With Mike Whitmire
On Episode 124 of The Unique CPA, Randy talks to Mike Whitmire, CEO and Co-Founder of FloQast. Mike discusses how he overcame burnout in public accounting brought on by personal pain points to build FloQast, such as long hours both at a Big Four firm and at an L.A. startup, the difficulty of the month-end close process, and the need for a better work-life balance in accounting. He discusses growing FloQast to over 500 employees with a focus on culture and transparency.
Today, our guest is Mike Whitmire. Mike is the CEO of FloQast. I’m sure many of you have heard of FloQast. Mike and I are going to talk about a variety of things today. I’m looking forward to it because it seems like we have similar passions. But Mike, welcome to The Unique CPA.
Thank you for having me on, Randy. Excited to be here.
Yeah, it’s a—you and I personally haven’t met. But I have heard about you in the past. A good friend of mine, Blake Oliver, has said really good things about you. So I’m excited to have this conversation. And I also heard that you are very—one of your passions is burnout in the profession. So we’ll probably touch on that a little bit too, because that’s one of mine. But before we do that, I gave you a very, very quick introduction. Why don’t you give us a little more on yourself and specifically FloQast too?
Cool, yeah, definitely. So as you said, my name is Mike Whitmire. I’m the co-founder, CEO of FloQast. I, you know, speaking of burnout, FloQast was basically founded out of me getting burnt out in accounting. So I spent about four years in audit, I was at EY here in Los Angeles auditing entertainment companies, really kind of focused on like, mid market, entertainment companies—variety of them, a lot of fun. But as you would expect, I’ve worked a ton of hours and got, you know, ground down, and after four years decided I want to move over to industry.
I was very focused on, I’d always wanted to go through an IPO process and didn’t get that opportunity as an auditor. So when I was looking for my new position, I was really focused on trying to find a pre-IPO company. And in LA, that’s not easy at the time, right? We’re talking, we’re, we’re back in the year 2008 2009 coming off a financial collapse, and not a lot of great stuff going on. But things were going well in software still. So I got super lucky. Our recruiter ended up putting me in touch with the CFO at a small startup here in LA at the time called Cornerstone Ondemand. There were about 90 people at the company when I joined, and we were at, I want to say like 30 million of recurring revenue, but they were ready to go public and they had plans to go public. In the next, you know, 12 to 18 months.
They had just taken on venture capital, I was the fifth person hired into the accounting department to help ramp that function up for an IPO, and when I got there, I mean it was like, what a culture shock, you go from EY, where 100,000 people, everything’s buttoned up, it’s like, here’s what you do, here’s your job, blah, blah, blah, to a startup where it’s like, hey, we just hired all these people, we’ve never gone through an audit, we want to actually implement an ERP. Now we got to go through a closed process that we’ve never done before. And then we got to draft an S-1, get SOX compliant, go international, grow the company really quickly and do all this stuff. And it was like, okay, and by the way, there’s like, no, you know, onboarding, there’s no documentation, there’s nothing, so just go figure it out, which was a little daunting at first.
But it ended up being the best thing that happened to my career. So I was at Cornerstone for three years, started as a senior accountant, just like one of the guys in the trenches getting stuff done. And I got to do a lot of a lot of fun, very project based work over there. So I learned a lot of really great things. But one constant challenge we had, in my whole time there, was the month end closes. It was just never smooth. It was, you know, we established it when I got there. And then in the middle of it, we established it and then we just grow like crazy and have all the public company requirements that go along with it. And so we were never really able to get our clothes in order. And then I find out that, you know, we’re not the only company who suffers from this challenge. And finally, I had the epiphany of like, wait, this doesn’t have to be normal. But is there software to make the close better? And it was, it was almost like the industry had just accepted, yeah, the close sucks, it’s a thing that just sucks every month, and it’s what we have to do. And I was like now there’s got to be a better way for it.
