Blake OliverHighlights of my conversation with Blake Oliver

  • One of the first US based bookkeeping firms and cloud integrators to be listed on Xero site
  • Acquisition of Cloudsourced Accounting by Harshman Phillips & Company and in turn offering the whole package: bookkeeping, cloud integration, tax compliance and virtual CFO services
  • An add-on needs to solve a pain point to justify the friction of setting up another application.
  • What do clients want from their CPA’s

Subscribe to Episode #19 of Cloud Stories on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/cloud-stories-heather-smith/id908333807

Transcript

Heather:        Hello, Heather Smith here. Thank you so much for joining Cloud Stories today. We have a great interview as always for you to listen to. Just before I get to that, I just wanted to remind you that Xero for Dummies 2 (updated edition) is available in all main book stores in Australia and New Zealand. You should be able to order it into book stores if you’re listening from the UK or the USA.

I always wanted to mention, if there’s someone out there who you think I should interview who has got an interesting story to share for our Cloud Stories audience, please get in touch and let me know and I’ll organise it from there but over to the interview today.

Today I’m interviewing Blake Oliver, very excited about this interview. Blake has 10 years of experience as a bookkeeper and accountant, managing accounting systems for a variety of small businesses and nonprofits. He earned his bachelor degree from Northwestern Bienen School of Music, sorry if I didn’t pronounce that right, majoring in cello performance.

Always good with computers and numbers, Blake picked up bookkeeping after graduation to support his music habit. Blake firmly believes that the future of accounting is in the cloud, and he loves leveraging technology to cost effectively free up the time of busy entrepreneurs. Now, I wonder, if he comes out to Australia, whether Chris Ridd will invite him to join the Xero band with his cello.

Blake works and founded Cloudsourced Accounting. They’re a team of online accounting and integration experts with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston. As an online firm, they’re able to keep overheads low and offer top notch service at a great price. Their mission is to provide small business owners with a fully integrated accounting solution using the best technology available. You, the client, get simple real time data allowing you to make important business decisions with confidence and the Cloudsourced Accounting specialists are there to support you along the way.

Quite a bit of a spiel there but the interview is very interesting because Blake has really been a leader in this field in the USA, really embraced this technology, and what you will hear in our discussions is that Blake’s firm, Cloudsourced Accounting, is soon to be a part of Bruce Phillip’s practice, Harshman Phillips & Company. That’s quite an interesting journey that Blake takes us on but over to the interview. I started by asking Blake …

If you could bottle something from your childhood, what would it be?

Blake:             Oh gosh, that is a great first question there. If I had to bottle something from my childhood. Well, you may or may not know that I was a cellist in my previous life. I do miss a lot of that in terms of just getting to live in music and not really in the real world. I actually feel like my childhood was in that bottle or maybe a bubble is a better term for it.

Heather:        A cellist bubble.

Blake:             Yes, exactly, so it would be just to get to play in an orchestra and not worry about making a living. But I’m very grateful to have had that opportunity. I don’t think everyone does. That would be my bottle.

Do you still play in an orchestra at all or is it once you became an adult, it’s difficult to do?

Blake:             Not much lately. I do play chamber music with friends every now and then, and that’s what I really enjoy. It’s funny, I really enjoyed more studying music than I did the actual reality of being a professional musician.

Heather:        Oh okay.

Blake:             I think actually where I ended up, I’m very happy with what I do and I find it really creative. I find it really fun and actually more creative in many ways than what I was doing as a cellist which was playing the notes that other people wrote.

Heather:        That’s really interesting. I’m the mother of a trombonist. I used to drive … he’s now at university but I used to drive him to trombone lessons six times a week, which was pretty insane for me.

Blake:             Six times a week, wow, that’s impressive.

Heather:        It was like a combination of playing, practising, playing, practising, and now it’s nothing. I don’t think he’s even touched it in six months now he’s left school but there you go.

