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  Public Accounting with Lauren Haverlock (Part 1)

CPA Podcasts

In the first part of this two-part episode, Phil speaks with Lauren Haverlock, a Senior Manager at Moss Adams in Los Angeles. Lauren discusses what her company strives to accomplish and how they attract and maintain clients. She also talks about the different paths you can take with a Public Accounting degree.


Phil [00:00:00] Hello, everyone, and welcome to our podcast, Yaeger CPA review and more. This podcast is sponsored by Yaeger CPA Review, the course provider that deals only with the CPA blueprints. Please go to the YaegerCPAReview.com website and look at our various products, and we believe and seeing is believing and therefore please look at our three day free trial. Pick a subject and it'll give you three days free access unlimited to that product. And I believe that once you look at that product and see how it works, you'll pick Yaeger CPA Review as your course provider. If you have any questions, you can reach us at (301) 874-4900. If you press five, you may even talk to Phil Yaeger. Take care everyone on your journey for the CPA exam. We wish you the best and good luck.

Narrator [00:01:01] Hello and thank you for tuning in to another episode of CPA Review and More. We are pleased to bring you the number one podcast for CPAs and CPA candidates. If you'd like to learn more about how a Yaeger CPA Review can help you, find us on our website at YaegerCPAReview.com. Now here's your host Phil Yaeger.

Phil [00:01:30] Ello, everyone, this is failure and welcome to my podcast called CPA Review and More. Now we do discuss CPA Review topics, but we also discuss a lot of the more and I brought in guests to do cryptocurrency. So you know what that's like? All right. We've had certified financial planners. We've got all the professions. So if you graduate in accounting, you're not exactly sure what you want to do. All right. We've been going over these two years with all different types of guests. And personally, I don't want to sit here and talk about CPA Review all the time. I really don't. All right, because I've taught it for over 40 years and it gets boring just doing that. So we want to make this interesting. We try to get people and I'm happy to say that we're in the top 10 percent of business podcasts. And last month--might as well break a little--last month, we had 58,000 downloads of this program last month. All right. And I thought to myself, who is downloading this stuff? Are they crazy? And we actually are becoming very popular in Japan--it's probably because they know I like sushi--and also, Argentina. And that's because I always say, "Don't cry for me, Argentina". No, I don't really. If I started singing, you would leave. But today we have Lauren Haverlock. Did I get that?

Lauren [00:03:01] You did. That's perfect.

Phil [00:03:03] Thank you. Lauren is coming to us by way of Los Angeles. She's in Los Angeles, California. She is a partner, and we'll talk about what she does. All right. Are you a partner?

Lauren [00:03:16] I'm not a partner. [Laughs] I'm not a partner.

Phil [00:03:19] We'll make sure you become a partner by the end of the podcast. Now what's your level? Are you a manager?

Lauren [00:03:24] Senior manager.

Phil [00:03:25] Senior manager. Yeah, it's amazing how they had the titles. They've changed since I was in public accounting. It used to be...

Lauren [00:03:31] I'll take--I'll take the promotion. That sounds great.

Phil [00:03:34] You've been there. What four years

Lauren [00:03:37] I've been with Moss Adams for four years at this point, yes,

Phil [00:03:40] Now, in order to get to your next level, what do you have to do that you're not doing now?

Lauren [00:03:47] Oh, it's a process. So the partnership admittance process, I think at every firm is is a lot of work, and I think it's really for the best that you're assessed at your what you're doing, your connection to the people who you work with, your connection to the community, your ability to attract and retain clients, employees. And and really, it's a process. And I appreciate the process because it helps, you know your partnership, right? You're all in it together and you want to bring in partners who are going to contribute to the partnership and to enhance the company and the brand and the people there. And so Moss Adams does have a process that I'm I've been a part of since I've been there, and it's aimed at ensuring that you've got a great book of business, that you're building a team that you're focused on, you know, your personal growth, becoming a leader at the firm. And it's really it's really great. So hopefully soon there's, you know, I can make it to that next level, but you know, I'm I'm in no rush because really, it's I mean, I don't know if that's in no rush, but I trust the process is what I what I meant to say on that.

