Transitioning from Corporate World to Business Owner by Guest Blogger Bob Fox, CPA

Many people go through career transitions during various parts of their life, learning new and leveraging existing skills. After a 40-year career in the corporate world with great companies having both financial and operational roles, I decided to look at various options of owning my own business.

When one decides to start down the business ownership trail, there are three options:

  1. Start a business from scratch – This was the highest risk option given the number of new businesses that fail in the first two years
  2. Buy an existing business and improve it – After research, I found the prices of existing businesses to be too high based on the cash flows those businesses were generating
  3. Buy a business system and process called a franchise – I spent much time looking at various products and services in the franchise world and decided to buy into a shared office and co-working brand titled Office Evolution out of Colorado

Why the shared office and co-working space business? My focus, besides turning around businesses, is helping those companies grow. This business model allows that business-to-business customer base with providing the atmosphere for growth for small and mid-sized companies. There was also an opportunity with this franchise to just have one employee – coming from managing up to 300 people globally, that was really attractive to me.

So what about the shared office market?

  • Flexible office space market demand is currently 1 percent of the commercial real estate market, but it is projected to triple in size in the near future
  • Some projections have this market growing to 5 percent and 10 percent of the market
  • Small businesses are the primary driver, which are the job creators in the economy
  • The gig economy plays right into this market
  • Even larger companies avail themselves of available project demand space, as well as decentralizing their office footprint

The industry was dominated for years by Regus, which has over $2.7 billion in revenue. Recent entries into this market of WeWorks, Premier Business Centers and Office Evolution round out the top four companies in the space.

I opened my first Office Evolution location in Southlake, Texas in April 2018, and am pleased with the demand I have seen in the market. Learning a lot from this first location, I’m now looking at applying that learning to future locations.

I would encourage people who are about to enter into career transitions to look for opportunities to invest and grow. There are many different avenues out there to pursue. One of the keys is to be patient to search for what it is you would really like to do and then review the available options of getting there.

Robert Fox, CPA

Bob Fox, CPA, is a strategic advisor, turn around strategist and growth consultant who transitioned to entrepreneurship after 30 years with Halliburton. He is an active member of TSCPA’s Fort Worth Chapter and co-chair of the chapter’s Members CPE Day Committee. His Office Evolution location is on State Street in Southlake, Texas.


What will 2019 bring?

What will 2019 bring?

First off, the new lease standard is in effect for public companies and the revenue standard is now mandatory for private companies. And the big changes aren’t over. While the biggest changes from the new financial instruments and credit loss standards are reserved for companies in the financial services industry, all companies will have to spend time in 2019 preparing to deal with some aspect of the changes required by the standards.

2019 will also be the first year of filing taxes under the new rules passed at the end of 2017. There will be a lot of confused taxpayers learning that previous deductions are no longer allowed or necessary. Seeing that doubled standard deduction in an actual return will make many people realize that tracking interest expense, state taxes and charitable deductions is no longer needed. At first, people might be upset, but once they realize that completing their taxes is easier, I think many people will find even more to like about the tax changes.

Of course, CPAs won’t be dealing with those easy tax returns. CPAs provide services to clients with more complex tax situations and personal businesses. They will be dealing with new depreciation rules, new limits on interest deduction, operating loss deduction changes, and new BEAT and GILTI rules impacting any business that operates internationally, which, of course, can be almost any business in our connected world these days.

The audit report will change to include Critical Audit Matters or CAMs. The concept of providing more information about the audit has been implemented in other countries to considerable success. CAMs bring increased relevance to the audit report and have the beneficial side effect of increasing pride in the auditors themselves.

And finally, financial planners will likely have to deal with increased volatility and spooked clients in 2019. The markets ended 2018 in one of the most volatile times in the past decade and 2019 looks to pick up where 2018 left off. Financial planners will definitely be earning their money this year keeping clients calm and invested for the long haul.

2019 will definitely be “interesting times,” but that is what makes being a CPA such fun.

Resolutions, Reforming and Running From Your History

New Year’s is nearly upon us and many people start thinking of resolutions to make. Resolutions can be about anything, but often resolutions are focused on some form of personal improvement – be it physical, spiritual or mental. People want to change for the better and while we often joke about the failure to carry through on resolutions, people do successfully change for the better. I saw a quote recently from Anne Bronte that stated, “It is never too late to reform, as long as you have the sense to desire it and the strength to execute your purpose.”