Blake:             Well, it’s good to take a break sometimes.

Heather:        Maybe he’ll take it back up when he leaves university. He’ll find it at university.

Blake, can you describe your business Cloudsourced Accounting for our listeners?

Blake:             Sure. We started as an online bookkeeping firm and we were one of the first two Xero based bookkeeping firms in the US that were listed on Xero’s website. That was really just being in the right place at the right time. I had been looking for alternatives to QuickBooks Online which I wasn’t really happy with and stumbled across Xero. Somebody reached out to me and said, “Hey, you should come to one of these all day trainings,” and got me in on it, which ended up being a very worthwhile investment.

So very early on … I got 30 customers in a matter of months and then I realised, “Okay, this is a business.” This was back when I was working as an independent bookkeeping putting myself through school. The plan was, at that time, to become a CPA. So I said, “Well, let’s try this business because I think there’s something to it.” I connected with an old classmate of mine, Maria Sentic, and we started Cloudsourced Accounting. Again, like I said, it was originally a cloud bookkeeping firm.

Heather:        Yes.

Blake:             As more of our competitors started to move to Xero, which actually happened fairly rapidly in the bookkeeping space I feel, the competition increased and we saw that customers were having trouble understanding the difference between us and say any other online bookkeeping company. We took a long hard look at what we do and tried to figure out what is it that makes us better? Because we knew that we were better but for some reason we just weren’t able to convince customers of this.

That’s when we noticed a cloud integrator listing on the Xero website and we said, “Well, that’s what we’re doing. We’re experts at the technology.” So to get to the answer to your question, we are a cloud integration company that also happens to do ongoing bookkeeping services for our clients, and positioning ourselves that way has been excellent.

Heather:        That sounds a really interesting journey there.

So you never physically did manual bookkeeping or desktop bookkeeping? You just launched straight into the cloud?

Blake:             Yes, I never used a 10 key calculator in my life. I still don’t know how to use one. Never did anything on paper. I’m actually pretty terrible using the number pad. I actually don’t have a number pad at my desktop right now. Xero from the start, Xero data entry ideally from the start, just born in this new sort of world where data entry is obsolete.

Heather:        That’s amazing. It was nice to start on that platform and look forward. It must be the world’s your oyster and it must be interesting what’s going to come for you.

I understand that Harshman Phillips & Company, an accounting and advisory firm based in Atlanta in San Francisco, have recently acquired your business Cloudsourced Accounting. What does this mean for you?

Blake:             Well, for me personally, I am really, really happy to be working with Bruce Phillips who is the founder and owner at Harshman Phillips. We met at a convention last year, the Sleeter Convention, and we knew within 10 minutes of meeting each other that we were on the same path, that we had the same vision for what’s going to happen in the accounting industry here. It’s surprising still, I guess at that time … it’s getting better all the time in terms of people understanding what’s happening but there really aren’t that many who share that vision.

I’m really happy to be working with somebody who has honestly the experience that I don’t in order to build this from a management perspective. I love technology. I get to focus on the technology side of things, on the marketing side of things.

For the company and the clients, it’s excellent because we came to realise that a full service solution is ideal for many clients. We don’t offer tax right now as Cloudsourced Accounting alone. We’re not a CPA firm. We kept getting clients asking us for tax, for higher level virtual CFO services, for legal and HR references, and we just couldn’t provide them. So for those clients, sort of the upper half of our client list, it’s going to be fantastic for them to have all these resources.

For Harshman Phillips, they get a staff of Xero trained bookkeepers. They’ve been operating more on the high end, a full service accounting. They don’t even have bookkeepers on their staff. We’re bringing on the bookkeeping and cloud integration component. Harshman Phillips is bringing on 23 years of experience, the connections that means in the community for resources for the clients, and simply the experience to deliver a really top notch full service solution. So together, we’re the whole package.

Heather:        You are the whole package.

