Women make up 49% of the Tax and Accounting industry. However, they still make about $10,000 less than their male counterparts in standard firms. At SmartPath, we make it our mission to focus on small Tax and Accounting firms and celebrate the individuals that aim to set a new standard for the industry.
Kristal Schwartze of Washington didn’t foresee a career in Tax and Accounting. She started as an intern at a private firm in Millcreek, Washington. As time went on, she pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting while working her way up in the company. Nine years ago, she make the leap to buy the company. She now heads a team of 14 people, with 5 CPA’s working under her. She serves a loyal client base for this tight knit community and strives to help her clients and make her mark on the industry, stating that,
“I don’t do takes. I meet people, I build relationships, and I solve problems.”
SmartPath Co-Founder, William Hamilton, sat down with Kristal and talked about the future of the Tax and Accounting Industry, what it takes to run a successful business, and how implementing SmartPath Subscription Method has impacted her company.
W: I feel like a lot of people that get in their own practice, they don’t really, really make it successful unless there’s a reason that it speaks to them. So is there any part of this business you feel like you really connected with?
K: I think it’s really just helping people. There’s so much with taxes and organizing all the information and things like that, but people just really shy away from it. It’s too much. And so being able to digest all the information, organize it in a way that is helpful to be able to get tax returns done properly, most optimally and that sort of thing, but also just helping people navigate their life. They don’t know what they don’t know, being able to offer that help to them has been really awesome. I tell people I don’t do taxes. I meet people, I build relationships and I solve problems.
W: What was happening in the practice that made you want towards advisory and subscription services and away from just focusing on compliance work?
K: We kind of have seen a shift in the market over the last 10, 15 years where we still do have a lot of those long-term loyal clients. But, the newer people coming in just really don’t value the services as much. We knew how much work we were putting in and it was hard for them to see that somehow. I really think that’s been TurboTax and H&R Block, things like that coming in that people are just like, “I can do my return myself, not a big deal.” And you know, sure, with some returns, I’m not going to get a different result than TurboTax will. But for the clients that we’re working with throughout the year, we really are able to add more value to them.. [we’re able to] offer more of a relationship [and] more information that they’re not getting from TurboTax.. We want to help people, and it helps them understand that we’re looking out for them, we are offering them more than what the website’s going to, and we’ve got their back.
W: How has SmartPath helped you get to where you are now?
K: Already we’re close to $180,000 a year from just 30 subscription clients. I definitely think having the tools and training available helped us not have to reinvent the wheel. Also the streamlined training process is simple to replicate. Now, we can have the CPAs all watch the training videos and it’s not just me having to take time out of my day and hope that I’m hitting all the main points and things as we go. Having [Will] somebody who has gone through it and has that experience with multiple firms and seeing what’s worked for them, you’ve been able to boil that down into something that’s, that’s easy for someone else to pick up and not start at square one.
W: What advice would you give away to a firm right now?
K: You never have more time. You never have more energy if you want to do it, do it. Today’s the day. it’s one of those things that you think about, and then you go, “gosh, that’s really probably something I should look into… But if you don’t start now, you know, you can’t look back two years from now and go, I’m really glad I started that. So yeah, just make it happen.”
Listen to the full interview with Kristal Schwartz and SmartPath Co-Founder William Hamilton here.