I wonder, though, if that is possible in today’s world. People bring up something someone said when the person was young or over a decade ago and imply that those words are what the person really believes even today. Social media enables the research, but the core issue is do people really believe other people can change. If people believe that the past is who someone is today, then people must also believe no one can ever change. No one can go from being a persecutor of a cause to the most prolific advocate of that cause. No one can rise from failure as a young adult to being a leader to stop tyranny in the world. No one can go from joining a profession because it is about numbers and turn into a prolific writer who produced over 400 blogs.

I do believe people can change and I also believe that the only way to change is to have a discussion. That means people need to be willing to share thoughts, words and beliefs, but doing so makes one vulnerable. If people are attacked for asking insensitive questions because they do not know any better, then no one will ever be able to change. In order to really make society better, we have to change the way people pile on in social media. Instead of sitting back and being relieved that the trolls are not attacking you, we all need to take action and tell the trolls to go back into their holes and allow people to have open, honest, learning conversations, because that is the only way people will change and make the world a better place.

Maybe that is the resolution we all need to make for 2019.

A CPAs Wish List

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” and the time when children (and adults) write letters to Santa Claus in hopes of getting a couple of really cool items Christmas morning. In that spirit, I thought we might have a little fun putting together a CPA wish list for 2019.

10) A regular session reapproval of the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.

9) An increase in the number of accounting graduates taking the CPA exam.

8) Legislation eliminating the need to file state tax returns when someone works in a state for one day.

7) A Congress that funds the IRS so the help line can provide help instead of courtesy disconnects.

6) A Financial Accounting Standards Board that finally eliminates a disclosure without adding any in the process.

5) An IRS delivering regs that make sense and explain what Congress meant in the new tax law.

4) States and territories passing individual and firm CPA mobility.

3) Computer systems that don’t crash on April 14.

2) Clients delivering all needed documentation accurately and on time.

1) A beautiful spring day – on April 16!

I hope everyone has a great holiday season!

A Day in the Life of an Internal Auditor by Guest Blogger Marylyn Byrd, CPA

When I got the chance to enter the internal auditing world with our local university (my alma mater) and colleges, I jumped on it. In my mind, I remember thinking it would be just like external auditing, but with less hours and a more family friendly schedule. As a working mom, having good work-life balance is crucial. I wouldn’t say any day since I started internal auditing is a typical day. Every day is different. To be successful in this profession, you must be comfortable with priorities constantly changing.

In our office, we have a team of five internal and IT auditors who are responsible for four campuses. We perform legislatively required audits, risk-based audits (both financial and compliance), investigations, ongoing risk assessments, special projects for management and we assist external auditors coming in. Below is an example of what one of my days may look like, but remember every day is different.

 8 a.m.

I just arrived at work and breathe a sigh of relief as I’ve successfully gotten my two young sons off to two different schools and made it to the office on time. Most people would put on the coffee to brew, but I’m not a coffee drinker. I say good morning to my coworkers, sit down at my computer, and start going through any emails and voicemails I’ve received.

 8:30 a.m.

I’m done responding to emails and voicemails and start on an audit. The work for this audit could include any number of things, including completing or reviewing workpapers, reading laws, policies and/or procedures, writing or reviewing audit reports, completing fieldwork, doing data analytics, making phone calls, sending emails requesting documentation, etc.

 9:15 a.m.

I receive a call from management indicating a concern that fraud may be occurring in a certain area. After obtaining the relevant details, I put my audit work to the side and lock it up, then head out to campus to meet with the person voicing the concern. If needed, I schedule additional interviews with any relevant party who has information on the concern. Our team then launches an investigation if we determine there is a need. These investigations are highly confidential and on a need-to-know basis. Investigations move very quickly at first, but then slow down as we get into the detail. Typically, when we have an investigation, depending on the nature of it, we will notify the president of the university or college, as well as the campus police chief. If we need to get data from an employee’s computer or email account, we get authority from the ISO to do so.

 11 a.m.

Our team has gotten approval to take images of an employee’s laptop. We head over to their office (while they are away at lunch) and use our tools to take an image of it. We head back to the office and use our forensic tool to target specific codewords or topics to help search through all of the files and/or emails on their computer. The forensic tool is time consuming, so once we start that running, we head back to our office to prepare workpapers of the interview that has taken place. Our IT auditors now create a new project file on our server and I set up the project in our audit workpaper system.

 12 p.m.

I head to lunch. Yes, I’m back to getting an entire hour lunch (most days) and it is amazing!

 1 p.m.

I’m back in my office. I’ve done all I can do on the investigation. The forensic tool is still working, so now I’m back to the audit I was working on this morning.

 3 p.m.

I get a phone call from management asking me to sit in on a last-minute meeting with an external auditor. I head to campus for the meeting.