To clarify that, you have bookkeeping, cloud integration, tax compliance and virtual CFO services there, so you are massively the whole package. That must be huge for … I guess America doesn’t realise but that must be huge for America.

Blake:             Right, and my understanding of elsewhere in the world is that firms are already doing this, especially in Australia and New Zealand where it’s a full service solution but small business owners, here in the US, are not familiar with that. Typically you go to your CPA once a year and it’s for taxes. Many, many CPA firms, all they do is tax and compliance work, and many, many bookkeepers all they do is bookkeeping. It’s very separate and there’s not a lot of communication going on. It’s just very inefficient. Even the advisory people, the virtual CFO people, are separate.

So having it all under one roof is really appealing. By roof I mean virtual because we don’t have offices.

Heather:        Absolutely, and you’re covering so many bases in America now. From talking with add-on providers, they’re telling me that the cloud integrators very much in Australia are separate from the accountants and the accountants don’t have internal cloud integrators. So I’m not sure. I’m happy to be corrected on that but it does seem that there are listings of cloud integrators but there’s not the listing of the whole package. There may well be a few people doing that but … yes, it’s very interesting.

What have you learnt during the negotiation process of I guess the acquisition process?

Blake:             Well, I’ve learned that doing a merger is very complicated and not to be taken lightly. It’s a really good thing that Bruce and I like each other a lot because if we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t be wanting to deal with all of this. Then beyond that, there’s simply integrating the teams, making sure they get along. Thankfully we all had a chance to meet at the Xero convention in Denver this past week.

Heather:        Yes.

Blake:             That was great. Luckily everyone got along. I was a little concerned about that but those concerns were unfounded. Probably the most difficult thing is going to be integrating our different systems that we’re all using because HPC is on one time and billing solution, we’re on another, we’ve got to get our invoicing combined. We’re going to do that over the next six months and hopefully it won’t take away too much time and that the benefits of being combined will exceed the cost of doing so.

Heather:        Absolutely, that’s interesting. It sounds like Xerocons are going to end up being your staff parties.

Blake:             I think so. That’s the thing about running a virtual firm is that you can’t replicate the “in person” team experience. We’re thinking we may even need to do it twice a year instead of just once a year, get everyone together in some sort of central point in the country. Thankfully we have Denver which is 2-3 hours from anywhere in the US.

Heather:        Goodness, but you live in Los Angeles. You’ve got Disneyland.

Don’t you always want to go to Disneyland?

Blake:             Well, you know, having grown up actually 30 minutes from Disneyland, I’ll tell you that when you have it right there, it’s like anything else, you don’t take advantage of it like you should or appreciate it.

Heather:        I love Disneyland. I have spent I think about 40 hours in that Disneyland.

Blake:             That’s pretty good.

On the US Xero website, there are only four cloud integrators listed and now you are actually associated with two of them being Cloudsourced Accounting and Harshman Phillips & Company. You’re really dominating the market. Can you explain to our listeners what a cloud integrator is and what it means to be a cloud integrator in the United States?

Blake:             Sure. Actually I’m going to pull up Xero’s definition of the cloud integrator because I think that is great.

Heather:        Go for it.

Blake:             Of course I have to find it first.

Heather:        I think I might even …

Blake:             Here’s what Xero calls a cloud integrator or how they define it. They say that a cloud integrator helps you decide the best apps to use with Xero for your business. They’ll then help you get up and running with set up migration and training services. To me, that means really two things. It means one is really understanding the client’s business and picking out for them, with them, the Xero apps, the add-ons that will work specifically for their business.

I really enjoy that. I find it to be really interesting in that every business is a bit different and there are multiple solutions potentially for every business. It depends a lot on the personality of say the owner and the staff and resources. It’s a challenge but it’s a fun one.

Heather:        Definitely.

Blake:             The second component of that is the set up and the training. The set up can be quite complex if you have three or four or even five different applications that you’re all syncing using Xero as the hub.

