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The Right Way: Holden Moss is the CPA of the Future, Powered by Electronic Signatures

By: Unknown / Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Our series “The Right Way” profiles RightSignature power users, revealing their success secrets and the technology tools they use every day.

Going above and beyond the scope of a traditional CPA firm, Holden Moss offers accounting, consulting, and coaching services to small businesses of every size and profile. This creative approach to helping clients succeed has proven to be an effective model: with 6 offices across North Carolina and clients around the globe, Holden Moss may be the CPA of the future.

Holden Moss melds the strength of tradition with new and innovative ideas and technology—the futuristic antique clock at their headquarters symbolizes this mission. RightSignature’s Steve Stormoen caught up with Steve Moss, Partner at Holden Moss, to learn what makes their business tick.

Tell us about Holden Moss. How is your approach to being a CPA unique?

Years ago, we realized that our business clients needed and wanted more than just to have a tax return or a financial statement thrown at them—they wanted help running their businesses. If a client simply wants tax and account prep we can do that, but we can also go further, and help them grow and expand with our consulting and coaching-type services.

What we’re doing is fairly unique in the accounting world for a firm our size. Larger firms offer these services to publicly held companies, or a big private company getting ready for IPO. This level of service offered to local, mom-and-pop businesses is quite unusual. It’s a lot of fun to have someone walk into your office and beam at a win or a success that they’ve come through with.

You have a story on your website about your historic antique clock, updated with a shiny new microprocessor. Why is the clock important to you?

Back in 1999, we were renovating an old brick building for our office. It was my job to go find an unusual architectural element to make the building stand out. We decided on an antique clock—the type that used to hang outside of banks and other financial institutions. So we went ahead and bought this old clock over eBay. It was a real adventure to get the thing crated so it could be shipped here, never mind hanging it and getting it zoned, but we got it done.

One day, about a year later, the old movements in the clock caught on fire, and some of the fine components melted down. Good thing we were very adequately insured. We got new movements for the clock from the original manufacturer, except the new parts included a microprocessor, gps, special glass, the works. It’s still an antique, but now it keeps perfect time and it always looks good.

We recently moved to a new building and everyone knew the clock was coming with us. It’s something old with something very new and cool on the inside, and we like having that as a symbol for our business.

How does RightSignature help Holden Moss succeed?

As CPAs, we handle many, many documents that require signatures. We do a lot of business all over the US, and we even have a growing number of international clients. We needed a way to be able to send documents, get them digitally signed, and returned to us in a way that would be really easy and quick.

The big thing that compelled us to go ahead and get electronic signature software, though, were the disclosure consent laws. Both the IRS and many state laws require that we obtain written consent from our clients before we do certain things, like send a copy of their tax returns to a third party. If you can imagine thousands of these disclosures, and having to use mail, fax, or email, then chase down the signature for each one? Ah! It’d be maddening!

I researched many of your competitors and felt very confident that RightSignature was the way to go. Today was a pretty typical day, and I used RightSignature to send 7 or 8 documents—a consent form, an engagement contract, some financial statements. RightSignature handles sequential signing, multiple signers, everything we need it to do. It’s a great product, just a great product.

The whole team uses it, too. It’s been very easy to implement. One of my coworkers came in this morning and said we should have a competition to see who can use RightSignature the most. She says she once used it 121 times in a day, though, so that might be cheating.

As an accounting firm ahead of the tech curve, which other online tools do you use?

We use a great project management software called Action Method. It splits things up into action items so you can delegate really simply—any time you think of something that needs to get done, you can quickly hop in and assign it to a project or groups.

Another tool we use frequently with clients is a billing program called Bill.com, which allows someone who doesn’t want to be tethered inside an office to scan, fax, or upload an invoice for electronic approval and payment. It respects our process of approval from the initial clerk to the Executive Director, too, and protects us well with smart internal controls.

Next is Fathom, a nifty reporting and analysis software which we use together with our favorite accounting software, Xero. We love Xero, it’s like the alligator getting ready to bite QuickBooks. Fathom, though, is too, too cool. Fathom makes it easy to drill down and ask, what’s my break-even point on sales? If I increase this month how much will be my profit? You can print out reports or play out these sorts of scenarios right on screen, and it integrates directly with Xero. We use those two with our consulting clients, but also our own monitoring.

What’s the greatest challenge you faced with Holden Moss, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest problem both in my business and in consulting with other businesses is there’s no shortage of great ideas. The challenge is always in executing those ideas. Without good execution, you’re just spinning your wheels.

One strategy we use is to implement a daily huddle. Once a day, we gather the team together for a 10-minute meeting. We go around the room and each person shares some piece of good news, what’s going on, what they’re working on. Next round, each person gives a key performance indicator for the day. Our bookkeeper may say, I’m going to reconcile 2 bank accounts today. Sales may say, I’m finally gonna chase down this one prospect and make 20 cold calls. It’s a way to quantify our success for the day. For the last circle around the room, each person tells if they’re stuck in what they’re trying to do, and how. This makes everyone accountable, and gives you a chance to deal with group dependencies right there.

We make sure to take the little bit of time to do a huddle every single day. It really helps focus everyone on their day’s work, and reminds everyone of the overall strategy.


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