Phil [00:04:53] Do you have to bring in clients at this level?

Lauren [00:04:56] You do. You do bring in clients. But. The firm sees, you know, selling really more as a growth focus and a team aspect, so especially in the nonprofit side, are bringing them in and supporting and serving our clients as a, you know, you can act audit tax consulting. And we, you know, have clients that are prospects. We have growth with our current clients as they grow and change. And so it's an iterative process. We track all that sort of stuff with our databases know and that sort of thing. But it's we do we do it, have to bring in clients. I think that's part of the partnership element that most firms

Phil [00:05:37] Now does Moss Adams only do not-for-profits or is it just your office that specializes in not-for-profits?

Lauren [00:05:44] No. The firm itself is a firm that does all sorts of accounting consulting tax for all types of industries. Nonprofit is is actually even a subset within a larger industry that we work with public, nonprofit and tribal organizations firmwide. We serve all types of entities retail, health care, food and beverage that the list goes on. There's there's a bunch of manufacturing, all that, all that. I think our industry specialization encompasses most industries, in fact. And then laterally, we have, you know, different service lines. Audit, tax and consulting has been a really, really big part of what we do, what we do as a firm. So that's it's interesting. It's very dynamic and it's exciting to be part of a team and to be able to serve clients as a team. You know, I work on nonprofit, but my clients are complex. They have state and local issues, international tax issues, compensation issues. And, you know, we focus on finding the right person at the firm to help our clients and and, you know, meet them where they're at.

Phil [00:06:55] Has the revenue being brought in by a company like Moss Adams is a change--for example, a lot of CPA firms, when I was going to high school, they made their money from audits. All right. But I've heard--and correct me, please, because I don't get out and talk to everybody--is most of the revenue coming in from consulting or they still making most of it from audits?

Lauren [00:07:17] You know, I'm not totally sure on that. And I think that as I'm not representing Moss Adams on this podcast, I'm doing this personally. And so I would--I'm not sure. I know that all types of accounting firms are focusing more on consulting businesses, right? The AICPA has come out and kind of talked about providing that, you know, being a client advocate, being a client service provider that is holistically helping organizations, the clients. So I think consulting is a natural part of that. And I think in a lot of firms, we're seeing movement with bringing in consulting groups as part of an organization. And that's really exciting to be able to offer that level of service firm wide and that, you know, us as individual practitioners don't have to know everything, we can be really good at what we're really good at. And then we have other people at our firm that are also really good at what they're good at. So that's that's exciting.

Phil [00:08:16] Now, this is not a loaded question. OK, please, I don't want anything. All right. You probably when you started in public accounting, did you do mostly audits?

Lauren [00:08:27] No, I came in as--I did an internship that I was tax and audit. I had thought I was going to be an auditor and really, I didn't connect as much with the audit work as I hoped. And it could have been just situationally because I think audit is fascinating now, you know, being part of the audit team, as you know, a tax provision person, I really enjoy the process of the audit. I think it's a great area of a career to get into because you're getting to know an organization inside and out, revenue streams, expenses. But I really love tax. Tax is exciting to me. It's weird to say and I joke with a lot of my friends, they think it's funny because a lot of my friends are in like exciting industries like television and and I love tax. I really enjoy the code. [Laughs]

Phil [00:09:16] Do you know famous people in television?

Lauren [00:09:19] I mean...no. [Laughs] I probably, I mean, you know, everyone's famous in their own way nowadays, right?

Phil [00:09:26] Oh yeah, I'm quite famous. I can't...

Lauren [00:09:28] Exactly.

Phil [00:09:29] When I walk down the street, the young girls go after me...no.

Lauren [00:09:35] Well...