And part of the reason I had the idea was I was one of my jobs was on the revenue accounting side. And so I was in Salesforce all the time, looking for contracts, different facts, you know, what goes into revenue recognition around it, did the sales reps promise anything that they should not have promised to people, things like that. And I realized Salesforce is a solution that is used by a team of individuals to help accomplish a collective goal, which is hitting a revenue target. The close is a team of individuals working towards a collective goal, which is a deadline driven goal, right? And since it’s a deadline, that is non-negotiable, that’s why we have to work a ton of hours to get it done or not, you know, sales. If you’re a rep you’re like, if we don’t hit the company number, I don’t care as long as I hit my number and get quota like I’m good with that. I’ll move on but sales, it’s like accounting. No question. We’re all going to work more to get this stuff done.
And so Salesforce was actually much of the inspiration for FloQast. It’s like why do we not have our version of Salesforce? Our pain points are different though. The pain points are really around the collaboration. Like I said, you have a bunch of individuals who are trying to work in concert to hit a set deadline that the controller has to manage all of this. And like, it’s literally like orchestrating this massive thing that the controller has to do. They’re getting pressure from the CFO, when are the books gonna be closed, I wanted them closed yesterday, blah, blah, blah, they have no visibility into where the heck they stand with the close. First and foremost, they just don’t know where it is. And that results in status update meetings, a lot of burn time across the whole team. And then their work is really difficult to do because they’re on the reviewer side. And I don’t want to get too detailed, but like just finding documentation, getting all that stuff, reviewing it leaving all that is a really manual process, particularly as it relates to reconciliations. So reconciliations are huge part of the month end close process, that’s that you get the peace of mind, your numbers are accurate. So we help automate that, tie out a reconciliation process in addition to helping with the people management side, and organization of the close.
So that was really the starting point for us, is my pain point was around just simply the workflow, the checklist, collaboration, getting stuff done. And then the manual reconciliation process killed me. So that was the starting point for FloQast. How do we solve all those problems? So I left Cornerstone in 2013 to start working on FloQast, and here we are 10 years later, we have about 560 employees. Yep, just crossed the 100 million AR Mark. That was a really big, really huge milestone for us. And about 3000 Customers close on FloQast, international now, office in London, Australia, all that good stuff. So there’s been a heck of a run, a lot of fun solving this problem for accountants, it’s very personal pain point for a lot of people.
Oh, that’s an amazing story. You had me mesmerized listening to that. So the burnout that you’re talking about was happening while you were at Cornerstone? It wasn’t the EY burnout? Or was it a combination of both?
Yeah, no, I had it all. I mean, it was a lot of hours for sure. As many of the listeners probably know, and I remember thinking, I’m going over to the industry, this is going to be this is going to be better. And I’ll tell you a funny story. I was interviewing for the job. And I asked the HR guy at the end, I’m like, okay, you know, keep it real with me, how much do they work? Like, what are the hours? What are the hours like? Because I wasn’t about to ask the accounting department, what kind of hours do you work? And you know, so I asked the HR guy, and he goes, oh, you know, I leave usually around six every day, and their door is always closed. And I’m like, oh, man, six o’clock, that’s like a dream come true. I can’t wait to only work until six. That sounds great. And I start, first week goes by, they’re cool. I kind of leave at a normal time. And then the second week comes, and I realized that that door is on a little timer mechanism where the magnet unlocks at 6pm on the dot. So the door closes on its own. All of accounting is still back there, working, ordering dinner, getting ready for their second shift. And it’s like, I did not, so I got I got a little bamboozled heading into that job and actually ended up working more hours at Cornerstone.
Did you really?
Oh my gosh, it was exhausting. But everything was different. And it was such a good learning experience that I really feel like I crammed, you know, 10 years of learning into like, a three year timeframe because of that. So on the one hand, people complain about working a lot of hours. On the other hand, the more hours you work, if you’re doing the right stuff, the more you learn, and the better you get, and the better it is for your career. So I don’t know, hours is a double edged sword in many regards.