Heather:        Very interesting, yes. It seems to be a huge untapped market or opportunity in North America for people to become cloud integrators, even though you’re doing a very good job of it there.

Blake:             I agree. As you said, there are only four listings. Two of them are Cloudsourced Accounting and HPC and the other two are essentially individuals. Here we have a market of something like 300 million people and virtually nobody is doing the service. We really get to define what that means here. It’s sort of like three years ago when I got into the bookkeeping, there were only two listings. We basically just have to stay ahead of the market and then copy what you guys are doing in Australia and we’ll be fine.

Heather:        Absolutely, or New Zealand as well. We should probably put New Zealand in there too.

Blake:             Australia is three years ahead of the United States and I don’t know how far ahead New Zealand is of Australia and the US but Australia and the US are very similar markets. It’s really great for me simply to be able to look at what cloud integrators are doing in Australia and look at what accountants are doing there because I know that the business market place is not that different, just 14 times bigger which is an even bigger opportunity here.

Heather:        It does seem, from an outsider looking into the business marketplace in America, watching the roll out of product development for Xero, that each state seems to have its own unique set of rules and requirements, which almost seems to set them up as a country rather than a state. Do you perceive that?

Blake:             Yes, that’s the beauty of our federal system and also the incredible complexity of it is that we essentially have 50 different countries operating from a business perspective. Your business may not even be legal in 48 out of 50 states if you’re in the marijuana business, which is a huge growing industry here, and accountants are getting into that, the smart ones are taking on clients in this business.

I mean it’s going to be bigger than alcohol sales. That’s the projection. I don’t know the dollar amounts off the top of my head but I don’t even need to. That’s going to be a giant business.

Heather:        Yes. Do you think America is going to … North America, United States is going to simplify the states or do you think that’s just …?

Blake:             The way we’re set up, not to get too political about all this, but just the way we are set up, standardisation of the rules and regulations across all 50 state jurisdictions is very slow to happen. It’s actually a great opportunity for accountants and CPAs in particular because of the complexity. None of the businesses are national and global. You have to be aware of all this. Yes, I don’t see it changing any time soon.

In fact, it can get worse and worse, right? Especially when you have a situation where you have a product, a major product, that is illegal, it’s a felony to sell it federally but it’s completely legal to do so in the states. We have situations where … I mean these businesses are running entirely on cash, money orders are the means of payment. To be an accountant and deal with that, it’s really interesting to follow that.

Heather:        Yes.

Moving on from perhaps not such a contentious issue, what does an add-on solution need to do to get in front of Blake Oliver?

Blake:             To get in front of me, it certainly has to solve a pain point that justifies the friction of setting up yet another application. A great example of that in my mind is Abacus, which is a relatively young Xero add-on here, but fills a gap for expense reimbursement. There are already excellent expense reimbursement apps such as Expensify in the US for creating expense reports but there wasn’t really something that was designed more for the micro businesses or small businesses, very small businesses.

Abacus comes along and offers a model that is really easy to set up and really affordable. The pricing model is pay as you go essentially. You only pay for active users, so there’s not that monthly fee up front that you have to get over paying. I think apps like that where it’s the utility of it and the use of it corresponds to what you pay, is going to make apps succeed because there’s sort of an overload already in terms of monthly fees.

I don’t want yet another monthly fee for an app that I don’t know, that I’m going to pay for. I’m speaking right now as if I’m the small business owner. I think that’s the model to follow.

In terms of getting in front of you, how did Abacus, how did you come across Abacus?

Blake:             That’s a good question. I can’t remember if they reached out to me or I reached out … I found them. I guess I’m not really a typical user in that I follow all of these blogs and I read about all the new add-ons that come around.

Heather:        That’s fair enough. Look, the add-ons … I know the add-ons that are out there trying very hard to get in front of people such as yourself, and it’s hitting all those different how do we do it? How do we do it? It’s always interesting to see what resonates and what works for you as a very busy person who would perhaps adopt them and run with them or go no, not interested. So hopefully that’s of use to the add-ons out there.

