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How Can Diverse Skills Transform Your Accounting Career?

Published by Summit Marketing Team on Apr 8, 2024 9:46:52 AM


The Young CPA Success Show: Episode 17

Kyle Geers, Co-founder and CEO of Zeroed-In Consulting, joins Hannah and Joey to explore the dynamic world of accounting. They share personal anecdotes about starting businesses and the shift from traditional accounting roles to consulting. Kyle recounts his transition from audit to advisory services, emphasizing the need for diverse skills and the importance of asking “why” to understand the business side of accounting. The conversation also covers the challenges of career changes, the value of self-reflection, and the benefits of networking, as well as a discussion on the evolving landscape of the accounting profession and the critical role of adaptability and continuous learning.



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 (00:00:22) - I did love what you said about is it even really? Are you even really friends? If you haven't created a fake business together? 

Hannah (00:00:29) - Exactly. 

Joey (00:00:30) - You have. Do you have one of those stories? Because I do.

Hannah (00:00:31) - Absolutely. Like so. I have a story of a friend and I who did go into business together. And yeah, like it was a lot of fun for us at the time, and it was just something on the side that we did. But it was really successful and we had a lot of fun. And I'm telling you, I'm a firm believer that you're not really friends unless you've at least planned and executed a business plan together.

Hannah (00:00:55) - Okay, my story and I'm sticking to it.

Joey (00:00:57) - Let's dive into that because I think that's I think that's a great way, because whenever I think about, like, business and whenever I think about a job and I always go back to like, I just want to do things, but people I legitimately enjoy and who do we enjoy more than our best friends? Right? So, Hannah, you mentioned that at some point in your life you have planned and executed the business with your best friend. Tell me about that.

Hannah (00:01:24) - Yeah, I have, so I lived in a little small town in South Alabama, and I had just had my oldest child, and I was trying to figure out a way that I could make money, but like be home with my kid, obviously pre remote work. He's 13 now, so I didn't even realize that that would that almost 13. So, I didn't realize that that was a really even an option. But I did see that there was a need because, okay, it's the South and we monogram everything in the south.

Hannah (00:01:52) - I don't know if you know this, but it is a proven fact that we monogram all the things. So, I wanted you have a look of I am just I'm.

Joey (00:02:04) - Just trying to visualize a monogram. Like I think I know what you're talking about. Like, I'm not I'm not from. Oh, okay. Right, right. So, like for me, it'd be like JBK yeah. Like put on something like a shirt or something.

Hannah (00:02:18) - Exactly. Initials on all the things. Well, I know I realize in my little town there wasn't anybody who did that. So, I taught myself how to do it, mostly because I wanted it for my own kid. And then I realized I had more and more friends asking me, hey, like, can you monogram this thing for me? Can you, do it? Like, yeah, sure. Like I literally

YouTube it taught myself how to do the things. Well, then my best friend and I were like, hey, what if we did this together? And we started an Etsy store and we put it on Etsy and like, we made it legit.

Hannah (00:02:47) - I'm like, okay, let's do it. Like, let's do it. We at one point on Etsy, had over 250 open orders at one time for our things, and it was this wildly successful thing that we got to experience together. And it was just so fun being able to work with my best friend. And ultimately, we ended up like it was just too much at the time. Our kids ended up getting older, so we ended up not selling all of our stuff and, not continuing to do it. But it was such a fun experience. And like I said, I mean, you can't even say your best friend's view if you have not at least planned a business together. So, Joey, I need to hear about a friend that you've planned a business together because I'm assuming you have one.

Joey (00:03:34) - Oh, yeah. So, this is this is this is going to I mean, it sounds a little bit like an episode of how I Met Your Mother, and it's because it's true.

Joey (00:03:43) - That was this has been featured on an episode of how I Met Your Mother, but it also was an experience for me. So I am obviously, if you're watching the YouTubes not in my usual setup this week., we are in Texas, where my wife is from, where I met her when we were working out here before we moved to New Mexico., this story doesn't take place in Texas, but the friend who it involves lives in Texas, and we're actually planning to see him on our way back to Albuquerque here in a few days, which will be a good time because it's,, you know, meeting one of the. I think we haven't seen his daughter since, like, I don't know, we moved and have never met his son. So, getting to meet all the things from your friends. But let's get in the way back machine. We're going to leave Texas and go back to Manhattan, Kansas. And at K-State there is a very wonderful bar district called Aggie Ville, and it's named Aggie Ville because at one point we were the Kansas State Aggies were in school.

Joey (00:04:43) - We've never won a national title in any major sport, and people love to make fun of us for that. But you know what? We have won a lot of national titles in crop judging and farming. We are farmers., so again, Aggie fills the bar district and after. You know, a, you know, standard Thursday night in Abbeville during college. You know, we. All decided that we just really needed to buy a bar.

Hannah (00:05:12) - Wow. By a whole bar.

Joey (00:05:14) - By a whole bar. Because when you're 22 years old and you're living in the college town, what do you want to do more? Then own the bar, that you're going to be spending all of your time and money at anyways.

Hannah (00:05:27) - I mean, it's not a crazy idea. No., there's some logic behind that.

Joey (00:05:32) - We didn't get very far in the business plan because, you know.

Hannah (00:05:37) - You're 22 and we're 22.

Joey (00:05:39) - And like the plan started at the bar and then continued on the walk home and then continued as we, you know.

Joey (00:05:48) - Maybe had another round or two at home after the bar. Sorry, mom, this happened. I was over 21. This happened, and then, you know, we just sort of would, would talk about it time and time again, but it never really went anywhere because the reality is we all moved to different places. But, it really was a fun type of conversation to just sort of sit there and think about, you know, again, what I always think about with business is you just want to do it with people you like and people you care about. And, you know, if you're able to do something fun with your best friends and you do it to where you know if you do it correctly and you set the right things in place and know who's doing what, and create lanes to where you don't have your best friendship turn into an absolute nightmare., it can be a really great thing. And that's something that, you know, I thought was really interesting about,, our guests today, Kyle Gears, learning a little bit more about how he kind of ventured away from you know, the traditional accounting path at what is, I guess Grant Thornton is a big six firm, so a very large firm to doing something completely different with a friend of his from when he got started in, in public accounting.

