Meet Kevin Wenig, CPA, owner of his own firm in Trumbull, Connecticut. Kevin is an Intuit® Tax Online user who definitely thinks outside the box. His website even says, “We are more than just a bunch of pencil-pushing geeks; we’re a fantastic group of people with a sometimes warped sense of humor, an unnatural love of Taco-Bell and families outside of the office.”
I sat down with Kevin to learn more about his practice, how he’s using ITO and all about his iPhone app.
Scott Cytron: What’s been your biggest “a-ha” moment in having your own practice?
Kevin Wenig: I am not sure I have one “a-ha!” moment – I could argue I have thousands, in fact, a dozen since this morning. However, realizing that I don’t have to stick to the “tried and true” is something I continue to see everyday. Going paperless and online in 2004 was unheard of at the time, but clients loved it. Creating our own software when it doesn’t exist is a game changing realization, rather than trying to work within only what is readily available.
Scott: A lot of CPAs offer outsourced CFO services and/or the off-site finance department concept; how are your services different?
Kevin: We are quite different. First, we never use the word “outsourced” because I believe it has a negative connotation and sounds arguably temporary and disengaged. Instead, we conduct ourselves as if we actually work for the client, just in a different office. We have titles, business cards, e-mail addresses and attend the meetings – usually virtually – as if we work for them! We staff all different levels with all different skill sets, and there is nothing we can’t accomplish or implement for far less money than paying for an in-house Finance Department.
Plus, the use of custom created software makes our interaction with our clients, their employees, vendors and their clients seamless and invisible. In fact, most of our clients’ employees don’t even know we are an independent company!
Scott: How long have you been using Intuit Tax Online and what do you like about it?
Kevin: We started using ITO to prepare 2011 returns and never looked back. I wanted an online product we could use anywhere, while not being restricted to working off a server like they did in the 1800s. I love the ease of use, no backups or updates to maintain, and the completeness of the product.
Most of all, I love the fact that they actually listen to my suggestions. I have written numerous times about product enhancements and suggestions, and yes, even some criticisms, from time to time, and they always listen and most of my suggestions – whether from me alone or collectively with others as well – have seemingly made it into the product. Tech support is over-the-top amazing 100% of the time, without exception.
Scott: I understand you were the first CPA firm in the country to have your own iPhone app. Why did you develop the app and how has it been beneficial to your clients and to the firm?
Kevin: Software development is a hobby of mine. The Tax Vault app was meant to be a fun way to send receipts to your accountant via your iPhone. I then created www.negatism.com as a place for business owners to tell others what doesn’t work, instead of the thousands of stale “how-to” books you see everywhere you turn. We are now beta-testing web-based software for accounting firms called CPApp that we plan to start selling this spring. Not to worry – we’re not competing with ITO or QuickBooks® Online!
Scott: You were also an early pioneer of operating a paperless office. Was this a difficult transition? Also, tell our readers about the kinds of software you are using for scanning and storage.
Kevin: The transition was a difficult one at the time, as there were not a lot of resources available when we first started that would be able to attain my ultimate goal of easy access for my staff, as well as clients. We used portals for years, and then switched over to DropBox for Business, which has been flawless and remarkably easy to use.
I would never – could never – go back to paper. Now, I have my clients’ information anywhere – and so do they. Plus, the response I received when I implemented DropBox was overwhelmingly positive, as opposed to portals, which is a bit of a hassle for clients to remember yet another website, login and password.
Scott: How do you typically find new clients?
Kevin: We specialize in the advertising, marketing and media industries, so most of what we have is word-of-mouth. Luckily for us, advertising people are, by nature, “talking it up,” so they have been our best route for new business!
Scott: Are you and/or your firm active in the community with some kind of volunteer work?
Kevin: We “Dress Down for Daniel.” Daniel’s Music Foundation is a terrific charity near-and-dear, to us and we all donate each month in exchange for the chance to dress casually. Check it our for yourself!
Scott: If you were stranded on a desert island with access to only ONE piece of technology, what would it be and why?
Kevin: Assuming my desert island miraculously has Wi-Fi, then that’s an easy one … my iPad. Then, I can pass the time watching Castaway among the myriad of Will Ferrell movies I’ve already seen dozens of times.