Yep. What about now at FloQast? What’s your schedule like?
So incredibly different, like, you know, the type of work is obviously very different. I don’t spend my days in Excel anymore. I actually spend more time in PowerPoint than Excel, which is really a weird feeling. And it’s just all meetings. And then what I’ll tell you is, I remember as, as an accountant, you kind of look up at the salaries and the comp packages at the sea level. And you’re like, what, really, it’s that different. What I realized in the role now is what you’re getting paid for is the mental consumption of your entire life. You know, you’re just, it’s like every minute of my life, part of it is on FloQast. And it’s not it’s I’m not saying it’s the best thing, it’s not healthy, you know, I’m hanging out with my family, it’s Christmas and whatever. And there’s some little bit that still thinking about stuff in FloQast and that is a big, in my opinion, that’s worth a lot of money and people should be compensated if they’re giving up like their mental faculties 24/7/365 to think about driving something in a big way.
So very different, very stressful in other ways. It’s not about hitting a deadline, it’s, we have 560 people that I need to make payroll for that supports 1,500 to 2,000 people outside of the whole thing when you get you know, there’s like actually an economy being driven by our payroll and everything and like, that’s pressure like I’ve never felt before in my in my life so yeah. Equally, if not more stressful, just different different forms of it.
But you’re enjoying it.
Yeah. And you’re certainly not going to get burnt out when you have, like I said that, many people relying on you, right? Yeah, it’s a different level of motivation for sure.
So let’s talk a little bit, I’m gonna zig a little bit because I’m gonna go back to the EY days in general because I’m really intrigued. I never was big for. I always, I started out in a small firm because I knew after four years, my goal was to start my own firm and did that. But in my mind, the culture at Big Four is just a strange phenomenon to me. It’s just, you know, work, work work, we’re going to work death. And then if you survive great, you know, in 20 years are gonna pay out as a partner, you know, something like that. What’s your memory? What do you, what’s your opinion of how the culture at EY works? I’m guessing there’s positives and or we’ll just say Big Four for now. There’s positives and negatives?
I mean, Big Four, I really think there’s obviously the broader culture of busy season, you’ve work a lot, you got to get a bunch of stuff done. Yeah, we’re gonna grind people, the reality is, it’s a, it’s an upper out path, and very few of you’re gonna make it up to the top, many of you’re gonna go out along the way. But hopefully you learned stuff, and you’re gonna get put in a good position for your career going forward. I think a big advantage they have is the simple requirement that you have to work in audit to get your CPA license. Huge advantage right there, that being required for what, whoever penned that into law was a genius and did a great job for them being able to recruit more people into the field. So they have you there.
You know, in many regards, and if you’re going to work in a CPA firm, get your hours to get your CPA, why not do it at, you know, the big the big name company? Now, where I think it really varies is what type of jobs do you get put on, and who are the team members that you work with. And there’s, there are different cultures from job to job. And one of the cool parts of being maybe a regional firm or call it a top ten firm, is, you’re more likely to be exposed to more clients, more variety, more team members. Some of those are going to suck, some of them are going to be great, but you at least get a little variety. I think that’s a really cool aspect of being there.
And that was one that I stumbled into at EY. So I had four different clients kind of in that mid market. And granted, the downside is it was literally four different year ends. So I was like, always busy season. The moment I left EY was when the utilization report came out, and I was number one in the LA office, I was like, that’s not a that’s not a championship, you want to be winning. So that was that moment.
All that said, you know, smaller clients, smaller companies, so I got to audit the entire balance sheet, the whole company, I understood the bigger picture with all four of those clients, slightly different industries, slightly different business models, different executives, different ways of thinking, and you just got to learn a whole lot more by doing that. So if I had to offer anyone advice for going to the Big Four, I would say, try to stay off of one of the big clients. Like I had, I had friends who were on Disney, and Disney is you get siloed you are auditing one bank account. All year. And that’s it. And that’s not a good learning experience. That’s a recipe for burnout. So I think that variety is super, super important for enjoying your time and getting the most out of it. That’s how you learn the most.
