It amazes me how technology has totally changed the face of business. It seems that only a few short years ago I was preparing tax returns by hand. My method of research was pulling books off of the shelf in our office library. Back then the research started in the index of topics of the paper library. Pink telephone notes were neatly organized on my desk reminding me of the need to return telephone calls. The newspaper was my main source of reading the news and following my stock values. CPE notebooks were collected and kept within reasonable “grabbing range” from my desk. My car radio was the key source of music and news while driving to and from my destinations. Oh, for those who yearn for yester-year…
Yesterday, while traveling to North Carolina with staff (thank you for the mobility laws) to observe a client’s inventory, I was plugged in the entire time. Not only did we look up details on the Internet to address questions that may arise relative to this client, the three of us kept current with our PDAs. I assisted one client back in Spartanburg with a letter to his mortgage lender. Appointments were scheduled and rescheduled without bothering our receptionist. Tax questions from the staff in the office were answered almost immediately. A letter was written on our letterhead and sent to me for approval and timely mailing, while I not once stepped foot into my office in Spartanburg. I kept abreast of the news around the world as it happened. I monitored the progress of my 401(k) through the stock market’s near instantaneous reporting. Tweets kept me abreast of professional and current developments. Text messages from my daughter kept me aware of her activities in Dallas, Texas. And the two other staff members kept in touch with their families throughout the day as well.
The client’s inventory? It was observed, spot tested, reconciled and work-papers completed within budget. The client seemed happy. Billable time was remotely keyed into the time and billing system. I returned home in time to mow some of my yard before my company for the Easter holiday arrived for the weekend and finally plugged in my PDA to collect energy to face another day.
Yes, the CPA profession has come a long way. I used to start a tax return by pulling the blank forms I anticipated, and collecting a sharp pencil and a large eraser. Today, before I even see the client’s data, it is scanned into our software, some of which is sent to us via the Internet. Many of my tax answers start with a trip to Google before calling up my expensive tax research software. Ever wonder if the next generation may be asking “What’s a mouse?”, instead of “What’s a key punch card?”
Blogger: Charles ‘Eddie’ Brown, CPA