Financial advising with a

S3 EP03 AI Integration and Impact on Tax Accounting with Jody Padar

03.16.20 | 0 Transform

My guest today is Jody Padar.

Jody is CEO and Principal of the New Vision CPA Group, a public accounting firm based in the Chicago area. She is the author of The Radical CPA: New Rules for the Future-Ready Firm and From Success to Significance: The Radical CPA Guide. She is also the Accounting Ambassador and Vice President of Strategy at Botkeeper, a human-assisted AI platform for bookkeeping. 

In this conversation, Jody talks about what it would take for advisors and CPAs to live a more balanced life and to run profitable firms — without working 80+ hours a week.

Don’t miss one of our favorite moments, when Jody explains that optimizing the technical side of tax accounting doesn’t just benefit the client. It also sets CPAs up to spend more time working through their client’s holistic financial needs.  Her best advice for advisors who are thinking about adding a tech or AI component to their offering is to grow in their advisory skills first. Technology doesn’t replace relational interactions. In its best and highest use, it should elevate the professional’s ability to connect with clients and amplify trust.

As you think about this conversation, where does AI fit into the evolution of your practice? How are you preparing to keep up with client expectations for quicker, more integrated service? Share your thoughts in the Model FA Community — and learn how the Model FA Accelerator can help you take your firm to the next level of organic growth.

Looking for more ideas about growing your practice? Join the Model FA Facebook Community, where you will find expert advice on how to launch, grow, scale, and transform your firm with an incredible client experience. Or, check out our Model FA Accelerator, a premier coaching and practice management program for entrepreneurial financial advisors.

Resource Links

New Vision CPA Group

The Radical CPA: New Rules for the Future-Ready Firm 

From Success to Significance: The Radical CPA Guide.

Botkeeper

Connect with Jody

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jody Padar:

I think the really good wealth managers, and it depends again, there's good CPAs and there's bad CPAs. There's good wealth managers and there's bad wealth managers. I think the thing that the wealth managers have helped, at least our firm to realize too, is a portion of the advisory piece, what truly is advisory and what is a holistic approach to advisory?

Patrick Brewer:

Welcome to the Model FA podcast, I am your host Patrick Brewer. Today's guest is Jody Padar, she is a CPA and CEO, principal of New Vision CPA Group. She's also the author of The Radical CPA and From Success to Significance, the Radical CPA Guide. She is an accounting ambassador and bot advisor at Botkeeper. She does a lot of stuff in the artificial intelligence world and she also is a wealth manager. Jody, thank you so much for joining us on today's podcast.

Jody Padar:

I'm happy to be here.

Patrick Brewer:

Great. Great. Well let's get started. I think this is going to be an interesting episode and you and I had met a number of years ago when I was considering launching a tax and accounting arm of my practice and you gave me a lot of valuable information and I think you were definitely one of the, let's say, most forward thinking thought leaders in the cloud accounting space and it looks like you've kind of even progressed past that into AI and bots and you've expanded your tax and accounting practice, you've launched a wealth management division, so you've been doing a lot of stuff.

Patrick Brewer:

And I'd be curious, just for the listeners, if you wouldn't mind just maybe give us a quick overview of kind of what you're focused on, what you're doing right now and then we can kind of dig in from there. I think a lot of the advisors and others in financial services that are going to listen to this, will get a lot out of kind of your thought process, kind of where you came from and some of the things that you're doing today. And then we can kind of dig in and then kind of go through some of the things that'll be more pertinent to the listeners.

Jody Padar:

Yeah. So quick background on my firm, 13 years ago I left an old school tax and accounting firm and I joined my dad who had a small 10-40 practice at the time. I built that firm to what it is today and I was an early cloud adopter, early social media adopter, early technology adopter, I'm always on the leading edge. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. No, and I say that because obviously you learn a lot when you're that first person through. But what a lot of people don't realize about my firm is they think because of my social status in the industry and because of my social presence, that our firm is huge. But really what they don't realize is we've automated so much of our work that we are down to, seriously, there are four of us.

Jody Padar:

My partner who really runs the wealth management side, Maggie, my partner Alex, who runs the accounting and tax side and Lisa, our admin. And I really hang in the media spotlight, I write books, I write thought leadership papers, I speak and I do those kinds of things. So I think the biggest takeaway for anyone to realize after they listen to the show and they realize is that technology gives you so much power today that you can be really big and really small at the same time, if that makes sense. So you don't have to have a ton of people to do some really cool stuff now, the technology has leveled the playing fields completely. And so that's what's really cool about my firm. And now mind you, it didn't happen overnight, there's definitely been an evolution. So it's 13 years in the making, but now it's pretty cool.

