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Heidi: This podcast is sponsored by Engineered Tax Services, a subsidiary of Engineered Advisory, whose goal is to support CPAs and their clients to achieve the highest and best use of time and resources. Ets offers specialty tax services and incentives which help expand your capabilities and ensure that your clients are paying only what is required in taxes and nothing more. To learn more about Engineered tax services, go to Engineered Tax services.com and mention the healthy, Wealthy and Wise podcast to receive project discounts and a free CPA partnership book. Hi, everyone. This is Heidi Henderson and you are listening to the Healthy, Wealthy and Wise podcast for accountants. I am really passionate about people and the industry, and I truly believe that the accounting industry can do better for both our clients and it's professionals. So I'm going to share insights from people who have found professional success and who have managed to balance that with their physical, mental and personal health. So I hope you enjoy and I hope you get inspired. Accountants can earn free CPA. From listening to this episode, just visit Earmark Cpcomm. Download the app, take a short quiz and get your CPA certificate. And now onto the episode. Welcome to today's episode of Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. Today's guest is Chase Insomnia with Insomnia. So he's got his own practice based in Austin, Texas. And the reason that I asked Chase to be a guest on the podcast is, first off, we've worked together for a couple of years, and he's got some really great clients.
Heidi: We've had some great conversations about incentives and strategy, and we've connected on a few different different aspects of the work life as it relates to CPA firms. And we had dinner last month, I think it was in Vegas when we were at AICPA and had an amazing conversation with him and his team. And one thing that really stuck out to me and I can't remember the exact phrase Chase So you'll have to you'll have to correct me, But it was something to the sense that you asked your employees at the end of the tax season how it went and all of your employees said something like this was the best or the easiest tax season we've ever had. And I was like, Yeah, okay, Chase, we need to talk. Because you are probably the only CPA firm that I have talked to in the last year that would say anything even close to that. And I think it's very reflective of your perspective and how you're building your firm, how you're structuring it, and your entrepreneurial thought processes behind serving clients and your staff and just the way you guys function. So super excited to have you as a guest. Thank you so much for joining.
Chase: Thanks for having me.
Heidi: Okay, so let's start at the beginning. Tell us a little bit about your background and where you originally from.
Chase: So to start from the end where you left off, you know, that is 12 years in the making of becoming the easiest, you know, tax season according to my my team members. Um, but going back, you know, to the beginning from 2011 was when we started the firm. Um, you know, I've always been entrepreneur all through college and then I was working on the side in corporate accounting, you know, doing taxes, doing accounting, bookkeeping, you know, always trying to find business ideas. I just never knew it was a CPA firm at the time and, and just had an opportunity to start my own firm. So it just kind of jumped into it. And I've always ran it as and grown it as a business, not a lifestyle. And, you know, there's two ways to do it there. Whichever way you want to do it is fine. I mean, it's totally your, you know, your choice. My choice was, you know, I didn't want to continue working till I was, you know, dying at my desk. I like to say, like historically, a lot of the industry has done. And, you know, for me, I have a number and I have an age and I, you know, I like to enjoy the rest of my years not being stuck at a desk working. That's just not my lifestyle, my choice. So I've always run it like a business and, you know, I've grown it that way. But, you know, you got to find the right key people is obviously important. And and then just continuing to build the org chart out from there. And so, you know, kind of skipping forward, it is 12 years in the making and we've been in business 12 years, a couple months here.
Chase: And you know, we have a really good team behind us. You know, taxes, as everybody knows, it's a struggle to find talent. But, you know, we're very fortunate to have the team we have right now. And we're not a type of shop that just takes on anything. We're very selective and the type of work we take and we have the right amount of clients right now for the right amount of people doing returns, business and personal. And that's what has allowed the work to be spread out properly with the right amount of talent doing them. And and for that that's why they all like I check in with them monthly just kind of one on one so they have an outlet you know, to to speak to me and and scheduled outlet and then you know we do annual reviews too but on our monthly calls after tax season, you know, just checking in how did it go? And they all individually told me, you know, it was like, this is like the easiest season we've had like ever. So I didn't ask him to say that, you know, they just I just kind of asked about how the season was going and that was like the general consensus. But, you know, we have a great tax manager, you know, a great team helping everybody. We're very tech savvy and process based, so we're completely remote. So work life balance is easier for our team, you know, because they can do what they want. We just, you know, as long as they're meeting deadlines and and clients are highly satisfied, that's all we care about.
Heidi: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it was awesome because I had the pleasure of meeting some of your staff members when we had dinner and they were awesome. I had a great time sitting with you guys for a few hours and getting to know them too, and it certainly seemed like they were happy. They love what they're doing. They seem passionate. Said about what they were doing. And and it seemed like they also had had this like a mindset or something that was very different than what I typically see. And it seemed that they have a sense of ownership and a sense of problem solving. So if there are certain things that can be automated or things that they can prove on that they've been able to sort of grab the bull by the horns and move forward with things like that. Would you say that that's accurate?
