This special two-part episode of CPA Life concludes with Amber Setter of Conscious Public Accountants rejoining John Randolph to delve back into their wide-ranging and insightful conversation. They focus on changes that need to happen and breaks that need to occur from the “old ways” of doing things, covering the integration of remote working into the accounting profession, how coaching plays a role in setting expectations and bringing firm leader and employee minds together, the massive advantages of ditching the billable hour and changing to subscription- and/or value-based billing, and more. You won’t want to miss it!
It’s possible we can learn these new ways. But if we’re trying to do the same things we used to do to solve today’s problems, that’s the challenge. And I think that’s where accountants get caught, is in that, you know, SALY, same as last year way of being that doesn’t fit today’s way of leadership.
No, it absolutely doesn’t. And that brings up a question in my mind a conversation I had a couple of months ago, well, well, going into busy season with one of my clients that finally made the decision, and I applauded him for it going into busy season this year, he called me after Fall busy season, and said, hey, I’ve been kicking around this remote thing for a year and a half, two years since you by you, and I’ve been talking about it. And the only reason that I could come up with that we don’t do this—the only reason I can come up with—is I don’t want to. That’s the only reason. And he said, and I thought he’s my age, mid-50s. And he said, John, I’ve come to a realization, that’s not a good enough reason. So I’ve got to figure this out. I’ve got to work through this.
So he started trying to figure some things out talking to some people that he knows that have more remote focused firms. But then going into the busy season this year, he and I were talking and I asked him how it was going. He said, “I’m struggling with something.” And so posing this question to you as a coach in this space. He said, “Here’s what I’m struggling with John, I’m not a micromanager, I never have been. But right now, I’m trying to find that balance between sending a Teams message, an email, a text message, and calling somebody every 10 to 15 minutes to see how they’re doing, versus waiting until the end of the week, when I look at their timesheet to see what they’ve made progress on or what they’re doing, and getting frustrated tha they’re not where I need them to be. How do I balance that and not be the micromanager that it appears I might be if I’m making a lot of phone calls, because I’m just figuring this out?”
Yeah. So that’s where the coaching competencies truly are so beneficial, right? So how do you design accountability. Like, so I’m a little bit of a stickler for really the purest of coaching, which is in coaching, we’re not regulated like CPAs are, but we have a gold standard certification through the International Coach Federation. And the International Coach Federation has eight core competencies, right? Our agreed upon principles of like what you should do in coaching.
One of which is how are you measuring progress and accountability? So in that scenario, what I would encourage that leader to do is to collaborate with his people and not tell them how it’s gonna go, ask them—”How do we stay accountable for this?” Because when you ask that person, you’re getting them to critically think you’re not being the problem solver for everyone. And not only are you getting them to critically think, in the process of them critically thinking they’re taking ownership, and they’re saying “You know, it would really help me as if you checked in on teams, or why don’t we send a meeting on this day?” Or then they’re going in their mind, what are the multiple, you know, things I’ve got going on, and what do I think is like a reasonable timeline for when I can get this done, because there’s different engagements that they’re working on.
So it’s less commanding control, telling people what to do, and it’s instead asking open ended questions to come up with what is the best way of handling this particular thing? And that grows someone’s leadership at the same time.
I think that, and again, referring back to your article you wrote about The Pipeline Includes the Present, you had talked about the necessity of collaboratively going through, you know, from a coaching standpoint, what do you think about it? How do you measure that? And asking questions that elicit answers, I think that’s a great way of looking at that and doing that because it gets somebody to buy into the ultimate solution of where we’re trying to get to.
Yeah. When I did my ethics training for my coaching credential, not for the accounting one, there was actually, it had some data on some studies that they did with financial planning. And it talked about how when we give someone advice, the brain offloads. So it just goes into this passive mode.
So yes, like financial planners going to give advice, or a tax accountant is going to give advice, you know, like, but then you have to ask the client. So what are you going to do? Or what are you taking from this? And that’s where they’re like, “Oh, that strategy, or that action, I’m gonna do this,” and they get into action. And it’s the same thing when I coach people, right? Like, I do have a master’s in leadership. I do like to teach. So I might give them some theory, but it’s like, what do you hear for yourself in what I just shared? What, if anything, is meaningful? Because I don’t even want to make the assumption that I have any—you know, it’s not about me being right. It’s about what are they getting from the experience? What are they taking from it? What’s the action for them to take? And so Sometimes even just getting the work done, if they are thinking the action to take is X and you’re like, well, you might get there faster with why like that just helps you, as a leader understand the gap and where they’re at. Right? And how do you come in and support them better?