Joey (00:07:03) - So I thought that was a really interesting thing of like, man, this guy actually did the thing that I always kind of joked about doing. I thought that was kind of cool.

Hannah (00:07:11) - , we had to quote, call. It was just what? How did how did he put it? Just two bros doing some consultants.

Joey (00:07:17) - At the beginning, which again, is every time I think about like, man, what would you want to do? Just dudes doing consulting. That's fine. Yeah, yeah, it's all good.

Hannah (00:07:26) - I love it. I think our listeners are really going to enjoy this episode, so, definitely take a listen. I hope you'll get some laughs out of it like we did. And of course, if you have any questions for Kyle, I think you probably will. By the end of the episode, he'll tell you how to find him.

Joey (00:07:42) - Yeah. And that's something, you know, I, I have a challenge for myself to kind of get a little bit more involved and shoot some messages over to Kyle on, on LinkedIn and just talk a little bit more because it's something I'm not great at it.

Joey (00:07:53) - I'm not I'm the world's worst millennial LinkedIn there. I'll be the first one to sit there and say it. I'm a terrible millennial. I'm horrible at social media unless I'm talking about K-State football or baseball, in which case I've got a lot of hot takes. But, you know, please, please, please, if you want to, if you're interested or have anything you want to say to to him or Hannah myself, please reach out to us. We'd love to talk with you a little bit more and answer your questions and provide some guidance, because, you know, it's important to be able to talk to people in a low stakes way about what this business is like and how to navigate your way through it. So hope you all really enjoy the episode. We sure did. I think, you know, when I was kind of doing some, some research beforehand just to kind of get to know your story a little bit, Kyle, and kind of looking at sort of some of the things there.

Joey (00:08:40) - There was a piece of your path that really intrigued me, and I kind of wanted to gauge everybody's thoughts on this before we dive into like, a real question, but I'm curious whether you would agree or disagree with this statement., one of the things that I was told a lot when I was a kid was, oh, go get your accounting degree, because even if you don't end up doing accounting.. You'll still have the knowledge and it will be useful.. And as you've kind of moved like out of the technical accounting space and more into like consulting on teaching other people how to do the correct accounting and that type of stuff. Do you feel like that's been a true statement for you, or is are you still doing like a lot of daily kind of day to day stuff where you're using your actual debits and credits accounting knowledge?

Kyle (00:09:32) - Yeah. It's funny. If you had asked me that question, you know, the Kyle that just came, what came into the career, right. The it would be like no 100% accounting.

Kyle (00:09:41) - You know, it's you can only use it for this specific path and you know that. That's it., you know, the longer that, you know, we continue on the craziest thing and I've started seeing some of those similar posts, things on like LinkedIn and I actually like agree a lot with them because it's kind of wild to think that, you know, you start and actually where my journey was, was, you know, starting an audit and, you know, spent about five years there. And what it was a learning experience, right? It was like to see all these different areas of business, business like that was happening. And, you know, all of a sudden, you know, you get to decide, hey, what areas of the business do I want to, you know, jump into and what do I do? I want to be part of. And, you know, now we go and, you know, we work with even like small businesses, right? Like I'm an accountant by trade, but like, we can act as that, like CFO.

Kyle (00:10:30) - And you know, that's a huge thing, a huge jump that most people wouldn't even think about. You know, between being a founder, being a CFO, you know, whatever you want to be, you know, the numbers. And that's something that not a lot of business owners know or people with other degrees, you know, you having that understanding of what the numbers mean is so applicable for so many different areas. And so, you know, I would totally agree with that., like start with the accounting degree is probably one of the best areas that you can start with., obviously I have a pretty heavy bias for saying that, but, you know, I think it's a it's a really good path.

Joey (00:11:08) - Go for it, Hannah.

Hannah (00:11:09) - Oh, no. No, I was going to say we talk about this a lot with our guests. Is that especially as you come in out of a college, you're faced with the question of tax or audit that seems to be like these two really big buckets that, especially professors and people in our industry tend to try to push us towards.

Hannah (00:11:24) - So, it sounds like you went towards one of those and it sounds like audit was the one that you chose. But I love that you mentioned that you learned a lot about what facet of the business that you wanted to be a part of in that, and I think it's so easy whenever you're in the just in the grind in that role, especially in your first year to in the first few years, really to not be able to see past the grind for what you can learn in that situation. So, that being said, if you could go back and tell yourself, your younger selves something while you were in that role, like what? What would that be? Especially knowing what you know now?

Kyle (00:11:58) - Yeah, I mean, I think so. So, for me, I think I had the right mentality going into it. So, I'm an optimist by nature. And so, you know, I think that introduced a lot of curiosity right out the gate to say, hey, you know, there's a reason behind this.

Kyle (00:12:11) - You know, I don't see it yet but you know, I know, I know, I know something's going to come out of it. Right? And I know it's not going to be just kind of this grind for from here until eternity., you know, I think if there was one thing that I would tell myself is just to start picking up some other, you know, outside skills, right, with that idea that, you know, it's not just accounting, it's not just audit, it's not just tax that you're going to be in for the rest of your life. Right? Like start thinking about future skills. And in my mind, like if I had taken another like just even some 100 ones on like computer science or data science or something like that, I feel like I would be, you know, we're doing that now in a pretty major way. But, you know, I think you can set yourself so far ahead as an entering accountant if you're starting to pick up some of these skills.

Kyle (00:12:55) - Right, because that's where the profession is going. And it's important to know that stuff.

Joey (00:13:00) - Yeah, I think back to like, and it predates both Hannah and Mai's time. But I've heard the stories about sort of how summit got started with, you know, how it was entering the consulting space. We had one CFO in particular, a guy named Jake Grimm, who is our not exactly know what his title is. He's, our resident data scientist data guy. I think maybe chief technology officer might be his name. I might be giving him too much of a title there. Anyways, what separates Jake from everybody was he was an accountant, a CFO by trade. But he had that lovely curiosity for like, is this the right software? Is this the right program for us to be using? And that's really, he I think he carved out a really great niche for himself at our company, but also kind of helped us carve out a great niche in, in our industry, which is a lot of people were saying like, what's the most efficient tech stack for us to use? You know, what's the most efficient? You know, do we need a full ERP system or should we can we cobble things together and use this for that and that for that? And qvo be the base, like what's the what's the best way to do it? And without Jake, I'm not sure we would have really been able to grow in the way we did because he did have that skill set and curiosity kind of put those pieces together.

