40 Under 40 Honoree: Joel Thomsen, CPA, CFE, AIE, ARA, AIRC — 39
Audit Partner, Eide Bailly LLP, Fargo, ND
EDUCATION: BS Accountancy — University of North Dakota
FAMILY: Wife Sherri; Son Heath (2)
HOBBIES & INTERESTS: playing guitar/piano, waterskiing/boating,
PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS: AICPA, Society of Financial Examiners
(SOFE), Insurance Regulatory Examiners Society (IRES), numerous state societies
What’s the one piece of technology that MOST helps you get through
your normal workday?
“I am lost without a laptop with wireless connectivity. I go everywhere
with my laptop. Between home, work and travel, I am always on a wireless network
doing something. I even have my voicemail come through as e-mail so that I don’t
have to spend time calling in to check for messages thanks to VoIP. I have to
admit, however, that my iPod is a close second. When you travel, the iPod makes
plane travel much more bearable.”
What will be the biggest change over the next five years in the ways
tax and accounting firms operate?
“We are going to continue to gravitate toward flexibility of schedules
and location of work (home office). Today’s college students are used
to working when they want, where they want. I do not believe that this correlates
to them working less. In fact, if they are given the right environment, they
will likely have higher productivity than those employees working traditional
hours in an office. The challenge with this is maintaining steady workflow while
providing the necessary on-the-job training in virtual environments. Another,
more complicated challenge will be creating loyalty to the firm and a sense
of community among employees when more and more work is done through a virtual
“Firms that are able to effectively implement a virtual environment
will be at a competitive advantage due to having a larger pool of candidates
from which to select coupled with a lower cost structure for overhead.”
What Joel’s peers had to say about him:
Joel came to Eide Bailly with an idea to help the firm grow its insurance practice.
In only four years, he has taken the firm from virtually an unknown accounting
firm in the insurance industry to the seventh largest firm in terms of premiums
audited. He is truly passionate about what he does and seeks ways to think “outside
of the box” when creating strategy and vision for this industry group.
Joel grew the insurance industry with his creative thinking and marketing efforts,
but more importantly he built a team with the “right people” who
shared his enthusiasm, vision and drive to be successful. His work philosophy
is what makes so many people truly want to work for him and be a part of this
exciting industry growth. He believes that in order to be successful one must
have a strong group of successful people working not for him but with him.
Besides growing the firm’s insurance practice, Joel has also been a
leader in recruiting and retaining staff. He has started a Recruiting and Retention
Committee to focus on bringing in the best talent and keeping them. While the
accounting industry’s turnover rates are as high as 25 percent, Eide Bailly’s
is less than 15 percent. His ideas and efforts have strongly impacted our low
turnover and ultimately made the firm an employer of choice for area students.