know, we've got a couple of opportunities. We're hoping to do some more episodes in the future where we're, you know, responding to direct questions from our listeners. So, you know, you're welcome to give us a follow on the social media channel of your choice, whether that's Instagram or Twitter or you know producer Rob insert any future social media channel here. Um also feel free to shoot us an email at young success show at CPA.

Joey (00:05:17) - You can find Hannah and myself on LinkedIn, although I'll be honest, like I am the absolute worst LinkedIn millennial of all time. I'm sure it drives producer Roxanne absolutely crazy that like I just don't do anything on LinkedIn. But I'm hoping that that changes a little bit and we just really want to hear from you, the audience. What topics are important, what questions do you have and how can we help be your sound sounding voice and your mentors and your guides as you're trying to figure out the first, you know, 3 to 5 years of your career in terms of figuring out what you want to do? So, Hannah, thank you so much for going down this journey with me. I'm really excited to do this together and really start trying to become the solution to some of these issues instead of just idly standing by and watching it.

Hannah (00:06:05) - Agreed. Can't wait to see where this goes.

Joey (00:06:09) - Welcome, everybody, to the very first episode of the Young CPA Success Show. We've been working on this for about three months behind the scenes.

Joey (00:06:17) - We're really excited to debut this podcast for you. I'm your host, Joey Kinney, a virtual CFO with Summit Virtual CFOs by Anders. I think that's the correct name. It's a mouthful, and I'm still learning how to say it, but I think I got that right. I'm joined by Hannah Hood. Hannah, how are you today?

Hannah (00:06:35) - I'm doing well. I'm so excited about this being our first episode and I'm so excited that we've got Robert Minkler joining us today. So I'm excited to talk to you more and learn a bit, learn a little bit more about our past, our present and our future here as a firm. So thanks for joining us this morning.

Robert (00:06:55) - Yeah, it's. It's great to be here. Um. Yeah, I'm honored. I'm honored to be the inaugural guest on the show, so I'm looking forward to it.

Joey (00:07:07) - Yeah, we figured if we're going to do the first episode, we really just needed to start at the very top and then kind of whittle our way down.

Joey (00:07:13) - So that's sort of where the thought process came from. And Robert, again, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to join us today. Um, the purpose of this podcast and the idea behind it was it kind of started in my mind with, with some of the folks in our internal marketing team and we were talking about some of the challenges and headwinds that are facing the accounting industry today, not just from from like a retention standpoint, but a recruitment standpoint and a growth standpoint. And we have some very ambitious plans at Anders that I'm very excited to talk about a little bit later. And we thought this would be a great opportunity to learn a little bit more from you about Anders history and sort of what we're doing and how we got to where we are and then how that's informing where we're going. So where I think I'd love to start talking with you about is I know Anders has been around for I believe it started in the late 60s. Is that correct?

Robert (00:08:11) - 1965

Joey (00:08:11) - 1965, Right in the middle. Yep.

Robert (00:08:15) - Yeah.

Joey (00:08:17) - So if I'm doing the math right, that's about 60 some odd years, give or take, that Anders has been around. What can you talk me through? The thought process of how you all made the decision to pivot from a really good, solid regional firm to something a little bit more? And I'm very proud to announce that. I think we announced this the other day that we were up to number 77 on the top 100. Is that correct?

Robert (00:08:44) - Yeah, that's right. So the IPA rankings came out and it's by revenue. So we moved from I think we were 89th last year and we're 77 this year. And really we have just one physical location in Saint Louis, Missouri. We actually have a second office space here, but it's just a few miles from the original office. So yeah, I think if you look at that list, there's not too many, if any, that are larger than us that just really have one physical location.

Robert (00:09:22) - So I mean, we started like just about any other CPA firm would have started in 1965. You know, it's always going into the office. There was no there was no such thing as working remotely, that kind of thing. So we've really stayed, I think, on the on the forefront of innovation in the CPA firm world, which is not saying something if you're working at Google or Microsoft or something, but for a CPA firm, I think we've stayed fairly innovative, always pushing the envelope and in new technologies, new ways to work and that kind of thing. So, you know, I would say that our evolution started when we started looking at what technology means to a CPA firm and what it meant to our clients. And so we branched out from just the traditional CPA firm services, tax audit and accounting into technology consulting, and that sort of opened the doors and opened the minds of the partners and the staff at the time to start growing that way. And I think that naturally led to more open minds and in terms of working in different ways.