Phil [00:09:35] Maybe not that, but. [Laughs] And, you know, I think there's an interesting moment, at least for me, I always liked Los Angeles because that was the--what would you call it--the hub of all--back then, all movies were done there, all the TV. Now, of course, it's changed.

Lauren [00:09:56] It's changed yeah, it's...

Phil [00:09:56] But you don't really get exposed to any type of showbiz people in what you're doing because you're doing not for profit. Correct?

Lauren [00:10:04] Correct. Correct. I mean, we work with organizations and individuals and charitable giving and planning. And so oftentimes there's it's a person that might be known publicly, you know, people who have charitable foundations or are leveraging their success or their fame and helping the world. And I love being a part of those conversations with individuals. But again, you know, they're they're all God's people doing their jobs. Some, some, you know, succeeding and more publicly known than others. But yeah, I don't mean it's always...

Phil [00:10:35] Just leave them alone. Don't bother them. No. It's true.

Lauren [00:10:39] If you live in if you live in Los Angeles long enough, sometimes you know you start seeing them that way. You see them at pick up and you're like, "Oh, I know that person". You know, when you're picking up your kids from school, you're like, "Oh, that person is from this show or that thing". And they are just people getting through their day like the rest.

Phil [00:10:56] A lot of them don't like to be bothered. Others do. I mean, you know, I've had that experience, but that's another class. Now from what I'm hearing, if I may go back to the auditing tax prep tax advisory compliance work. All right. It sounds to me like, given a choice, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you really like what you're doing now. You're doing tax compliance stuff now.

Lauren [00:11:24] I am. I'm doing tax compliance and consulting right now.

Phil [00:11:28] You like that better than when you did the auditing?

Lauren [00:11:31] Yeah, I mean, I can't I really don't have a great perspective because I was only an audit intern. And after that internship, I declared that I wanted to be a tax person. And so I've done tax my entire career and I have. I've loved it. I've evolved. I think, like a lot of individuals do from a generalist doing all sorts of tax work, you know, individuals, corporations, partnerships to focusing in the nonprofit area because that's where my passion is. I just found this kind of unique niche area at the time when I got into it. It's a little bit more mainstream, I think, at this point. And I just loved working with the organizations and the charities and helping people with their charitable giving. So I was fortunate I found that and that's where I've been for the vast majority of my career at this point.

Phil [00:12:20] My first job in a public accounting firm outside of college was to work with Seidman and Seidman, which is now, I guess, BDO Seidman [BDO USA, LLP]. And they put me on the audit staff, and we were down in the Wall Street office. OK? And I remember this. I was there for maybe three or four weeks and then they say, you're going out on an audit of a bank--or brokerage firm--I don't know which one it was. So I said, All right, what am I going to do? He says, Well, you have to sit in the vault and count all the securities. All right. And I said, Oh, that sounds very exciting. I know my courses in college prepared me for that. That and printing--Xerox-ing we used to call it. If a partner said to me, "what are you sitting around here? Here, copy all these files". And I would be, you know, I was a young stupid kid. I said, You know, sir, I don't remember taking a course in Xerox-ing. [Laughs] And...

Lauren [00:13:24] Brave.

Phil [00:13:24] I was brave. And I just got married too. And my wife was still in the last year of college. You know, I didn't think about the consequences, but there was a shortage of accountants back then. I didn't make those comments to get fired. That wasn't my thing. But I really didn't like the work I was doing. And I, you know, and then the other stuff was going out on a standard audit, and as a junior-- we were called junior accountants-- I would do the bank reconciliations, the proof of cash. Send out a confirmations. Trying to think of all the exciting work that I did. All right.

Phil [00:14:04] So after a year, that's about all I was doing. I was the basic stuff and I, you know, I went to one of the partners who-- we had a partner we would report to or manager-- but I said, you know, I really don't like it. You know, I really like doing tax returns. And he says now this as things have changed. All right. In order to tax returns, you have to be a tax attorney, so you have to be a CPA attorney. All right. That's the only people they would let do tax returns.

