This article was published in the Summer 2020 issue

by Jason Wheeler, Manager of Assurance Services, Squire & Company

Stranger in a Strange Land

Late in the spring of 2018, two partners with the long-standing local CPA firm in which I had been employed for nearly twenty years invited me into an office and asked me to close the door. My instinctual reaction came as no surprise to them. “Um, okay… I… guess …”, I said, suspiciously darting my eyes back and forth trying to discern a clue as to what was about to happen. After all, closed doors are never a good sign, right?

After throwing out an April fool’s joke or two (they obviously knew they had me in a sweet spot), I could tell that they wanted to get right to the point to avoid any further doubt or uncertainty. “Effective July 1, Pinnock, Robbins, Posey & Richins will be merging with Squire & Company,” one of them said, pausing to wait for my response. I’m not sure I gave him one as readily as he had hoped. I just sat and stared blankly into, well… nothing, and thought about everything that was about to change. The questions started to flood my mind: What would this mean for my career? How will this change the culture of our firm? What if I’m not ready for change? How will this impact our clients?

Well… ready or not, change did come, and I am glad to report that it came for the better. Now, I would be disingenuous to say that transitioning the workflow of a firm of roughly 25 professionals to one of nearly 150 over the past two years has been void of some soul-stretching growth. Yet, the ultimate outcome has been nothing short of fantastic and well worth the effort. With the strengths, culture and relationships of both firms combined, the merger has brought a wealth of new opportunities to serve Utah’s small and midsize businesses. Squire brought to the table an impressive recruiting program, extensive and progressive training, quality mentorships, unique leadership opportunities for professionals at every level, and well-established advisory and wealth management practices and expertise.

Pinnock, Robbins, Posey & Richins enhanced the mix with a seasoned and loyal team of professionals, carrying with it the personal touch of a small boutique firm with a well-established footprint in the Salt Lake City market.

In time, it has become clear to me that the merged firm, this new whole, is now much greater than the sum of its previous parts. Despite my natural tendencies to resist change, it turns out that change is in fact precisely what the doctor had ordered. Change has brought new opportunity, new experiences, and most of all, new perspective—a higher perspective, born from the necessity of meeting new and ever-evolving challenges. If I have learned anything in my near twenty-two years of experience as a certified public accountant, I have come to realize that change will never sleep. The world will continue to evolve. It is a train that we can either board, or blow kisses to in the wind.

In the voice of Tom Chaplin, “Everything’s changing, and I don’t feel the same.” Higher perspective indeed.

Enter the year 2020.

Into the Fire: Here we go again!

Is it too late to take it all back? I mean… come on 2020—what gives?

One day we all woke up, and it seemed the whole world had changed overnight. We stopped coming into the office, our kids stopped going to school, and I have a reliable hunch that many of us stopped dressing up so fancy, at least from the waist down—until further notice.

With a substantial portion of the economy shelved on ice, we have all once again been forced to find novel ways to solve unprecedented challenges, including managing a remote workforce, not to mention keeping that workforce engaged, productive and happy. Many have seen significant disruption in supply chains, while spending countless hours meeting compliance with new protocols in order to keep employees and customers safe, and to mitigate exposure to liability.

Yet, in this flurry of change, some Utah businesses are not only surviving, they are thriving. But thriving rarely comes from spending time and resources swimming against the current. Rather, it’s in waking up to the new opportunities that have surfaced in this new and sweeping riptide—new markets and diverted demand, revisiting worn out practices, and making long overdue improvements to product and process.

A changing world not only means changes in how we interact with clients and customers, and with each other, but also includes a significant shift in what we are working on— and how we provide value. Opportunities for helping clients navigate their own changed circumstances have been, from our experience, plentiful under current economic circumstances. Among these opportunities are guiding clients in taking best advantage of economic stability programs, navigating newly-effective accounting standards, tax laws, and providing guidance and discussion for critical business decisions. We’ve witnessed companies choose to innovate as change has been forced upon them. The “can-do” spirit we have seen by our fellow Utah companies has been empowering in our efforts to help steady the course.

The constant of change is not going anywhere, anytime soon. The second anniversary of our firm’s merger is now upon us, and the reality is that my average day now looks completely different than before. It’s no longer just about ticks and ties, audits and taxes. It’s about discovering what businesses need, and how to help them set their sails to navigate the winds of change. Hopefully, your organization can embrace these changing winds as well. It may require you to jump in the water, embrace the current, and find your new rhythm, but the destination is worth the effort to continue to innovate.


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*Read the latest issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine, Summer Issue 2020

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