• Boomer Consulting, Inc.

Leadership, talent, growth, technology and process lead to award-winning results!

Client Spotlight: Abacus CPAs LLC

Firm Name: Abacus CPAs LLC

Location: Springfield, MO

# of Offices: 4

# of Partners: 2

# of Employees: ~ 95 FTE

Leadership, talent, growth, technology and process lead to award-winning results!

Abacus CPAs has won several awards over the years, but 2020 has been a particularly exciting year for the firm. Recently, they’ve had to make room in the trophy case for:

  • Accounting Today’s Top 100 Accounting Firms to Work For

  • Partner Bill Dunton’s honor as a Legacy Advisor by the Springfield Business Journal

  • Tax Accountant Cristian Rath’s honor an Up & Comer by the Springfield Business Journal

  • Administration Director Adrienne McCoy’s honor as Most Influential Woman by the Springfield Business Journal

How do the firm’s leaders and people stand out from the crowd and routinely deliver excellence? After working with the Abacus team for years and in nearly every community, consulting and training service Boomer Consulting, Inc. provides, we recognize the firm’s commitment to five areas that we call the Boomer Advantage: Leadership, Talent, Growth, Technology and Process.

Client commitment leads to growth

At a time when some firms are laying off employees, Abacus is growing. They’ve hired 19 new team members since May of this year and are on track for 40% growth in 2020. A big part of that growth stems from being trusted advisors for their clients.

“When the pandemic started, instead of thinking about ourselves, we thought about how to help our clients through this,” said Adrienne McCoy, Abacus’ Administration Director. “We focus a lot on that relationship, so when Paycheck Protection Program loans came out, we asked, ‘How can we help every single one of our clients with this?’ We made a plan that day, and even though we didn’t have all of the answers yet, we started calling every single client to offer our services.”

Abacus was not only able to help their existing clients, but they also brought on many new clients during that time, thanks to word-of-mouth. When other firms were busy dealing with tax returns, and some bankers were unreachable, Abacus was able to help their clients secure millions of dollars in PPP loan funding.

“It’s all about proactive guidance. We do strategic planning, we provide HR support and help set up learning and training programs for the clients that need it. We’re really looking to partner with them on their whole business – not just their accounting,” McCoy said.

Of course, with 95 employees and two partners, that means staff members need to take ownership of the client relationship much earlier than they might in other firms. Other firms might have a staff to partner ratio somewhere between 5:1 to 10:1, and the partner’s capacity is limited because they hold on to most of the responsibility for communicating with clients.

At Abacus, the partners are committed to pushing work – including managing the client relationship – down to their team so partners can focus on their unique abilities and developing new business. They also think of clients not as an individual partner’s client, but as the firm’s client. And while everyone has clients they’re responsible for, those assignments are based on skills rather than who brought the client in.

“That means we have to have our staff, even at the intern level, comfortable communicating with clients,” McCoy said.

The firm leaders definitely want to bring on new partners, and they’re working hard to develop them. “We need our staff members to be excellent communicators so that they can be excellent partners fast,” McCoy said. “And if we wait until they’re five years into their career or in a supervisor position before they have access to speaking with clients regularly, that just holds them back.”

That commitment to developing people and empowering them with process and technology is a part of Abacus CPAs’ culture. “There is a huge focus on culture here,” said Andrea Battaglia, Abacus’ Conveyor of Communications. “People actually like coming to work and like hanging out with each other. The leaders of the company really help support and push that, and the underpinnings of all of our successes come from that focus on company culture and employee morale.”

Flexibility and accountability

While many firms scrambled to get their employees working from home during the pandemic, it was a smooth transition for the Abacus team.

McCoy said their team already had the option to work remotely or work a flexible schedule thanks to their Balanced Scorecard approach to performance management. Every person in the firm has goals in five areas: financial, communication, client satisfaction, internal process and learning and training. A percentage of their pay is tied to achieving those goals.

“We’ve never cared where you work, when you work, how you work. We don’t care what time you show up of when you leave. We don’t care if you work five days or four days,” McCoy says. “With the Balanced Scorecard, we don’t have to ask what they’re doing when they’re working from home because their goals hold them accountable. When it came to the pandemic, nothing changed.”

Communication is key

Abacus’s leaders recognize the importance of good communication with their team – whether that’s communicating expectations surrounding goals and productivity, or communicating with staff during a global pandemic. But they’ve really prioritized it in the past two years.

The firm had been doing employee engagement surveys and 360 evaluations, and communication was a recurring theme. Firm leaders were trying to address that feedback, but McCoy realized that some of their efforts weren’t having the desired effect.

“It kind of clicked at the Talent Circle that I wasn’t asking our employees exactly what they wanted,” McCoy said. “I was doing all of the things I thought they wanted, but not asking what they really want.”

Taking inspiration from another member of the Talent Circle, Abacus held an Impact Retreat for their staff. At the retreat, firm leaders encouraged the team to brainstorm ideas to improve firm-wide communication.

Often, the things employees really wanted were much easier to provide than McCoy would have imagined. “In some cases, I would have made huge changes and put a ton of effort into something big, and that still wasn’t what they wanted. So that was huge for us to have them actually give us steps to solve some of the problems they identified.”

The firm used its Strategic Plan to implement a lot of those suggestions, including rolling out Microsoft Teams and hiring Battaglia.

McCoy said she’d been pushing to hire a marketing person for years, but Partner Bill Dunton insisted the role needed to be about communications. “It’s not just about how we’re communicating with clients, which is important, but it’s teaching our employees how to communicate.”

“What Andrea has been able to do is take our vision and start some really awesome processes to make sure our communication is In line, and we are doing things correctly,” McCoy said.

It’s no surprise to us that the Abacus team is receiving recognition for the excellent work they do. We’re honored to work with such a forward-thinking firm and congratulate Abacus CPAs on the well-deserved awards!

Interested in learning more about the Boomer Advantage?

Most CPA firms struggle with how to grow and maintain relevance.  So, we've developed a unique model that focuses on the five areas critical to a firm's success and future-readiness: Leadership, Talent, Technology, Processes and Growth. Complete an interest form today, and one of our Solutions Advisors will reach out to schedule a short call to discuss how your firm can invest in the growth and development in your firm.

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