You know, in the whole remote work world, I think that, again, figuring out where that balance is, and understanding that we have a generation in the workforce today, a generation and a half to two generations that they’re not going to buy in to going back into the office five days a week. And, you know, one of the conversations I have constantly with firm owners is, well, you know, if layoffs continue, there’s going to create this glut in the marketplace of available talent, and we’re going to be able to drive back to an employer based marketplace and, for lack of better way to put it, dictate what we want, when it comes to in the office, the compensation, we’re going to pay the hours, they’re going to work. And I keep telling them, you need to kiss those days goodbye, because they’re gone. They’re not going to come back, even if every top 25, top 50 firm lays off 5 to 7% of their staff, there’s still a Delta of about 25 to 35,000 people in the industry that don’t exist. They’re just not there, the numbers aren’t there.
So leadership has got to get their head around, they’ve got to figure out how to create that balance, like we’re talking about, in the workforce. And, again, in the industry, I think it was Deloitte just recently announced that—well, I don’t think it’s been officially announced—but the rumor in the marketplace is that after Memorial Day, 100% of the staff is going to be required to be back in the office underneath a manager level. And on the tax side of things. 75% of the tax group, regardless of level, is going to be required to be in the office the majority of the time.
I think that those are recipes for disaster in an industry that is already struggling for talent.
Yeah, I mean, it is, to me, it’s a wow, to hear that. I mean, it’s a wow, that they would do it. And it’s not a wow, because it’s like, it’s predictable, in that we expand and we grow out of our comfort zone, and then we get scared and we go back in it oh my god, you know, like, it’s freaky out there! The unknown! And that’s back to like, what’s your capacity to be with ambiguity.
If Deloitte did something like that, I can guarantee that there’s going to be some people that are like, you know what, that doesn’t work for my lifestyle, so I’m gonna go somewhere else. And that’s okay. I mean, it’s okay, some firms are going to maybe think that they have to operate that way. But the talent is going to shake down.
It’s gonna come down to you know, it’s just part of it. And it’s a new way of working. And there’s there’s big questions, like, I remember conversations early in COVID, with compensation, where it’s like, look, we have remote people as part of our practice, but we have the local people, and the local people have to drive through and commute through traffic to actually go to the client site, and should they be compensated more for their drive time and their gas and all that? Like, how do you make it even? How do you make it fair? And the answer is, I don’t know! You know? You have to have challenging questions. You have to have these thought provoking containers.
I mean, in my own experience, one of the things I’ve done is I was a coach for PwC. So PwC, see, has a couple of teams of coaches, where all we did was coach PwC employees. I share this because I was on a team that was remote, right? And I think I first interviewed for that position, there was like 18 positions and 1,300 applicants, so you’re like the best in class coaches to coach for PwC. And in that, like, we had even compensation. We didn’t have by-market adjustments. So I choose to live in San Diego, which is pretty expensive. Sunshine tax, you know, that’s my choice. My colleagues who live in Minnesota or Ohio, they have the same compensation. That’s their choice, you know? And it’s not right or wrong. I just had to be like, am I comfortable with this? Because this is the firm’s philosophy. And am I down with it or not? You know, like, it’s my choice.
Yeah, you made a statement there that again, kind of stuck with me, because it’s a saying that we’ve had and we’ve, we’ve had in our family for years, and I’ve brought it into our business. And that saying is “Not wrong, just different.” Now obviously, there are some philosophical things that are wrong. But there’s a lot of things that we’re talking about here that they’re not wrong. They’re just different and you need to figure out as firm leader, what does that look like for you? And just because the guy down the street is doing it doesn’t mean that it’s the right answer for you. And from an employee standpoint, you’ve got to figure out what’s right for you.