Patrick Brewer:

As far as technology goes, how much of it is the technology that you're deploying versus, I guess, the thought process that went into creating workflows and SOPs and making sure that the staff or outsourcers were effectively trained on the systems? Is it really tech doing all of the heavy lifting and just pretty much handling it straight through processing or was there a lot of thought that went into creating the process and the collaboration systems and all the stuff necessary to deliver the end product?

Jody Padar:

So I think because we've been at it for so long, we've always been adopting our processes. So our processes have changed significantly than an old school firm, our processes are very different. But on the other side of it, none of the tech that we have created, we built ourselves, so it's all third party process products. So we're always tweaking and reconnecting. And when I say reconnect, figuring out a better way to do it so that what happens is is we don't really change in our firm, we just evolve. And I mean that by saying it's just part of our DNA that things are going to change and that we're going to do things faster and different, which I think is one of the biggest setbacks for wealth managers and for a CPAs as a whole, is everything has to be changed, whereas if you build that into your DNA where you're always changing, it's just what we do. And I think that's really the difference of a radical firm versus an old school firm, it's the idea of change is just happening and we're just always adapting.

Patrick Brewer:

How many accounting firms are you, I mean, and you don't need to give me a number or even a flat percentage or anything like that, but would you say that a lot of firms are adopting that mindset of grow, change, break things, fix them, adopt technology, adopt process, create efficiencies? Is it something that's starting to accelerate or is there still resistance to it? Where are we at in the accounting industry as far as that's concerned?

Jody Padar:

So when we first met a number of years ago, it was so stagnant. I had been talking and talking and talking and nobody was hearing me. Well, I guess they were hearing me, so now they're actually decided that they might move.

Patrick Brewer:

They're considering a move.

Jody Padar:

So I finally gotten their attention and they just might move, but they still want a best practice. And unfortunately there is no best practice, it's next practice. And it's how do we help their teams really understand that there's no for sure pathway, you have to figure out the pathway as you move forward.

Patrick Brewer:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I found that the uncertainty component of that tends to cause people to not make decisions, analysis paralysis.

Jody Padar:

And the good thing about it is, is the more changes you put in your firm, the more technology you add. Not only does it replace talent, but it gives you additional capacity. And with that additional capacity, now you can make more changes. And I think that's the hardest part. It's like when you first start that marathon, my God, the first three walks suck, but then after a week you're like, "Oh, okay, this 45 minute walk is not so bad." And then you build that strength and you build that stamina so that then that change is not change management, it just becomes part of your firm. And that's where I think CPAs, they want the promised land, but I don't know if they're ready to go through the work, or they're scared of the work to get there.

Patrick Brewer:

Yeah, it's painful, just like anything. Good analogy there with the marathons, getting into the gym and you're really sore the first couple of workouts and then you just got to build up the muscle memory and things and eventually you kind of break through it. But yeah, it's tough initially starting out. And I think in our industry it's kind of the same thing, a lot of firms have been doing stuff the same way for a long time. Charging on assets, not adopting a full service business model, incorporating tax planning, maybe even tax preparation or accounting or virtual CFO services. And I think we're starting to see a shift towards that, let's call it, multi-specialty practice, trusted advisor model. So it's good to see that you've got that pretty much fully working in your practice. So when did you make the decision to add wealth management and what was kind of the driving factor behind adding that to the tax and accounting practice?

Jody Padar:

So three years, well, so a number of years ago I used to office with a wealth manager. So I had always seen how wealth management had an impact and whatever. So it wasn't like it was brand new to me, but I always thought, "Oh, I got to find the right person to partner with." I was really intimidated about taking the exams and getting certified and all this stuff. So finally a few years ago we started to see our clients exit their businesses and exit our firm with us. So even though we had taken them from being their full service accounting and tax provider, they'd grown their businesses with us, we were their trusted advisor, they had an exit, they received millions of dollars and they now went to their wealth management and left us behind because the wealth managers were now doing taxes. And so I was like, "Hey, what about us? What are we?"