Joey (00:14:12) - So, I completely agree with your assessment there that like do some other things like take a marketing class like most CPAs are terrible at marketing themselves. Yeah, we're really bad at it because it just doesn't work with our brains. So take a couple of marketing classes, take some other things, some management leadership classes to kind of round out that skill set so that when an opportunity maybe to advance in your organization or go off and start your own organization, which I know is something y'all did that I want to dive into later in, in the show. But when that opportunity comes, you're ready. Like you've got the skill sets ready to go.

Kyle (00:14:49) - Yeah, yeah, I mean absolutely. So, I'm kind of laughing when you mentioned pick up a few of marketing classes, you know, before you go, so accountant. Right. I didn't even think that. I didn't even know what marketing was like until I, we reached out and started our firm and said, oh crap, we need to, you know, go out there and actually learn what marketing is and how it goes.

Kyle (00:15:09) - And, you know, now, like, I wish I had that, you know, under my belt so much earlier, you know, especially when you are thinking of starting something new. Right? Because if you're a founder, like you're a marketer, right? No matter what. Like if you have an expertise. And so yeah, I totally agree. You know it's funny. It's and it's one of the things that we really build into you know our firm. Right? So I got really lucky having a, co-founder who's very deep into the tech side. It sounds a lot like, you know, the person at your firm where, you know, he's super focused on how you can cobble together that tech stack. Stack. Right. And even more so, like, how can you do that for, you know, businesses without having to spend millions of dollars to do an ERP implementation? There's a lot of times where we recommend to, you know, folks that are like, should I upgrade to an ERP? We say, you know, probably not.

Kyle (00:15:59) - Right? Like, do you want to pay that very large bill to, you know, do something that you can probably piece together,, you know, with an existing Microsoft 365 package, right? There's so much you can do with that. And then we actually encourage a lot of our people to take time to focus on some of those areas, things like, you know, power BI or Power Automate or, you know, that's all just within what you have today. Right? Of all of us, Excel's using Excel accountants, using Excel on,, you know, Microsoft Office.

Joey (00:16:32) - Well, it's you know, I to your point about ERP is like, I know I've probably worked at a place like this too. I've worked at a place where we had that massive ERP system, like guys we're using like 10% of this. Yeah, like we have this souped up car that can go 150 miles an hour, and we're driving it 25 down the down the back road. And that's all we ever use it for.

Joey (00:16:51) - So it's a great point, like having that skill to consult about stuff that is I mean it's related to accounting. It's not debits and credits, but it's related to the system. That's such a great, great insight about like where you can kind of carve out some value for yourselves and for your clients is kind of touching on that tech stack.

Hannah (00:17:09) - Yeah. I love that you brought up consulting Joey, because that's a lot of what Joey and I do in our roles as CFOs with the company. And I, like you, started out in audit, and if you'd have told me when I started out in audit that this would be where my career is at this point, I'd been like, you are crazy. There is no way that's relevant. There is no way that that's where the trajectory of this industry is going to go. So I love that you've found yourself in this journey, and I want to hear about that. In terms of how you started out working with a global accounting firm and then got to where you're at, focusing more on this advisory side of what we do as accountants.

Kyle (00:17:46) - Yeah, absolutely. I feel like, earlier Hannah and earlier, Kyle would have been really good friends because I think we have this exact same mentality going into it.

Joey (00:17:54) - Yeah. Yes.

Kyle (00:17:56) - , yeah. So I mean, just to kind of chat on my story a little bit. Was, you know, started a,, you know, graduated from college and started at a large public accounting firm. Right. So it was, for us, it was Grant Thornton., I was I'm based in Los Angeles. And so, you know, started in their office and started in the audit department,, you know, going in, I feel like. And I feel like this is very common for, for a lot of folks is, you know, you go in and you're probably a lot of people will say, okay, well, I'm gung ho. I'm either going only going to do two years or I'm going, I'm a lifer, right? Like I'm going to be a partner.

Kyle (00:18:27) - I'm going to check all the boxes. I'm going to be the best at the top of this firm. And that's where I started. Right? So it was like, yeah, no matter what, like this is going to be my path. You know, I'm going to be an audit partner. And, you know, that's just kind of with, with lack of knowledge of what else is out there. You know, that's where you go. And so, you know, that was the mentality that I took into my first, you know, five years in audit. Right? It was going in, it was just learning as much as I could. Like I said, I think there's a it's very easy to get kind of bogged down with the heavy hours when you're in audit and to say, okay, well, guess I gotta plug through this task, right? And it's hard to take a step back and be like, okay, well, why am I doing it right? Or asking your senior manager, whoever it is, to say, hey, just like, you know, do you mind kind of like giving me the background on this and what's happening and being in a room and hearing those conversations happen because that was like, the most valuable part of my career.

Kyle (00:19:22) - Right? Was like actually getting into some of those teams that are telling you what's happening and like, you know, why the business is doing well or not doing well. And you know why they took on this loan, right? And so,, you know, as you go and I and I do I'm, I'm biased towards audit. I'll admit that right here and now. But you know, as you do progress and you start taking on more aspects of the audit, I mean, there's a ton of stuff in there, right? It's like you're looking at it controls, you're looking at taxes, you're looking at, you know, how valuations happen. It's you know it's really so far beyond just the debits and credits. And you know does this number match to that that you really get a good sense of understanding. Like everything that goes into a business honestly. You know and so that really like struck me. It's why I really liked what I did for about five years. And, you know, you get to see what you do like.