Chase: Yeah, 100%. I mean, I kind of teach and motivate and train. You know, my team is, you know, figure it out for yourself, basically. But I'm here to give you the resources. You know, I'm here to help you. You know, I'm here to to guide you whenever you need me. But, you know, once somebody is trained up, I mean, I'm not throwing them in the to the wolves on day one. You know, it's a three, six, 12 month process to properly train someone, depending on the role. But you know what? Once they're properly trained, you know, I allow them to, you know, make mistakes and, you know, kind of figure it out for themselves and just be there as more of a guide and what a manager and a supervisor should be versus, you know, a lot of times I kind of discover people are like more micromanaging and, you know, they're afraid somebody is going to make a mistake with a client or, you know, or say the wrong things. You know, you can't nobody can train in that environment. Nobody can be free to to be comfortable making mistakes. And so that was kind of my experience and, you know, corporate accounting and other jobs.
Chase: So I certainly didn't want to do that and be the culture here. And so from from day one, I've kind of operated that way and just allowed, you know, them to grow on their own and learn on their own. And when things happen, we address it in real time. We're not like, let's wait a year to review and go through the list of mistakes you've done. You know, like we're addressing it in real time. You know, when I see emails go out that I, you know, I'm like, uh, you know, you could have said it this way or that way, you know, just try to try to coach and train and develop, you know? That's really what my role is today. I don't I don't get into the weeds on I don't do bookkeeping. I'm not doing data entry stuff, reconciling books anymore. I don't review tax returns anymore. You know that that's not that didn't happen, you know, in day one. But that's happened, you know, years and years later. But that's allowed me to to help coach and train and grow the team as they want to be coached and trained.
Heidi: Yeah, absolutely. And was it was it Abby that was talking about how she had started doing like the those recordings that you would send out to clients if she saw maybe a red flag or something that she thought was interesting or had a question on, She would send an email with like a video. Like I thought I was fascinated by how she was doing that and and how you guys were talking about the success that that had had with your client communication.
Chase: Yeah. Heather she's our in-house controller. She, um, you know, that's a role that I was really doing for eight, ten years until she came on board and I found the right person. But, you know, that that role is, is really evolved quickly. Had these ideas years ago, you know, about how to, how to deliver financials and how to be more proactive. But technology really wasn't there yet. And, you know, I really didn't find the right pieces. And I needed I didn't have the bandwidth to be honest to myself to to do it. But today, you know, with technology, so we've got into video and we see a significant increase in clients looking at it, at least they might not reach out to us. I mean, everybody sends financials out and they they never hear from anybody. You know, it's like, yeah, that's how it works in the industry. But, but, you know, we're always like, did you look at them? And they're like, they never respond back. So but we can tell on the video stats that they're at least clicking the link. They're at least watching the video. And so what we've done is utilize video because it's very hard to explain.
Chase: You know, in all my years when I was doing it, I would write it out, you know, and like the bullet points of like what I saw in the financials or like, you know, what we should be aware of or like thinking about just kind of that more like coaching and advisory kind of factual CFO type stuff, you know, that I was doing. And, and so with video now we're screen sharing, you know, the financials and hovering over with a mouse and like, you know, talking about it because people are more receptive to video and visual than they are reading it in an email. Yeah. So I think that over the last we've been doing it for almost two years now and we're seeing a significant like 80. Plus percent increase in video reception on just sending out monthly, quarterly kind of advice and financial statements. And so, you know, I'd certainly recommend other firms if they haven't considered it to to look at video because somebody will sit on the couch and watch a two minute video, but they'll they will not read a two minute email.
Heidi: That's a great point. What what what platform do you guys use to do that?
Chase: There's a lot of them out there. I mean, we use it's called dub video and but, you know, find the one that works for you and and that one that one has its nuances too. But it's working for us so far.
Heidi: Yeah. Yeah we we've used loom as well and it's we're starting to find something very similar when we'll send proposals out, being able to have a bit of a video that's also a screen share and you can point things out and answer questions and not only from a client perspective, they look at it, they read it, they understand it, and oftentimes it's actually a huge time saver for us because a lot of times we're not getting scheduled calls. We're not spending an hour explaining things that are relatively easy if we just understand that, look, these are the most common questions that everybody asks or things we've recognized over years that people don't understand. And you can address some of those right off the bat. It's been incredible as an efficiency mechanism to utilize tools like that as well. And I thought it was so cool when we were talking because I don't see that in the industry. In fact, I don't think I've seen a single firm that does that. So when you guys were talking about it, I thought that was really fascinating.
Chase: Yeah. I mean, when you're, you know, your remote and working with clients not in your area, you know, you have to find that connection. And, you know, it's not going to be face to face. I think video is the next level. Um, the technology's there now that you can screen share and you can do a lot of different things with video, but it's just a quick, you know, we keep it, we keep it concise. We're not like drawing it out five, ten minutes. I mean, it's, you know, I, I tell Heather to try to keep it, you know, under two, three minutes at most, Just, just like you're picking up the phone and having a quick conversation. And that resonates with people because they can understand it. If you speak it out and they can visually watch it while you're saying it. We're having a huge increase in viewership that way.