Phil [00:14:41] So I said, Well, I'm not an attorney and I'm not a CPA. But I really enjoy-- because I like to sit down with the clients and talk to them about things. It's like a puzzle in a way. So much bothering him, they said, All right, we'll give you a couple of tax returns. And they gave me tax returns for Lerner and Loewe. You've heard of them?

Lauren [00:15:09] No.

Phil [00:15:09] All right. I'm a big Broadway music junkie. Camelot, My Fair Lady: that was Lerner and Loewe. All right. So I'm sitting here saying, Oh my gosh, Lerner and Loewe. I mean, and I couldn't believe what they made in royalties. But I enjoyed it. Now I didn't get to talk to them, but I said, this is what I really enjoy. And then they gave me a few more. And I was really happy. Now I was happy in the firm. And now, of course, why continue to make a person happy? Let's get them back to be really discouraged, to disappoint. Well, we're going to put you back in the audience staff. I said, I like what I'm doing. Yeah, but you know, it makes no difference what you like. It's what the needs of the firm are. Okay. I thought all of a sudden we're going to have a rah rah ree, rah rah ree, Seidman Seidman Seidman. Yeah. And we weren't called teams back then. Okay. We we just staff. But, I didn't like audits. And uh, the guy who works for me, who teaches auditing for the course. He loves auditing! And I say to him, "Ron, what do you love about it"? And he says, "Oh, I work for seven years, the big four. Actually, it's called the final four now, isn't it? Used to be the big eight? Is that what it was called? [Unintelligible] that litigation.

Lauren [00:16:34] I came in with the big five, so... [laughs]

Phil [00:16:37] Well, now it's the Final Four.

Lauren [00:16:40] Oh no.

Phil [00:16:41] But he loves it. I say, Well, I'm glad you love it. I, you know, so I mean, I've never seen anyone with such passion for the audit process and you know, well, I guess that's what makes the world work, right? Everyone likes different things.

Lauren [00:16:56] Yeah. It's great because it's so different now. Now, really, I feel, you know, we allow people to direct their own career. So, you know, then it's yeah, exactly. If you're finding that you can act in a certain area over another, a firm usually is happy to to bring you to that place. We want people who are passionate about what they're doing. And they do see a lot of people that love audit. They like the travel. They like the being at the client and interacting with clients. I think with the advent of technology staff, being a staff looks a lot different today than it did when we started, right? I remember highlighting in my internship, highlighting all transactions, over 100,000 in a ledger that went on for pages and pages. That can be done like that [snaps]. You don't need a person highlighting with a ruler and a highlighter. So, you know, stuff that seemed mundane. I think now is is is assisted by technology and now staff can be really elevated to be analytical and put that college degree to use, put that CPA exam to use.

Phil [00:18:00] Yeah, I think people coming out of school now and accounting, all right, they don't realize they can do financial planning if they wanted to. They can do advisory services. I like to do something where I'm actually meeting people and talking to people. And I found with the audit. All right. Being in a vault of a bank, I started talking to myself, but... I just didn't like it. But today these students, they don't understand. I think-- you talk about a lot of people are not going into accounting anymore, a lot of people are not taking the CPA exam. I really think they don't know what a CPA does. And that message is not getting across. Now the question is, who would get that message across? I mean, you don't have time to go to schools all over the place and say, let me tell you what I do and how exciting it is. The graduates say finance is the hot area. Okay. That's the big thing: finance. Do you go and recruit, by the way? Is that part of your function?

Lauren [00:19:05] Yes, I do. I do recruiting. It's one of my favorite parts of the job is interacting with the people who are excited about their career and excited about the prospects of public accounting.

Phil [00:19:16] Are you noticing that less people really care about-- are you getting less people you're interviewing when you go to the colleges?

