02 2024 CPAmerica Advantage Newsletter

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February 2024 IN THIS ISSUE:

News from your accounting association

Confidence in Communication: Transforming Feedback Culture in Leadership

► Confidence in Communication: Transforming Feedback Culture in Leadership ► Preferred Provider Spotlight - Crowe LLP ► NextGen Conference ► Member News ► CPAmerica Insights – Jenn Walker

By: Amy Vetter, The B3 Method Institute In leadership, delivering constructive feedback is essential for fostering growth and improvement. However, this task can be uncomfortable due to fears of being overly critical, unsettling colleagues, or doubting one’s evaluative insights.

Cultivating an open dialogue culture requires consistent actions and attitudes from leadership. When leaders exhibit openness, it provides the example and encourages everyone to share insights without fear of backlash, creating a haven where feedback fosters growth and improvement, not criticism.

I am sure you have been in the position Amy Vetter before where you identify a recurring error by one of your staff on engagements you work with them on. Addressing this isn’t only about highlighting mistakes but creating a dialogue that helps each person improve their accuracy and expertise in real-time.

Empathy, often seen as a soft skill, holds profound significance, especially in feedback scenarios. It’s about understanding and addressing team concerns, recognizing their efforts, and being mindful of their challenges.

The goal isn’t to instantly eliminate the discomfort associated with feedback but to create an environment where feedback becomes a constructive and empowering dialogue. Transitioning the feedback culture from a dreaded task to an enriching exchange can nurture a climate of mutual growth and trust. This shift strengthens confidence in our leadership roles and positively impacts the organizational landscape.

Fostering a Culture of Open Dialogue Creating an environment where team members can openly express their thoughts is crucial for effective communication in any team or organization, especially regarding feedback. An open, transparent work setting simplifies giving and receiving feedback, establishing a foundation for honest, constructive discussions, and people know that you genuinely care about their career.

The Empathy Factor, a Key Trait of a ‘Connected Leader’

In my book, Disconnect to Connect: Tap Into the Power Within You to Create the Life You Desire, I coined the term ‘Connected Leadership,’ which means extending beyond understanding to demonstrating care through action. It’s about framing feedback that uplifts rather than disheartens. For instance, saying, “I appreciate the effort, and with a different strategy, we might achieve better results together,” can substantially affect how feedback is received and acted upon. Being empathetic means navigating human emotions skillfully, ensuring feedback is about fostering growth, not just pinpointing shortcomings, and you are there to help. This approach ensures that the message is delivered and received in the spirit of constructive growth.

Mastering the Communication Dynamics

The finesse in communication skills shines when it comes to delivering feedback to your team and clients. It’s a balance between

being honest and kind, straightforward yet respectful. The choice of words, tone, and setting significantly influence the effectiveness and reception of feedback. Diving deeper into positivity, it’s about pairing critiques with solutions, guiding towards improvement. For example, instead of noting a presentation lacked engagement, let them know what went well alongside suggesting to incorporate storytelling elements to captivate the audience. Clarity is vital. Clear, precise feedback eliminates ambiguity, making it easier for the recipient to act upon. Instead of saying “be more professional” in a presentation, specify what actionable steps they can take to improve their presentation and strategies they can take to thrive in that environment in the future. The communication loop closes with understanding. Encouraging a two-way dialogue for questions or clarifications ensures well-understood feedback, setting the stage for actionable improvements.

The Practice Realm

Regular practice in delivering feedback diminishes discomfort and hones skills—and establishing regular feedback sessions can be transformative. Here are different formats See Communication, continued on page 2

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referred Provider Spotlight P Crowe LLP National Office Through its membership in the global network, CPAmerica has a unique relationship with fellow member Crowe LLP, where members can choose to utilize their expertise in accounting and regulatory areas, and as well as tax. CPAmerica member firms are assigned a liaison who coordinates the relationships, whether for advice and opinion, or to engage them to perform complicated work they are not able to perform themselves. This relationship supports CPAmerica member firms’ ability to compete for and serve larger, more complex clients.