Kyle (00:20:15) - And I came to find that, you know, I'm kind of that that nerdy accountant that likes the technical accounting side of things. Right? I love, you know, researching the guidance. I love, like, applying it and seeing how he can make that work. And it was kind of funny. At the end, I realized what I didn't like was audit like auditing, right? And so I made that decision after about five years, had the good fortune to kind of take a step back and say, okay, maybe I don't want to do this for the next 15 years. What is that next step? And there's a few things that kind of toyed in my head, I'll be honest. I applied to the FBI at one point to see, you know, if there's a path.

Joey (00:20:50) - For white, white collar crimes, I think I think every accountant dreams of being a white collar crime FBI agent because I did the same thing.

Kyle (00:20:59) - Yeah, it was awesome. Right? Like, yeah.

Kyle (00:21:02) - Get out. Go, go out there and battle, you know, white collar crime. Let's do it. So, you know, talk about super auditing in that case but, yeah. So, it's like you just kind of starting to weigh those options. I think that's a really was an important step because it's like you could continue down that path for a long time and say, okay, well, this is, you know, the path that's set for me. Or you can take a step back and say, okay, let's reevaluate. What do I like? What do I hate? You know, do I see myself doing this for the next 15 years? And that's a really, you know, important moment to have so that you can start thinking about going like what that next path is. And so, you know, I did that. I did the FBI thing for a while. It was pretty deep in the process. And then, as luck would have it, you know, Grant Thornton at that time was starting a technical accounting advisory group.

Kyle (00:21:49) - And it just kind of happened by coincidence, you know, where you saw it and said, hey, I'm interested. And, you know, two weeks later you're on internal interviews and, you know, then then we kind of set up a start date, right? So just kind of with that moment, had the opportunity to, you know, figure out what I enjoyed most, you know, find that path that you want, that you want to be going towards. Right. And, transitioned into the accounting advisory services team over at Grant Thornton.

Joey (00:22:17) - So you started it? Started an audit. Kicked around the FBI thing ended up on the technical accounting side. How different was that? And for timeframe purposes, mid 20 tens, roughly when Grant Thornton starts rolling out that advisory piece, or a little bit more recently than that.

Kyle (00:22:35) - Yeah, I would say mid to kind of like the second half, I would say. So I think I joined back in 2018. They probably started up in 2016, 2017, which makes.

Joey (00:22:44) - I mean, that timeline makes sense to me because that's when we kind of started noticing it too, in terms of like, okay, this is we're starting to realize that, you know, either some of these, you know, kind of nuts and bolts, things are either starting to be automated. Like, I remember somebody coming in and telling us about, like, the first iteration of an AI bot that you could run that would, like, do your bank recs overnight in like 2018, 2019. I was like, yeah, this is cool, but I'm never going to do that. Now we've got AI bots, like kind of getting ready to do everything for us. Yeah. What was the what was the difference like moving into that technical accounting group versus like the nuts and bolts grind of an audit and kind of what that audit track looked like.

Kyle (00:23:26) - Yeah. So there was a few things there. And I think the, the one thing that I found immediately was, you know, you're doing a lot of the same stuff, right? Like you are really just on the other side, you know, you were you were performing an audit previously, but now you're helping a company get ready for an audit.

Kyle (00:23:45) - Right? So it's a lot of the same things of going in, you know, seeing how it works, identifying adjustments that have to happen. Right. So I like vividly remember,, you know, one time when, you know, I was sitting, you know, at a cubicle with someone, you know, we were doing like a balance sheet scrub and like saying, hey, man, look, I like this is what is wrong. This is what we need to do to adjust. You know, we'll add this to the list of adjustments that need to happen. And, you know, the guy just kind of sighed for a second and I was like, okay, here it comes. You know, here's the two,, middle fingers coming to me that I'm used to, and he stopped me and was like, thank you. Like, thank you for that. And I it blew my mind because it's the exact same thing that you were doing. But it's from a different perspective.

Kyle (00:24:28) - Right? It's like you're kind of on that side of getting them ready. And I think a lot of us in audit, like we understand the importance of what we do. Right. As an auditor, you understand that you really are trying to make a company better, it's hard to articulate that to companies. And so being on the advisory side of that and really kind of coming in as that, you know, confidant that that advisor, I think you get a lot of, you know, there's a lot of value there that that I really appreciated first and foremost. Right?

Joey (00:24:58) - Yeah. I think that that audit the auditor relationship should be. It should be. It should be a teamwork, collaborative type relationship between client and auditor, and that for whatever reason, it never really seems to happen that way. Yeah. Which is funny because we're all trying to get to the same place, which is we're presenting these things fairly., it never really seemed to be that way, though. Hannah, what was did you experience that a lot when you were working an audit where it's like, you know, you're obviously trying to get the client to the right spot, but they, for whatever reason, don't want to know exactly.

Hannah (00:25:34) - It's almost like we were, like, working at odds against each other. And that was never like my intent whenever I came into those relationships was to try to like, I was like, no, like, I want to help you. Like, I want to talk about this. Like, I don't work through this together. Like we're a team. Like we're going to get through this together in that way. So I developed a lot of personal relationships with people whenever I was in that position as well. And so, that honestly, I think was also very good for me now in this role in an advisory as well, because I got to exercise that muscle in that way. I think it lent itself well to what we do now and advisory, because I was able to establish that pretty early on and see, like the importance of that connection and relationship and just how to talk to people too, in terms of how to communicate that, hey, we're on the same team. We're trying to get to the same goal.

Hannah (00:26:20) - I want to get this done. As much as you want to get this done to at the end of the day, and I want to go home. So,, for me, though, I did not love audit, like I realized pretty early on, I was like, this is not going to be for me long term. And for me, that was a hard, emotional thing for me to go through because I was like, I'd had my mind set on it for so long, like went into it like poured a lot into it. So, to shift in that way was very grounding for me. And it was just like, whoa, like, what do I want out of my career? Like, what is my next step going to be? So I love it. It sounds like you didn't have as much of that because you were just, like, so open-minded about learning in that way. And I think, that's a really great message to our audience, especially as young professionals in their career too, is to keep that open mind in terms of what you can learn, where you're at.