Blake:             I would say, along those lines, that the first thing I do when I see a new add-on is I see how easy it is to sign up. If it’s a breeze to sign up and I can do that even on my phone, then I’m much more likely to actually try it out, whereas if it’s a complicated set up process that’s going to take me hours to do, it’s not going to happen. I would say that is the thing to focus on.

Heather:        Yes, easy sign up. Can I perhaps add to that: easy sign up and put credit card details in for the first trial period. Would you agree with that?

Blake:             Yes, 100%.

Heather:        Cool.

What Xero add-on solutions do you recommend or work with?

Blake:             We work a lot with bill.com here in the US. They’re a terribly antiquated banking system and we have something like 3,000 banks and they generally do not talk to each other in terms of electronic payments. That necessitates a solution such as bill.com. Many vendors still do not accept electronic payments period, so you have no choice but to send them a paper cheque.

Bill.com connects to Xero and facilitates sending paper cheques as well as electronic ACH transfers, which are a version of electronic cheques. Without that, it’s nearly impossible to create a paperless workflow. That’s like a critical add-on here in the US for anyone who does a lot of payments. I know that that is just astounding to anyone from your part of the world because you have relatively few banks and you can just send a CSV file, a payment file to your bank and pay all your vendors.

Heather:        Yes, and I think it’s the other way round in that for us a cheque costs money whereas an EFT is free. I think for you, a cheque costs no money and an EFT costs you money, is that correct?

Blake:             Yes, if you sign up for electronic transfers with your bank, they will generally charge you fees for that but they’ll give you a cheque book and let you right those for free. It’s so silly too because now when you deposit a cheque, you can do so on your phone, and you’re just taking a picture of the cheque and then you’re supposed to destroy it. Here we have a paper based payment system that gets converted to digital through this tedious process of taking a picture.

Heather:        Oh my goodness. Wow.

Blake:             Yes, it’s mind boggling.

Heather:        That’s mind blowing. You’d think that, and obviously we’re going on a tangent here, you’d thing that a bank would just come out and say, “Okay, we’re going to do it a different way and be innovative, and charge for cheques and not for EFT,” and see if everyone swarm to them.

Blake:             You would think that and actually there was … another problem that we have is that the EFT system, which is called ACH here, automated clearing house is what it’s called. By the way, it used to literally be a bunch of banks would pull up with trucks and then they would exchange bags of cheques. That was how it worked. Now they have a big super computer in some secret location where all the banks send in the payments but the payments don’t happen immediately as they do elsewhere. I know, for instance, in the UK, it’s instantaneous.

Here, for no reason whatsoever other than it’s just arbitrary policy, the payments only clear once a day. Even if you send a payment to somebody electronically, they’re not going to get it … it won’t process till the following day and they won’t have the money in their account till the day after. The banking industry here actually had a vote to decide whether or not to speed that up and they chose not to.

Heather:        That’s amazing.

Blake:             I’m assuming because they like making money on the float which is the …

Heather:        Yes, I imagine that’s what’s happening.

Blake:             Funds in transit. Billions and billions of dollars just sitting in a computer in transit.

Heather:        That must be very frustrating for you. Goodness.

Blake:             Well, it also creates opportunities because the more problems you have, the more solutions you can have I suppose.

Heather:        Absolutely.

Blake, what does collaborative accounting mean to you and what does it mean for your clients?

Blake:             To me, collaborative accounting means setting up workflows for the accounting system, such that both my staff and the client or their staff are involved in the process where it’s best for them to be involved in. to give you an example, we prefer to have our clients do their own customer invoicing. The reason for that is that it’s efficient for them to log into the system directly to create those invoices and send them out to clients to make sure they’re right. When our staff does that, they might get it wrong.