Yeah, that’s what was my mindset when I decided that that was gonna go x actually accounting was my third career was a computer programmer. And then I went to sales because I thought that’s where all the money was and sucked down there. But then I realized that the accounting was a profession that I really was always in the back of my mind. But that’s why I went with the smaller firm because I want to know everything. We did audits, which I hated audit, I don’t like audit at all. I’m a tax guy. And but I also got to do tax, I also got to do you know, whatever else just the month end close for smaller clients, all that stuff. And so I think that variety, if you can do that EY or at the Big Four, I guess that’s great, too. I just was never had any desire to do that.
I feel like I was very lucky I got the best of both worlds. And I also was assigned a boss that I to this day, she was my favorite manager, loved working for her. I worked a tonne of hours, but she was really great at leading by example, she was always the first one at her desk and the last one to leave. It’s tough to get pissed off about hours when your senior manager is doing that. And she was just so, there’s something about her, I really appreciated it. So I think the right the right job, the right manager, and it can be a really good experience even if you’re working that many hours. Like, I look back on it very fondly.
That’s good. Yeah, if we’re going to talk about your managers, I had my second job in public accounting was probably the worst I’ve ever seen from a manager standpoint. And you know, I’m not gonna I won’t go into the story now. But it was got to a point where I didn’t stay, I at one point in time, I just organized my office and walked out and never went back. And what that did for me is it it helped me realize that corporate culture is such an important thing that having people feel like they’re an important part of what you’re doing that they’re valued, that they can be themselves in the office, not just when they leave and the door closes behind them. When you looked at FloQast when you started FloQast, you seem very passionate about a lot of things. I assume creating a culture that people enjoyed being part of was something that you thought about?
Oh, no, it was huge. I mean, I am your very classic pain in the ass millennial person to manage like I can recognise that. I’m sure my bosses, it was annoying to manage me but like I was pretty smart and good at my work. So it was one of those you just like deal with that —- because the work gets done. But I what I realized is, you know, my my first boss, we had such a good relationship, that when I actually went to leave EY, I went to her and said, hey, I’m I am burned out, I’m gonna go look for a new position, I want to give you a heads up, because I don’t want you to just be left high and dry. And that was actually really good for her right? Because she had some real runway to find a new person and plug it in and all this kind of stuff. Conversely, if I really disliked her in the way it seems like you just like walked out one day, they’re in a tough spot to recoup from that. So I would say like, managers, yeah, you would very much benefit from having great relationships with your reports simply because when they do leave which in audit, they are going to leave odds are they’re going to leave at some point. At least that’s a little more collaborative, and you have some more heads up, and it’s easier to plan. But yeah, that’s kind of my take on that.
And when I moved into creating the culture of FloQast it was really like, I like to look at the past places I’ve worked at and other things, and what have they done wrong, and let’s not do those things. And it’s pretty simple, just create an environment that I would want to work in. One of the unique things about FloQast, as opposed to many tech companies, is, you know, it’s accounting—that’s not exciting for everybody. And it’s tough to get, it can be tough to get people fired up around like a mission of accounting related if they haven’t been in accounting. So one of the things I actually did was hired a ton of former accountants, so they were just inherently excited about what we’re doing.
So number one, they get out of accounting, they get to try a new job. And they move over into a world where they’re using their knowledge and skills and helping other people rather than bothering them through an audit process, right? So it’s a great shift, because it’s like, oh, I’m not going to disappoint my parents, I didn’t major in accounting for no reason about throwing away my whole, you know, tuition to do this. But I get to try something new, whether it’s sales, or customer support, or product, whatever, we hire accountants everywhere. And so it’s a really unique opportunity. And there’s really not much culture building that has to occur when you have someone who’s just inherently bought in and excited about it.
