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Why Female Leadership and Innovation Matter

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The changing face of the accounting industry means more professionals are seeking out jobs where the firm partners are diverse and the approach to tech is innovative. This is especially true for Rachel Fisch, chief growth officer at High Rock Accounting. Here, she discusses why she made a career change last year and what she values most about her new firm.

Mar 25th 2022
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Rachel Fisch never thought she would work for another accounting firm after she landed a job at Sage, but that changed when High Rock Accounting came calling. Fisch, a certified public bookkeeper, was working as a product manager for Sage when Liz Mason, CEO and founder of High Rock, reached out to her in January 2021. 

“It took something special and different for me to even consider returning to the firm world,” Fisch said. 

Fisch is now the chief growth officer at High Rock, a firm focused on using technology to better serve accountants. Fisch’s role encompasses sales, marketing, strategic partnerships and acquisitions. Fisch had always been interested in working in development, and it allows her to leverage the skills and strategies she used in previous jobs. In fact, joining High Rock felt like the logical next step in her career.

Fisch met Mason in 2017 when the two were members of the inaugural cohort of the Accounting Salon, an annual invite-only event that aims to foster innovation in accounting. The gathering, which Fisch described as “some of the best people in the industry,” is now in its fourth year. Fisch and Mason kept in touch on social media, and the rest is history.

Why Female Leadership Matters

High Rock was founded by a woman, and its senior leadership is primarily composed of women, which Fisch said was “absolutely important” to her decision to join the team.

“The percentage of female firm owners is in the single digits, and that percentage decreases as the firms become more prominent. We have a mission to be the only women-owned, women-led top-200 firm,” Fisch said. 

Women in the accounting industry who want to become leaders should seek out mentors, and they should not be afraid to look outside their own firm to do so, Fisch said. While female leadership has made great strides, women will sometimes discourage each other, a vestige from a previous generation where women had to compete for limited spots at firms, Fisch said.

“We're in a different era now where there is room for everybody,” Fisch said. 

Using Technology to Better Serve Accountants

Many of High Rock’s senior leaders, including Fisch, had their own firms at one point, and Fisch said they were part of an early wave of cloud-based accounting that was motivated by a desire to innovate. High Rock aims to encourage that same innovative thinking among accounting professionals across the industry.

“One of the biggest challenges of many firms is that they innovate to a point, then they stop. But continuous innovation and improvement is what drives the industry forward,” Fisch said.

At this point, Fisch explained, cloud-based accounting is the bare minimum of innovation. Firms need to be thinking about what’s next, and Fisch’s own firm is no exception. High Rock is in the midst of completely overhauling its internal tech stack, a project Fisch initiated soon after she joined. While it is daunting, Fisch knows it will be worthwhile.

“We’re pulling out all the old internal tech, and not just replacing it, but reimagining it. We’re changing the way our firm works internally to better serve our clients. Tech is two-fold: what you use with your clients and what you use internally,” Fisch said. 

Firms that want to revamp their tech stacks should keep in mind that doing so requires buy-in from all levels of management, Fisch said. Having faith and patience in the process are also critical to success. Firm leadership should ask themselves, “If we could start from scratch, what would it look like?” 

“The shift in mindset can be revealing. Having that approach gets people thinking about what they actually need and what they’re holding onto that is holding them back,” Fisch said.

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