 4:30 p.m.

I’m back at my office and my boss calls the team together for a team meeting. We go over all our projects that we are currently working on and then brainstorm on the new investigation and what we think our approach will be, as well as begin to assess the risks the university or college is facing.

 5 p.m.

I’m done for the day. I head out to pick my boys up from school and move on to my favorite activity – 1st grade homework! I’m completely exaggerating on my excitement level.

Every day is different and can be more or less eventful than the day described above, especially during risk assessment time in the summer when we are working on our audit plan for the next year. During that time, we have three or four meetings per day across the campuses and I’m still working on my other audits and projects.

Key Takeaways from My Time as an Internal Auditor

  • Internal auditors need good people and communication skills. You will be working with individuals who serve in different departments and come from various backgrounds. You are in and out of meetings, on phone calls, sending emails, and constantly interacting with a wide variety of individuals.
  • Internal auditors must always be ready to ask questions and more questions and more questions. You also have to anticipate what your Board (or whoever you report to) is going to ask you.
  • Internal auditors must be knowledgeable of every aspect of an organization, not just the financial or compliance side.
  • Some people still tend to view us as the enemy or the “gotcha police” even though we are internal. It’s the stigma that comes with the auditor title. Once employees realize the value of your department, you become a trusted advisor and resource.
  • In my case, internal auditing has allowed me to continue doing what I love (auditing of any sort) without working tons of extra hours. It’s a great choice for your career and your work-life balance.

Marylyn Byrd, CPA, is an internal auditor with the Texas State University System responsible for the four Lamar components – Lamar University, Lamar Institute of Technology, Lamar State College – Port Arthur and Lamar State College – Orange. Byrd is a member of TSCPA’s Board of Directors and former president of the Southeast Texas Chapter.

TSCPA Executive Board Meeting

At our November meeting, the Texas Society of CPAs (TSCPA) Executive Board continued to focus on how TSCPA needs to evolve to better help members achieve success. The Board heard about, and provided input on, a number of initiatives, including:

  1. Membership investment;
  2. Branding;
  3. CPE;
  4. Partnership between the state and chapter organizations;
  5. Sunset and legislative activities.

Progress continues to be made on maintaining the Texas State Board and licensing of CPAs in Texas. That would seem to be a non-event to many, but there is a growing push to reduce the number of licensing boards across the country and too often, those pushing that agenda sweep up learned professions such as doctors, lawyers and CPAs in their efforts to eliminate state licensing requirements across a large swath of jobs. Usually, those pushing for reduced licensing state they never intended to include CPAs in their efforts, but TSCPA has to keep an eye out on the specific language proposed in bills to ensure the change in law is not overly broad and includes CPAs.

All TSCPA members are members of both the state and a local chapter organization. State and chapter leadership realize that providing value to members is a joint responsibility. The task force working on that partnership is exploring ways for both organizations to better coordinate their activities and resources to produce better results for our members. Similar efforts are being made on the CPE front to better coordinate course offerings by the state and chapter organizations and to fill different needs for large, medium and small chapters.

Finally, I’m excited about the proposed changes on how your professional organization will brand itself to you as members and to the public at large. We are all proud to be Texas CPAs and the new brand will focus on both of those concepts. Please stay tuned, as there will be more to come on that front in the next few months.

What Scares Accountants

While ghosts and goblins may scare most people, professional accountants aren’t easily frightened by such things. Instead, our list of things that wake us up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat is more like this:

10) Having to tell the salesperson that the contract they got signed at 11:59 p.m. on December 31 won’t get booked as revenue because we had not actually delivered any products or services yet.

9) Congress announcing yet another effort to “simplify” the tax code.

8) A client walking in with a shoebox … because we know it is full of receipts and probably only half the information we need anyway.

7) The CFO walking into our office saying they just heard a great presentation from a software vendor that is going to solve all our problems.

6) Realizing all those rounded numbers are off by one when we add them up and compare them to the total at the bottom of the column.

5) Turning on our computer and seeing that blue screen of death … on April 14.

4) Hearing FASB and the SEC say they are starting a project to reduce disclosures because we all know they will eliminate three paragraphs no one was disclosing anyway, but realize that five new pages of information would be very useful to investors.

3) Hearing procurement proudly announce they have solved the current year budget problem by getting our vendor to defer the payment until the next year even though we will get the products and services right now.

2) Realizing it is December 30 and we haven’t completed that pesky ethics training requirement yet to maintain our CPA license.

1) October 15 … because tax deadline day is way scarier than Halloween.

I hope you had a great time on Halloween and maybe a little laugh enjoying this blog.