Heidi: Wow, That's cool. So what are some of the other tools or automations that you guys have implemented to reduce some of the the menial tasks or really just to create efficiencies? Because you I'm guessing you have to have certain efficiencies, efficiencies in place to be growing your firm, have the clients and to have your staff say that was a that was the easiest tax season we've had. So I'm curious what other things you've adopted to create those efficiencies?
Chase: We've been using the same technology for a long time. I mean, you know, kind of have a workflow system and then just making sure we communicate with clients. You know, I would say it's not, you know, hugely like something different or what everybody else isn't using already. It's just communication and making sure we're communicating timing with clients, but also for the easiest tax season. I mean, that really boils down to talent, which everybody struggles with finding the right talent in the right seats, doing the right amount of returns. You know, what we always struggled with in the past was we had enough talent, but they weren't they weren't educated enough in taxes to do. Higher level of business returns, I would say. And and the talent we have today, we can spread out the business returns and the ten 40s enough where somebody isn't overwhelmed because you know, it's like 1 or 2 people that can do business returns. Yeah, that's what's really availed us to to be the easiest tax season this year because we have the talent to spread out business returns. Really.
Heidi: Yeah, that makes sense. And and you have you have built an offshore team as well, right? So you've actually been able to add other talent outside the US, is that right?
Chase: Yeah. For our accounting, you know, we do we avail like offshore talent and everything's managed here in the US. But you know, we're, you know, for offshore talent, I mean, you know, you can find somebody they're not going to for us anyway. They weren't like, you can just hand it off and figure it out. Like, I mean, we're it's my accounting manager who didn't meet, you know, she's daily checking in with them, project managing, communicating, looking at all the emails before they get sent out. You know, just it's an ongoing training with them. But you know, once you get them trained up I mean we found, you know, we're using utilizing the Philippines um, they're very motivated to work. Great thing is they grew up in American culture in the Philippines. So their their English is a lot easier generally to work with, um, versus India. Like I had a team in India for first 3 or 4 years and um, you know, the time zone and, and just the way India's culture works from a top down structure just wasn't wasn't working for us. Whereas Philippines are just kind of, you know, everybody's working together to achieve the same goal, which is, is, is what we do as a firm here and meets our, you know, meets our firm goals. Really.
Heidi: Yeah. Interesting. I mean, there's been so much conversation with the difficulty in staffing and in hiring, especially for growing firms. I mean, that's really the number one biggest issue that we're everybody in the industry is talking about in the last year or two. And so it's amazing as you've been able to build that out and and manage capacity with still having a team to to get the work done, balance it all. So what would you say is the number one contributing factor to your success so far?
Chase: It's people you know, I, I had horrible bosses. So when I started this company, you know, I took all those experiences and made sure they didn't happen here. And, you know, I think if you ask my team, you know, I, you know, our culture and you know how I treat people and then how, you know, everybody else treats each other, that's really the differentiating factor. Another thing we have is, you know, firms will just take on any type of business. And I don't I don't do that. We have a no asshole policy. You are one or become one. We just don't work with you because it's not worth losing talent for one horrible client. And a lot of firms and managers and firm owners don't realize that because, you know, yeah, you'll take on the work, but you're not dealing with that client every day. Generally somebody else you know on your team is and they're having to they don't want to pick up the phone every time it rings. And you know, they don't want to have to answer their emails and they they are talking to them and, you know, verbally abusing them sometimes and treating them like crap. And that's that's a drain on a talented employee. And they'll just start looking elsewhere because why should they be dedicated to you if it can be easier to go work somewhere else? And so for me, the biggest thing from day one, you know, we've always fired clients. You know, if we take on clients and it's not the right fit, then we just get rid of them.
Chase: And in today's environment, I mean, it's super easy because there's so much work in this industry to be had. I mean, even at the Engage conference a few weeks ago, I mean, they they confirmed it. The whole industry, there's a huge bubble of work and not enough people to do it. I mean, even in my you know, we're based out of Austin. Even in Austin, I don't even we don't even compete with these firms locally because there's so much work in this town. Like, I mean, we're not we're not trying to we're not having conversations like competing for work with other firms that hasn't even come up in like the last five or so plus years because it doesn't exist. So why work with somebody you don't like? Why? My thing is, if you don't want to pick up the phone when that client calls, then it's time to get rid of them. And that would be my message to other firms to to be thinking about. If that's the case, you know, with clients you have like that, then your team members are. Not happy, 100% happy. And they're not enjoying their job because they're having to deal with these people. And there's no reason to treat professional service like that. I mean, accountants and tax people are just trying to help business owners. And if they want to act that way, then go somewhere else.