Jody Padar:

So after that happens a couple of times, you're like, "Gee, what do I need to do here?" And so what was happening is, was at this time too, we were using more technology and because we were using more technology, we had more capacity to do more. So I said, "All right, I'm going to go get licensed." And I asked my tax preparer if she wanted to get licensed with me. And she said, "Absolutely." And we both went through the classes and so we both got licensed and we were with a broker dealer for a while and now we're just [inaudible 00:09:26]. But what was funny to me is now she loves it and she loves it so much better than doing just tax review, which is interesting to me, so she really became that advisor.

Jody Padar:

And so the other cool thing is is because of the way we're structured now, is we're fee only. And because we didn't have this legacy of all these assets, that we didn't have to worry about how we were going to charge for that asset management, what we were going to do, we had a fresh slate. And so really our business model is built on fee only financial planning and assets under management, they're welcome to bring their assets if they want to, but we don't really lead with that. And yes, we've got an assets under management, but we really lead with a fixed fee only financial planning and incorporated into really the holistic view of their personal finances, which includes their tax, they're potentially a small business and their wealth, which has been fun.

Patrick Brewer:

So for new clients, I'm assuming that you're presenting the full service offer on the front end and correct me if I'm wrong, and then for old clients, are you waiting for them to have some type of an event or are you going to them proactively and saying, "Hey, not sure if you have a financial advisor wealth manager right now, but we offer that service." What's the process for new and current clients?

Jody Padar:

Oh, so no. So since we've been licensed, we've been, I wouldn't say aggressively, but we've been going after our current client base. And last year, this is interesting too, we fired 90 of our 10-40s because we said, "If you're going to work with us, you're either going to do a complete financial plan with us or we're not doing your 10-40." So I think that's kind of an aggressive move, but on the other side of it is we want to be that partner to our clients, we don't want to just be compliance driven. And so a bunch of them converted.

Jody Padar:

So, not all of them, but a bunch of them did convert. And what I found was interesting is some of them left and came back because they figured, I guess they needed it later. So I don't know. But it's been interesting but I think that was a bold move on our part. But on the other side of it, you can't be everything to everyone and so for us to say, "Look, we're doing financial planning, we're going all in and if you want to be part of our firm, you have to be part of it."

Patrick Brewer:

Love it. Yeah, I mean I feel like a lot of CPAs that have introduced wealth management, they start to move in that direction once they realize that it's just better to have deeper relationships with folks versus death by a thousand paper cuts on a 10-40, so totally respect that decision. How many of the clients that you brought over would you say were working with the financial advisor wealth manager at that time? Was it 50%, 10% and this is kind of a new service to them, what was that conversation like?

Jody Padar:

So the sad thing is, is all of them, meaning they're not getting what they need from their financial advisor. I mean think about that. So that we offered them fee only, so for an additional fee, we offered them fee only financial planning and they saw enough value in that to come to us and let their asset manager, because that's what they see them as, not necessarily a financial planner, they see them as an asset manager, take care of the assets. And then what's happened is, is then the assets slowly come over because you build that trust, you help them make their plans and all of a sudden they're like, "Well why isn't my financial planner doing this?" And then they just start moving your assets over.

Patrick Brewer:

Nice. How much in assets, if you don't mind me asking, I mean I can obviously look it up on BrightScope, but how much in assets have you managed to transfer from the tax accounts side of the business?

Jody Padar:

I don't know off the top of my head because that's Maggie's wheelhouse. But it's amazing to me because what happens is, is they start with a couple hundred thousand and then it just keeps going. So it's not like, "Okay, I'm quitting one financial advisor and I'm starting a new one." It's, "Okay, I'm going to start working with you as I build trust, whatever." Then they slowly move all their stuff, which to me, I thought was really interesting.

Patrick Brewer:

Yeah. I mean breaking up is hard in a service based business, so it's probably the relational side of it starts slow and then eventually it becomes easier to rip the bandaid, I guess you can say. But that's great. I mean it sounds like you've established kind of a fractional family office type of model, tax accounting. Are you still doing virtual CFO services as well for business owners?

Jody Padar:

Yeah, we are. So we do that as well for small businesses.

Patrick Brewer:

How does it work with the, because you and I were chatting before we started recording on the idea of AI and automation and these things, how has that allowed you to, first, how are you doing it, I guess, at a high level because four people for a tax accounting and wealth management firm is a very lean staff. So what are you automating? How are you doing it? How are you thinking about it? I think this could have broad application for the folks that are listening.