Robert (00:10:47) - You know, one thing I'll mention too is leading up to the pandemic in early 2020, we were just about ready to and this is prior to the Anders Summit merger. We were just about to release our flexible work arrangement, you know, policies and procedures where for folks could say, you know what, I could really use the ability to work at home or at some other location, a certain amount of days or times during the week. And I don't think a lot of CPA firms were doing that pre-pandemic. And so we kind of had it ready to roll when the pandemic hit. And we were able to really pivot quickly to  working remotely. I guess the other thing is we've always had a handful of people that work in different cities. Usually up until recently, they would have been located in Saint Louis and then for whatever reason moved out of town. A spouse got transferred or some other reason. And if it made sense for them and for us, we just said, well, just continue working for us.

Robert (00:12:07) - Just work from us, for us from Denver or Cleveland or whatever. And so. You know, you fast forward to the merger that we did with Summit and Anders and added 5560 people that were all across I'd say the country but North America because we've got some that are out well and some team members that are not in North America. So we've got quite a few now. Um, you know, that that was kind of a natural extension of how we would work and work remotely. And then I guess the last thing I'll say about sort of the evolution is. And we were starting to do this anyway. But our recruiting is now not limited to Saint Louis by any means. It's, you know, most every position and I don't we've got I don't know how many positions out there as a firm probably 80 to 100 listed. And I think the vast, vast majority of them have, you know, in-office or remote or hybrid kind of choose your own path as an applicant to the job opportunity.

Robert (00:13:32) - So, you know, we've really embraced that. You know, is it smooth all the time? No. But is it, are we ahead of a lot of others in that aspect? I think we are. I'm pretty proud of where we are and where we've come. I don't know if that answers it or not, but.

Hannah (00:13:52) - Yeah, think it does. I know I'm really excited to be a part of the future evolution. What would you say speaking to the recruitment pace, what makes us a better place to work than any other firm in terms of if you're speaking to somebody who's got a choice and they're choosing us or somewhere else, what do you think sets us apart from everybody else in the industry?

Robert (00:14:19) - You know, I used to say I started my career at Pricewaterhouse in Chicago, so Big four, spend about five years there. And, you know, when I was there, I remember thinking about what's the difference, you know, among all these large firms. And, you know, we basically did the same work as everybody else.

Robert (00:14:40) - So I would always say, hey, it comes down to people who you're working with, and that was the large firm environment. I think there's more differentiation when you get into sort of smaller and middle market firms. But I guess I would say that's a big difference. But also what I didn't think about at the time in my early 20s was the word culture and what the culture is like. Um, we're really dialed into how people work and what each individual person needs to put their best self forth forward and bring to their work every day, whether it's sitting in an office in Saint Louis or whether it's sitting in their home in another state. Um, we're pretty cognizant of that. We don't just group people and decide that we think we know what's best. And so and we're really intentional. And this, you know, has been helped by the merger as well. We're really intentional about making sure that culture permeates through our teams, no matter where they're located or whether it's virtual meetings or in person and that kind of thing.

Robert (00:16:08) - And, you know, we've got, as an example, we've got our all hands in person meeting coming up in October where everybody's going to come to Saint Louis. And it's just we think it's really important. And that's just one example throughout the year. It's not just once a year. People get together in person, but that's an aspect that we think is really important to try to maintain that culture. You know, the other thing that we do is. You know, every day it seems like we're looking to launch another service line or another service offering for our clients. And so that's part of we may get into this later, but this is that's part of the growth trajectory of the firm. It's not just, hey, can we do more tax returns, it's hey, can what other valuable services can we provide our clients? How can they benefit from being a partner of Anders? And that's how we look at it. And so, you know, as people enter this profession, which is really is a great profession, we'll get into that, too.