Heidi: It's a huge perspective because I think there's it's multifaceted from the the perspective that realizing that you don't have to sort of succumb to that and that being nice doesn't mean that you get treated poorly. But on the other side, I think that would be tremendous for your employees in in the sense that they would understand that you have their back. They are certainly some cultures and some companies where there's a client that has an issue and it instantly turns into a blame game to employees. Well, what did you do? What happened? I can't believe, you know, the client was so upset you didn't this or did that. But I think if we have if we have that perspective, I appreciate what you're saying, that it helps support your employees as well. And again, build that comfort and and probably that loyalty back with understanding that that you've got their back and it's a positive environment.
Chase: Yeah, 100%. It's you know, it's really that's our culture and that's what, you know, people that come into it realize, you know, we tell them, but they don't really believe us. And then once they're here, they're like, Oh yeah, you know, And when situations arise, you know, like one of my younger employees, you know, she got worked up because this client was A-hole. And, you know, we I it's not like I just hear a story and then we fire them. I mean, I certainly do my research first. But, you know, what was what happened? What were the details? And then, you know, is it happening to other people in the firm? You know, is it on the accounting and tax side? You know, it's kind of a three strike policy. So if it's me and my tax manager, my accounting manager, you know, then it's time to go.
Heidi: That's that's fair. Three strikes, you're out. So what do you think holds people back from reaching their potential? What are some of the limitations that I mean?
Chase: A good question. What are you where are you trying to go with that?
Heidi: I'm going deep on that. I think from a from a business owner perspective, people who are running and managing their own firm and there's all this potential for growth or potential for improvement, I think, or let's call it evolving. Like, you know, our company, we've been reading this this book Evolve or Die, and it's a great book. It's got a lot of good feedback. And our founders always saying we don't want to be the next blockbuster. If you're not constantly growing and evolving, you're going to end up being the next blockbuster. So it's like, what? What holds people back from progressing and from really reaching that potential?
Chase: I see. Yeah, yeah, that's a good question. I mean, in my opinion, you know, I think at least in this industry, generally, CPAs don't like change and that's what holds a lot of people back from evolving technology wise process. You know, they like to stay in their lane. This has been working, you know, for all these years. Let's just keep doing it, You know, for us, I mean, like I mentioned in the beginning, I'm you know, I've always been entrepreneurial. I like change. I like technology, I like efficiency. We like improving our clients technology and efficiency. You know, when they come in and their systems are, you know, not great. So it's just like, we're doing this, why aren't you doing this? And so I'm always embracing, you know, and looking for that's why I go to Vegas to engage, see the vendors really, and see what new technologies out there, see if there's something that, you know, is going to game change to the next level. And, you know, and we look at it, but and does it fit our firm? But, you know, I think just being open to change, I think is the number one thing for most people to be able to evolve and and be on the forefront of technology.
Chase: And, you know, just to second that, you know, a lot of people I interview and even my team talks about in their old roles where they were, you know, their their firms weren't evolving. You know, they they I think they're here because they know we are evolving and they know it's different. And we're constantly changing and it's new and inventive, so to speak. And, you know, we're we're not just living off our laurels. And I think especially the younger generation, they a lot of them like that movement. And so when I interview people, I that's a common theme is, you know, we're still using paper, you know, like we're still writing everything down. We're doing like journal entries, you know, like tax adjustments on paper, Like, really, I mean, you're not even scanning. Phoning it in to enter it in the system. I mean, it's like, you know, what world are we living in here? So, you know, if if you're still living in the 80s and 90s on technology, um, you know, and your and your talent is younger, I would say you might want to think twice because they're probably looking around and I might be interviewing them.
Heidi: Yeah. I mean that's a, that's a great point and I think you're right with the younger generations that some of the more tedious tasks as well. The younger generation has much more of that, that thought process of being able to use tools and efficiencies so that we're not doing these day to day tedious tasks that, you know, honestly most people don't like doing. They don't want to do that. And I had another conversation with a firm that also has an outsourced team. And one thing they said is that team is thrilled to be doing a lot of work that honestly, their team's in-house, their tax managers and their staff had gotten a little bit, you know, bored with honestly, it was very was very mundane, repetitive work. And by being able to offshore some of those tasks actually freed up their internal teams to become more innovative and to give them more time to work on creativity and to work on thinking outside the box and do things that were more interesting and interact with clients more directly because they weren't stuck doing just those those ongoing menial tasks. And I thought that was a really interesting perspective. Have you seen the same?
Chase: Yeah, I mean, you know, I'll give you a perfect example. Scheduling meetings like blows my mind that people like haven't even discovered Kalendae because it's like a total like time saver. I mean, I was, I used to go back and forth on emails like, what time do you have? What time do I have, What time do you have? What time do I have? I don't know. Let's keep going back and forth and then we'll figure a time and then we'll book it. I mean, how many emails do you waste? And time sucked just trying to book a meeting, whether it's you or your admin. And I was at this conference and not engaged, but before that and I was talking to this guy and he's a he's a partner at I think he's like 3 or 4 partners, a large regional firm in America. Okay. And this guy was telling me the story is like, yeah, think about hiring an admin. He was outsourcing too. And so that's how he started talking. And he was like, Yeah, you know, thinking about hiring a hitman. But, you know, I'm always like having to book my own meetings and like, you know, go back and forth. So I was like, Well, what is your process? And he's like, Well, you know, they call and then, you know, she checks my calendar and then she checks with me.