Hannah (00:27:08) - You also brought up a point that Joey and I have talked about on the podcast as well, in terms of asking the why behind what you're doing and getting in the room with people and understanding how it applies to the business, not just doing the task. That can be really intimidating for somebody early in their career to ask a superior in terms of the why and to get in those rooms. But I think what I know, I didn't necessarily even realize early in my career that now in the role that I'm in, I would welcome somebody to come to me and ask that question and bring them into the conversation. So do you find that now where you're at in your career, that because of what you've what you went through, you're more open to having the more people in the room to pour into people?

Kyle (00:27:55) - Oh my God, I like I. All I do is ask questions, right? Like at this point there's no you know, I think you lose a lot of I don't know if it's called ego or whatever it may be, but you know, when I started, honestly, like the first year, right? You're terrified.

Kyle (00:28:09) - You're like, if I say ask something and it's going to come out really dumb, right? And so you sit there and, well, I'll figure it out myself. And, you know, three weeks later you're working on something that should have like spent four hours if you had asked something. And that was a big learning point for me., so, I mean, all we do, all I do personally is ask for feedback or ask for questions or like a better understanding for whoever's involved, you know, no matter what level of the team it is. But also, you know, we do a really good job of, you know, making sure that, you know, anybody that is on the team, let's say it's a, you know, an entry level,, you know, team member, giving them the Y, right? Like giving them the understanding because I think it, you know, it not only helps them understand, like what's going on better, but, you know, they get more enjoyment out of it because it's like, okay, I can actually understand why I'm doing this.

Kyle (00:28:58) - , and so, you know, that's totally agree with you when it's, when it, when it's, you know, having that ability to talk and then the one, the one other thing that you mentioned that I thought was really cool is. Yeah, you know, like, I not everybody's going to come in and be like, okay, cool. I'm gonna, you know.

Joey (00:29:13) - Learn everything.

Kyle (00:29:14) - I can in this, this,, you know, profession. It's not all that common, I'd say. So, you know, your mention of. That's a really difficult moment to have of, you know. Well, okay, well, where do I go now? And I think there's so many people that, you know, they get to that place and they just realize that, well, I just don't want to be here. Right. And so they make a quick jump somewhere. Whoever comes out. Right. Those recruiters are waiting, for, for a really good opportunity.

Kyle (00:29:42) - And, you know, you jump out, you go somewhere, a little more blindly than you should. And so, you know, I think what I've always told people is, hey, I totally get it. You know, when I was back in mentoring, I was like, I totally understand if this is not the path for you, this is where you want to be. What I will say is take that step, take that moment and say, like, what is the thing that I enjoyed in here? Is there anything in here that I enjoyed because it is so much easier going to something that, you know, you at least kind of have some interest and enjoyment in doing and not saying, hey, I got to get out of here. I gotta, you know, get away from the hours and fall into something. It's and I'm sure you learn something everywhere you go. But, you know, maybe it's not in the areas that you wanted to learn right before you move on elsewhere.

Joey (00:30:28) - And there's I think back to, you know, specifically when I joined summit, which eventually became Summit Virtual CFO by Anders, as we've gone through the merger. You know, it took I mean, it was about a year long process from when I first started talking with Adam Hale and Jamie, and the kind of the upper, you know, kind of leadership team at summit from when I first started talking to them to when I joined the firm, was almost a year. And, you know, it started with just conversations about like, I see this here. I have a friend who works here like, I see what you're doing. Let's talk about it. And it took I had to sit with it for ten months before I was finally like, okay, I've bought in. I've kept thinking about this thing for ten months. If I don't try this, I'm going to hate myself forever for not trying this. But and maybe there's a maybe there's an element of privilege there where I kind of did have that ability to like, I wasn't so miserable at what I was doing that I like, had to get out right away.

Joey (00:31:27) - But the thing that you said there that I really kind of thought back with me was like, yeah, I really did get to sit there and just spend ten months, like thinking about, well, what would it look like if I did Virtual CFO services? Like what would it look like if I was doing more of the strategic driving of the business as opposed to the nuts and bolts, like, is that something I want to do? Let's think about my current task list. Like, do I enjoy that part of it more than the other things? Well, yeah, I guess I do. Okay, so this is a good thing to start going down and just kind of sitting with that for a while and thinking about it was really, really beneficial. And it set me up for, for success here because. I kind of I was more okay with what I was getting myself into than if I just jump blindly and said, well, it has to be better than what I'm doing now.

Joey (00:32:17) - Or else.

Kyle (00:32:19) - Yeah, yeah. Joey, sounds like you did some serious due diligence over there. I commend you, sir, on...

Joey (00:32:25) - You know, I probably drove the guys nuts., if we're being honest, because, you know, it was it was never something where I was like, I don't like these people. I think Adam Hale tried to scare me, which he admitted after the fact. He was like, oh, yeah, I tried to do that with everybody. I try to scare them away because if they really want to do this, but you know, it, it was one of those things where I just kept thinking about it and it was always in the back of my mind. And those are the things, I think. And maybe it goes back to our audit training, where we go back to think about like, if something doesn't make sense or something still kind of creeping in the back of your mind, go explore it, go check it out.

Joey (00:33:03) - And that was, you know, it was a long process, but ultimately, we made it in the end. Yeah, yeah, definitely some serious due diligence. Yeah I.

Kyle (00:33:11) - Love that. And also, you know it's being able to have that and like you said right. It's you know there's different situations where you had that ability to take the time to, you know, really process, you know, but even for someone, I totally get it, right. Like, you're working long hours. You don't like. The first thought that comes into my mind is, I don't have time to think about this. Like, I just got to, like, focus on the task at hand., but, you know, just taking some time, like, just being, like, okay. On the weekend, right? Like a Saturday or something. Let me take like 5 or 10 minutes. Just kind of bring it up again, think about it. Right. And then, you know, it's then you are doing that that due diligence, you know, it's okay.

Kyle (00:33:48) - Has it changed from last time I talked about it or, you know, is it is there something new that I should think about? Oh, do I actually do I actually enjoy the work that I do? And, you know, maybe it's not as important now, but, you know, the fact that you keep asking those questions and that just pushes you closer and closer to the right decision, I feel like.