I was mentioning a gentleman I spoke to the other day that works on the cast side of the business for a firm that was told for the foreseeable future, we’re working weekends. He’s got a wife that just had twin daughters. And so when I talked to him, you know, we were talking about what kind of timeframe are you looking at to make a move, and he said, “Well, I gave my two week notice today.” “So you don’t have anything you’re going to?” “No, I don’t, but I also can’t be away from my family, every weekend for the foreseeable future, I’m just not going to do it. And I was honest with my boss about that. And he said, That’s the plan for the firm moving forward. And he understands if I can’t be a part of it, that, you know, he hates to lose me, but it’s who we are.”
So again, not wrong, just different. In both of those situations, you have a firm leader that made the decision, this is the path we’re heading, and he’s committed to it. Again, that’s his decision. And you have an employee that decided that’s not a path that I can be on, I need to find something else.
Yeah. And that’s really the magic, when we do company-sponsored coaching, meaning the organization or the firm pays for someone to go through coaching. Because what happens in the process is the employee gets present to what they really want, and then we have stakeholder conversations where the firm gets to have their input, and in this magical way, the the employee, the coachee, ends up getting dialed into the firm, where they’re in their highest and best use.
So it’s not that they leave the firm. I know in that example that you shared, it wasn’t a fit. And I hear that and I get that. But there’s a part of me that wishes there was a way that it was massaged and changed in a way to retain that person.
Because if you help that person, I mean, imagine what it’s like to be that father who has twins and feels like he can’t be a provider at a critical time in their family’s life. How different it would be if the firm found a way to be flexible, and make it work for that person during a time when they really needed their benefits and their compensation. That’s where you build loyalty and a lifer.
So having these conversations bit by bit by bit, instead of all of a sudden, well, leadership is here. And I’m way over here and the gap is too far. And it’s like sorry, I’m out.
Yeah, yeah. And I think that an amazing service that you guys can provide from a coaching standpoint is be that bridge, within a firm. And when I was looking at some of the stuff that you had communicated, you know, whether it was in some articles you had written, or some things that you’d posted online on LinkedIn, I was pretty impressed that there is a piece of your business that actually, as you’re talking about, is a coach within the firm, where the firm is paying for that person to receive coaching. And I think that’s a huge win-win for both parties involved.
It is, it’s a huge win. It’s, you know, I jokingly say I could, like, it would be great if you guys didn’t exist as recruiters. But I say that flippantly—I know there is a need. But the reality is that I’ll just say it, like accountants are cheap when it comes to personal development. Like I’m like, a salmon swimming upstream, like, oh, you know, $4,000 for a technical conference? Sure. But like $100 for personal development, like what do you think?
Oh, I get it!
And I say that as somebody who managed learning and development for a firm, and sat on the board of trustees for CalCPA’s Education Foundation for six years and looked at financials, like I’m not just, you know, engaging in hyperbole, these are facts that I’ve seen. But it’s commonly accepted to pay a recruiter 20-25% of someone’s annual salary to replace them. And that is just direct costs, right? That’s not the cost to interview, to train them, the cost if some key person leaves, and then another person’s carrying all the weight of that. So “Oh, sure, no problem. We’ll pay a recruiter that.” And then they’re balking at the cost of a coaching engagement, which might be 25% or a third of that. And I’m just like, wait, aren’t you a business advisor? Like, I don’t get it? You know, it doesn’t pencil out. But what do I know, I pass the CPA exam. I can’t be that smart.
Yeah, I think you’re hitting on something that again, we share in common and it’s a conversation I have with clients all the time. You know, again, the space that we play in is that locally owned firms. So I think we’ve got a couple of clients that are top 200 firms, but most of our clients, they’re not even on that radar of top 400, top 500 And I think our average clients have 15 to 45 person firms kind of the average we work with.
You know, you talk about wish there wasn’t a need for us. I tell our clients “Look, my prayer is that you and I never have a discussion about a replacement. My prayer is that if I do my job right and you do your job right as a leader, every conversation we have from this point forward is about growth—‘Hey, John, we need to add a person to our team. We’re not losing, we’re adding, yeah, let’s, let’s go find that person.’”
And I am perfectly fine with that. Because I would love to be able to create a situation where people aren’t having to go through constant churn to find out, hey, where’s that space that I am the happiest, where I am the best self that I could possibly be, and I’m bringing value to my employer, to our clients, to my family, and not having to constantly be searching for that. And how do I do that?