Chase: And then, you know, sometimes, you know, I have to end up emailing back and forth, too. I'm like, Why don't you just do a calendar? He's like, What is that? I'm like, Seriously? Like, in my head I'm thinking, seriously. I mean, you have unlimited resources. That's this major regional firm and you have your admin send spending probably what, half an hour booking one meeting between emails and phone calls and, you know, blah, blah, blah. Like just send them a link, let them book the time. If they can't make it, they can reschedule it and it's automated. I mean, it ties in with your calendar. And then I just had the same conversation yesterday at a law firm. You know, I was talking to one of their staff and had the same thing. Like, you know, I've thought about calling her. She had no idea what I was talking about. I was like, Yeah, you know, because their admin is the same thing. Their admins looking at each calendar as somebody calls like, When can I schedule this meeting? And like times? And if it needs to be with two people, then you're looking at two calendars and trying to compare manually. I mean, calendar automates all this like, like you eliminate 30% of an admins job automatically just using calendar if they're booking meetings that way.
Heidi: It's so true. I started using it, I don't know, two a couple of years ago and it really is. It's such a game changer because I had an admin and a lot of her job was scheduling calls. I mean that was that was probably half of her job was scheduling calls and yeah, there's a little bit. Some people have been hesitant to do that. But more and more there's so much more understanding of an acceptance of it. And once people use it, realize, well, this is the best thing ever. And now the interesting thing is I have a lot of people who, because they have my link, which is in my signature, they don't even email me or call me or I literally would just see a 15 minute thing pop up and I'm like, Oh, look, I have a call with Chase tomorrow for 15 minutes. Oh, okay. We must have a quick question. And you know, it's like I'm good with that because I've got, you know, and you can control your availability. So I've got my windows when I can have certain things. And it's it's incredibly efficient and it doesn't waste anybody's time. You get right to the point. And it's a that's a great point. Yes. That's an efficiency and customers.
Chase: Are okay with it because. As you know, they know they're caught. They know they're calling a professional. They know they're calling you. They know your schedule is busy. I mean, you know, they see your title and, you know, they they know things are going on and it's busy season, whatever. And so they're okay. Booking available time that matches their available time, you know, and it just makes it a lot more efficient. I mean, that's just that's just a prime example of like technology and how we've become efficient. And even, you know, my team, you know, you know, everybody has county and even in tax season, you know, when customers want to schedule meetings, they send them a calendar link and they're not bothering them with phone calls being inundated all day, trying to get returns done and then trying to get these phone calls. They just sent out calendar links and somebody books a time.
Heidi: Yep, yep. And eliminating the phone tag. I think that's the thing I probably hated the most. Someone would call me and I'd miss it and then I'd try to call them back and go to their voicemail. And then, you know, and I'm like, just here, just just do this. Then when we call each other, we know we're set and it's awesome. So, so going back a little bit, it's talking about people. Managing people is always interesting. So what would you say is one of the the biggest learning experiences you've had or the things that you've learned the most from managing other people?
Chase: The biggest thing for me is just just communication. I mean, I think early on I was in my team will tell you I was horribly horrible communicator. Um, and, and that's really something that I've worked on personally, you know, with coaching or just, you know, in general just watching how I communicate. You know, it used to be more reactionary and over time I've evolved into more, you know, like, let's look into this type conversation and just and putting it in the hands of them. So it kind of, you know, kind of based back to figuring out for yourself, like, you know, instead of saying, I can't believe, you know, this client's emailing this like, what'd you do wrong? And instead saying, you know, I just emailed back, you know, what are they talking about? What's going on here? And then, you know, let them let them explain because they're there in a day to day. I'm not in these conversations every day, and so I don't really know what's going on until I get an email, you know, and then they're they're complaining. So, you know, let's let's dig into it and let the team figure it out. I think that's that's been a big cultural change, too, for us because the team realizes, you know, they're supported and, you know, they they can explain, you know, what's going on. And, you know, once I hear it from them and, you know, I'm like, oh, yeah, that makes sense. And, you know, they're like, okay, well, you know, I'm not in trouble basically because this client's complaining makes it a lot easier these days. But communication is the biggest for me. It just, you know, learning how to communicate differently to different people. You know, not everybody's the same, especially when you're training people, you know, you know, you have to learn how they hear things, How how do they learn, You know, is it verbal, is it written? Is it both? Like maybe it's different tone, you know, And just in those ways, being a better communicator has made me a better manager of people.
Heidi: What what did you deploy to, to help yourself kind of improve in that area? I mean, certain books or certain programs. You said coaching. What were some of the things that you did?
