Melanie Schroeder, from OutofTheBox CPA, sat down with us last month to talk about what the future of accounting looks like here in Canada. It was interesting to hear Melanie explain how she has adapted her firm to meet the needs of businesses and is preparing to serve an even broader client base.
There is more that Melanie has to share, and for those curious about her journey as well as her approach to accounting, find out more below.
What made you want to start your accounting career?
I’ve wanted to be an accountant since I was about 6 years old. My dad is an accountant and he brought home an old adding machine. I used to love adding numbers on it, pretending to be working. I also have great memories of running around his office taking all the notepads. What young girl doesn’t love a pad of paper and a pencil? When I was 20, as a young mother deciding on my future, I knew I would want a career that would provide me with income no matter what was going on with the economy so the logical choice was accounting!
How have you been able to build strong relationships with your client base, even during the pandemic?
One key part of building strong relationships is in investing the time to understand what is important to your clients. I asked what I could do to help, sent emails with specific information I thought would be helpful, and spent more time than ever on video chats and phone calls. It would be easy to assume I knew what was important to my clients but I’ve learned that asking goes a long way to understanding and creating a better relationship.
What are some of the most substantial changes you’ve made to your operations due to the pandemic?
Funny enough, now that we are getting back to public areas, the first major change I made was to get an office space. I thought I would always want to work from home or be able to work from anywhere, but the feeling of being constantly unsettled made me want to have some stability and certainty. My practice was mostly virtual so there were only a couple of clients who needed to switch to a virtual platform. For the most part, I’ve dug in and fortified what I was working on instead of branching out into too many new areas. Again, the uncertainty of what was happening had me looking to generate more stability in my practice.
What are your hopes for the future of the accounting industry?
I would love to see the accounting industry adopt a more holistic approach to working with business owners. I’d also love to see the continuing trend of expanding the idea of what is considered professional, in terms of how people dress. As a CPA, even the owner of my own firm, I feel a certain obligation to present myself in a conservative way although it’s not how I like to be. We need to accept that accountants and bookkeepers are humans too and wearing a pair of runners and jeans doesn’t mean I don’t take your business and numbers seriously!
What do you do to drive value for your clients – what makes Out Of The Box CPA different?
My clients all get the benefit of my training as a Registered Professional Counsellor, as well as my 20+ years of experience in accounting. I’m trained to practice empathy and active listening which helps me to develop good relationships and also access better information from my clients. With that information, I’m able to provide a different outcome. than looking only through the lens of the numbers