So I think that there’s a desire to help firms find that environment. So, you know, one of the things I was excited about talking about was seeing that you guys can be a facilitator to make that happen. But again, like you said, it’s the salmon swimming upstream, because getting that business leader to understand that is not always the easiest task out there.
Yeah, and, you know, there’s a couple of things. One is, we say that conscious public accountants know who they truly are, you know—how to be of greater service, and what drives their performance. And so that’s really the mission that we’re on, is through introspection and personal development, people really know, like, this is the work that I want to do. And this is where I’m going to give my greatest gifts. And the firm wins, right? The client wins, the community wins. And that is just the magic.
The other piece I wanted to share is, you know, several years ago, I got a referral from someone outside of the profession—it was actually my neighbor who was like, hey, I know this CPA, like she’s miserable. I keep telling her to work with you. And so she came and she was like, I’m done with accounting, like, I’m a tax partner, I’m done, I’m tired, I hate it, I want to quit. And in the coaching experience, I ended up referring her to a firm that I’ve been coaching in for a while, because I know this is a great firm—like, great to their people, you know, just really benevolent. And the short version of the story is she ended up working for this firm. And she ended up, you know, taking a position there. And when she went in, she negotiated that they would pay for her coaching.
And so I’ve been coaching her in her first year, and it’s really lovely, because it’s like, you know, you’ve read about onboarding processes that HR should have in place—essentially, they’re sort of in ways, and I don’t want to say exactly outsourcing, but through the coaching experience, it’s like, let’s have these check-ins with the coachee, the newly hired, high level person, and the senior leaders, of like, what do we need to do to make this partnership thrive? And it’s just been beautiful, it’s been wonderful, I continue to enjoy working with this leader and seeing, you know, the visions that she’s had for the role and the visions that the organization had for bringing her in as a high level person, just blossom and flourish.
And so it’s, you know, you can think about coaching, anytime someone’s going through a transition: Having twin children, right? Taking on a new role in the firm, right, just caring for an aging parent, passing the CPA exam, whenever there’s big stuff going on. Coaching can help someone manage their life and manage their humanity, as well as their responsibility in the organization.
You know, I played baseball growing up, played through college, and a couple years out of college. And every time someone talks about coaching, all I think about is, I had a great coach in one of those years that said, “My job is not coach you in the middle of the game. In the middle of the game is not where you need me to teach you what to do and how to do it.” And I can’t tell you how many times he would come out to the mound and the conversation was real simple. And it started usually with “Hey, how you feeling?” Didn’t matter what was going on in the middle of the game, how bad I was doing, were we losing, were we winning, was I throwing well, not doing well, he always started with “Hey, how are you feeling?”
And then that dialogue would occur to determine what’s the next course of action as a leader that he needed to take? Pull me out, leave me in, that I feel like I still had it, what does he need to give me at that point? And I think that in the professional world, we’ve had, you know, we’ve talked about the generation to two generations that are in the workforce now, and I think that part of the issue is that generation that is that, you know, third generation, and the Baby Boomer generation that’s, that’s my age are on the cusp. We grew up in a world where you don’t talk about seeing a counselor, you don’t talk about your feelings. You don’t talk about things that are a problem. And we’ve got to get that out of the picture because that is not the world that we live in today. And it’s not a negative. It’s not something that’s bad. It’s not, there’s not a stigma associated with it.
You know, I was doing a lot of speaking on the topic of mental health. And I’m very grateful to the AICPA because I approached them, and I was like, hey, we’re on the cusp of a mental health crisis. I could see it in February 2021, because of what was showing up in my coaching practice that had never been there before. And in that work, you know, there was sort of a tagline I created that I think is really powerful, in that anxiety takes up the place that could be held by intellect. Right? So our mind is like the operating system in our computer, and we’re running applications. And when we’ve got a lot of anxiety about life, how are you doing critical thinking through a technical issue, you know?
And so it’s not that like, we should do mental health programs in our firm because it’s altruistic. Yeah, that’s true, but frankly, it’s good for your business.