Joey (00:34:08) - Well, I think it's, you know, it's also good to just have conversations with people, right? Like, I'm sure you know, if somebody who was listening to this said, man, I really enjoyed listening to Kyle talk about what he does, and I don't know if I'm ready to do it yet, but I just want to ask Kyle some questions. And they reached out to you on LinkedIn. Like, is that something that in your position, you love to see that type of stuff and just are happy to talk to folks about what it is you do and how you do it?

Kyle (00:34:34) - Yeah, absolutely.

Kyle (00:34:36) - Like hit me up, please. I think I have LinkedIn posts every once in a while. Just say, hey, ask me a question, right? Like I'm not going to bill you for it or anything like that, but it's, you know, just, just I think the people that are inquisitive and that are reaching out and that are asking questions like, that's a really good trait for, you know, anyone, right, to say, okay, this person's really thinking through things. They want to get information. They're not just going to sit there and try to figure it out all on their own. So, yeah, absolutely. Hit me up any time, you know.

Joey (00:35:05) - I call it the, the job equivalent of, like, going to get a cup of coffee, right? Like, it's so low stakes, but it's like, just ask the question. Like, I encourage young people all the time. Like, if you see somebody and you're like? What that person's doing is interesting to me.

Joey (00:35:19) - Yeah. Like most of the people that I've run across in my life, they always want to answer questions about themselves. Like if someone, you know, someone were to ask me, like, Joey, I want you to tell me your life story. Like I will not shut up about it. Like I will just talk and talk and talk because I love talking and not everybody's like that. But most folks who are, especially those of us who are in the service industry, you know, that's part of what we're doing in service-oriented businesses is talking. And that's it's an, to your point, an underrated skill for people to just be like, I just want to have a conversation with this person and there's no stakes. There's no quid pro quo. There's no expectation of anything other than we're just two people having a conversation, and maybe it goes somewhere and maybe it doesn't, you know, 2 or 3 years down the road, but have the conversation and network and talk in a way that's, you know, again, if it comes across as someone's trying to sell me something, I'm not going to want to have that conversation more often than not.

Joey (00:36:14) - But if someone's just genuinely inquisitive and say, I'm like, I just don't understand what you do and I'm curious, tell me about it. I'll have that conversation a hundred times out of 100.

Kyle (00:36:24) - Absolutely. Totally agree. Right. It's you know, everybody likes to talk one. We all like to talk about ourselves and to, like, we do want to pass on the knowledge that comes our way. And so, yeah, I would totally agree, that there's so many folks that you know, are always going to be out there and ready to ask answer questions., as long as it's, you know, a really genuine question that's coming.

Hannah (00:36:45) - And speaking of due diligence and asking questions, I know that you we in terms of talking about your journey, we've gotten to the point where you're still at Grant Thornton, but you're obviously not there now, and you've decided to do something, something different. So, what was that due diligence process like for you in terms of that's a pretty big move in terms of starting your own firm and really doing something different and branching out.

Hannah (00:37:08) - Like that's a lot of risk involved in that as well. So, I'd love to hear from you like what you went through to get to that point.

Kyle (00:37:14) - Yeah, absolutely. So as soon as I jumped into, you know, the accounting advisory group at Grant Thornton, and it was right at the same time where I kind of hit the manager level. So, and we had this beautiful thing where it was like a relatively new group. I was actually the first person on the West Coast out there, you know, as part of the group, as a manager. And so, it's like all the, you know, there's no partners supporting out there. And so, you really get out of your comfort zone really quickly., and I am so fortunate and so grateful for that. You know, for me, I was ready for that. I wanted to say, okay, I want to learn new things. Right? I'm sure I'm going to learn all this information about technical accounting.

Kyle (00:37:54) - And I did, but I also learned so many other areas of going out and trying to win work, right, of going out and trying to recruit, trying to build a team and trying to help put together some policies for this really strong. But, you know, young and growing group that needs to kind of start setting some, some processes in place. And so, it was an awesome, moment of being getting really comfortable with being really uncomfortable. Right? And that is probably what launched me, you know, from where I was at that point was, you know, being able to go into a room. And, you know, I still remember a few times when I went into a, you know, a really complex accounting meeting with, you know, the CFO of this company. And, you know, everybody's gathered around this table, you know, it's me and, you know, maybe the partner behind me. And it's like, okay, well, I guess I'm going to be the one that's presenting, you know, today.

Kyle (00:38:47) - And it's terrifying. Like, you're the only thing you're thinking about is how bad it's going to get botched. Right? And so, you know, you do that and, hopefully you have somebody that's supporting you in that endeavor. And I did like the partners were really good at Grant Thornton, but, you know, it was, you just got to stumble through it, you know, a few times. Right. And I think as soon as you do that, you say, okay, well, that wasn't awful, right? That wasn't the end of the world. And here's what I can do to make myself better. It's all those new, those uncomfortable experiences that just kind of continued propelling me to the point where we get, you know, three years later and say, okay, so the things that I really do enjoy, right? The selling this building a team, you know, this, this, you know, managing projects and people, why don't we go out and do this for ourselves, right.

Kyle (00:39:36) - So, you know, it was during Covid, right? And so that kind of, you know, there was some aspects where you miss the people side of the firm and, you know, that kind of accelerated the process. But, you know, it was myself and I reconnected with my partner, John Penrose. And so, you know, we both kind of made the decision. We said, hey, we think we can do this ourselves, you know, let's, let's, let's make this jump. Right. And I think with the mindset of being like, well, there's going to be a lot of unknowns. There's going to be a lot of new things that we don't know, but, you know, we're ready to take them on. I think that was really just like the key thing that pushed us out to get started and you know, start zeroed in in February of 2021.

Joey (00:40:16) - Did that the Covid accelerate that or did it? Did it hinder that? Because I when in my mind I was like, man, what a perfect moment in history to like really just dive into this whole like, well, you know, we don't know anything right now, so we might as well just take the plunge now.

Kyle (00:40:33) - Yeah, yeah.

