Learn It Here, Apply It Anywhere

When I accepted the job offer from Lumix coming out of college, I was a bit nervous to change industries—my internships were related to politics, media, and outreach. Simply put, none of the outlets I worked at were CPA firms. I quickly realized the skills I would learn here are transferable and that a successful CPA firm has more than just accounting knowledge to offer. To any readers wondering if an industry change could benefit your career and make you a better professional: It absolutely can. If you are willing to adapt and your employer is willing to cultivate talent, dividends will show. I promise.

In a previous blog post, I discussed my development of professional skills while at Lumix. I will use these sharpened skills to improve every endeavor I embark upon. These aren’t skills to put on a resume; rather, they are skills you use togrow and facilitate goal achievement, both personal and professional.

This blog post is about my transferable skills, or skills I could seamlessly apply to another industry. Specifically, what are the most significant and tangible skills I’ve learned here so far?

Needless to say, a growing CPA firm like Lumix would give any young professional the opportunity to learn a collection of applicable skills. As long as you’re willing to learn, the environment and people will make you a better individual, holistically and on paper. These three vital skills I’m developing at Lumix will be applicable to any career:

Taking Care of Clients: Any company can mention on its homepage that clients come first, but in my short time here, I’ve noticed that Lumix’s treatment of clients is based on service, not just support. The client is the director, top-billed actor, and the supporting cast—they run the show, and Lumix helps them succeed every step of the way. I’ve learned how our firm supports clients by providing innovative solutions, adjusting to their deadlines, and staying two steps ahead of problems. Our team moves one way and one way only—toward the clients’ goals.

Being a part of Lumix’s client service is akin to a rookie quarterback learning from Peyton Manning. I know how the best take care of business, so when it’s my turn to step up and take charge, I’ll know exactly what to do.

Learning New Technology: The running joke between our company president and me is that I, a millennial, am fully cognizant of emerging fashion trends, and new cultural shifts. While my youthfulness keeps me connected to pop culture, I still have much to learn about new technology in the workplace. Lumix thrives off the cloud accounting model, which makes client work secure and efficient. When I began my work at Lumix, I had no idea that major accounting work could be performed on the cloud.

Six months later, I am learning how to use Intacct, Expensify, and Bill.com. These apps have expanded my palate for new technology. These apps also help me realize (and appreciate) the fact that even a millennial needs to learn and keep up with new technology in 2014.

Developing a Program: When I started at Lumix, the team did not have a new media program. During my first three months on the job, I quickly learned how to set up the program within a chain of command. We formed detailed workflows, visuals, calendars, and checklists to make sure our social media, blogging, and newsletter tasks are completed and the loop is closed. More importantly, a clear and stratified new media program allows team members to quickly identify where things go wrong; organization makes sure mistakes aren’t made twice.

Now, we are forming a vlogging operation and hope to be among the first CPA firms to further embrace the digital landscape. Vlogging will add another layer to our operation without complicating things. After setting up the new media program at Lumix, adding layers to different facets of my life is no longer challenging. Managing student loans, jiu-jitsu practice, and leisurely writing are no longer time restraints; they’re simply layers I add to my daily ventures.

To observers, a digital CPA firm may be an unlikely outlet to teach its team members transferable skills. From the inside, I’ve learned that many of my tasks cultivate holistic and transferable skills. This had made me a better professional, and just as important, a better student of life.

Jason Patel is the digital media and administrative assistant at Lumix CPAs and Advisors. He is a graduate of the George Washington University and currently studies political management. He is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu player, outdoorsman, and aspiring entrepreneur. You can add him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or view his profile on LinkedIn.    

Little Fish in a Big Pond: Controlling Your Nerves at a Networking Event

Networking at a big event can be a daunting task, depending on who you ask. For the new guy, it can be quite the obstacle.

Imagine my surprise when my supervisor told me that I, the new digital media assistant, would be attending the CEO Updates/Leading Authorities Association Leadership Awards with our firm’s senior management. Not only was the event’s guest list replete with accomplished professionals, but our firm was also taking its heavy hitters to the venue. I was a little fish in a big pond in a big ocean.

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Sharpen Your Thinking by Jumping Out of an Airplane

When your work team needs you at a crucial juncture, will you be the one to step up? When an opportunity comes calling, will you be in the position to seize the chance?

How do you put yourself in a position to succeed?

Answer: Invest in yourself to sharpen your thinking.

It’s tough out there. The globalized job market has young professionals competing against international competition, and rapidly changing technology has us constantly adapting to the next industry change. Getting better isn’t just a choice; it’s a necessity.