Jody Padar:

Yeah, absolutely. So first of all, all clients are in the cloud. You have to be in the cloud to work with us. We don't work the way, I'll say small businesses, want us to work at. And when I say that I'm meaning the small business isn't driving the way we work, we tell our small businesses how they're going to work with us. So we have a very standardized process, we have a very standardized way we work with them and because of that we can scale. And that means everything's in the cloud. So we're using QuickBooks online for small business accounting and we're using E-money for financial advisory. So that just makes it easier to start with. Then we're using, we may use a number of other apps, but then we use a service called Botkeeper and Botkeeper is an AI company that essentially, they raised $20 million by Google last year.

Patrick Brewer:

Just small numbers.

Jody Padar:

Yeah. small amount. And what they do is essentially they do all the bookkeeping, so they call it Botkeeping but essentially what it does is it does all the categorization of transactions, so in QuickBooks online and as an accountant, you would have to hit, accept, accept, accept, or you have to write the rules to accept the transactions while the bots, or the artificial intelligence and machine learning, actually do all that. So now you only have to manage the exceptions. So the exceptions instead of there being 400 transactions for you to look at, there may be only five. So it allows you to do a lot more work with less people. And what was interesting is people are all like, "Oh well, did you go looking for this technology?" And well we really didn't, but we were having a hard time finding talent.

Jody Padar:

As a small firm, all the accountants go to really big firms and then it's hard to find people. And what we found is, is that by utilizing technology, we don't have to hire as many people, which solves our biggest pain point, which is finding people. So that's how we've really utilized them. And so then the bots do all the accounting and bookkeeping, Alex just has to review the file at a higher level, like an accountant would come in and review a file from a bookkeeper and then we push right to tax. So we're almost at a zero touch tax return, if you can believe that, which is kind of scary, but it's kind of awesome.

Patrick Brewer:

It's pretty crazy.

Jody Padar:

So when we push to tax, the tax actually, there's AI in our tax software that goes in and essentially maps the account from QuickBooks online. So if it knows what it is, it puts it there, if it doesn't, it says, "Hey, check this out, pick this line." And then it pushes to tax. So we're almost at a zero touch tax return, which is kind of crazy.

Patrick Brewer:

It's pretty amazing. What tax software are you using that has AI embedded in it?

Jody Padar:

So we're using CCH Access. They have a bridge model and they call it, it's CCH Financial Prep. And that's the bridge that takes QuickBooks online and pushes it into tax.

Patrick Brewer:

How are you dealing with the data collection piece of taxes? Because that's to me has always seemed like the bottleneck and I haven't really found any good solutions for that and people are selective in how, and when they send you the information. How do you force compliance on that and make that scalable?

Jody Padar:

So I wish there was an easy thing for that. From a business side it's very easy in that we don't allow clients to work with us who don't work with us all year long. So you can't come to us in March and just say, "I want our corporate tax return done." Nope, you're either working with us all year or we're not working with you because that's not going to be my emergency in March, there's too much else going on. But from an individual standpoint, it's hard, there's no perfect way. I mean, you can have portals, but at the end of the day you spend a lot of time training your people, your clients, how to use those portals, not everybody is user friendly, people send you documents via text. I wish I had the perfect solution for that.

Patrick Brewer:

I was just wondering if it existed. I'd be like, "Oh my gosh, she's got the Holy grail." Nice. What is your focus right now? So you've got a four person tax accounting, wealth management firm. It sounds like you're building this for, I don't want to call it a lifestyle business, but just a more lean, profitable business that it's very scalable, very efficient. I mean, are you doing that so that you can focus your time and energy on other pursuits like AI and tech and thought leadership or what's the reason for keeping it small?

Jody Padar:

Yeah, I mean, to me, I'm that person, I like to discover things, I'm the pioneer, I'm the one who's always pushing boundaries, but once it's operational, I'm bored out of my mind.

Patrick Brewer:

We have that in common.

Jody Padar:

That's just me. I don't know if you could tell that or not.

Patrick Brewer:

We have it in common, don't worry.

Jody Padar:

So what I would like to do is I really like the consulting that I'm doing right now and the social media stuff and really the movement. The whole reason, my whole why has always been, it's never been about the tech. People always say, "Oh, Jody likes tech." It's never been about the tech. It's about making sure that as CPAs you can have a good lifestyle. Now, I think wealth managers figured that out a pretty good while ago, but CPAs have always worked a bazillion hours a week during tax season and that's not cool. And when I left my old school firm 13 years ago, I was a young mother and that was one of the things that I had an issue with, is that it didn't matter how good I did because I wasn't working all these hours, I wasn't getting recognized for my success just because I wasn't in the office. It was a Buxton seat mentality.