Chase: Uh, I tell you, I don't read books, but I will read a summary. But I, I, there's really not one thing. I mean, we had like kind of a. Kind of a coach that I invested in the team to have and really was more pre-pandemic where we were still in the office. And, you know, she was really coaching everybody about interrupting one another because when you're in an office, it's quickly go into somebody's office and ask a question. But there might be in the middle of something. And so that was kind of part of, you know, that development for everybody and me like, hey, you know, everybody's in the middle of something all the time. We're all busy, you know, just just ping them like we use slack, you know, say, Hey, do you have a second? You know, can we jump on a quick call these days or, you know, you know, or just ask the question or wait for them to respond, you know, when they're available. But I think it's just just, you know, getting older and, you know, understanding people and like how to how to communicate better and just be more positive and coaching. I think I think not being in the weeds, too, is helpful because, you know, I'm not stressed out, you know, especially in tax season. Like I'm not involved, you know, day to day in taxes. You know, my tax manager handles it now. So that too, I think plays into it as well. Like I'm not I'm not stressed out on the weeds and I can I can kind of step back and and look at it from a holistic perspective.
Heidi: Yeah, Well, I'm glad you brought that up because I was going to ask you more about that. So you mentioned that earlier too, that you're not doing tax reviews anymore and you're not really doing that day to day work. So. So what are you spend your time doing firm related? Because I think it is unique also that you're you've been able to sort of elevate yourself off of doing some of that technical work.
Chase: Yeah. I mean, you know, obviously you got to find the right talent to get there and it takes a while. I mean, it wasn't, you know, from day one, but nowadays, I mean, I'm mostly business development and like sales processes, you know, looking at new technology, really just managing the business, you know, Q&A with with team members, you know, maybe there's issues going on. And then just just kind of, I don't know, general management of the firm, like, really, but, you know, just I'm always I'm kind of more of a forward thinker. I mean, like I'm always, you know, thinking about three, five, ten years from now, what does that look like? Where are we trying to go? And, you know, working on different things. So I always have all these different projects that I'm doing in my head or, you know, physically on paper. But that's, you know, kind of really my role today, which is what a CEO of a company should be doing, not doing reconciliation. And, you know, at 1040, I think most people, most CPAs, you know, that I've ever talked to over the last 20 years, you know, has they're afraid that if they give up control of a tax return, that somebody is going to make a mistake. Well, of course mistakes are going to be made, but you know, as long as it's not significant and you're and you're reviewing, you have somebody to review them properly that knows what they're doing and you're coaching mistakes in real time. Maybe you lose some business here and there. I mean, that's just the nature of the deal. But over time, you know, those people learn from their mistakes and they grow and it doesn't happen again.
Heidi: Yeah, I think that's pretty profound because I think you're right and I've seen the same, is that there's a fear of of giving up control. But it's interesting because that's probably the number one limiting factor. I think too many firms and professionals in in this space is that if they can actually find the space to give up some of that control, that's really where I think things can start to blossom. And that kind of comes into the Segway of really looking at at an individual holistically, you know, looking at yourself. That's how I look at myself as a whole person and not just a CPA or not just running this business. And you mentioned that earlier, as you want to run this as a business, not a lifestyle. So you still are able to live your life, You're still able to to have outside, you know, passions or interests or things that you want to do aside from sitting at your desk day in and day out, seven days a week or for umpteen hours. So tell us a little like, you know, a little bit about Chase. I do know you have a place in Portugal, which I think is great. I had dinner with friends last night. We were we were talking she was like, I don't know what the deal is with Portugal. Everybody's going to Portugal. So, so, so talk a little bit about that. And again, how you balanced all of this.
Chase: Yeah, I think I was actually looking at a book to read. But, you know, when I see a book, it's like.
Heidi: Looking at the summary.
Chase: Daunting with all these pages of black and white. But there was a I watched like a review of it and, and she said, I think it was Steve Forbes like 80% of. Small businesses never exit or sell. And and most people create a business to have a job. And I was like, that's a that's a great point because, you know, and what I do at conferences is I like to talk to the old CPAs, you know, I mean, I'm in my mid-forties right now, so, you know, I got a ways to go, but I always like I enjoy because they've been around the longest and they know more than everybody else. So let me see what they have to say. And, you know, 60, 70, 80, you know, I'm always asking them, like, when are you planning to retire? You know, you know, are you looking to to step out at some point? And and majority of the time, it's like, no, I enjoy what I'm doing or, you know, I'm still working 30, 40 plus hours a week. And, you know, I just like working, you know, and that's fine. If that suits you, that's great. But that's not what I want my life to be. And for me, you know, I just want the flexibility to do what I want, when I want and, you know, in retirement and my older age. So, you know, that's why I'm that's why I've always trying to grow it as a business. So I'm not stuck in the weeds and stuck at a desk for long. And I don't know what this looks like, you know, in ten plus years either. I don't know, you know, whether the firm sells or the employees buy it or, you know, it's still running itself and it's self-sustainable.
