Member Spotlight: Joe Gutierrez, CIO
Firm Name: Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs
Location: Miami, FL
# of Offices: 5
# of Partners: 38
# of Employees: 425
Blending accounting and technology: The journey to CIO
For IT leaders in accounting firms, the journey of Joe Gutierrez, CIO of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs, might sound both familiar and inspirational.
As a Miami native, it wasn’t just Florida’s sun or beaches that appealed to Gutierrez—it was the world of technology. Gutierrez was immersed in computer programming and hardware assembly in middle and high school.
While his initial academic pursuits veered toward accounting, a pivotal project—implementing a new time and billing system for an employer—reminded Gutierrez of his genuine passion: technology. He quickly changed his major, eventually earning a Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis on Management Information Systems from Florida International University. A Master of Science in Management Information Systems and Service from the same institution soon followed.
IT credentials in hand, Gutierrez joined Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs 25 years ago and has been in the role of chief information officer for 11 of those years.
Boomer Circle community: A partnership of growth and innovation
One interesting aspect of Gutierrez’s tenure as CIO at Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs is his long-standing membership in the Boomer CIO Circle.
While some might think of membership in such a group as just another professional networking opportunity, it’s been an avenue for unparalleled thought leadership, collaboration and innovation for Gutierrez.
“When we joined the Circle communities more than 15 years ago, the primary allure was thought leadership and content,” Gutierrez recalls. “Our management team has always seen technology as a competitive advantage, not just an operational tool.”
Gutierrez further emphasizes the depth of the relationship by stating, “Our involvement in the CIO Circle is pivotal when exploring new technology avenues; it’s a collective journey where we all learn and grow.”
That’s what sets the CIO Circle apart from other networking groups. It’s not just a discussion forum for the latest software or tools—it’s about shaping the role of IT in firms.
“The CIO Circle is dedicated to ensuring professionals like us get a seat at the decision-making table,” Gutierrez says. “It’s shifted my mindset, urging me to think more strategically, align our IT vision with the broader firm goals and keep an eye on the horizon for growth-driven solutions.”
So, how has this membership influenced Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs?
“The collaboration within the Circle is unparalleled,” Gutierrez says.
Engaging with a diverse group of professionals committed to the macro perspective while appreciating the intricacies of IT in an accounting firm is immensely rewarding. It also helps bring visibility to the role of technology within a firm and provides the foundation to propose necessary resources and innovations.
“Witnessing the innovations other firms are implementing and understanding their journey to success helps us leverage the work and research of others to divide and conquer,” Gutierrez says.
The insights garnered from his peers have led to some significant results at Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs. Gutierrez highlights a few:
Automation for efficiency. “We’ve been able to leverage automation to create efficiencies,” he says. “Tax workpaper direct imports and extension automation were big wins.”
Cloud migration. “We completed the migration to Azure and leveraged it to create a seamless expansion of our practice to India.”
Collaboration platform. “Early adoption of Zoom conference and phone systems allowed the firm to pivot seamlessly in the early days of the pandemic.”
Document management. “Migration of our document management to Box allowed us to leverage enterprise-level integrations.”
When asked how he envisions his role changing in the next five years, Gutierrez says he sees a continuing evolution from dealing with the nuts and bolts of IT to strategic alignment with the firm’s goals.
“More and more, I’m asked to provide leadership and critical analysis while building a team that can support the business and understand how it operates,” Gutierrez says. “For example, we’ve carved out an area focused on process improvement and project management, and it’s making a big impact on our departments and overall efficiency. I see this trend continuing.”
Gutierrez has some candid advice for firms contemplating joining a peer network like the Boomer CIO Circle. “The value of networking is immeasurable,” he says.
In a profession where change is constant, visionaries like Gutierrez emphasize the importance of adaptability, collaboration and forward-thinking—invaluable attributes for the CIOs of tomorrow.