Then on the other side, it’s about I very much value transparency. And the moments I felt the most connected to Cornerstone—this never happened at EY because there’s zero transparency about what’s going on in corporate, EY, you know, they’re too big to be doing that, I totally get that—but at Cornerstone, I always got so excited when the CEO would tell us about what was going on behind the scenes, or what the market or what investors were saying or what was going to happen. And then talking about the competition, and just like getting, just feeling like part of the business was the most motivating thing for me. So when you’re hiring people early on, it’s a lot of people who care about a startup and business and want to know what’s going on. So I was always hyper transparent, just about what we’re doing, what our goals are, where financials were going, everyone rallied around various things. And so I think that combination of like the hiring profile of people who inherently like accounting, plus, knowing the type of people we’re hiring at the early stage, and they want to be part of business, they like transparency, all that, my like, hyper transparency, I think was really big for building a great a great culture.
And, you know, we’ve scaled that. It is a little trickier to scale at 500 people and when it’s remote and everything, but we’re still a hyper transparent organization. We’ve hired a lot of accountants and so that kind of comes together like really well to drive. And then we do all this stuff, stock options, great benefits, pay people well treat them well, like all the table stakes. But the unique parts are those.
Yeah, no, I agree with you with the transparency. We’ve always tried to do that with our firm as well with Tri-Merit, this is the firm I started 16 years ago.
And how many employees do you have?
We’re at 70 employees. And so from that standpoint, you know, we have, we’re remote, but twice a year we get together in person, you know, one location, we all do this. And we have people in similar locations. We have a lot in Houston, they’ll get together and have events where they just get together and have a good time. We have a lot in Chicago, we have a lot in Michigan. And so they’ll get around. But, and I haven’t been involved in this part of stuff, because I just decided I’m going to just go out and talk. That’s my only role now. I live in PowerPoint like you do. But we actually, it was funny you said that, in about two hours from now we have our first quarterly transparency meeting for the company where we’re just going to every quarter now just put everything out there for everybody to see. And it’s part of the EOS stuff that we’ve been implementing, as well. So that’s cool.
And I’ve found that that helps. That helps with alignment so much when you’re literally, like we have we have our all hands meeting coming up in the next couple of weeks. And we do that monthly and the first all hands meeting after a board meeting, I actually run through the board deck with the whole company. It’s like hey, here’s what we talked to the board about. Here’s what I need all of you to do. And here’s what we’re not doing anymore, here’s what the board said and all this stuff. And it’s like, hard to be much more aligned than that. When it’s like, here’s what I’m saying in the boardroom, like, please, everyone make us look good and go execute on this stuff, basically. You just feel part of it, you know? And you know what the hell’s going on?
Right. And I assume, and then I just keep comparing you and us, because it seems like we’re doing a lot of stuff similarly, but we don’t lose people, because of things like that, because of transparency. We don’t have problems attracting people either. And, you know, I’m guessing that 550 people or whatever, you know, there’s little more loss occasionally here and there, but…
We have shockingly low turnover.
I had a feeling.
Yeah, it’s really low. And the times we lose people or when, you know, we’re known as a great organization. Other companies poach from FloQast now. And there’s some times where it’s literally they might double someone’s comp package. Because of that, there’s certain times you just can’t fight with that. But very few people are like, “I hate it here. I’m leaving. You guys are the worst.” There’s none of that going on.
Yep. Well, that’s awesome. So we touched on culture, we touched on burnout, we touched on—I want to go a little bit deeper, just into FloQast, because you said what you do, but you have a lot of different products, right? I mean, are they all based around, you know, month end, year end close, or what is the variety of things you’re doing?
