Merrill J. Taylor, CPA—34
Tax Manager, Wisan, Smith, Racker & Prescott, LLP
Salt Lake City, Utah
Education: MAcc, Tax, Brigham Young University; B.S. Accounting, Brigham Young University
Professional Associations/Memberships: AICPA, UACPA, Salt Lake Estate Planning Council
Hobbies: Scuba Diving, Hiking, Backpacking, Family
What are the key areas of your firm that have seen the greatest change in workflow over the past few years? Are you using automated workflow tools? Our workflow has changed significantly over the past few years. Our firm has moved from printing all returns on paper to trying to print most of our returns to an online portal where our clients can retrieve them electronically. Our old workflow revolved around having a paper copy of the tax return and now our workflow has changed to accommodate having an electronic copy of the tax return.
Have you embraced cloud computing for your practice? Are you moving your clients to the cloud? Our firm has made strides in providing our clients with an online portal that stores tax returns and other information. By using the online portal, our clients can upload tax information to us and we can upload information to our clients.
On a broader scale, how do you see new technologies changing the accounting profession in the near term (3-5 years)? I believe new technologies will greatly reduce or eliminate paper from the tax return process. When I started in the profession about 10 years ago, everything from workpapers to tax returns were on paper. Over the course of the past several years, things have been progressing to the point where electronic copies of tax documents and tax returns have become more and more standard. I believe technology will continue to evolve and paper will nearly be eliminated from the tax return preparation process.
How mobile are you regarding your work? How have mobile devices and apps impacted your productivity and work-life balance? I am very mobile in my work. I still do much of my work in the office, but there are a lot of times I am out of the office and need to respond to a client or work with a staff member on something. My entire world is in my smartphone, so I can quickly find a contact and email or call them if needed. I also have several international clients, so I am not always in the office when they need me. Having a smartphone and a tablet that receive my work email helps me stay in contact with them when I am not in my office sitting at my computer.
Have you found business success via social media, either via recognizable ROI, new customers, marketing or networking? Social media is turning into one of the main sources of marketing for me. More and more people are using smartphones and tablets to stay connected, so one of the best ways to reach people is through social media. I know several people that can only be contacted through social media. For me, LinkedIn has been a powerful tool to make contacts and keep in touch with my network. Social media has allowed me to make more contacts and get more face to face meetings than I would have with traditional forms of marketing.
What tips on social media do you think are essential, but perhaps missed, by professionals and small businesses? I believe one tip regarding social media is to send updates that are relevant to your contacts. I see some professionals sending out updates to their contacts that might not be relevant, but the professionals are just trying to stay in contact with their network. I would advise other professionals to make sure their updates are relevant to the target audience or else they risk having their updates ignored in the future.
What single piece of technology do you find the most important in your professional life? The most important piece of technology is my smartphone. It helps me stay connected with my clients and people in the office no matter where I am or what I am doing. Having a smartphone has given me the freedom to feel like I am not tied to the office.
What brand/model mobile phone do you use? I have a Samsung Galaxy S2. It is getting bit old now, so I will soon be upgrading.
Do you use a tablet for work purposes? I use an iPad for work purposes. Using a tablet helps me to stay in contact with clients and colleagues when I am out of the office attending a meeting or on a business trip.
What is your favorite accounting mobile app, and why? One of my favorite accounting apps is Mint.com. This is an app I refer to people to help them organize their financial lives. The app is very useful when you are always on the go and need to check your financial situation quickly. It is constantly updated with the most current financial information and helps people make and keep a budget.
How many monitors do you have on your desktop workstation? I have two monitors.
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