Lauren [00:19:24] No, we have. I mean, I feel as though we're getting a good amount. In general, I think all industries are struggling with a shortage of individuals and public accounting. I don't think it's any different. We want great people. We want a great, diverse and excited workforce, and we essentially can't get enough of those individuals. So yeah, there is there is a little bit of a shortage, but you know, there's still plenty of people out there that are graduating and learning about public accounting and that it's not just, you know, auditor attacks work and that you can go a lot of places with this degree in this understanding.

Phil [00:20:02] But I think, do you find that anyone you interviewed the universities, did they say anything about the concern that the profession is very dull, boring? You run into that at all?

Lauren [00:20:13] Not as much anymore.

Phil [00:20:14] I guess they wouldn't discuss that with you if they want a job with your company.

Lauren [00:20:19] I hope that perception seems to be external looking in from anyone who's not been involved in it. You know, when you're in the details of a tax turn or an audit, it might not be as engaging as when you're a manager and you're interacting and you're dealing with people. Public accounting is really, long-term, a people profession. You're mentoring your employees, you're connecting with clients, you're out there interacting in public. And when you come in for those first five years, it's almost like an apprenticeship, right? You've you're being paid to learn and grow and bring it, you know, bring yourself in all this knowledge. It reminds me of that. But long-term, after those six years of the staff senior, once you hit manager, like, public accounting works totally different. And that's the crux of the career is once you're a manager and you're managing work and you're managing a workforce and you're working on client economics and that sort of thing, and that's the exciting part of public accounting. People seem to be surprised a lot of times when they need accountants, and we're really personable. But you know...

Phil [00:21:23] And by the way, if I might say, you have very nice white teeth.

Lauren [00:21:26] Thank you. Thank you, That's a shout out to my parents for, I guess, the orthodontia and...

Phil [00:21:32] Orthodontia and great...

Lauren [00:21:35] Floss and brushing. Go to your dentist.

Phil [00:21:36] You have great white teeth. Anybody else ogle them?

Lauren [00:21:40] [Laughs] I hear that a lot.

Phil [00:21:41] Does anyone in your firm stop you and say, you have nice white teeth. Go ahead. I'm sorry.

Lauren [00:21:45] No, I smile a lot too. I, you know it's...

Phil [00:21:47] It's good. You're a happy person.

Lauren [00:21:48] Yeah, it's good. Yeah, yeah. You know, it's I love what I do, and I'm very lucky to to have a great, supportive firm and a great team. So it makes the busy seasons less stressful. We're in the middle of it right now, right? It makes it more enjoyable when you're working with people that you and your working with people and on clients that you really are passionate about.

Phil [00:22:09] So you and you're perfect to go out and talk to, you know, college graduates, you know, want to go into accounting?

Lauren [00:22:17] Yeah.

Phil [00:22:18] But unfortunately, they're not all like you. You know what I'm saying?

Lauren [00:22:22] Well, I mean, I started out like all of them, you know, I started out there...

Phil [00:22:26] Are you always this bubbly? You're very bubbly, person.

Lauren [00:22:29] I'm an introvert. I'm a true introvert.

Phil [00:22:33] You're an introvert?!

Lauren [00:22:33] Yes, I am. I am. But I like interactions. I like one on one interactions. I like talking to people and meeting people. I get a little overwhelmed and, you know, at a meet the firm type of an event with a lot of people and a lot of interaction. And I need to retreat back into my home cocoon and and recharge. But I just I do enjoy people and getting to know people and talking about this. I like recruiting know every person that comes to recruiting is completely different. Everyone is totally unique.

Phil [00:23:03] Right. Right.

Lauren [00:23:04] But it's exciting because, you know, one of the things with public accounting that we need to work on is having a diverse workforce, people that want different things out of their career, people that have different backgrounds, people that have had different experiences in college. And so I like, you know, bringing that and focusing on that with recruiting as well. So that's kind of a fun thing.

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