Jody Padar:

So for me, the reason I'm excited about all this tech and about all this business improvement and process improvement and being able to build these firms is so that CPAs can have a life. So that they're not working 80 hours a week during tax season, let the computer do that work and let us go home. Everyone's like, "Oh, well AI is going to take our jobs." I'm like, "Really?" I'm like, "Maybe you just want to go home and see your family at dinnertime." Why is that a bad thing to want to work nine to five or whatever? Do you know what I mean? Or anytime or whatever, but why do we have to work 24/7? So at the end of the day, to me that's what it's about. It's about results and being able to have a profitable firm and not kill yourself in the process.

Patrick Brewer:

Great. Yeah, no, that's a good point. In your mind, do you think that, what do you think will happen, do you think that tech and AI and automation and all these things will make the change for the CPA and they're just going to invent an end to end solution that just fully reconciles all the accounting, does all the taxes and collects all the information and just kind of cuts the accountant out of the picture? Or do you think that the accountant will transition and there'll be kind of these tech enabled accountants that leverage technology? I know we have that right now, but where do you think it's going to end up when it's all said and done?

Jody Padar:

So over $250 million has gone into the artificial intelligence and accounting space in the last year. So that tells you it's changing and it's changing fast. So that VC capital is here. Botkeeper's positioning is that they want to help accountants be the tech enabled accountants and that no one can take away that person. And that essentially kind of like robo-advisor, which you guys have kind of gone through already, is a robo-advisor does something, but you really need to have that person there as well.

Patrick Brewer:

Yeah, the human interaction.

Jody Padar:

Absolutely. And so that's where I see it coming from or coming to I should say.

Patrick Brewer:

Okay. Are you seeing any other unique trends or is there anything about the wealth management industry that surprised you or that you've been able to take elements of and apply in your accounting and tax practice? Based on you integrating that service into your practices, has that changed your mindset at all? Are we ahead? Are we behind? Are we in jeopardy of a similar thing going on? Where do you stand with that as far as wealth management is concerned?

Jody Padar:

Well, I think the really good wealth managers, and it depends again, there's good CPAs and there's bad CPAs. There's good wealth managers and there's bad wealth managers. I think the thing that the wealth managers have helped, at least our firm to realize too, is a portion of the advisory piece, what truly is advisory and what is a holistic approach to advisory? And so I think that's a good thing and I think there are lots of financial managers out there, and wealth managers out there who do that well. And I think there are some that don't do it so well. But I think that's one of the things that they can help tax and accounting people with. And I think going the other side is if tax and accounting people could help them understand a little bit more of the technical piece of the tax piece and of the the situations, I think it would be good.

Jody Padar:

And I think one of the biggest problems today is, is nobody owns anything. If you talk to a financial advisor who's not part of your firm, it seems like they always say, "Oh, we'll check your tax person." And if you talk to a tax person, if they're not part of your firm, they always say, "Oh, we'll talk to your financial advisor." But there are very few relationships I believe, between accountants and financial advisors who are not embedded together, that work well.

Patrick Brewer:

Yeah. No, I mean you and I, we had this conversation years ago. I went through the ringer trying to figure this problem out. We finally got a solution. So the path that I took was initially calling around trying to build relationships with CPAs. Got the red light. Most of them were more interested in that transactional work. They couldn't really differentiate between a good and a bad advisor. Not to say I'm a good or better than anyone, but just the value proposition of coordination, the expert team model, they didn't really want to participate in that. And then we tried to launch our own tax and accounting services, which has its own challenges because you've got to bring somebody on, you got to pay them a salary, you got to create all this infrastructure and somebody needs to manage and look over that process that's an expert. And for an advisor who doesn't have a background in tax and accounting, that can be pretty daunting.

Patrick Brewer:

So that didn't work out well for us either for a variety of reasons. Mostly because the person decided to just not do the work and tell us too late in the tax season. So we needed to hire somebody else in to finish it. So that was an expensive mistake. But over the past couple of months we've actually finally cobbled together the model that I think works. It's not in sourced to the degree that you have it where you've got everything under one brand, everything is unified. But we have an office with a tech, with a CPA, a business tax attorney, and we're able to handle all of those matters related to tax accounting, VCFO and wealth management. So I think that's the way the industry is progressing. And I think I'm hearing the same thing from you is just kind of building out that expert team, in sourced or outsourced, hopefully in sourced at some point and then just providing better outcomes for the clients and coordinating everything.