Robert (00:17:18) - But, you know, it's somebody might find out, you know, this certain track might not be what I ultimately want to do with the rest of my career. I might go into the tax group and figure out after a couple of years. It just isn't really what I want to do. Well, this firm provides the ability then to look at all the different things that we do for our clients, and that person is able to then seek out maybe something else that they might want to try and that I think is a big differentiator for our firm. And we've had several examples of that and several success stories of people that maybe if they didn't have that opportunity would have left the firm. And so, you know, that's I think that's a differentiator. I will say also we have an extremely robust young professionals group with a staff advisory group, a leadership level in that group that's elected by the young professionals. And so we as a as an executive leadership team, meet with them often regularly, to to make sure, you know, the decisions we're making, the directions we're going, what we're doing with our benefits, whether they're monetary or non monetary, are, you know, hitting home with with the young professionals compared to what's out there at other firms.

Robert (00:18:54) - And so, you know, I think that's a delicate balance, too. But, you know, I think we're genuine in our thought process that it just because we've been partners for 20 years doesn't mean we know what's best at all times for the firm. We truly look for input from everybody. And that allows people to sort of not only. Help control their own career, but also have an impact on how the firm does move forward and grow.

Joey (00:19:28) - I really love what you said there about kind of the flexibility and the ability to kind of move back and forth between something that may be a good fit or not. That was a huge benefit that I had earlier in my career was I intentionally shied away from Bigfork because both my parents were I think it was Peat Marwick back in the day when they were working with it in kind of West Texas and the oilfield industry and working on that. And so when I got into this, into this career, I kind of knew what Bigfork was looking for.

Joey (00:20:01) - And I was like, That just doesn't feel like me because I don't know what I want to do. I like tax, I like audit, but maybe I like estate planning. Maybe I like some other types of things. So I intentionally went for a regional firm in Manhattan, Kansas, and got to have some of that exposure right away to other things where I was working on tax returns when friends were with big for internships and all they did was calculate D pad for an entire summer. And I was like, Ooh, that wasn't what I wanted to do at all. So I'm really. I'm really thankful to hear that you guys are investing in and providing some opportunities for folks to figure out what they want to do, because I think the last thing anybody wants to do in their careers feel stuck.

Robert (00:20:43) - Yeah. You know, I think just one thing, you know, real quick. And that is. You know, maybe this is getting, you know, sort of to generalize, but.

Robert (00:20:57) - But really what we're trying to do here at this firm is provide value and advise our clients in whatever way that comes through. So you need certain technical skill sets, know people as they enter the profession. They'll need to at some point try to specialize in something so that that just lifts their value to as an expert in one area or another. But it's really all about how do you answer questions for clients and maybe sometimes ask them the question because they don't know which questions to ask. But I guess that's one more thing. And that is, you know, folks at Andrews and this really doesn't depend on which department you're in, get access to and interact with clients that at very early in their careers so they understand what that means. Um, you know, because that interaction with a client is, is paramount and that's what they want and need and see value in and, you know, so I guess, you know, I'm trying to sort of differentiate this know when you first come into a profession you're looking for you know what technical track am I going to be on? And that's that's that's good.

Robert (00:22:27) - That's what you need to do. But keep in mind that ultimately, really what you're doing is you're trying to get to a point where you can really make a difference in the life of a client. And, you know, whether it's them individually as an owner of a company or it's the company itself, you know, that's the ultimate goal. And that and that's what becomes really satisfying in this profession is when you sit across the table or you sit on, a teams or a zoom call with a client and. You're having a conversation about a project that you went through and that client looks at it and just. Would have had no way of doing it on their own. And they really see the value in that you know that that that's and that you get to I think quicker in a firm like ours than you do at some of the huge firms. So I'm sorry I cut you off. 

Hannah (00:23:29) - No, no, no. I was going to say, I completely agree with Joey in terms of my career in my early 20s does not look like my career now in my 30s.

Hannah (00:23:37) - And so the evolution in terms of in general of the direction accounting has gone has just shifted greatly feel like over just that span of time. And I would say obviously it's shifted greatly even from 1965 in terms of the skills that you needed as an accountant in 1965 look very different than the skills that you need as an accountant in 2023 because of this shift greatly towards the advisory side, the technology that we have in place and and because we have so much technology in place that lends itself to us as accountants needing more than just the technical skill of what accounting involves and that people we also need now this people facing client focused relationship building soft skills that wasn't quite as focused on in 1965. So in that I know for me a great deal of my development has come through mentorship throughout my career. Are there opportunities for that within the firm? What does that look like in terms of how are we catering to that? Because that is so important I feel like for people who are just starting out in their career, Even for me now, like I look to people and I'm always looking for people who are, who could be a potential mentor for me.