Kyle (00:40:34) - I'm a big people person. I love being around people, networking with people, grouping up with people. And so, you know like my favorite part of being at Grant Thornton was like the happy hours, the parties, like going and getting coffee with people. Right. And so, you know, I was always, you know before Covid was the one that was in the office, you know, multiple days of the week. And even though everything could be done remote. Right. But, it was so nice to be able to, you know, go out and connect with people. And so for me, it was a lot of the community there at Grant Thornton. And so that was what kept me for a long time., and, you know, I think what Covid did was, you know, you kind of you, you lose that same, you know, you're not going out to happy hours. You're not, you know, having get togethers.

Kyle (00:41:16) - Right. And so, it kind of takes away the people aspect a little bit like sure, we had, you know, plenty of virtual happy hours and things like that to catch up with everyone. But, you know, you kind of lose the, you know, the, the people aspect and you start to say, okay, well, again, again, I had that moment where I took a step back and said, I'm looking straight at the job that I'm doing right now. Is that what I want to be doing? And, you know, 15 years? And I think the answer there was no. Right. I think I want to try and do something else on my own, on my own terms. And, you know, that was really so I would say that Covid was kind of the accelerator there for having us make the jump.

Hannah (00:41:54) - I feel like it was for me whenever I was looking for the position that I have now. Shortly. I found it shortly after Covid, but for me, it changed the way that I looked at the work that I did because for me, it just proved like the world can still survive all working remote.

Hannah (00:42:07) - I will be just fine. Like I'm like you. Like I really love like the connections and the people and the people that I got to interact with through the job that I had at the time. But it also was not the end of the world, because we do have technology that still allows me to be fulfilled in that way, in this role. So, I knew post-Covid and having kids at that point that it was really important for me in the role that I was looking for, that it be fully remote because I knew that it existed at the time. It kind of felt like a needle in a haystack, but I knew that it existed. I knew that I could still give value to a company, and also still be the present mom that I wanted to be for my kids in that. So, for me, like, Covid really altered. Like how I look at this role and like what we do as accountants. And I think it's awesome that us here at summit, like we were ahead of that, like pre-COVID, like we were already distributed.

Hannah (00:42:55) - So I think it's really awesome. But I know for me personally, it was that moment wherein I realized that I could still do this and be successful in my career and not have to sacrifice being with my kids whenever I need to be with my kids. So how would you say the journey has been now since you've started your own firm, in terms of where you're at now versus when you started, and where you plan to be in the future with your firm?

Kyle (00:43:22) - Yeah. So, you know, I'll touch on kind of what you mentioned there because I really like that but, you know, we started and we continue to be we're a fully remote firm, so we got folks, you know, here in Southern California, we've got people in Nevada, Colorado., and so, you know, it is that, you know, and I think we've found some really awesome talent from people like yourself, Hannah, that's, you know, say, like, I can do amazing things.

Kyle (00:43:48) - Why do I need to, you know, not why would it? Should I only be able to work and not spend time with my kids? Right. And so, we've found two people on our team who are moms and are working part time with us. So, one's working 20 hours, one's working 30 a week, and it's like, and they're and they're superstars, right. Like they do so well, and I'm and I can only imagine like pretty similar to you know what you've seen is like okay, I got to focus on this task. I got to be really effective at it. And, and it's worked so well, but it's finding that balance of like, okay, fully remote. But like every quarter or so we try to get together and have that that FaceTime. Right. So, it's that it's that happy mix between the two. And I know every firm has a different formula of it, but yeah, to your point of kind of where we started. Right. It was just honestly, it was just two dudes doing consulting, right? It was me and, and John and we were we started it and we said, hey, you know, as long as we can pay the bills for this first year, like, we are good, like we are, you know, better than we were before.

Kyle (00:44:47) - And so that's where we set off. And so, we, you know, I was doing my technical accounting thing. John's really good on the outsourced accounting controller side of things. And so, we're a pretty good duo to you know, really help out clients in a lot of different ways. And it was probably about halfway through 2021. Where was that? Oh my gosh. Like we I think I think we can do something with this. We could grow this in a major way if we wanted to. And, you know, so by the end of 2021, we had started, hiring. We had our first hire in November. And, you know, to this day, we're up to a team of eight, which is awesome. We're continuing to look to grow the team as, as we go in the into 2024., and, you know, we've started we started with what we know, but we never wanted to just be, you know, an accounting firm.

Kyle (00:45:37) - So, you know, we had a big push on to, you know, how what tech stack do you use. Right. How do we make things. How do we automate things? How do we use technology to make, you know, lives better for ourselves and for our clients? And so, you know, the more that we work, the more that we're trying to inject that technology into what we do right? Maybe it's doing some type of digital transformation services. That's one thing that we do, but also just, you know, the existing,, services that we have for accounting, like, how do I use ChatGPT, how do I use Power Automate or by to, you know, provide additional value for our team where, you know, we don't need to be doing things manually all the time. So, you know, where we were two years ago of, you know, not even knowing how to start a firm or where to go or, you know, do marketing.

Kyle (00:46:26) - You know, I think we've grown in a crazy way of just tackling the new things as they come. And, you know, we're continuing to find different areas that just kind of play well with, you know, what we're trying to do when it comes to technology, you know, and, and things like that.

Joey (00:46:43) - I think that's great because it's when I think about like how in my mind, when I thought about doing something, it always does start with two dudes doing, doing consulting., which just makes me laugh because I'm like, man, I what would I be getting myself into if I just like, if my best friend and I just decided we were going to go do some consulting, which we've, you know, throughout the years have kind of thrown out, I think we're going to just do a I think we're going to stick to a podcast. Hannah.

Hannah (00:47:10) - I mean, are you really friends if you don't come up with a business idea together? That's what I'm thinking.

Joey (00:47:14) - That's what I'm thinking too. Yeah. But it's I love that you guys have kind of you started with that, and then you kind of realized like, oh, we have something here. Let's start building some infrastructure. And it's, I love the premise of remote work for this type of thing because a, you know, you can expand your reach so much further than your than your resources would typically allow. But, you know, if you're doing it right, and I think it sounds like you are doing it right, you're having that nice mix of like FaceTime to, you know, still staying remote like Hannah. We've only ever, like, actually met each other in person. Like what, 3 or 4 times. Yeah, yeah. But it's like every time I see Hannah, it's like I'm seeing my best friend again from a long time ago, and it never really feels awkward. Or for us, it's just like, oh, hey, there's Hannah, you know, and we're getting to spend that time.