Jody Padar:

Yeah, I would agree with that. Whether you're a CPA or a CFP or whatever your designations are, I really believe that you really have to have that holistic approach and then it has to be a coordinated holistic approach. It can't just be, "Oh well this is a financial advisor I work with."

Patrick Brewer:

Yeah. What's your advice to an adviser who wants to create that approach? I mean I feel like advisors are at a disadvantage because we don't have the background necessarily in prep and bookkeeping and those types of things. Maybe that's not quite as much of an issue now with all the tech and automation and AI that's available. I mean, what would your advice be to me, now, we had this conversation four years ago and you gave me advice, but what is your advice now given the changes and now that you understand kind of the wealth management space, what would you advise an advisor to do if they wanted to create something similar to what you and I have done?

Jody Padar:

So I would say find a younger practitioner who is interested in all the tech and all that piece of it and work with them on advisory skills, because I think the one thing that financial advisors did right was they teach their next generation of financial advisors. And the reason they teach them is because of the way the commission structure works. So a lot of times if you have someone, if there's an incentive to teach them how to be a financial advisor and there's a commission share on it, then guess what, that knowledge gets passed. Whereas in CPA firms, there hasn't always been that incentive to teach the next gen. It's like, "Oh my God, I got my own work to do, get out of my way." Which isn't necessarily right, but it's just honest.

Jody Padar:

So what I think is good about the financial advisory space is a lot of those conversations that if you can help that detailed tax expert, that accountant expert learn how to have advisory conversations, then you guys can work together really well because I think that's where they need a little bit more help. They need a little bit more help on the soft skills. They need a little bit more help on the sales skills. They need a little bit more help on the relationships side of it and then use them for the technical piece that you need help with.

Patrick Brewer:

Got it. Yeah. No, I would agree with that. I think that's a good starting place for a lot of advisors out there that are looking to integrate these services. Have you noticed that in your time, are you still doing any consulting directly with the tax and accounting firms and obviously you're doing speaking and thought leadership and things of that nature, are you doing any one to one consulting or is that kind of moved past that?

Jody Padar:

No, I do a little bit of one to one consulting to firms, bigger firms now mostly because want to get radical. They realize that they need to change and they either don't have the leadership in house or they need help.

Patrick Brewer:

Okay. What are you advising them on changing first? Is it changing their business model to incorporate other services to increase margins? Is it to improve their offer through the better use of technology and automation? Is it everything? You're like, "Hey, you need to tear this thing down to the studs and redo the whole thing." Where do you start?

Jody Padar:

Yeah. So I do an assessment of the firm first and then a lot of it is customized, but I mean realistically it's like it's almost if they had a blank slate, what could they do? And so that's what's interesting to me. If they had a brand new blank slate, what could they do to start over? But really we're helping them with process, we're helping them pick technologies, we're helping them with culture issues, we're helping them with training. I mean whatever they need, they need help with because again, they want to get to where we are and it's hard when you're on a bigger ship. The reason we've been able to evolve so much is because we're agile and we can move. But when you have to move 10 people, it's harder. You have to move a hundred people or you have to move a thousand people, it doesn't move as fast as you necessarily want it to.

Patrick Brewer:

Very true. What have you been doing on the growth side of the equation? Are you primarily leveraging existing relationships, getting introductions and referrals? Are you doing any online or traditional forms of marketing? What are you doing to grow the firm? Or is that not really a focus right now based on where it's at?

Jody Padar:

So I'm lucky because of my thought leadership, my firming naturally grows. So because I have such a strong social presence, I have a really good front door. And when I say that, meaning my online presence. I have over almost 700,000 followers on LinkedIn. So leads just come into me, which is crazy. I mean if someone would have asked me that, I'd have been like, "Yeah, right." But no, leads just come in. So we're doing that. And then now we just announced actually a partnership with marketingbynumbers.io And what they are is they are video marketing, so essentially it's content, but you get to do the content in your office. So they set you up, they send you a tripod, you put your iPhone up there, they give you all the content in a transcription thing, so you're just reading it. And you get to make your own videos with your own content, which is pretty freaking cool.

