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Member Spotlight: Jud Brown, CPA

Jan 26, 2021

Jud Brown, CPA

Campaign Finance Compliance Partner – Bee Compliance, LLC

Jud Brown, CPA
L to R: Pete Buttigieg, Jud Brown, Chasten Buttigieg

How has COVID-19 impacted your role?

I started Bee Compliance in April and would have been working from my home office regardless of the pandemic. It has been helpful knowing others who normally work in an office are working from home, and going through similar experiences and challenges as me.

CPAs have had to quickly adapt to new technology as many are working remotely. What’s your favorite (or most used) app/technology and why?
There are two apps I use on a weekly basis. First is Lastpass with a Yubikey to keep all of the passwords I have stored safe from unauthorized access. Lastpass stores the passwords and Yubikey is a physical security key that provides two-factor authentication. This ensures only I can access the various logins I need.

I also use Signal, a secure messaging app, to correspond with my business partner and other contacts quickly and securely. Signal comes with self-deleting messages and keeps all conversations secure when discussing sensitive client information. It is a must when working with client data and in a remote environment.

You currently work in campaign finance compliance services, which is very specialized. How did your career evolve to lead you to this role?
I used to work in tax, which I really enjoyed. Making sense of complex government regulations for clients became a passion of mine. However, I wanted to find a way to use those skills to give back to my community and do my part in improving my state, country and world. As I came to that realization, I had a contact ask me to join the accounting team for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.

After a day or so of contemplation, I jumped at the chance to join the team. My goal was to help elect the former Mayor as president, but also to expand my skillset and explore the possibility of using my accounting and tax knowledge in the political space. I started off working on monitoring and tracking revenue for the campaign but began to develop an interest in helping with the Campaign’s FEC Disclosure reports.

I intentionally lobbied on my own behalf to become involved with the campaign’s Federal Election Commission (FEC) Compliance and by the end of the campaign, was promoted to Deputy Director of Accounting – Revenue and Compliance. I was in charge of designing and implementing processes to work with the campaign’s FEC Compliance consultant to ensure reports were filed on time, accurate and complete.

This experience led my boss and I to start our own compliance consulting/accounting company (Bee Compliance LLC) to work with campaigns and political action committees (PACs) on creating processes and filing reports to stay compliant with the FEC, IRS and State Jurisdictions. We are proud to help candidates and PACs in Indiana and across the country comply with campaign finance regulations, so they can focus on winning campaigns and electing leaders to improve our country.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My “cheesy” answer is I get to work in sweatpants, wear a hat every day and my schedule is flexible. My actual answer is all the different people and clients I get to meet and serve. Receiving an email from a client saying they really value the work we do and that it’s being done well is a super uplifting and inspiring reaction from those I am aiming to help.

What is the best thing you’ve read recently?
I am currently reading a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson which is super interesting. And for fun, some Superman graphic novels.

What is your favorite podcast?
I really enjoy listening to any podcast about the Indiana Pacers. There are also some podcasters out there who podcast their Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, which I have been listening to a lot.

Why did you decide to become a CPA?
I wanted to be a CPA because I had a natural inclination for accounting. I did well in my accounting classes and while in school knew there were many career opportunities for someone with a credential as respected as the CPA.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the profession?
I have three pieces of advice:

  1. Learn as much as possible as quick as possible. The more you learn and the more projects you get involved with earlier in your career, the more personal growth you will see. Managers and partners will know to trust you with bigger and more interesting projects in the future.

  2. For those who want to be self-employed one day, consider working for a smaller CPA firm. I started off in a super-specific role at a large firm in Chicago and learned a lot, but I credit a lot of the skills I need to run my small business to my experience working at L.M. Henderson & Co.

  3. Do not let your age be a limiting factor in your success. I have been a part of a team of young people who helped the former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana win the Iowa Caucuses, raise $100 million dollars and defy expectations along the way. To leverage that experience into a (so far, knock on wood) successful small business all before turning 30 has been one of the best experiences in my life. If I can do it, so can you!

How do you unwind after a busy day? Any hobbies?
I have been watching a lot of sports in quarantine. I started teaching myself to play golf which has been an experience in itself, but very fun! Also, my wife and I have a weekly movie night on a Zoom call with my business partner and her significant other. We watch a movie together; currently we are watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies in chronological order.

How can someone get involved more in local and national politics?
Send an email or reach out directly to the campaigns and offer your time. There are so many opportunities to knock on doors, make calls, send texts or drop off literature for candidates with values you believe in. A lot of local candidates have small budgets and small staffs and have to rely on volunteer help to achieve their goals. National politics has a shine about it, but working with local candidates is the best way to make a direct impact in our communities.

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