by Ed Schenkein

CPAs can assist clients in finding fulfillment in their lives and business.

No, that is not a typo or misnomer. Taking a cue from my friend Leslie Jones, Founder of the Spiral MethodTM, to grow, achieve, and acknowledge ourselves is an uplift or spiraling up experience. As leaders, when we connect with our teams, communicate fully, and share information/wisdom, we enhance the work and lives of those around us.

What does this have to do with the practice of accounting?

When I finished my MBA and started working for an international public accounting firm, I knew there was more to the profession than the perception of bean counters, tax returns, and financial statements.  I knew that I wanted to use the tools of accounting, a basic language of business, to bring consulting/advice to our clients to further their businesses while utilizing my business training, experience, and skills. I was aware that due to a breadth of knowledge combined with trusted relationships, clients rely on their CPAs at higher levels for advice not just in business but also in their lives.

My first success was in serving as the treasurer (and later as president) of the Colorado chapter of an international non-profit organization. The Executive Director was a Rabbi. While Rabbi Avi brought his clergy skills, experience, and wisdom from his rabbinic training and experience, he had no schooling or experience in non-profit operations, fundraising, or accounting/finance. I was fortunate that he was curious, recognized his gaps, and was willing to learn. He wanted to develop himself and his team in areas that were not traditionally thought of in non-profits. He wanted to balance the business and passion of the organization. I taught him about non-profit business, budgeting, accounting, etc. He continued to grow, deploy his learning and further his acumen. When he left the organization to pursue synagogue leadership, I bestowed upon him an MRB, a Masters of Rabbinic Business (conceived by me).  He combined his skill and curiosity to gain experience and knowledge that he could utilize throughout
his rabbinic career.

Later in my career, I had a family business client in a commodities-based, supply chain business. They had revenues of $5 Million per year when we were first engaged. The business was run by two brothers, one had a great understanding of the markets and players in their industry, the other had operations and administrative skills. They had a very ambitious growth strategy but lacked the accounting/financial systems and personnel to execute upon that plan. We helped them hire the team members and select the vendors to fill these gaps. Then they were able to move the business forward. How? They had a vision, alignment, and the people/resources to act on their plan. As they grew, we advised them in tax, finance, and business strategy. Five years later the Company was at $50 Million in revenues and the greatest profit margin in their history. Shortly thereafter the brothers sold the business, made a successful transition, and exited from the business. They had achieved success, yet they were young and had further ambitions. Working together and separately, they both found passion in new ventures and in their lives. This intrigued me. I inquired of them, other successful businesspeople, and studied to learn more and further myself.

Recently, I worked with a client that had been quite successful in his career. He started businesses, (and failed with a few), grew them, and sold them at great profits. He had achieved financial success and was acknowledged in the community for his entrepreneurship and business successes. He still had a yearning to do more, to give back, and make a positive impact. He started a business advisory firm focusing on helping entrepreneurs and investor-back companies. It sounded good, but something was missing. He asked for my counsel. We kept those ends in mind, while focusing on his strengths, the market, and his differentiators from other advisors. We spoke for hours one evening, finally we arrived at a breakthrough moment: his ego, looking for a return on investment, and public validation were stopping him from the very thing he wanted: Fulfillment. He stopped listening to his mind and sought out his heart, from there he has and continues to make positive impact personally, in his relationships, and in business.

Careers in professional services afford the opportunity to rise, to spiral upward. We start with basic client service and developing teams. From there, we move to advisory work. Leveraging off our trusted relationship with our clients, we help them through business and life challenges, beyond the “necessary work”. At SingerLewak, our client service models extend beyond that, we act as our clients’ success agent. Working with them, their teams, and other advisors, we help them succeed both personally and professionally. We define our success, in part, by our clients’ success, knowing that if we contributed to their success, we too are successful.

As stated above, there is a higher level of achievement than success…fulfillment. Success to me has some materialistic and outside validation components, while fulfillment is heart-led and self-driven. The art of the deal and the pride and accomplishments from successful transactions and projects are often quite rewarding. Yet, that can be transcended through fulfillment; acting and achieving something that feeds one’s soul and fills one’s heart. Join us as we strive to make that difference, to be fulfillment agents for our clients. Take that additional step…to grow in self-awareness, make positive impacts in the lives of others, and Spiral Up to Fulfillment!