From the Sept. 2008 Issue
In recent years, technological advancements have made it possible for many
companies, even accounting firms, to allow some of their professional staff
to work remotely. With a shortage of experienced staff in the profession, it
often makes sense to hold onto seasoned workers, even if they move out of the
Likewise, many of these same technologies have allowed traditional accounting
firms to provide remote accounting and bookkeeping services to their clients,
essentially acting as a “virtual CFO,” providing most or all of
the posting, closing and reconciliation functions, as well as payroll, financial
statement preparation and financial analysis. One accounting professional has
found a way to merge the best of both concepts.
Based in Kansas City, RPPC, Inc. (www.RPPC.net)
has never had a traditional office during its more than 10 years, opting instead
to have its president and staff work from home offices, from the road or from
client locations. Pam Newman, who started the consultancy in 1997 and holds
CMA and CFM credentials, says this has enabled the firm to keep overhead costs
at a minimum while offering competitive services that are based on client needs.
President, RPPC, Inc.
Kansas City, Mo.
“I focus on building long-term relationships with my clients that are
based on helping them build strong businesses with solid financial foundations
and an understanding of what their own financials really mean,” she said.
“With today’s remote technologies, I can be anywhere and be responsive
to client needs. The firm’s name is an acronym that also represents Pam’s
mission with clients: “Realizing Profitable Potential through Change.”
RPPC specializes in QuickBooks and its POS offerings, and provides a full
range of accounting services that includes bookkeeping and financial analysis,
aiding in payroll processes, business consulting, and education of business
owners. With some clients, the focus is on helping them perform tasks themselves,
while for others, RPPC offers full, in-house accounting services. The firm intentionally
does not prepare taxes, but rather partners with area practitioners to prepare
clients for annual reporting. “I try to help a business be more responsible
with its finances by better understanding their processes, so my relationship
with the business adds value to their relationship with their CPA.”
Pam and her office manager both use laptops, and with an obvious reliance
upon technology built into the consultancy’s business model, RPPC scored
a 226 on the Productivity Survey, a free tool at www.CPATechAdvisor.com/productivity
that helps firms assess their usage of technology.
Education is really the core of Pam’s interests, with her goal being
to help entrepreneurs truly understand the financial aspects of their small
businesses and assist them in developing and implementing strategies to succeed
in their market. She is a QuickBooks Pro Advisor, which helps on the technology
side, and she also offers a monthly newsletter with practical tips, in addition
to training seminars for businesses.
So what led her toward her current path? Pam received her MBA and BS in Accounting
& Management from the University of Nebraska and has experience working
in-house for various entities, from a Fortune 500 telecommunications enterprise,
to banking, retail and hospitality. She then owned and ran a remodeling company.
With a self-proclaimed passion for cost accounting, she quickly realized that
most small business owners simply didn’t understand the financial side
of their work. With her knowledge of contracting, RPPC quickly gained several
construction clients, and has since grown to cover a diverse business client
Technology hasn’t completely removed travel from Pam’s life, however.
In fact, she’s a bit of a road warrior, because when she’s not directly
assisting clients, she speaks at dozens of tradeshows and conferences each year,
most recently at the National Society of Accountants’ annual meeting in
August. She’s a member of the National Speakers Association, Intuit’s
Speakers Bureau and Toastmasters International. She is the author of two books
on management accounting: “Out of the Red” and “Boost Your
Bottom Line: Financial Tips for Consultants.” Her other educational outreach
includes audio CDs on business tips and writing articles, including a column
for Entrepreneur Magazine. Pam previously hosted her own business-oriented radio
talk show and is frequently used as an expert resource by various other media.
This adds up to a pretty busy schedule; but, with a remotely oriented practice,
Pam says she is able to provide her clients with most of the services they need
from any location. And without the burden of tax preparation services, her business
workflow remains fairly steady throughout the year, and she is able to keep
a more traditional workday. In other words, no late nights at the office (although
she may be working, at least she’s not in an office away from home).
Speaking of home, the virtuality of RPPC has also certainly afforded her many
personal benefits, particularly when it comes to spending time with her children
Paige and Cole. Pam is able to keep up with them and their interests, supporting
them in soccer, football, drama, dance and other activities. During the summer,
of course, the grandparents get their fair share of time, too. “With all
of their hobbies, sports, friends and camp, they are definitely well entertained,”
says Pam. Then, of course, there’s vacation time. Pam’s family prefers
warm weather locales and recently went to California, where they enjoyed Disneyland,
and later travelled to Miami.
It’s a brave new world, but Pam is definitely proof that keeping ahead
technologically can not only help a professional provide better and more responsive
services, it can also improve the professional’s personal life. With her
multiple speaking engagements and other activities, Pam can literally be almost
anywhere at any given moment, but she is always virtually there for her clients.