And I hear you on that piece of, I try not to get too much into generational theory, because I don’t want to keep anyone in boxes, but there is some truth to that, of like, different generations, didn’t talk about feelings. In the past year, I’ve had the gift of my 87-year-old grandfather coming and spending, you know, a month at a time in my home. And just, he, you know, he was an electrical engineer in the Silicon Valley in the 70s, and 80s, and 90s. And it’s like, you didn’t talk about emotion, you know?
And he was a first generation Sicilian, that was like, children do not talk in the family. Like he wasn’t even allowed to go in the living room, there were parts of the house. And so it’s very different, how we’re raising children, how kids in their 20s are, like, you know, all over social media talking about seeing their therapists, like, all of that is very much normalized, right? It’s why my CPA exam coaching program’s great, because people want to talk about their feelings to pass the CPA exam. And frankly, it helps them pass the exam.
But the senior leaders in the system who are holding the purse strings to make those decisions are like, “Oh, no, you just need some Becker CPA review. That’s what I did! That’s the technical stuff! And talking about your feelings isn’t going to help you pass.” Um, no, it does pass. And that’s what your staff wants. So you’ve got to be open to what people really desire.
Yeah. And that’s one of the things that, again, there’s so many parallels in leading people and leading organizations, between so many things that occur in our personal lives. And I had daughters, I don’t have sons. So raising kids in general taught me a lot about leading people, raising daughters taught me a lot about leading people. I realized that I’m a big guy, I could be the only guy with a voice in the room. And as soon as I do that, everyone’s going to shut down, and we’re never going to grow, we’re never going to create bonds, we’re never going to be able to move things forward. That’s kind of the house that I was raised in.
And so as a leader, you have to learn, like you said, you’ve got to get rid of some of those biases. And you got to understand that the world that we live in today is a very different world than what I was raised in. It’s a very different world than what you were raised in. And if we don’t embrace that, we’re going to continue to deal with the problems that we’re dealing with in this industry, and that’s people either jettisoning pretty quick, or not even stepping into it, because a lot of the things that that we talked about.
One of the last things I want to chat with you about, that we we’ve mentioned a couple of times, and I just want to again, get your thoughts on it, because it’s again, something that you and I share some common ground on: fee based pricing, subscription based pricing, value based pricing versus old school, we’ve always done it that way, time and billing.
Yeah. So I’ll start off by saying years ago—and I know it had to have been about eight years ago. It’s like, I have a daughter named Camille. So it’s like life BC, Before Camille, and you know, after she was born, but I wrote an article for the online Journal of Accountancy, and it was called “Retiring the Billable Hour as a Measure of Performance”. And it ended up being like the most popular online article of the year. And what surprised me is the amount of people that wrote in and asked me to reconsider my position that we really need the billable hour. It was like wow, I didn’t realize it was so hot for people.
But in that you know, my responses when people say we really need the billable hour, I always like this hypothetical situation, which is you have two staff accountants doing work. You know, the staff accountant, I’ll say Amber, she decides after work to go do yoga class, eat a really healthy meal, you know, gets in bed gets a great night of sleep and comes into the office the next day and does eight billable hours—probably really solid, beautiful work because the night before was such a container for having, you know, a great next day of work.
Now John, you’re going to be my other person in this case study here.
Which is, you’re the difference, right? You go out and have dinner with some friends that turn, you know, happy hour, that turns into a late night, you know, you guys go listen to some live music, you grab some Jack in the Box on the way home, you go to sleep at 2am, and you show up in the work office next day, and you put in eight billable hours. Those are fundamentally eight different hours of input.
So to rely on those numbers is an absolute joke. I can’t believe that people would think that we just look at numbers, and not actually what’s going on beneath the numbers.
The other part I’ll share is I have a past client who’s talked about this—so coaching is confidential. When I talk about it, people have given me permission to speak on it, but he’s talked about it on a webinar. And he hired me when he was a tax partner. And he’s like, “I’m done.” And one of the straws that broke his back was, his goals, his revenue goals were $1.2 million, and he hit 1.8. So he had $600,000 in excess 50%. beyond what the firm asked him to do. His charge hour goals were 1,500, and he achieved those results and 1,200 hours. And when he went to his review, the firm didn’t acknowledge what he didn’t do, the firm wanted to know what he was going to do about as missing 300 hours. I mean, come on! Layered into this, this was the year of 2020 When all this stuff was going on. And he became like the firm’s expert on PPP, took something brand new just did it, was the national expert for it. And he’s just like, “I just can’t anymore, you know, I just can’t do this.”
