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jody padar
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How CPAs Can Take Steps to Build a Utopian Firm

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Oct 26th 2017
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Accountants can take steps toward achieving a utopian firm and listening to customers is part of that transformational process, according to small firm owner Jody Padar, CPA.

Focusing on clients’ needs is one way, and at times it’s the clients who are pushing for change, said Padar, in her session Practical Ideas to Create a Utopian Firm at CCH Connections: User Conference 2017 this week.

“It’s customer-driven and you have to remind the partners that it has to be customer-driven, and that if we want to serve our customers better. It’s not an easy conversation,” she said.

Padar, who is CEO and principal of New Vision CPA Group and author of The Radical CPA: New Rules for the Future-Ready Firm, listed steps for the road to a utopian firm:

  • Goals are defined
  • Initiatives are completed despite the intense demand of your workload.
  • Extra capacity is found.
  • Firm goals are shared, and all the related parties understand priorities and possibilities.

Every little step that’s taken is another step in the transformation process, she said.

Firms should innovate and be able to adapt to changes in technology, though that’s not always the case such as with vendors’ technology not advancing as fast as CPAs want, Padar said.

“We’ll always be relevant, and we’ll always have opportunities for innovation,” she said. “Right now, I believe we’re at the point of user experience, technology and business. And we have to figure out how to make it all work together.”

“It’s how our customer wants the information delivered to them, not how we want it,” she said. "For all of you who aren’t on the cloud yet, get there because that’s the first level.”

As part of a four-person firm, she says she has the flexibility to focus on other endeavors since less than 10 percent to 20 percent of her time concerns accounting or technical work.

“It gives you so much more capacity to do bigger and better things, and to grow a business and to be a little bit more entrepreneurial that those are the successes that you have to share with the partners, to say that, ‘Look, there is cool stuff on the other side.’ ”

Padar's list of four criteria for a utopian firm:

  • A utopian firm beats any “firm of the future” because it includes a feeling of contentment and happiness.
  • Growth, technology, innovation, and happiness.
  • Talent stays for the long term, less hours are worked, and firms are still profitable.
  • Utopian is unique to each culture. 

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