Chase: I don't know. But there's options and I can do what I want. And so for me, you know, my personality is, you know, I just like the flexibility. So I want to travel. I love traveling. Huge, like points of miles expert, like first class business class around the world. Oh nice. And and you know, so I love travel, you know, but I have hobbies. And so another theme I've discovered in conversation is most people in CPAs, you know, they really haven't found something they enjoy outside of work. And, you know, like, I mean, I could fulfill my day with all kinds of things. I don't know, working out golfing a couple times a week, which I haven't done since before the pandemic, traveling, you know, going, enjoying meals, you know, with my wife every now and again, like more and just just enjoying life and being available for family more and, you know, all these kinds of things. Like I feel like I could fulfill my day right now if I was to retire tomorrow. But I think a lot of people struggle and I think they're working in the weeds for 20, 30, 40 years. And then one day they maybe they sell their firm and then they're now retired and they're like, what do I do with myself? I don't I don't know what to do other than the desk. So that's why they go back and they go back to the desk and they just start working again because that's all they know. That's that's kind of what I've the conversations I've had with people, that's what I've discovered has been the theme. And so for me, you know, I, you know, I just I don't want to do that. That's not me.
Heidi: Well, that's that's why I thought it was so interesting having the conversation, meeting you and your team and how much I enjoyed the culture of their perspective and your perspective on how you manage this firm and how you manage clients. And it was it was it was enlightening. And it was it was refreshing to really see that and see that, you know, it looks like you're still able to enjoy life, you know, and at times work from Portugal and still manage your firm and still continue to work and and do what you love and mix that in. And I completely agree with you. I am I feel so strongly that having something that you're passionate about is life changing in so many aspects. And I felt that young my own mom, when, you know, she was a wonderful mother, she kind of had a sort of a side job, but she really took care of us kids. And when I was the youngest, I moved out. It was really difficult for her because in a sense it was her retiring and she didn't have anything to do. She didn't have anybody to take care of, and it just left her sort of floundering and, you know, continuing to develop yourself and take time to invest in hobbies or things that you enjoy, I think are just so paramount to to our own sanity, our physical health, obviously.
Heidi: And it does circle back to our teams. It circles back to our clients and to our businesses. And you know, your website, one thing that was in there that I appreciated was essentially what you were saying here is that this is a business, not a lifestyle, and want to build this so that I can eventually move on and enjoy my life and enjoy retirement, but that you want to help your your clients achieve the same thing. And I think that's most people's goal. So I can see how your ability to provide that type of guidance is huge when you're able to accomplish the same thing and then you're looking at providing that type of advice. Advisory support for your clients. And so do you. And you mentioned that when we were having dinner as well, that you've really tried to be more of an advisor and so many firms, this is all over everything is compliance to advisory, compliance to advisory. But but what does it mean? Yeah. And I think you've you've really are accomplishing that. So you know what's really the biggest driver you think that helped you make that transition?
Chase: Um, I mean, for me, it was just like I basically put my every client that we work with, you know, I was putting myself in their shoes and what would I do if I were in their shoes? That's how I approach it and how I talk to them and how I advise them. And early, early days, you know, I'd get like back to like, evolving. I would get to I would get more passionate, I guess you could say about like, this is what you need to do. Like, why aren't you doing this? And, and then over time, I'm just like, they take my advice, they take it. If not, that's on you, you know, But you know, back to, you know, really kind of the coaching and like mentoring and advising and wealth planning. You know, it goes back to just, you know, the basics of like saving money. You know, most business owners are just continually like putting back into the business, which is fine to a degree. But, you know, over time most businesses, again, back to the quote 80% never sell. So you get to that end of the rope, whatever that looks like. Maybe there's a life change. Maybe you're just tired and ready to sell and you're never going to get what you put into it. The blood, sweat and tears.
Chase: The number is never going to be what you expect it to be generally. And so you should be. You know, what we try and tell people is you should be putting away something $100, $10,000, you know, whatever it max out of 401 (K) annually, whatever that looks like, whatever your cash flow allows you to do, you know, that's what you should be doing annually. So you at least at the end of the rope, you know, if you sell the business, great. That's like a bonus in my opinion. But that's how I, that's how I treat myself. You know, I'm saving annually. I'm not counting on selling the business to retire. I'm not counting on Social Security, which, you know, probably won't be there when I retire. Um, or at least it's 50% of what the, you know, the government tells me today. Yeah. So, you know, like, so I'm saving for my retirement so I can enjoy my lifestyle and not have to worry about somebody giving it to me. And that's what we try and coach people, you know, we're we're not unlicensed financial coaches that also on the weekends, you know, so this comes from like professional experience and my own experience, you know, in coaching my team and, you know, and really runs down like forecasting and cash flow.
