[Below is a transcription of the podcast]
Cheri Landin: Hello and welcome to The Mortgage Company’s Community Partner Podcast Series. My name is Cheri Landin and I am the Community Development Director here at The Mortgage Company and one of the things that I get to do is interview some of our community partners and just get the word out there about who they are and bring some awareness to that community in the event that they need some of these services. So today I am with Dan Hugo and he is from ATS, which stands for Accounting and Tax Services. Welcome, Dan!
Dan Hugo: Thank you. Thank you.
Cheri Landin: So accounting and tax services that’s…
Dan Hugo: Exciting.
Cheri Landin: It’s so exciting. Thank you. And actually, all joking aside, there are so many changes going on right now with the tax system. So I think it’s pretty timely what’s going on. But let’s start with you telling me a little bit about the firm ATS. Who you are, how long you’ve been around, that kind of thing, what do you do for them.
Dan Hugo: Well ATS is a relatively new firm. We will be celebrating our third anniversary this year. So as a new firm, we do all the same things that other Accounting and CPA firms do. I mean bookkeeping, accounting, taxes. So nothing’s changed as far as that goes. But, because we’re a new organization, you can’t just put your shingle out there and hope people will come to you. You have to set a different example, raise the bar, try to take a different approach. In that regard, I think we’ve done an incredible job. Started off as just Matt Jad, CPA, our owner, and it was just very small. But our approach has been one to be more proactive as compared to reactive. We take a different approach as far as communicating with our clients on a regular basis. We reach out to them. They’re not always waiting for us and then we respond to them as their needs come. We don’t charge on an hourly basis. Every client we have is unique. And so we tailor our services to meet their needs.
Cheri Landin: So all right. You said a bit ago, I just want to back up because you just very humbly said what you did, but your firm is just now celebrating its third year and it started with a person and a thought. So talk about the structure now because you’ve grown incredibly over three years. I think it’s something to be really proud of.
Dan Hugo: Well we are. And it went from, our owner is Matt Jad, he’s a wonderful man. He’s celebrating his 20th anniversary (hope he doesn’t mind me sharing that) as a CPA. But he also brings a different perspective. He also has expertise as a former international CFO of an oil and gas company. So that depth and expertise is something that not every CPA firm can even imagine. So we changed the name to ATS, Accounting and Tax Services, simply because now we have a staff of nine and we have greater depth and our team has grown. And so we’ve grown to meet the needs of our clients.
Cheri Landin: Alright so talk to me about the services that you offer.
Dan Hugo: Again, we do all the exciting things that every other CPA firm does: accounting bookkeeping and taxes. But our approach is a little different. We don’t charge on an hourly basis, we offer unlimited consultation for our clients. The reason why we do that is that we want to invite them to feel comfortable to call us, to stop by the office, to schedule a meeting and spend time. It’s not uncommon for us to spend hours literally hours with one client just talking. Finding out where they’re going with their business, what’s happening, what decisions are they having to make now for their business. It could be something as simple as I need to buy a car, should I lease or buy it? Or can I afford to hire this employee? What should I pay them? Or I was offered an opportunity to expand the office space or I was thinking about getting an office space, I’ve been working out of the house and should I do it? Can I do it? Am I in a position to do it? And the other thing that is really important is, you mentioned it, is due to the tax reform. And if you really think about it, it hasn’t been since President Reagan that we’ve had such dramatic changes in our tax system. So tax reform now we’ve become a very, very necessary entity, a resource for a lot of guidance and solutions for a lot of businesses. In fact, we specialize in startup and small businesses, primarily because we understand what it’s like.
Cheri Landin: Right. Well and I think that’s just critical right now because as I talk to people whether they be business owners of sole proprietors or you know maybe they have 25 employees, whatever the case may be, they need to know. And even individuals that operate businesses and are thinking about or what should I do, if they don’t have somebody they can turn to now. You wouldn’t want one of your clients to not call you because they don’t know if they should continue to do something or start doing something because they don’t want to be charged another x amount of dollars because it’s going to take 15 minutes. All of a sudden, next year when they come to see you and file their taxes for 2018, it was a mistake.
Dan Hugo: Exactly. And I’ll carry that a little bit further. We actually divide our services up into two phases. One, of course, the accounting and bookkeeping. We provide to all business clients, whether it be sole proprietors, LLC or S-Corps or C-Corps, whatever the case partnerships. We do that throughout the year. We can work as far as reconciling their accounts and creating their profit and loss statements for them and you know all those things. I mean how many business people started their business to become an accountant?
Cheri Landin: Zero. Well, maybe one I don’t know.