Robert (00:24:56) - Yeah. So that's a great point. And so we've gone through iterations and I think this is always a work in process. But we have each person that comes in to the firm and some of the groups do this a little bit differently than others. But you know, everybody's part of a, you know, some call them a family tree, some call them, you know, sometimes it's a pod, sometimes it's smaller groups. But everybody, you belong to something more than just your department. When you join Anders and then everybody also gets a an assigned coach and in some areas it's a dedicated coach that that's what they do in some areas it's someone in that department that maybe has a couple of years of experience and and they're assigned initially because you know that person hasn't gotten a chance to meet people and that kind of thing. But as somebody works their way through their career and gets to know the different areas of the firm and the different people at the firm.

Robert (00:26:17) - They can start having a say and who their coach is. And so, um, so that's helpful to because, you know, as you know, Hannah, when you a mentor mentee relationship that's a two way street. So you kind of have to be able to choose your own or have some sort of say in that so that there is a, um, a comfortable exchange of ideas and it's just, it's natural rather than forced. And so, um, you know, the other thing we recognize is that not every single person in the world is a good coach or mentor or, you know, should have to do that. Everybody's got different set of skills. So we're constantly looking for ways to bolster that. It's very much in focus within our HR group and so on and so forth. But. You know, it's not unusual also for somebody that's pretty early in their career to develop a relationship with a long time partner or director at the firm and utilize them as a mentor.

Robert (00:27:34) - And we encourage that as well. So, you know, there's this sort of continuum of formalized coaching to informal mentorship that we but we encourage all of it and provide the resources in the time for that. So but that's a, that's a super important point Hannah.

Joey (00:27:54) - It's something we're actually working and, you know, this is more for the audience and for the folks in this room, but that's probably one of the biggest things we identified in the merger was our legacy team had a very robust and structured coaching tree that the VCFO side had, but it wasn't very formal. And that's been a huge project that we're about to roll out here in the next couple of months of, you know, let's get some more formalized coaching in there. If you've got a new CFO coming in, get them set up with a coach right away so that someone can be there and be invested in their career and be invested in them as a person, be invested in their growth in a way that's beyond just what we want everybody to be successful because that's great for the organization.

Joey (00:28:38) - So I'm really excited to take what we've learned from Scott Hoffman and his team and kind of apply it to, you know, our team and make those a little bit more, you know, synonymous with each other. So very excited for that.

Robert (00:28:52) - Well, the other piece of that on the other side, Joey, is, you know, I've been talking to Jen Sides, who's our chief people officer recently about it's in its early stages. And I might be letting the cat out of the bag a little bit here, but go into like a talent advisor structure to where we have dedicated talent advisors, much like I liken that more to the way Summit had done its coaching, uh, from a career standpoint in the past and still does. But looking at that and because like I said before, not not everybody is a great coach, but if you, if you have a handful or however many, it would be talent advisors that could that could really that are trained in coaching that would I think that would even take us to another level with the balance of the firm.

Robert (00:29:56) - So, that is something that we're looking at currently as well.

Joey (00:30:00) - It's a big thing. That's a big topic of conversation in my household. My wife's a tax accountant and she got moved into a management position recently and her comment was, well, I'm a good accountant, but am I a good manager? And she was very much identifying within herself, like I could use some assistance in how to manage certain situations and how to do certain things from you know, more of those. To Hannah's point, the soft skills type stuff. And they didn't have access to a leadership coach like we do with navigate the journey and Tom Barrett and his team. So just being able to kind of apply some of the stuff that I've learned from them over the last 18 months has been monumental for her as well and kind of gaining some strategies and stuff because I would imagine that's common along a lot of CPA firms. We promote the best, you know, best talent, the people who are the best.

Joey (00:30:54) - But those are two different skill sets.

Robert (00:30:57) - I 100% agree. And you know, I could have taken mid-sentence what you were saying and finished it for you because I was thinking the exact same thing. Um, you know, one other way we try to help with that here at Anders is our Anders University program. So we've developed this Anders University. We've Courtney Seebers, our director of Learning and. And she's kind of taken that to another level. So, you know, early in a career, it's more technically technical focused. And then as you move up and gain, you know, management responsibilities, there's more of that soft skill training, we'll call it continue to call it. But it's you know, we just attended one last week on empathy. You know, how do you develop the skills to truly be have empathy for others? And until you get into like talking about situations, it's hard and it's good to be able to practice that kind of thing.