Joey (00:48:07) - And that's such an important thing to invest in as a, as a company and as a team. Like we tell our, our distributed clients all the time, like, look, whatever you are going to spend on rent, don't you see that as a savings? Reinvest that into your team through retreats or fun things that you guys are doing together in those types of things? It's okay. In fact, that's a better way to spend it. Yeah, than just on a building.

Kyle (00:48:31) - Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I'm not going to sit here and pretend like it's not an expensive thing to do to, you know, fly out to a location. Right. But it's such a good investment for what it is. Right. It's like you actually get to see the team bond with each other. Right? And that works so much better of, you know, friendships get made right, like when people are just easy. It's so much easier to talk to each other about a problem or a situation or, you know, and so, you know...

Kyle (00:49:01) - We love that model where we're not stopping it any time soon. And I totally agree, right? Don't just don't just be remote to, you know, have cost savings like use that use what you're saving into something better.

Joey (00:49:13) - I can't, I don't know about you if you're the same way, but, you know, I was, you know, again, not to use the word, but I was doing an audit of myself, and I was thinking about, you know, I have more friends within my remote firms than I ever did in any of the other places that I worked, and I don't know why that is, but it's like I have more friends at Summit Anders than I ever did in any other place that I worked. And I'm like, that's so bizarre that it's the remote place. But I think it's also a testament to the work that, you know, as a team, we've done to build that up and make sure that we're creating opportunities for it.

Joey (00:49:50) - So I love what you said there. And what I tell my clients all the time is, look, if you don't get any actual work done at your retreats, that's fine. Yeah. You don't. You have plenty of time to get the work done. You don't need to do it. You're never going to remember the work. What you're going to remember is, you know, the hike that you took in Tucson with this person or, you know, watching your boss get on stage and sing karaoke, which has happened. We're not allowed to talk about it. They put that in our contracts that we can't talk about, talk about it. But, you know, it's happened. We've seen it. So those are the things you remember at the end of the day, not the deliverable that you cranked out together. So yeah, I love that you guys are investing in that and telling your clients to invest in it too.

Kyle (00:50:35) - Absolutely. Y'all gotta make a podcast episode about, you know what? What is happening at those things? See the CEO doing karaoke.

Kyle (00:50:44) - I'm sure people would pay for that type of entertainment.

Hannah (00:50:47) - Post retreat tell all.

Joey (00:50:49) - I like, I like my job., you know, if you ever see that. That's how you know that Joey is choosing violence or deciding to look.

Hannah (00:50:57) - Woke-up and chose violence that day. That's right. That's exactly right.

Joey (00:51:01) - We can't tell Roxanne, but I'm sure she's dying behind the scenes right now. We're going to talk about this.

Hannah (00:51:08) - Kyle, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and talking with us about your journey and what your experience has been in this industry. I think it's so valuable for our audience to hear this from all different lenses. And so, I'm so thankful that you came and joined us for that. We do like to end on just kind of a different note. And so, we want to hear from you. What is the best piece of professional advice that you've ever been given?

Kyle (00:51:35) - Ever been given? You don't always have to do everything, I guess is, you know.

Kyle (00:51:44) - This was something that I, you know, got hit with as of right now, as a founder. Right. You've got a thousand different things going on. And so, it just becomes so much clearer. But even when I was back in, back at Grant Thornton, back in audit. Right, I was, you know, you just continue to have more responsibilities, you know, dropped on you. And so, it's really hard to, you know, if you're a high performer, you know, you want to be doing everything right. Like, I can't push this away. I can't delegate this. And that's such a dangerous mentality to have. And I've seen people get to the manager level and they are the sharpest people at the firm, but they don't have that ability to, you know, delegate or you know, trust their team and hand things off. And it's, you know, they don't go any further, right? They're not there for very long, because it's so important to, you know, pick the things that you're really good at and, you know, see if you can get support for the other areas.

Kyle (00:52:40) - So in my mind, yeah, if you're going on, if you're a, you know, an A1 and A2, a senior and you're saying, I can't trust this for anybody, I would highly recommend you rethink that because, you know, it's important, especially the further up you go of, you know, being able to prioritize and,, you know, focus on the things that really are going to, you know, propel your career and,, wherever you're working.

Hannah (00:53:04) - I love that.

Joey (00:53:04) - It's great advice and it's something we talk about all the time too. It's a delegation's a skill. You've got to learn how to do it. Yeah.

Kyle (00:53:11) - And I'm still getting better at it, trust me. So.

Joey (00:53:13) - Oh me too, I fail on delegating every week, you know, just always try to get a little bit better. One week at a time.

Kyle (00:53:22) - Yeah, yeah.

Joey (00:53:25) - Well, Kyle, thanks so much for joining us. This has really been a pleasure. And for, you know, anybody in the audience who's, you know, looking to learn more about Zeroed In Consulting and maybe also just hitting you up on LinkedIn to have that, you know, you know, no strings attached conversation about what you do.

Joey (00:53:41) - How can we find out more about you and your firm?

Kyle (00:53:43) - Yeah, absolutely. So first off, as you mentioned earlier in the podcast, hit me up on LinkedIn. So, Kyle Geers, I shouldn't be too tough to find out there, but always happy to answer any questions that come in. You know, as long as, as long as it's not an offer for lead gen services, I'll probably respond but, you know, and then the other item is, go to our website. Right? www.zeroed-inconsulting.com. and you know, go take a look. You'll get a lot of information about what we do. You know, who works there. And, you know, there's a lot of opportunities there to, you know, reach out connect with us in various ways. So...

Joey (00:54:28) - Cool. Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.

Kyle (00:54:30) - Absolutely. Hannah. Joey. Thank you so much for having me. This was.

Kyle (00:54:33) - This was awesome.

Hannah (00:54:34) - Thanks, Kyle.

Outro (00:54:35) - 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.


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