My partner, Adam Hale, and I began our journey in 2002 as a traditional CPA firm based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We had a goal to change the way people think about accounting — I wanted to change the way accountants worked with clients and the value offered to them. I also wanted to create a sustainable, family-friendly work environment for accountants who were used to working 60–80 hours per week, especially during tax season.
Our Work: What We Were Doing & What We Changed
We met with clients on a monthly basis to go over their accounting statements. However, we quickly learned we needed to help our clients understand the financial side of their business. Adam and I noticed when we started out by talking about the past, clients’ eyes would glaze over. They wanted to know more about their future. In 2004, we started to change things up by offering short- and long-term dynamic forecasts. Through modeling, we showed clients what their cash flow looked like and how certain decisions would impact their financials (such as hiring a new employee or picking up a new client).
Adam and I noticed when we started out by talking about the past, clients’ eyes would glaze over. They wanted to know more about their future.
Our focus became helping our clients build profitable companies while also helping them understand their tax position throughout the year — not just once a year when taxes came due. From these changes, our virtual CFO services were born in 2011.
Our People: How We Were Working & What We Changed
About 10 years ago, our team went remote so we could expand and scale our business. A remote culture has allowed our business to not only gain clients nationally (and even globally) but also hire in the same way. As we hired talented staff from many locations, we found team members who had experience in different service and industry niches. From then on, we saw an explosion in growth and have doubled in size every three years since.
Fast forward to 2022. What started out with just Adam and me has now grown into a full team of remote employees. We have clients all over North America and recently merged with Anders CPAs + Advisors, bringing many benefits that will help us continue changing the way people think about accounting.
Our Growth: How Remote Work Drove Client Advisory Services & Revenue Growth
Our clients can be from anywhere. Last year, we picked up 30 clients across North America with only one or two located in Indiana. We provide them all with the same quality services we would if we had marketed locally. Through communication software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack, we can stay connected to them quickly and easily.
Our staff can be located anywhere. We have staff distributed throughout the U.S., along with a few located abroad. We have learned when we are not limited by location, we can find numerous qualified candidates. The Summit CPA team has grown much faster by lifting the limitations of a traditional brick-and-mortar hiring process. Our team is made up of many talented individuals who share our values, and they have greatly impacted our company growth.
We are uniquely positioned to offer advice to remote companies/clients. We understand not only the financial side of running a remote company, but we have also gained experience in what it takes to run a remote company. As we learned these nuances ourselves, we have been able to help other companies navigate the path to building a remote team. We’ve learned how to increase profitability as a remote company, and we hope to pass that knowledge onto our clients.
Our team has a great culture. We provide our team members with autonomy and flexibility. We founded the company around family and wanted to ensure our team had the freedom to be truly present with their families and in their lives.
We also provide an environment in which our employees can thrive. Someone who wants to work many hours has the freedom to do so while someone who wants to coach their kid’s team on the weekend and after work is also free to do so. Everyone is allowed to manage their time, projects and deadlines. As long as they are satisfactorily performing their job responsibilities, they are free to set their own schedules.
Overall, our vision has been key in aiming for growth. Technology is an important component that helped us achieve that growth. With the many tech tools available, we have been able to successfully change the type of work we do, how we do it and where we do it — all of which have built a flexible infrastructure to support our team well into the future.