Robert (00:32:11) - And so and that's just one skill that if you're good at it, you're just going to be a better manager. And so that's the way we try to help handle those things. I don't think there's one magic bullet that helps everything all the time, but we just try to find ways to plug in and help our people succeed. And that's just one way.

Hannah (00:32:36) - You mentioned to kind of circling back to what we were talking about in terms of us as a firm being different than another firm. A buzzword that's come up over the past few years. And that's culture. I would say another buzzword that I feel like has come up over even the past five years has been DEI and us as a firm and our initiatives. I'd really love to hear what we're doing to promote DEI, because if I'm being quite honest and full of the website, there is a very serious stereotypical type. And we do seem to fit that in terms of even when I look at partners, even for me as being a female, it is predominantly, predominantly male.

Hannah (00:33:23) - And I know that there is a shift and I know that our firm does value diversity, equity and inclusion. But I'd really love to hear from you to like, what are we doing to shape the future of what our firm looks like and for anybody to feel comfortable saying, Hey, like, that's a firm I want to work for because I do feel feel like my values are are being promoted and are inclusive here.

Robert (00:33:48) - Yeah. So we've got an active group of people that are working on our DE and I and be belonging. That's that that's added to the, to the acronym as well. Now but so there's a lot of things that we're doing and it's. I'll get into a couple of specifics, and I'm afraid I'll probably leave 1 or 2 out. But I'll do my best. Okay. it's sometimes feels frustrating because it's tough. I mean, I think this is a journey and it's difficult to see results right away, but some of the things we're doing, we have.

Robert (00:34:43) - WWe have a historically black college down the street from us here in Saint Louis. So we're on the board or involved with board. On the board there in the accounting department. We guest lecture. We intentionally not a lot of firms around the city recruit from there, interview from there. So we do that we bring in. What I'll call, I guess, high school classes from less affluent areas in the Saint Louis area that we bring them in, we show them around. We talk about what it's like to be at a CPA firm and what the opportunities are like there. And that's that's at the high school level, which actually also hits this whole we need to get more people involved in accounting and then the CPA track and that kind of thing. So that's another thing that we do. There are a couple of Boys and Girls Clubs in Saint Louis. We every year we bring in a couple folks for internships or full time positions there and that also helps, I think, with the pipeline and with our endeavors.

Robert (00:36:10) - You know, I'm trying to think of some of the other things that we've put in place. But it's a routine topic of conversation. At every leadership type meeting that we have, we talk about. We know that if you think about the females, females leave this profession and higher rates than males do. And so as when you look at hiring at the entry levels, it's it's either 5050 or females might be a little bit higher than males. And then but then you get up into the leadership positions and that starts to change because females leave the profession in a higher rate than males do. And so we're looking..

Hannah (00:37:03) - It for a little bit. So I've lived that, especially while I was in the thick of raising my kids. I did. And now obviously I'm back. But I'm all kids are school age, so I'm in a much different season of life than I was whenever I made that decision to walk away.

Robert (00:37:17) - So even that kind of okay so I think you can get you can predict the answers that you'll get from CPA firm partners and you would get them here as well.

Robert (00:37:28) - And they would go to kids a certain age and and and, you know, you go to another job that's more predictable. The hours are different, all that kind of thing. But you can't stop there. I mean, you want to go look at the reasons, but you can't stop there. And you can't just say, well, that's just how it is. You got to work to. Why does that have to be? Why can't we change that? And so and so that's what that's what we try to do. I mean, we do have and this dates back. Jenny Meyer I don't know if you guys know Jenny. She's a partner in our tax department. Um, you know, she never left the firm. But it was in her household. She and her choice was that she wanted to, you know, make sure she was there for her three daughters and all that kind of thing as they grew up. And so I don't even want to call it pause or anything like that.

