managing a remote accounting firm

It’s not everyday that you come across a CPA firm that operates completely virtually and one that has their full team distributed across a big country like Canada. ConnectCPA is one of those firms. They’ve been successfully managing a remote accounting firm for several years now and I have known partners Mike Pinkus and Lior Zehster of ConnectCPA since the earlier days of cloud accounting in North America. When I heard that they just came back from a recent team retreat, I wanted to chat with them to learn about some other ways in how they are managing a remote accounting firm, some of their tips and how they are keeping the culture gelled together.

Show Notes

3:20 – I start by asking a bit on ConnectCPA’s history, how they started and what the firm’s all about.

7:30 – ConnectCPA’s website says “see accounting done differently.” Mike discusses how they have branded themselves as technology specialists and how they have gone against the grain in a few areas to help stand out among the crowd.

8:55 – The firm was awarded with Xero’s 2018 Platinum Partner of the Year award and I asked why they think they received it over some of the other firms.

9:40 – I asked Mike & Lior how they would describe their firm’s culture. Mike discusses some of the firm’s critical values.

12:05 – Mike describes the firm’s culture as “laid-back” and I asked Mike what that means exactly and how it differs from some of the more traditional firms out there. Focus on output rather than inputs, no dress-code, complete autonomy, etc.

13:14 – Does ConnectCPA have an office at the moment? Short answer, yes. Long answer, the team works remotely 99% of the time and they have team members in 7 provinces across Canada.

14:29 – Lior talks about his firm’s journey from physical office to remote and why it was probably harder to do back in 2014 compared to today.

16:16 – What kind of planning was required at ConnectCPA to migrate towards a remote firm model?

17:34 – Mike shares his thoughts on what he wished they would have done differently when they transitioned over and what one of their biggest missteps when moving from an in-office culture to managing a remote accounting firm.

19:34 – ConnectCPA doesn’t use timesheets so I ask them how they make sure work is getting done when Mike & Lior can’t visibly see their team. Mike gives his thoughts on how managing a remote accounting firm is possible without timesheets.

23:14 – How much flexibility does ConnectCPA give to their team? They have a loose policy of having their team make themselves available during normal working hours 80% of the time. Mike also talks about the importance of offering flexible work arrangements. One of the main reasons, he says, is that it helps attract talent.

26:05 – ConnectCPA’s blog talks about how working remotely can increase happiness. Mike shares how increased flexibility can allow his team to live out certain adventures not possible without remote work, such as with one of his team members being able to travel across the country while working out of a camper.

 

 

29:30 – I asked Mike & Lior about the differences between onboarding a new team with a remote model and an in-office model. Lior talks about some of the planning changes required. Mike also discusses the need to have a comprehensive day-by-day training program for the first week when someone new joins.

32:45 – ConnectCPA just came back from their team retreat. I wanted to get a sense of why they hold a retreat and what they did.

32:50 – How does ConnectCPA keep the culture together when managing a remote accounting firm? Mike talks about how their team is involved in the hiring process and Lior talks about how they hold bi-weekly non-business oriented video chats with a random group of team members and virtual game sessions.

39:20 – I wanted to know what are ConnectCPA’s must-have apps for managing a remote accounting firm. Everything from Asana to Slack to Zoom and more.

42:45 – Mike shares what firms need to think about before firms consider moving to a remote model.

44:00 – Check out ConnectCPA’s Instagram to see how their entire team is able to work from cool places around the world.

45:30 – Mike & Lior talks about what’s next for ConnectCPA and their next frontier. We chat a bit about the future of the profession and innovation. A good quote from Mike: “Being first at something is about exploring what are people not doing right now.”

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