It makes way more sense for our staff to go in and do that monthly reconciliation or to process bills for instance. It means that both sides are involved in the most efficient way. We’re actually acting really as their accounting department. We’re just not there physically with them in the building.

Heather:        Thank you for that. You’ve mentioned on your form …

What do clients want from their CPA?

Blake:             Right now, here in the US, most CPAs, the vast majority, focus on tax. That is what they do. That is really how people here have come to view the CPA profession, it’s a tax specialist. This is CPAs operating like their own firms. I’m not talking about in big public accounting firms. What I’ve come to realise people want is they want more than just that. They want somebody that’s going to check in on them multiple times throughout the year. They want somebody who’s going to act as an advisor for their business to help them understand what’s going on financially, how they can improve, help with technology, help with optimising business processes.

It’s sort of like acting … really you’re their CFO. You are their key advisor from a financial perspective. Most business owners don’t have that background. They can’t afford to hire somebody with that background, so they really need that from their CPA. I think that’s where the profession is headed. I think if you’re doing tax, if that’s all you’re doing, your job is going to be automated in a matter of 5-10 years because the artificial intelligence necessary to fill out tax forms is not that far off.

Heather:        Yes, I completely agree with you. I know people will be up in arms about that but I completely agree with you. I think that small businesses need CPAs as their team members, CPAs or virtual CFOs or however you want to call it, as part of their team either pulling or monitoring or prodding or advising them along the way.

Blake:             And bookkeepers who are just doing data processing, they’re in the same boat with the tax preparers in that bookkeeping is not a complicated thing. I can see somebody writing an add-on for Xero that will log into your Xero file or pull from the API transactions and then code like 95% of them using artificial intelligence. If, as a bookkeeper, all you’re doing is coding transactions and not doing something more, then I think you’re also at risk.

Like you said, it is about being that team member and about providing that advice and being that person for the customer to go to. It’s really a lot of customer service.

Heather:        Yes, absolutely.

Blake:             A lot of customer service.

Heather:        It’s very much listening and advising and that holistic experience that you have as an adviser.

Blake:             Occasionally being a therapist as we’ve all experienced.

Heather:        Marriage counsellor, yes. I remember that … obviously we used to visit clients and I remember Wayne Schmidt who is quite well known out here in Australia, he said, “Look, if they want you to water their plants when you visit them, just water the plants. Add that to the bill.” It does end up being a lot of different things.

Blake:             Exactly.

What do you believe that Xero needs to do to crack the US market?

Blake:             I think what they did or announced at Xerocon Denver is exactly what they need which is that partnership with Apple. The biggest problem here in the marketplace is lack of awareness. The vast majority of small business owners don’t even know what Xero is. Surprisingly the vast majority of accountants don’t even know what Xero is. I think that a few of the recent moves have been on the right track, sort of pulling back and saying big picture, “Let’s actually make people aware that there is an alternative to Intuit here in the US.”

Heather:        Yes.

Blake:             I saw that Xero was putting up billboards in San Francisco. They’ve got cars driving around with Xero on them. I think that’s really great to develop some brand awareness in specific tech savvy cities but you cannot underestimate the importance of this Apple deal in terms of having Xero being talked about in potentially all the Apple stores in the United States.

Heather:        Okay, that’s really interesting that that was perceived as so important for you.

Blake:             I think a lot of people are missing that. They don’t really see it as being as important as it is but who else can put out Xero’s name out there in the US marketplace better than one of the largest companies in the world, which will reach directly into tech savvy business people’s hands. I mean everyone has an iPhone. At least it seems to me, among the businesses that I serve.

Heather:        Yes, definitely. It’s really good to hear your perspective of that. Obviously every bus shelter in my suburb has Xero sitting in it.

Blake:             Really?

Heather:        Oh yes.

Blake:             That’s amazing.

Heather:        Xero is all over the place here. I know I just recently came back from New Zealand. Xero had adverts on and when I went through immigration the guy said, “Why are you here?” I said, “I’m here for a Xero conference,” and he just like yelled and wanted to hug me and was so excited. He was like, “Go through madam, go through.” It’s big and it’s exciting here.