Robert (00:38:35) - Maybe downshift is the right word. But she made it work. And, gosh, we're so happy that she did. Um, and so how do you institutionalize that? Or how do you and, and I get to the point in my head where that's not even a great answer. I think, um, you know, we continue to look for ways of how to work and how to spread the work so that it's not a choice that has to be made or it's not a, you know, my life is is so busy that I'm going to have to get out of this firm or this profession in order to make it work, at least for this period of my of my life. And so are we. Are we there yet as a firm? Certainly not as an industry, but as a firm. We are working towards that and I think we're making strides. I really do. Um, and a lot of that has to do with technology. Some of it has to do with remote work, but technology and innovation and automation can help that as well.

Robert (00:39:49) - And that's one thing I, I did want to say this, and so I'm going to put it here and maybe you had a question about this later on. But I'm one that's always said if you can automate something automated because you're if it's that routine and if it can be automated, you're probably not using your talents to the to its fullest. And so. I'm fully in favor of doing that so that people can plug their brains in at a higher level and provide a higher level of value for our clients. And so that concept scares people sometimes is okay if you automate all this stuff, am I going to not have anything to do or be out of a job? Or are you going to need fewer people? And I'm here to tell you, I mean, I started my career before fax machines came in, and now they're gone. So I've seen the whole life cycle of that. Nobody lost their job because of a fax machine. And I know that's a it's a silly little example but.

Robert (00:40:52) - There's plenty to do for our clients to provide them value that doesn't require. You know, certain things that can be automated. So. But I think what that does that does something else to. Things that can be automated are generally boring work that people don't want to do and it takes your time. So then it makes then it makes you know, your week go from 40 hours to 50 or whatever during the busiest time of the year. So if you can cut those ten hours out from automation with automation, then that moves more to. Hey, I don't have to. There isn't an either or with this profession versus others. That and that will hopefully as it as we get better and better at that, that will start to turn the tide in this imbalance of females leaving the profession faster than males. That means there's going to be more people that are going to be able to excel and be going to leadership roles. And we start to see that, you know, partner page change more.

Joey (00:42:08) - And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? If you start getting more diverse thought into your leadership group, you're now better equipped to handle the issues surrounding diversity. So it only improves from that perspective as you invest in those initiatives. So I'm super happy to hear, and I do have a bit of a challenge for the management team that I hope we can meet up again in a year and hear some of the ways that we're doing this. I love to hear all the things that we're doing in the Saint Louis area with the remote team. Now. I think we have a tremendous opportunity as a firm to expand those initiatives using our remote workforce. Hannah lives in Mississippi. I live in New Mexico. These are two states that when you look on certain graphs and charts, we're lagging in a lot of areas. My area in particular has very large communities of marginalized individuals. We're very capital, poor state, and the promise of remote work is hugely fascinating to our leaders here and to those of us who have it, because we see the opportunity for the state to punch above its weight economically by utilizing our skills and taking that to a broader base that we wouldn't have been able to get to before.

Joey (00:43:20) - So I think the challenge that I would love to see from the leadership team is how do we expand some of these initiatives outside of the Saint Louis area and start getting into Mississippi, start getting into New Mexico, start getting into Nevada and Oregon and Washington, the areas where we have, you know, people on our team who are who are there. So I'm really excited about the future of what that holds for us.

Robert (00:43:46) - Yeah. And I think what I'll say in your comment about diversity and thought a very good one because. None of we haven't gone down the road of saying. That we want to exclude recruiting in those areas or that we've looked at ideas and said, no, that won't work. We just need to intentionally go down those roads and figure out the right way to do that, do those things. And so and so that all of that. And that's really the purpose of. You know, the group that we have working on DE and I and B, it's it's it's how to, you know, some of the things that I said, I mean, it's kind of easy.

Robert (00:44:40) - You know we didn't, you know we didn't invent doing those things. I mean we're doing the best we can with what we know. But what we haven't done yet, which we're focused on, is. You know, what the opportunities out there that just don't come to mind right away? How do you think about it differently? And so, you know, those are the types of things that we're focused on for the near future.

Joey (00:45:14) - We've got about five minutes left here on the On the Schedule podcast. And we usually like to try to end with something a little bit. I want to say softer in terms of things, but something a little bit more fun and where we thought that we wanted to get here with you, as I'd love for all of us, you know, we're all in kind of different stages of our career. And I would love for us to go back and think if we could give some advice to 22 to 25 year old versions of ourselves in terms of what we know about the industry now and kind of the promise of the future of the industry.