Industry Specialty Areas Include: • Banking • Construction & Real Estate • Financial Services • Food & Commodities • Healthcare • Manufacturing & Distribution • Private Equity • Retail • Retail Dealer • Tax Exempt Organizations • Technology, Media & Telecommunications

For more information, please contract Julie Collins at julie.collins@crowe.com or visit www.crowe.com.

Continued from Communication, on page 1

to foster practice, along with their definitions and benefits: Peer Feedback Rounds: Scheduled sessions where team members exchange feedback with each other. • Benefits: • Encourages open communication. • Provides a less intimidating platform for practice. • Potentially leads to candid discussions and improved interpersonal relationships. Mock Sessions: Simulated feedback scenarios where individuals can practice giving and receiving feedback in a controlled environment. • Benefits: • Safe space to experiment with various feedback techniques and styles. • Offers feedback on your feedback, rich with insights. • Example: Adjusting tone or framing based on feedback received. Real-Time Feedback during Team Reviews: Immediate feedback provided during team review sessions. • Benefits: • Cultivates continuous improvement and immediate acknowledgment. • Allows quicker course corrections and agile response to challenges.

By transitioning feedback from a dreaded event to a routine practice, you nurture a culture of continuous growth and open communication over time.

Receiving to Give: The Reciprocal Nature of Feedback

Feedback is a two-way street. Being on the receiving end cultivates understanding and empathy, which is invaluable when roles reverse. Through receiving feedback, leaders grasp its impact, aiding in delivering constructive feedback to others. Emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role here, enhancing the ability to perceive, understand, and manage emotions in feedback. This emotional acuity makes feedback exchanges more effective and constructive. It emphasizes the collective benefit of open feedback and honest communication within your firm.

Measuring the Impact

Measuring feedback’s impact is crucial for assessing its effectiveness and the growth in confidence over time. Employ various metrics and gather feedback from team members to gain valuable insights into progress. Explore methods like: • Feedback surveys • One-on-one discussions • Observation of behavioral and

performance changes Effective feedback has positive ripple effects extending beyond the individual, enriching team dynamics, and creating a more harmonious, productive work environment. Delving into qualitative versus quantitative measures reveals a nuanced understanding of feedback effectiveness, showcasing the transformative power of constructive feedback when adeptly delivered.


Mastering feedback is an ongoing journey, evolving with every interaction. It’s about embracing a mindset of continual practice and learning, aiming to enrich the giver and receiver’s feedback experience. Firm leaders, the pursuit of delivering feedback that fosters growth, trust, and a positive work environment is relentless. This perpetual strive towards mastery sharpens our feedback skills and enriches our leadership journey. Reflect on this: How will you leverage feedback to foster a culture of continuous improvement and be more connected with your team and with clients? Engage with this transformative practice and witness the ripple effects on your firm and the broader organizational culture.

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Thompson Greenspon elects Carolyn Quill as new managing principal Thompson Greenspon, a leading public accounting and advisory firm, is pleased to announce the election of Carolyn C. Quill, CPA, JD, LL.M., as its new managing principal. As lead tax principal, Quill brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her new role and is set to lead the firm towards continued growth and success. In her role as managing principal, Quill will oversee the strategic direction of Carolyn Quill the firm, playing a pivotal role in shaping its future. She will be responsible for nurturing client relationships, leading the firm’s team of professionals, and fostering an environment of innovation and excellence. “I am truly honored to be the next managing principal at Thompson Greenspon,” Carolyn said. “This firm has a well-deserved reputation for quality and a commitment to supporting our clients’ financial success. I am excited to continue my work with the talented professionals at Thompson Greenspon and lead the firm to new heights.”

LattaHarris welcomes Mitch Richman, E.A. as principal LattaHarris, a leading accounting firm in Iowa, is pleased to announce the promotion of Mitch Richman to principal. Richman, who joined the firm in 2004, brings a wealth of experience in accounting and management advisory, making him a valuable asset to the leadership team. In his role as principal, Richman will continue to focus on delivering exceptional services in tax planning, tax preparation, financial statement preparation, Mitch Richman and general business consulting. His specialization in corporate and principalship tax preparation, along with expertise in financial statement preparation, positions him as a trusted advisor to clients seeking comprehensive financial solutions.

Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. announces strategic expansion Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK), a premier accounting firm in Western Massachusetts, is proud to announce a significant expansion of its practice through the inclusion of J.M. O’Brien & Co., P.C. (JMO), a highly respected firm with three decades of distinguished service in the region. Bringing

JMO to MBK signifies a strategic move towards growth and expansion in the accounting industry of Western Massachusetts. MBK stands to benefit from the influx of new talent and a broader resource pool, enriching the firm’s already substantial depth of resources. The merger is particularly advantageous for MBK’s tax services, which will be able to leverage JMO’s extensive expertise to enhance its range of tax-related services.

has been promoted to senior associate in the Tax Department. Seth Marsh has been promoted to senior associate in the Assurance Department. Drew Noble has been promoted to senior associate in the Assurance Department. Brenda Beaber has been promoted to senior associate for 415 Access.

Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C. announces shareholder promotions

Whalen CPAs is thrilled to announce the promotion of Jen Bilka to director, tax operations. With over 14 years of experience in public accounting and healthcare, Bilka’s journey has been marked by a focus on operations and business strategy. Her strength lies not just in day-today operations but in envisioning long-term Jen Bilka solutions and goals

Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C. (WEC), a prominent Norfolk-based firm, is pleased to announce the promotions of John M. Waters, CPA, MSA, and Mudi Zhang, CPA, MBT, to shareholder. Angela Kerns, CPA, HCCP, leads the firm as managing shareholder. Waters joined the firm John Waters in 2009, bringing more than 15 years of expertise as a CPA and auditor to his new role as shareholder at WEC. Waters utilizes his background as a CPA and auditor to be a trusted advisor and relationship builder for his clients. Zhang, a talented tax advisor, joined WEC in 2015 and has rapidly ascended to her new role as shareholder. With over 12 years of Mudi Zhang experience, Zhang has emerged as a trusted tax expert, specializing in business mergers and acquisitions, multi-state tax issues, and family wealth preservation.

415 Group announces new partner and eight promotions 415 Group, the largest locally owned public accounting and IT consulting firm in Stark County, Ohio, announced nine promotions, including Todd Ruggles to tax partner. Ruggles has been with the firm for 13 years, focusing on tax services in the real estate, construction, manufacturing/ distribution and health care industries. Michael Harvey has been promoted to tax manager. Quaid Kloha Todd Ruggles has been promoted to tax manager. Tony Peterson has been promoted to tax manager. Sabrina Ratsavong has been promoted to senior associate in the Tax Department. Alexander Bazzoli

Whalen CPAs announces director promotion

for the company. Bilka’s enthusiasm shines through as she takes charge of this role, aligning her expertise with the firm’s growth trajectory. Her commitment to mentoring younger staff, promoting communication, and fostering a culture of understanding give emphasis to her leadership qualities.

GRF CPAs & Advisors announces two new partners GRF CPAs & Advisors (GRF), a leading provider of audit, accounting, tax, and advisory services worldwide, is pleased to announce the firm has promoted two senior managers to partner. The two new partners are Susanna (Sue) Chon, CPA, CFE, and Yevgeniy (Yev) Sukhenko, CPA. Sue Chon “We are excited to announce the appointment of Sue and Yev to partner in recognition of their achievements in technical skill, client service, leadership and community engagement,” said GRF’s president and managing partner, Jackie Cardello, CPA. “These well-deserved appointments further Yev Sukhenko emphasize our commitment to cultivating leaders and fostering growth opportunities at GRF.” Chon has more than 15 years of experience providing financial review and audit services to government contractors. Sukhenko joined GRF’s Outsourced Accounting & Advisory Services (OAAS) department in 2018.

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Embracing the Future: Navigating AI for Firm Growth and Innovation In a time dominated by technological innovations, organizations are continually exploring how they can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to better serve clients, automate workflows, produce advanced data Jenn Walker, analytics and other Director of Services areas that have yet to be explored. Understanding how to integrate AI for practical use in the firm is becoming more essential for firm growth and to remain competitive.

Here are some other examples of AI content you can look forward to in 2024.

