October is Technology & Innovation Month at the VSCPA! All month long, we're celebrating our members who push their employers forward in terms of technology and process improvement. Today, we're speaking with George Forsythe, CPA, managing partner at WellsColeman in Richmond and a member of the VSCPA Board of Directors.
VSCPA: What’s your role in your organization? How did you elect to focus on the intersection of accounting and technology?
GF: Managing Partner of WellsColeman. The firm sent me to the University of Virginia to obtain a Masters in Information Systems in 2000. Shortly thereafter, the tech bubble burst. We’ve leveraged the knowledge and experience gained by making strategic technology improvements at WellsColeman. For instance, we’ve been cloud-based, paperless and email encrypters for over a decade.
VSCPA: What’s the greatest technological threat CPAs face? What’s the greatest opportunity?
GF: The obvious answer is cybersecurity, with the increased number of attacks on financial, legal and medical practices. However, I think the biggest technological threat is complacency. Things are rapidly changing and we need to remain relevant as a profession. One way to maintain that relevance is to stay up on technology trends. This includes apps and plugins that make better information out of the data in our clients information systems. This, to me, is also the greatest opportunity.
VSCPA: What role can CPAs play in helping clients with their technology needs?
GF: CPAs often play the role of fractional CFO for their clients. I think we’re ideally positioned to play the fractional CTO role as well. We consult with many small businesses and know their systems and processes inside and out. Who better than to advise other clients on trends facing small business and how to best leverage IT? Additionally, with constant struggles for talent, technology is a reliable option to fill the gap. A perfect example is scanning tax return information using optical character recognition. There are many options from just scanning, to scan and verify, to full on outsourced return prep.
VSCPA: What’s your favorite piece of technology you currently use at work? In your personal life?
GF: My favorite work technology would have to be multi-factor authentication. With the increased attacks on CPA firms, I stayed awake wondering if we would be next. Our partners value technology and have made significant investments to protect our clients information and were early adopters of encrypted email and more recently, multi-factor authentication, to further reduce threats from the outside world.
Personally, I never thought that Apple products would become such reliable business tools. I cannot live without my iPhone, iPad and Apple watch. These devices keep me productive in both the office and on the soccer sideline, where I spend much of my evenings and weekends with my 12- and 14-year-old sons.