Joey (00:45:49) - What sort of advice would you give to yourself if you were 25 today and getting ready to enter this industry?

Robert (00:46:00) - I would say get out of your immediate surroundings in terms of and I'm assuming you're already to firm and and if you're in the tax department or you're in the virtual CFO department or if you're in the audit department, whatever you're in. Find ways to get out and talk to and meet with people from other areas to see what's out there. Because especially when you're first coming into the profession, it's overwhelming. You've got your own area that you're trying to get proficient at as fast as you possibly can because and here's a little secret. Everything you learn in college is great baseline stuff. But you're going to learn more in your first four months on the job than you did in four years or five years in college. Trust me. But just be curious and make sure you develop relationships with people across whatever firm you're with because you can learn a lot. This is a profession where you can learn a ton and be valuable in so many different ways.

Robert (00:47:20) - But, you know, sometimes I just look back at myself and I just didn't even understand what certain areas of the firm did at Pricewaterhouse. And I could have picked up the phone or walked down the hall and or I couldn't have gotten on a video call at that time, but I could have done one of those two things and I could have learned more about what the firm did at a younger age. I'm not saying I would have changed my direction necessarily. Maybe it would have. But just be it be a thirst for knowledge and seek out different people's thoughts and perspectives on things.

Joey (00:48:02) - So a quick question here that just came in from our producer just to follow up. She would like to know why you didn't start at Anders right out of college. Why did you go Why did you go big fuor.

Robert (00:48:11) - So that's kind of I answer that question a lot. I usually am not asked it and I say it anyway, but if I don't say it, I usually ask that. So my father started the firm in 1965 with Jim Anders.

Robert (00:48:27) - So and that's the name of the firm now. But when they started it, it was Anderson Minkler and then it was Anders Minkler and Deal. And I won't go through the whole history, but I always say that's my dad's name, that's not mine. And so what I wanted to do was go somewhere else and. This kind of make it on my own, you know, earn it on my own different city another firm. And so that was I didn't want to come in and just be the son of the founder and start right out of college, you know, And I always tack this on to there was never a conversation. There was never a, hey, let's go to Chicago, go to Pricewaterhouse for about five years and then come back. That was never a conversation. About four years into my stint there, Tom Hilton, who's a retired partner who still does some work for the firm, flew up to Chicago, We had lunch, and he asked how it was going and had I ever considered coming back to Saint Louis.

Robert (00:49:36) - And that's what started me thinking. And eventually I got to that decision to had to do with my wife and I and starting a family and coming back to Saint Louis. It all made sense. And so I wasn't going to come back to Saint Louis and not work for, the firm. So that's why.

Hannah (00:49:57) - It sounds like it was a really valuable time, though, and experience for you to have had that and then be able to bring that into your experience with the form now.

Robert (00:50:03) - Would not trade it. It was the right decision for me.

Hannah (00:50:08) - That's awesome.

Joey (00:50:09) - Well, that resonates. I resonate a lot with that because I did something a little bit similar, not necessarily career focused, but, you know, the best learning experience I ever had was when I left my hometown and went to college in Manhattan, Kansas, where I knew two people, the president of the fraternity and another guy in the fraternity that joined. And I didn't know anybody else. And that really forced me out of my shell.

Joey (00:50:28) - And the lesson I learned was home is not going anywhere. I mean, this office right here is about a half a mile from the house that I grew up in, which is maybe a little bit too close for my wife. That's a conversation for another podcast. But the lesson I learned there is like, man, home is always going to be there, but I'm different now. When I came back in 2018 than I would be had I just stayed here and never really explored, to your point, what it would be like to to try to do something where I wasn't, in my case, Bart's son, which there's still a lot of people in Albuquerque who know me as Bart son or Bart's grandson. They're they're both named Bart. I was almost named Bart. So that's a really, really valuable lesson I think, for folks is kind of like getting out of that comfort zone a little bit and exploring what it's like to. To kind of try it on your own. Hannah, what about you? What would you go back and say to your 22 to 25 year old self?

Hannah (00:51:27) - Um, I would say the first thing that comes to mind is, I would say to embrace the suck, honestly embrace it.