I think you perhaps saw that … we could see that excitement coming out of Denver but it’s kind of rippled out across the country here. It will, I guess, eventually … but with all the little Apple stores, eventually ripple out through the stores there. I imagine Apple stores are in every major shopping centre in America.

Blake:             Yes, all the high end malls it seems have them. They’re the highest grossing retail store in the country per square foot, more than any jeweller. It’s kind of unbelievable. Just knowing that the business team at Apple could potentially be promoting Xero and talking about it with small business owners is big.

If you’re starting a business here in the US, if you’re starting a small business, most people are not saying, “I want to build this on PC architecture.” They’re saying, “I’m going to go get iPads for my retail store and I’m going to run Vend,” or, “I’m going to run Square,” and those apps integrate with Xero. It’s sort of like I really see this as we’re a little snowball right now and it’s just starting to roll. The snowball has finally started to roll and as soon as the momentum gets going then I think the US market is really going to open up.

Heather:        That’s exciting to hear and it sounds like you’re not even suggesting they have any hesitation about opening up and embracing something new … sort of a new accounting player in the market. That’s excellent.

Blake:             I don’t mean to keep going on about this. Feel free to cut me off.

Heather:        Go on.

Blake:             There’s also a shift going on generationally here. I don’t know if it’s the same elsewhere but millennials, which I’m on the leading edge of the millennial generation, I’m 31, we grew up with technology. I grew up with … I got Facebook when I was still in college. We all had smart phones at a pretty young age. We have a different approach to technology than people running businesses. Over the next 10 years as we start to become the business owners, then that’s also going to accelerate this change because we will not tolerate products that are not easy to use, beautiful and efficient.

Heather:        Yes, easy to use, beautiful, efficient, that’s … it is interesting because I do find it very demanding, like that’s what you want, whereas I guess perhaps my generation we just kind of put up with stuff and we’re just happy to plod along and put up with stuff. But then you get on something and you go, “Oh, this is so much more efficient. Okay, I’m not dealing with the other thing now.”

Blake:             I don’t think we’re special or anything. I think we better be watching our backs because coming up on us is this generation that was born with the iPhone. My son is six months old and he’s already reaching for our iPhones.

Heather:        Yes, it is amazing.

Blake:             He’s going to be swiping right and left before he can talk.

Heather:        Absolutely, and what that will mean because I know that I’m 15 years older than you and I started out on big A3 pieces of paper with a pencil. That’s how I started out. There was not a computer in the office and there were 400 people on staff. In that space of time, how far it’s come. When I was at university, you know an IV drip, you know how you have an IV drip in a hospital, do you understand what that is?

Blake:             Mm-hmm.

Heather:        At university, the first person with a mobile phone, it was actually on an IV drip and it was so big he had to walk with the whole thing and it had a little platform. He used to walk along with it.

Blake:             That’s amazing.

Heather:        So it’s got a little bit smaller since then. What’s happening in the technology development is very exciting. Thank you so much for talking with us today. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners before we end it?

Blake:             I would say that marketing is also changing a lot here in the US along with … it’s really the same trend, with people wanting apps that work on all their devices, they’re mobile workers. We’ve got a big shift in marketing happening in the accounting industry where now the US is such a big country, accounting firms have always been local because you couldn’t possibly have in-person meetings otherwise.

Heather:        Yes.

Blake:             Now, we serve clients all over the country and even the world. There’s a big shift coming in the US in terms of how accounting firms get clients, how they market themselves, and they’re not going to be able to rely on those traditional networks that they used to have.

Heather:        Okay, that’s excellent. Really useful information I’m sure for the accountants out there. Thank you so much Blake for giving up your time today. Really appreciate it and I’m sure the listeners will get a lot out of this interview.

Blake:             Thank you.

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