Many organizations have already adopted and implemented AI, while others are either paralyzed with where to begin, or in fear of being replaced by it. Many subject matter experts agree that AI still requires human skill, creativity, and innovation. With that in mind, people will not be replaced by AI. People who know how to use AI will replace the ones that don’t.

This year’s A&A Conference, scheduled in Napa, Calif., this July, will host a session on “AI in Practice” along with an Emerging Technology panel, focused on integrating AI and adapting evolving technology. The speaker leading these sessions is Don Tomoff, MBA, CPA, and founder of Invenio Advisors LLC, a consulting firm specializing in digital information management, process improvement, reporting and data analysis, as well as education and training.

It’s our mission to equip you with resources that can help your firms grow, including navigating these emerging technologies. As our president & CEO, Grace Horvath, mentioned in last month’s article, CPAmerica will be emphasizing incorporating technology, specifically AI, throughout your association programs and resources. You can expect to see more prominence of AI and technology-driven content during the year, both in live meetings and virtual member sharing calls. Last month, we hosted an exploratory member sharing call, Bot Usage Applications from the Field. In case you missed it, you can watch the recording in the CPAmerica resource library.

Post-busy season, we’ll hear more on ChatGPT and practical applications from Juan Carlos Lara, Regional Director, Américas, with Crowe Global. Lara shared, “In 2023, we witnessed the dawn of artificial intelligence integration into our daily lives, a year marked by theoretical explorations and heightened concerns over security. As we step into 2024, we stand on the brink of seamlessly incorporating AI into professional services, transforming theory into practical application which marks our goal.”

Tomoff shared, “These courses make Generative AI and the concept of AI-augmented workflows easy to understand, showing how tools like ChatGPT can help simplify daily tasks, automate processes, and help people work better together. It’s about making the most of these new technologies to work smarter and more creatively. These courses give you the skills and tools you need to stay ahead in a world where using AI is not just helpful, but essential. By the way, ChatGPT was used to draft three initial quotes, which I then modified to get one that felt like ‘me.’ Great example of an ‘ai-augmented workflow’!”

The Leading Partners Retreat (LPR) and Firm Management Roundtable (FMR) will include a thought-provoking keynote and interactive panel session from international speaker and thought leader, Scott Klososky, founding partner of digital strategy firm, Future Point of View (FPOV). Klososky shared, “The accounting industry has long been the domain of knowledge that resided in the minds of partners and team members. 2023 will forever be known as the start of the synthetic intelligence era and the ability for a firm to curate knowledge in AI engines. The impacts of this will create an evolution the industry has never seen before. How value is provided, the mix of services delivered, how work is priced, and the client engagement model will mutate for a decade and be very different in the end. For some industry participants, this will be a fantastic ride. For others, it will be the death of the accounting profession as they knew it.” In addition to live events and sharing calls, a dedicated AI community was recently launched in the CPAmerica Center of Excellence (COE) where members can share ideas, ask questions, and access innovative content from fellow members and thought leaders. These are just a few examples of how the association is incorporating technology and AI in your programs and resources throughout the year. CPAmerica is continually adapting our programs and resources to meet the needs of member firms. As always, we welcome your input to ensure we’re delivering the most valuable resources to help your firm grow and stay ahead of the curve. Our mission is to provide you with opportunities to improve and grow and we’re looking forward to doing just that in 2024 and beyond.

2024 NextGen Conference Denver, Colorado | June 12-14

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Four Seasons Hotel Denver The progressively-designed Next Generation (NextGen) Conference is created for the firm’s successful seniors through managers who want to understand more about how the business works and how they can fit into the bigger picture. Attendees will be immersed in relationship building, leadership principles and practice management basics with other professionals at their level along with partners and presenters committed to developing “career coachable” employees within our member firms. This year, participants will learn with their peers against the majestic mountains of Denver, Colorado, and have the opportunity to give back to their host community through the Do Good, Feel Good service project.

Featuring these influential speakers and more: Jeremy Clopton, Upstream Academy | Arianna Campbell, Boomer Consulting | Kristen Rampe, Rosenberg Associates

Contact us at: 7555 W. University Ave. Gainesville, FL 32607 (352) 727-4070 www.cpamerica.org

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Send feedback and member firm news to: advantage@cpamerica.org

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