Hannah (00:51:36) - Because there are, no matter where you are, no matter what you're doing, there's always going to be that side to it. That's not awesome. I mean, just that's the reality of it. I think early in my career was like, Oh, this doesn't feel awesome. Like maybe I should be doing something different. Shouldn't this still feel really good? And like, that just really wasn't the case. And that's proven true in every single, every single facet of what I've done up to this point. And now I'm obviously at a place where it's like, okay, like, get it. Like, that's a part of it. That's just very natural. Um, and I think I tried to convince myself for a really long time that like, maybe it's me, like maybe it's I should be doing something different. And realistically, that was not the case. So think I would just tell myself like, hey, like, like take a deep breath, write it out, see what happens.

Hannah (00:52:25) - Ask yourself what you can learn in those situations and take that and apply it to the next thing, whatever that may be, wherever you're planted or if it's the next place. So that's the first thing that comes to mind for me. What about you, Joey?

Joey (00:52:41) - Outside of getting out of your comfort zone, which I do think is important, the other thing that I wish I knew at 25 was that it's you don't have to be scared of the partners. Partners aren't the partners aren't scary people. I remember thinking that it was I didn't want to overstep my bounds by having a conversation with the partner about like, Hey, what does it look like to have a career path here? I think now that I've gotten into management and kind of have had people underneath me, I think there's a natural fear of that. And what I've learned is like, Man, I wish that you would come to me as a manager earlier so I could help you solve this problem instead of you floundering or you not feeling like you're getting what you need and then you leave.

Joey (00:53:22) - And I didn't even get a chance to solve the problem. And I think with especially with younger folks in their careers, you know, there's a power dynamic that's a little bit difficult to overcome. But if you lean into that a little bit and ask good intelligent questions of your partners, build a rapport, learn from them like people love to teach. People like there's I've always found that whenever I'm in a situation and it's somebody new, a great question to say, Tell me a little bit about yourself. What are you passionate about? What are you interested in? And help me learn from this. And that opens up so many more doors and just valuable conversations. And I don't want young CPAs to miss out on that because, you know, if you can go and you can find a partner or somebody at your firm who believes in you, that person is going to be your biggest advocate. And the biggest success in your career is going to come more often than not from those relationships that you create, not necessarily what you know as an accountant.

Joey (00:54:20) - So that would be my advice is lean into the discomfort and have those conversations with people and get to know them.

Hannah (00:54:28) - I love it, get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Joey (00:54:31) - Exactly.

Hannah (00:54:32) - I like it.

Joey (00:54:33) - Well, Robert, is there anything else that you would like to just kind of as as we're wrapping up here, I know we've got you mentioned we've got a very robust career page on the website with all of the various opportunities that are out there at the firm. And I encourage everybody who's listening to just go check it out because it's you know, I've sent friends I've sent family members to the website to say like, hey, just if you're uncomfortable or unhappy with something, go take a look at what we have to offer. So Robert, how can we best get people to understand where to to find out more, not just about you, but about the firm and all the opportunities going on?

Robert (00:55:11) - I think you said it. I think it's the website. And, you know, it's not our website's not just a black hole.

Robert (00:55:18) - There are links there to talk to some of our awesome recruiters. And so if there's any questions at all click on it and start a conversation that is, that's probably the best way to do it. You know, we'll coordinate meetings with people inside the firm just to have those one on one conversations get a real life view of what it's like to be here. So, you know, can set up a call or what have you. So we're dynamic in that way. It's not just a you come in and interview for a job and you get it or you don't. We'll work through that with you to provide the best experience possible.

Joey (00:56:05) - I also do want to point out, too, that we have a very robust internship program. And if folks are listening to this around internship time or internship application time, I know we've had a lot of success from interns. A lot of interns end up getting hired at the firm, which is something we really love to see. So if anybody is interested in their internships at the end of their junior or senior year of college, this is a fantastic place to work.

Joey (00:56:29) - So just wanted to mention that as well. Great. More. Robert, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate the time this morning. And we're excited that you're the first episode and we'd love to again, circle back again in a year or so and let's measure progress on the journey that we're taking and just have a check in.

Robert (00:56:48) - Sounds good. Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it.

intro (00:56:51) - If you're a young CPA looking to develop in their careers, we're always looking for great people. Visit our website for remote work opportunities with Summit Virtual CFO or find all our open positions at Anders CPAs and advisors.

Breaking Barriers and Building the Firm of the Future

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