Jody Padar:

So it's their content but it's you. So they give you the technical piece to it, but all you have to do is create the delivery and then you can email that out. And we've already seen a great success with it, because again, it's engaging. People want to be engaged and nobody wants to read the email newsletter anymore. So it's like an email newsletter with a video.

Patrick Brewer:

Have you noticed that most accountants freeze up and want to hurl themselves off a bridge, if you tell them to do a video though?

Jody Padar:

So yes, but because it's in a box and it's like video in a box, they get a little bit easier. And they can be as stiff as they want because right now it's only going to their clients who I say already know their stuff.

Patrick Brewer:

Just get started. Yeah, no expectations [crosstalk 00:33:02]. Okay and then 700,000 followers on LinkedIn, I mean I thought you were primarily specialized in B2B, that's more accountants than exist I think in the country. Where's the leads come from?

Jody Padar:

So I have a lot of Indonesians following me as well. Seriously, I'm global now, which is crazy. I went to Singapore this year and I did a keynote there, which was amazing. Singapore is an amazing place, if you ever get an opportunity to go there, definitely get there.

Patrick Brewer:

I'm not as cool as you, I have 10 followers. But they're really engaged, it's really all about engagement these days.

Jody Padar:

I think what it is, is it's a long time. It's 13 years and 10 years on social and it's not like this stuff happened overnight. It's been the same vision, the same passion, the same idea of change, the same idea of making the accounting space a better place. And so people connect with that and then they share it. And then at a certain point it's just a numbers game. The more numbers you have, the more likes you get, the more people follow. So it just becomes who I am. And I just got LinkedIn live, which I'm pretty stoked about, so I started playing with it, so that's pretty cool.

Patrick Brewer:

Yeah. I don't think my account has been authorized for LinkedIn live yet, but we'll see.

Jody Padar:

Eventually, everybody's going to get it. I mean it's just in beta now, but pretty soon everyone will get it.

Patrick Brewer:

Nice. What's on the horizon for you, I guess in 2020, where's your head at? What's your focus? Are you just going to be kind of leaning into the Botkeeper and a lot of the other engagements on the AI tech side? What do you have planned for this year?

Jody Padar:

So the cool thing is, is I have two really great partners who manage the technical side. So Alex is on the accounting side, Maggie's on the wealth. So it really allows me to do what I want to do, which is going to be more media driven, more writing, may have another book out there, starting to think about it. And then speaking and just keeping to push and evolve the radicals, getting more CPAs or wealth managers involved in getting radicalized and changing their practices. Because why not? And the thing is too, it's like you have a choice, you can change or can not change. But if you don't change, what's going to happen? And making the choice to not change, is a choice.

Patrick Brewer:

Yeah, it is. Just doesn't hurt as bad right now.

Jody Padar:

Right, you have a little bit of time to evolve. And the thing is, is it doesn't all have to happen at once. It's not like you're going to flip a switch and everything's going to change overnight, but you've got to start on that path. You got to start moving. Because if you don't, you'll blink one day and truly the robo-advisors will have taken over. And I don't say that in jest, it's just if you don't evolve your skillset, why wouldn't a computer do what we do because a lot of what we do is rote.

Patrick Brewer:

Yep. No, I think that's some solid perspective. I mean outside of those words of wisdom, do you have any other parting thoughts for advisors and others in financial services that are tuning in to this? Anything that you would, based on your experience on both sides of the table now, any advice that you could impart on them?

Jody Padar:

I would just say just keep moving and be open and curious because I think it's really exciting what's coming. I think the whole idea of AI and all the technology that's coming into both our spaces or the complete space, is pretty cool. So just be open to it and don't be afraid of it and embrace it because we don't know what we don't know yet and I guarantee what we do today is not what we're going to be doing in 10 years. But it's not that it's a bad thing, it's just going to be different. So just be open to it being different and then we'll all be relevant in the future. Because I think that's what scares people, they're afraid, but somehow we've all managed to evolve and what we're doing today is different than what people used to do in the 90s and we're still all working, so we're just going to evolve with it. So that would be the only thing.

Patrick Brewer:

Great. Well, Jody, thank you so much for your time and all the success that you had, it's really impressive. It's good to catch up and hopefully I'll have you back on maybe in four years and you can tell me how you have a 20 billion followers and we can just check back in on all the robots and things that you oversee. But thanks again for coming on the podcast and giving our audience some words of wisdom. I'll talk to you soon. Thanks so much.

Jody Padar:

Great. Thank you.