Dan Hugo: We did, but we were following our passion and of course every other business owner is following their passion and most likely accounting and bookkeeping wasn’t part of that. So we can serve as that resource to really provide them that comfort and eliminate some of those additional hats that they might be wearing and they might quite often find they’re taking home. You know I mean you’ve got to have a life too.
Cheri Landin: Well I think too, people might be fabulous and I’m certain they are at their trade, but their trade has nothing to do with running the business or the books or things like that. And they wind up making mistakes, wasting time. And if they take too much time to try doing those things themselves, they’re not having the time to do their trade and really make the money. So they sacrifice revenue when they try to take on some of these things right?
Dan Hugo: Absolutely. You’ve captured it very well. We also like to take things a little bit further with our clients. Not just the unlimited consultation, not just the opportunity to do their books. But we like to meet with them regularly. It’s about communication but it’s also interaction with them. We like to go to their place of business. Why? So we can actually see how the numbers are being managed. So we understand their business. It’s not just crunching numbers and looking at bank statements and Quickbooks and other Excel spreadsheets. It’s a matter of understanding them. We also like to know why they started their business and what their vision and goal is because by understanding where they’re going and why they’re going, we can provide even greater resources. So when we meet with a client on a regular basis we can also review their profit and loss statements. That can also demonstrate trends and that’s where Matt can really shine because that’s when they get the CFO perspective. We can provide forecasting, projections, and an analysis as far as where their business is going not only for this year so we can help them close up the year, it will also enable us to make some adjustments as needed throughout to be proactive. So let’s say they’re an LLC but their revenue is starting to become significant enough, it might be a good idea for them to convert to an S-corp. So we can do that for them now instead of waiting at the end of the year when they get their taxes and their tax person says, “Well all this money you know if you were an S-corp, you would have saved all that.”
Cheri Landin: And it’s too late. Yeah. So as you get to know them and you actually go see, let’s say it’s a manufacturer client that you have and you go and you look at the lines and you see what the work. You, I’m guessing, can bring ideas to them that they may not think of because you’re objective.
Dan Hugo: Exactly it’s like being at a coffee shop. Why’d you do that? I love serving coffee! So where do you want to go with the coffee? Do you want to have people serving you coffee? Or do you want to have people serving you coffee on the beach? Where is your vision? Where is your exit strategy? But also by going to the business, we can say what a beautiful beautiful place. By the way whose paintings are those? Oh, I make them available to the public. I do it on consignment. Oh really? Well, how do you do that? So we can find out how they operate the business and find out the nuances of their business. And then we can incorporate that in the profit and loss statements, in the deductions, in the management of their business. We can provide some insight and some direction that may help them to save money or to create greater opportunity for the business down the road.
Cheri Landin: OK so you know what you guys are accounting firm that builds relationships with your clients. That’s awesome. All right. So you definitely serve business clients and I’m sure, extremely well. There’s no doubt. Is it just business clients that you serve or talk to me about an individual.
Dan Hugo: Well we work with individual sole proprietors. So if somebody hangs up a shingle or a consultant, we work with them all the time. Businesses throughout the year. But at the end of the year, we have we have individuals and families and anyone comes to us and say hey can you help us with our taxes.
Cheri Landin: Okay. So you’ll file tax returns.
Dan Hugo: So then we can do that. We do the 1040s but we actually plan and orchestrate our tax season well before it launches so we can really meet the needs of our clients and process things quickly because a lot of business owners don’t recognize that sometimes, depending on their structure, they have to have their taxes in by March 15th. And then they have to have information or a K1 or a documentation from that that can carry over into their personal taxes which are due April 15th on an average. This year it’s the 17th.
Cheri Landin: Because what it’s a Sunday? Who knows, right? It’s April 15th but I don’t remember last time it was April 15. It always seems to be extended for some reason. Only a day or two. Alright. Well, that’s great. Let’s say that there’s a new business out there and they know they need a bookkeeper, accountant, anything. Is there something, what questions should people be asking when they go in. Anyone who is trying to hire someone for whatever the service is, you have to be able to answer or ask the right questions right.
Dan Hugo: Oh it’s just like finding any other professional. I mean you want to talk with them and you want to find out how they operate their business and how they can make a difference. And if you feel that you can trust them. We’ve been very fortunate. We don’t specialize in any specific industry. What we’ve been very lucky to have, is incredible clients. People that really appreciate all the value and depth that we can bring and we actually have a lot of fun. We enjoy the interaction with our clients and we get proud and excited for them when they accomplish things and we can be a part of having their back and protecting them as they go. So the first thing is, it doesn’t matter who you are or whether you’re a startup business, a sole proprietor. The one thing people get scared of is: I’m too small and I can’t afford it and this is too much for me. In reality, one of the most important things any business should have is that accounting and tax back up, that service available to you. Since we tailor our fees for the business, quite often business owners are surprised and they go, “Oh wow that’s not so bad.” And then all of a sudden we’ve taken away one of those hats so they can focus on what’s most important: why I started the business, generating new clients and selling more product or providing greater services and making my business successful and really focusing on the things that matter
Cheri Landin: Without having to worry about that.