Now, through coaching, he didn’t leave the profession, he’s actually in a different role, where he’s helping firms think differently and lead practices differently through the Aprio Firm Alliance, which is awesome. But it’s that kind of mentality where it’s like, you can’t rely on data that actually isn’t revealing if your firm is doing a good job or not. And if your people are doing a good job or not. So you have to look at the results, not these fictitious inputs.
I had a conversation the week before Labor Day last year, talked to a gentleman who was in a top 20 firm on the tax side. He was interested in the role that we were working on. I asked him what would drive his desire to leave the firm because he’d been with them for I think four years at that point out of school. And he said because since the third week of August, John, we were told that between now and October 15, I have got to have a minimum of 65 billable hours every week. And I said “Okay, so for you to have 65 billable hours, because you’re never going to have 100% utilization or realization, you’re probably working 70 to 80 hours.” And he said that’s exactly right. And I said, are you working 70 to 80 hours? And his answer was, “Well, my timesheet says I am.” And I think that that is such a realistic comment, if everybody was honest about what’s on my timesheet versus what I’m doing.
Yeah. And it’s all a game. It’s all a joke. I mean, accountants know about numbers and how to plug things and make it work. Like it’s just, I don’t know. To me, I get it. It’s the same thing we’ve always done, but like, does it actually serve the profession? Does it serve the human beings? Does it serve the clients? And in the article I wrote years ago, you know, one of the biggest things people will say is, “Well, how do I measure someone’s performance?” Go to industry, that has an internal auditor, right? That has an internal tax person. They found a way to measure performance and manage performance without billable hours. Like it’s not rocket science.
And that’s like, the deeper thing. Why are we so hung up on this? Why are we so attached to this? Why aren’t we willing to just take the leap and figure it out as we go?
Well, I think it’s an easy metric. I think it’s a very easy metric to look at. I’m not saying it’s the right one. But I think it’s really easy from a leadership standpoint to look at a number and go “Yes, they hit it; no, they didn’t.” It’s just one easy thing to look at and manage.
Speaking from a consumer perspective, I have a CPA firm that sold his CPA firm three years ago. He’s been my CPA for about eight years, nine years, he sold his firm to a subscription-based firm. I’ve been with that firm now for four years. And I can tell you that I’ve never called and ask them, “How much time did it take you to do my taxes?” I’ve never called and ask them, “How much time did you invest on my accounting that you did this past month?” They send me a bill every month, I pay—well, they don’t even send me a bill, they draft my credit card. And I never ask “How much time did you work?” And the other thing that I never do is I never think about picking the phone up or sending an email when a question comes up that I need an answer to. I can tell you that five years ago, eight years ago, the thought always crossed my mind, “How much is this phone call going to cost me? How much is this email going to cost me?” So from a consumer standpoint, I absolutely love it.
I’ve got a client that I think he’s kind of found a good balance, they’re a subscription based model, but he still has his employees track their time, but not from a standpoint and he tells him this, “If I ever beat you up about your time, then leave, because it’s my job is to show you the value in this.” And so from his standpoint, it’s “Look, here’s the pricing that we priced this client at based on what they told us the work volume is going to be. And if we’re having to invest more time, is it because the work is more complicated. Is it because there’s more work than they told us was going to be there? Or is it something on us?” But it’s never an issue of here’s the time and here’s the bill that’s associated with it. And how did you accomplish that is strictly looking at it, is this profitable? Is it not profitable? Do we need to adjust price?
Yeah, I mean, I actually do my best to never buy billable hours. You know, I went through an experience once—I don’t know if you have this—but like as the accountant in the family, I’m the responsible one, and everyone asked me to be the executor of the estate. And so I had a family member I was doing it for and then it was contested and all this drama and like, you know, I get the invoices in the mail, like, “Oh god, what’s it going to be? You know, oh, what’s it gonna be this time? I” don’t want that in my life anymore. So if I hire an attorney, an accountant, professional service, I want fixed fee. I’m okay. Like if we need to true it up at some point. That’s okay.
