It’s accrual world, but I’m learning to bridge the GAAP
Sep 06, 2018 | By Michael Olshove
Accounting, to me, has always been a team down the hall with whom I was friendly, but didn’t personally know very well outside of the occasional company happy hour conversation. The smiles I received likely came with a rejected expense report in-hand (I’m still unsure as to mutual exclusivity) and were often accompanied by a quality attempt at a dad joke.
That was about the only time I’d see my Excel-savvy friends outside of their offices. Well, also at home (I married an accountant), but she’s still on Office 2003 and an outdated month-end close app that went the way of the dinosaurs, so I’m not the only legacy solution in need of an update around here (ey-yooo!).
When I first interviewed with FloQast — close management software built by accountants, for accountants, to help them close the books faster and more accurately — for a sales position, it was natural that our director would wonder about my lack of industry experience. After all, FloQast is obsessed with hiring former accountants and CPAs, and being married to one is about as close as I get to financial statements on a regular basis.
My wife and I have our usual “how was your day?” talk, but that’s more emotional, and less about accounting itself. I’m about as nimble as a three-legged elephant when you put me in front of a spreadsheet.
But I know sales! I’ve read the books, applied the methodologies, made countless cold calls, marked plenty of deals “closed won” and probably four times as many “closed lost,” improperly completed countless expense reports, and as a dad to four kids, I’ve got my corny joke game on lock-down.
What at first was daunting soon would become more second nature.
Here at FloQast I’m surrounded by intelligent accountants all too happy to have found a second career outside of public accounting working for a software provider. This company was founded by accountants — two of the three co-founders have their CPAs and worked for the Big 4; the majority of the Sales team are former accountants as are a quarter of all employees. In fact, every function — Sales, Marketing, Development, Support and of course, Finance, are, at least, partially staffed by accountants. When we say “built by accountants for accountants”, we mean it!
That means there’s always someone nearby ready to break down an accounting scenario to its simplest form and help a colleague not just to know the answer to, but truly understand the scope of a situation from all angles. #gratitude runs rampant across the organization, and for all these reasons (#gratitude is the name of our Slack channel for sharing kudos company-wide).
I jumped into my new community on the opposite side of the learning curve — as a career Account Executive now tasked with learning the world of accounting. I leaned on my wife to help me better understand the endless acronyms — ERP, GL, TB, SOX — the list goes on and on.
Fast forward six months and an opportunity presented itself to join a newly formed Channel Sales team. I’ve discovered these opportunities happen regularly in a rapidly growing company with triple digit annual growth. New positions are created to scale better, and internal opportunities are abundant. Of course I leapt.
Today, I spend most of my time developing relationships and driving sales within our partner organizations like my friends at Cargas, 25-year veterans of business software and consulting. Most of our partners are similarly comprised of former accountants and CPAs who also have left public accounting for another world of enabling management accountants to lead more productive and balanced professional lives.
But getting back to this preconceived notion of what I’d always pictured as an “accountant” — this mold I was sure existed at the accounting factory that, somehow, each of my colleagues had broken. I see them outside of their workspaces socializing cross-departmentally on a regular basis. They regularly attend extra-curricular events. Heck, some of them even lead the social committee.
There’s no shortage of enthusiasm. Our main conference room is named Cash (Deferred Revenue and Accounts Receivable are other names). It turns out my predilection for dad jokes aligns just fine with most accountants’ sense of humor.
What’s best is that these contagiously happy colleagues of mine are breeding equally happy clients. Somehow they’ve even turned Accounting, a class I once took Pass/Fail to avoid harm to my GPA, into a subject about which I’m now passionate.
Most importantly, I’ve learned what a difference software to organize the financial close can make in an accountant’s life. Hopefully someday accountants will never have to utter the words that I’ve heard from my wife’s mouth so many times: “Sorry, honey, not during the close.”