Dan Hugo: Exactly.
Cheri Landin: Alright. That’s awesome. Ok so is there anything specific that, or any particular individual, because of the new tax reform that came out. I do understand it’s a proposal and then it now needs to be reviewed and final-final probably won’t come out until later this year. But based on what we do know about the changes, is there anyone specifically in particular that should probably say, “Hey I really need to you know come in and talk now.” Are there any certain professions? Like who would be the person to say you need to talk to someone ASAP.
Dan Hugo: It’s important for every business owner to touch base, talk with us, ask, because the change is dramatic and it’s not just a few pages it’s thousands of pages and the IRS is constantly providing clarifications and updates as you as you already stated and some things won’t even be implemented until next year. But we’ve already realized or seen that there could be a real benefit to becoming an S-corp. And so that said, it’s always wise to come in and find out, let us take a look at the financials, see where you are. Does it make sense? Because there is a dramatic conversion there but for many people that alone could save thousands of dollars in taxes.
Cheri Landin: And let’s suppose there’s someone out there listening, a business owner or whatever the case is, that is thinking, “I’m really not sure that I’m getting all the services and I don’t feel like all my questions are being answered. I’d really like to talk to someone else. I mean are you out there and willing to give second opinions.
Dan Hugo: Absolutely. We love talking with folks and there’s no cost to meeting with us in the obligated so, we may not be the best fit for everybody. But they can feel comfortable coming to us. Give me a call. Call the office. We can set an appointment, I can come to you or you can come to me and we’ll talk and find out about what you’re looking at, what your needs are, and what’s unique about your business. And I can share with you how we can make a difference for them. And if it looks like it’s going to work, then we can move forward. If it doesn’t then they’re not obligated and it won’t cost them anything
Cheri Landin: And that’s ok too and I suppose sometimes you’re going to say, “You know what, everything looks great. Congratulations on having someone fabulous you’re working with.
Dan Hugo: Yeah, as a matter of fact, we have said that. I have said that more than once. And if anything we provided that validation, that support, that confirmation that they’re doing pretty good and we’re happy to do that. They’re wonderful CPAs and accountants out there. I mean they’re all really qualified people. So if somebody has a great relationship, go for it. Stay with it.
Cheri Landin: Yeah you just need to find the right fit. Like you said, you put out your services and the people that are in need of those will come. Yeah. Alright. So I mean I know there’s you know a lot that goes into just all of the particulars of bookkeeping and taxation and all of it. And you can only touch the surface on services obviously when you need a consultation. But is there anything in closing that you would like people to know about that exciting tax services world?
Dan Hugo: The Exciting world of accounting and taxes. Again, it’s an industry that is constantly changing and it has been impacted by technology. But if utilized appropriately and leveraged appropriately then it can be an incredible tool and benefit to anyone. As an accounting and CPA firm, again we have already taken in that technology and are leveraging it as best as possible but we haven’t forgotten the most critical element. And that’s the relationship the communication and the importance of continuity and consistency with our clients. So we offer more. They’re not just a client. We promote them we have they become a member of our directory of services so when clients need something, we have additional resources and introductions we can provide.
Cheri Landin: Like all our partners.
Dan Hugo: Exactly. Because it makes a difference and we give more than what people are expecting.
Cheri Landin: Perfect. It’s a win-win. Alright. So how does someone get in touch with ATS?
Dan Hugo: We have an exciting website: accountingsvs.com or you can give us a call at 720-403-9070. And just give us a call and leave a message or we’ll answer and we’ll set an appointment.
Cheri Landin: All right sounds great. Well thank you, Dan, for bringing some details on your company to us and we really appreciate the information and your time today.
Dan Hugo: Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.
About Dan Hugo
Dan Hugo is the Vice President Client Relations and Operations for Accounting & Tax Services (ATS). At ATS, Dan focuses on new business development, client relationship management, and operations for the firm. Accounting & Tax Services is a full-service firm providing accounting/bookkeeping and tax services with a focus on planning and preparation, forecasting, and more. The firm believes in taking a proactive approach to working with clients as compared to reactive. They offer unlimited consultation and a focus on strong communication and meeting with clients regularly.