But I don’t want that mystery. You know, I don’t know, I grew up watching the Smurfs, I was you know, born in 77. And there was that character joke you Smurfit it would have a present and you’d open it and explode. That’s what it’s like to get an invoice when it’s a mystery number, you know? That’s just not even cool for the customer. And that’s the part that baffles me as well.
Yeah, it’s, again, from a service provider perspective, the thing that I don’t get, and that I don’t understand is that annual phone call that you have to make that goes away, hypothetically, if you do your job right. I’ve got a client that we’re talking about them moving to a subscription based model two years ago, and I asked him, what has been in your experience, the best part of making that move? And he said, “Honestly, for jump for me, John, selfishly, it is never ever again, having to make a phone call that says, hey, it’s April 14, we’ve got your return done. You owe the IRS $26,000, and you owe us $14,000.”
“I never, ever have to make that phone call. Again. If we have a client that owes taxes, we have made a conscious decision to go down that path this year. And we’ve known about it all year. So it’s never a surprise, and they don’t owe me anything, because they’ve been paying me all year long.” He said that to me that I talked about all the business stuff and why it’s a value. But selfishly speaking with that off my plate. That is one less issue during tax season that I never, ever have to worry about again.
And anxiety takes up the place that could be held by intellect, because that’s the firm leader that comes to me and in coaching is like, “I got to talk through a client issue. You know, I gotta call them up, and I gotta give them this news. And how do I do this? I’m not feeling good about this.” That’s the kind of stuff we get in one-to-one coaching. So yeah, it alleviates a lot. It makes it a better relationship ultimately, with the client and the provider of the service.
Absolutely. Amber, I want to thank you for being a part of the show today. And you’ve put a lot of things on the table for folks to chew on—both firm leaders and their employees, people in the profession that are struggling with figuring out where is that space that I serve myself and customers best. And if someone’s interested in talking to you about coaching services, getting advice or possible direction for their firm or for their careers, what is the best way for somebody to be able to do that?
Yeah, well you can reach me directly at Amber@conscious.cpa. You can also look at our website which is conscious.cpa. One of the things that we do is we offer something called an Power Hour. So coaching is like a lived experience. We can talk about it intellectually, but until you sit in that space with a coach and really identify, you know, go through it, like what do I want out of my life and what needs to shift, you can experience coaching. And so we offer that which is fun.
And then I always advise people, like, talk to different coaches, it’s not just us, maybe it is we have a team of different people. But really, it’s such a beautiful investment in yourself. It yields dividends for the rest of your life and all domains of relationship. And you want to find like someone who’s your person, you know? You want to find someone that you could just sit there and be like today, it was awesome, or today was horrible, or I know exactly what I want, or I have no idea what I want, and like, that it feels safe to explore all those parts of yourself. I think is really important to find the good fit. So thanks for your time. Thanks for your shared mission of you know, waking the profession up to new possibilities and it was a delight to to chat with you and your listeners today.
I’ve enjoyed getting to learn a little bit more about you, your business, kind of the path that you’re on, and wish you guys continued success. And for those of you that are listening, if you enjoyed what you heard today, give us a comment below on the platform you’re listening on or better yet, give us a review. Let us know your thoughts, as we continue to grow our reach and our audience with the desire to provide you a somewhat straightforward and candid talk about CPA Life. Until next time.
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About the Guest:
Amber Setter is the Chief Enlightenment Officer at Conscious Public Accountants, which she founded in 2022. Her clients have chosen Amber to coach them due to her authenticity and drive to educate them in ways they’ve never experienced.
A former practicing CPA, Amber works with a select number of clients and organizations through her private practice. Beyond coaching, Amber delivers leadership training and keynote conversations for organizations that aspire to develop the whole person. A passionate advocate for mental health in the accounting profession, she has had articles featured in a number of publications, including Accounting Today and the Journal of Accountancy, among many others.
Amber is a Professional Certified Coach. She is a graduate of Accomplishment Coaching and also completed their Advanced Leadership Program while serving as a Mentor Coach. Amber holds a Masters of Arts in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accounting from San Jose State University.