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Dashboard Reports Rotation

Only ten minutes into my call with the board’s treasurer and we had already brought up six different financial reports we could prepare and present at the next board meeting.  Each presented the organization’s achievements and shortfalls from a different perspective, and all presented information important for the board’s awareness and discussion.  But honestly, six reports, in addition to the regular financial statements presented at each meeting is, in my opinion, number saturation.  Particularly because many board members do not enjoy hearing about metrics, financial results, and other numerical values.

In my previous article “4 Fiscally-Responsible Changes You Can Make as a Board Treasurer,” I proposed that at each board meeting the treasurer should present a full set of financial statements and no more than two dashboard reports.  In this article, I propose that the organization prepare five different dashboards and a treasurer’s three-point report and rotate the dashboards at each meeting.  Here are the dashboard reports I have recently recommended to my clients:

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Bill.com- More Pros & Cons of Part 2 – Specifics

Bill.com is a cloud-based accounting application our firm has been using for several years. In Part 1, I covered some general pros and cons of bill.com. This blog post will delve into some of the specifics, especially with regards to the accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) functionality of Bill.com. Like the first, keep an eye out for the insider notes! 

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Bill.com Pros & Cons – Part 1 – General Overview

What is Bill.com? – Bill.com is a cloud-based financial solution that helps manage your payables (APs) and receivables (ARs). Our firm has been using it for the past few years and has consistently found it to be an asset to our clients. Read on for an insider’s list of pros and cons (with a few tips scattered along the way)! We’ve split this article into two parts—the first is regarding Bill.com in general while the second will delve into more specifics, especially regarding the APs and ARs.

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The Journey From College Student to Becoming a Full-Time Professional

For millennials, the transition from college to full-time work is fraught with barriers and roadblocks. The underemployment rate for recent college graduates stands at 46%, so when I received my job offer from Lumix to become its first digital media and administrative assistant, I was grateful (and relieved) to have the privilege of finally calling myself a full-time professional.

Interestingly, this commenced my transition, or more appropriate, my journey, to becoming a consummate professional—a goal I chase and have yet to achieve. Luckily, my supervisors at this firm have taken the time to help me focus on a few professional skills that I needed to develop.  These primary skills, which I fostered when I interned at several outlets in college, were necessary to succeed at a digital CPA firm.

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Interpreting Results of Operations for Non-Profit Entities

For obvious reasons, executives and board members of non-profit organizations prefer to see that revenues exceed expenses.  This difference would normally be described as net income, but for non-profits, it’s referred to as the change in net assets.  Since non-profit organizations have a special type of revenue recognition, this bottom line on the financials can be misleading.

Non-profit organizations recognize revenue when received or based on the date of the promise, grant or contribution document.  Revenue is not recognized when it is actually earned as is the case with for-profit entities.  There may be some deferred revenue grants or contracts, but most grants are restricted money that will be used for a program that could run for a couple of years.  For example, a $750,000 three-year restricted grant received one month before year-end will be recorded as $750,000 revenue in the current year, but most, if not all, of the matching expenses will be incurred in the following 2 years and 11 months.  This looks great for the income statement, but does not give a true picture of the operations of the organization as gross and net income will be inflated.

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4 Fiscally-Responsible Changes You Can Make as a Board Treasurer

It is an honor being asked to be treasurer of the Board of a not-for-profit organization.  What seems like a time-consuming task is truly an opportunity to make a fiscal difference for the organization you are invested in.  As a CPA with an understanding of nonprofit experience, I have been lucky enough to serve on several Boards.

I served as a member of the Board for a particular nonprofit for about a year, allowing me to study the dynamics at the Board level and identify areas where, as a treasurer, I could make a difference.  When the new slate of officers was elected, I immediately discussed my ideas with the president. These are a few of the changes we immediately implemented:

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Finance Department on Steroids

I always appreciate the opportunity to talk to a prospective client who has not selected us for their services.  Hey, it happens to all of us!  A few days ago, I had a great chat with one such prospective client from whom I had not heard in several months.  The great part about that conversation is that it was no longer weighed down by his attempts to interview me for the “job.”  It was a very casual but insightful conversation in which he shared his two-month experience with having replaced his accounting staff with a full-service accounting firm (our competitors).

During our conversation, this executive director of a not-for-profit organization stated that the term “outsourcing” carries a negative connotation and doesn’t properly describe the relationship that he has developed with the team and the services he is receiving.  As he considered his alternatives a few months ago, he was afraid that any outsourcing would take the finance function completely off his plate to the point that he would lose touch.  He felt there might be a disconnect when the information was brought to the decision table – namely with his treasurer and board.

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