Chase: And then, you know, when you're most people don't realize like my parents, you know, they, you know, I love them dearly, but let's just say I'm better at managing money. And, you know, they get to the end of the their career. You know, my dad retired and and at the end of the last year and now they're like, oh, well, we want to do all these things. I'm like, Where's this money coming from? Like, why didn't you say for this over the course of the last decade, you know, while you were working and building a small like savings nest egg to do these things you want to do in retirement? I mean, most people you know, I heard a while ago at a at a conference like people only have like a two year horizon investing wise. And they don't they don't see a 3 to 5 plus year horizon. And so it's like, okay, well, I'm here now, you know, let's do this. Like, that's not how that's not how money works. So a lot of times you have to plan for it long term. And, you know, so that's why it goes back to just saving what you can at least max out an IRA. If you can do that, start with, you know, 6000 or whatever the limit is, you know, this year and do it for you and do it for your spouse.
Chase: You know, can you pay your kids in the business? Let's help them save for college or whatever that looks like. And then if you have more money, you know, max out a 401. K or IRA, but put something away so it's at least asset protected one and then you're saving for yourself. And that's the biggest thing is people are always taking care of other people and not themselves. And, you know, that's why America is in the spot it's in because you get to retirement and it's like, now I'm living on Social Security and health care is taking half of it, you know, And people didn't save enough or never save enough. I mean, you read all the statistics, you read all the stories. It happens all it happens generations after generations. And so, yeah, that's that's my passion, you know, And so that's my passion coaching my team. And, and that's, you know, kind of what you heard at dinner like because I've coached it down to them to advise and coach our clients that way. Again, whether they listen to us or not, you know, that's kind of on them at this point. But yeah, but at least tell them.
Heidi: It's huge because you're you're making a difference. You are, you know, every once in a while those seeds stick and, you know, it shifts what people do. And yeah, I've looked at some of the statistics and it's, it's a little terrifying and saddening, really. So one last final question for you.
Chase: So Portugal, before you get to the question.
Heidi: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Portugal.
Chase: Portugal. So I bought a rental property there before the pandemic. New construction. So, you know, opened up in the pandemic. That was interesting traveling, but I got in at the right time before. It's like I think I think several nuggets of things are happening with Portugal. One, the pandemic. Everybody was on Instagram looking at pictures to it's just cheap there. You know, Thailand is the cheapest place I've ever been in my life, but Portugal is pretty on par. And that's why a lot of Europeans have been going to Portugal for a long time. British, British in particular, is a huge destination for them because it's a quick two, three hour flight and it's warm. But Americans have discovered it because it's affordable. And there's just a lot of retirees, you know, realizing, you know, their Social Security money could go a lot further there than it can in America. So there's a lot of there's a huge movement. And now people are you know, it's a quick flight to Portugal on the East Coast and people are discovering it. And it's a Portuguese people are very friendly and open and, you know, they're very receptive to Americans and preachers because they've been speaking English a long time with the British visitors. So English is comfortable for them. And but, you know, it's kind of those three things I think are driving the popularity in Portugal. But when I was there in the pandemic, in fact, my accountant told me like before the pandemic, like, no, like 10% of their tourists or something were Americans. And now it's like 80 or 90%. It's just like crazy after the pandemic, like there's this huge influx of Americans, which, you know, sucks for the Portuguese because it's driving up prices. You know, my accountant said they, you know, they could have a job and have money left over after living costs. Now they have to have two jobs to afford the living and have, you know, enough money to afford the living. So it's they're having a they're struggling keeping up with the demand but locally. But it's definitely cheap there. You should check it out.
Heidi: Yeah that's awesome. Yeah, it's intriguing for sure. So we might have to put that on our travel list for the year and go check it out because I've been hearing a lot about it, So thanks for sharing that. Um, so final question, what would you tell your 20 year old self?
Chase: Uh, good question. Um. Uh, I don't. I don't know. Uh, I guess how to communicate better for summarizing this conversation. Yeah. Uh, you know how to communicate. I think, um, just how to, you know, I think when you're in your 20s, you're just learning, like, job, you know? And I think working for different bosses, you know, has evolved me into having the type of firm we have today and how we treat people. But, you know, I would say certainly save money like everybody else says, but that never happens in your 20s, usually. Um, yeah. I mean, I had student loans too, you know, I had to pay those off, but, uh, you know, it's, uh. Yeah, I would say, you know, just learning how to speak to people and just being more open and receptive to different conversations, um, you know, and more wiser. As people say, you get older, you become more wiser, I think. It's certainly true now that I'm older.
Heidi: Very true. I know it's. It's constant. I know you look back, I'm like, I don't think I would ever want to go back and be 20, you know? So the difficult times of of getting comfortable in your own skin. But I know that can be a hard question, but I'm always interested in what people reflect on, you know, and I think it's reflective of what we learn through life and what we've learned up to date and of course, continually learning every day. So I'm so appreciative. Thank you so much for being a guest and for sharing your story and your success and and you know the way you think. I do find it refreshing, and I think that it's amazing what you've built. Your team was fantastic and I thought it was really great. So thank you for sharing.