Yeah, a tricky, tricky part of building a software company is you’re always adding more stuff and your story changes over time. So what I mentioned is really what we started with, which was the close reconciliation. And a big part of that was also staging yourself for a successful audit. You know, if you’re going through the, if you’re using FloQast properly, you’re signing off on everything, your RECs are getting saved down, it’s tied back to your ERP automatically all that if all that’s working well, you’re just organically going to be staged for a successful audit. So that’s always been something that’s been top of mind for us.
But one of the things that ended up happening was we put out the core application. And right before COVID hit, we were sitting down with Zoom, who’s one of our clients, and Zoom was using—was hacking FloQast. And they were tracking things outside of the post process and doing it in a manner I don’t want to get into details, but it was doing they were doing it in a manner that completely messed up the dashboarding, the visibility, a lot of the analytics, like a lot of that productivity stuff that came after the fac,t it was messing it up. And it was things like SEC filings, SOX compliance, like, you know, payroll, AP, commissions, and we’re we go, you know, this is like kind of tangentially related to the close. But you have applications that do this, you know, you’re using Workiva. For this, you have audit board for this. And so why, why the heck is this living inside of FloQast, and the controller was, he goes, “Look, I’m responsible for all of this stuff. And I don’t want to log into five different applications to understand where I am with it. So I’m happy to have my SEC team log into FloQast, keep track of their work in here. And that gives me better visibility, better insights, so that when the CFO comes out and says when are the books when he calls, when’s payroll going to be processed, what are commission statements gonna be out Wednesday, SEC reporting gonna be done? When’s the audit going to be done?” Like, I can just go into FloQast and get that answer.
And we’re like, oh, crap, that makes a lot of that makes a lot of sense. Like, very well done on your part. So this is where we really start to feel like idiots. And we start to investigate how our clients are using FloQast, it turns out, like 20% of them are using us for non close workflows.
So like, our clients were figuring this out on their own. And that makes it the easiest product decision in the world, right? So all we did was we said, hey, let’s productize that use case. And we built a more generic thing called FloQast Ops. It allows you to track any operational workflow that occurs on any sort of regular cadence, or ad hoc projects at this point. And it’s really separated the application to give controllers better visibility, and analytics and performance metrics around those different areas individually. That’s a product we offered for free to drive better adoption of FloQast, have it be used, you know more pervasively across the organization, and then get some more users and licenses on from there. Then what we do is we monitor those ops workflows. That’s what’s being used the most. And that helps inform our product decision from there.
The next one we launched was our in this just came out, a couple months ago, we did the formal announcement for this product, but it’s our compliance solution. And compliance makes a lot of sense for us, because, number one, it was an incredibly used workflow within that ops product. And the reason it’s used is because compliance is so closely related to the business process workflow that’s occurring underneath it. And we’re able to offer a really unique value prop. So the way that compliance solution works, and this goes to like, right to the audit days, and Sarbanes Oxley is the most clear example of like a compliance example here. So you can get your risk and control matrix set up inside of FloQast, you address your risks, you get all that implemented, you set your controls in place. Your controls can then be tested through FloQast within that compliance module. So the auditors, both internal and external, can login and look at the controls. And then the unique value prop that we have, which I love is the source for that control work, the evidence of that being completed, already lives in other parts of FloQast. So what you’re able to do is link those controls back to where that source work is already occurring.
And what that means is if I’m an auditor, I go in and I want to select a certain control sample testing, I don’t have to go to the accounting department and ask them to give me any information. Every month I want to test is right there, I can select my three or four months, whatever it is, all the documentation lives there, it’s in one place, I can sign off really quickly. And that eliminates the PVC process, right? Like everyone hates it, I’ve never met a person who loves the PVC process, we can eliminate a material percentage of that from that back and forth. And really take credit for, this is what I think is like the accounting team should get credit for the work they’re doing every month, automatically filling in the controls, internal audit, CEO, CFO, they’ll have that peace of mind that they are compliant in real time. It’s not a deal, where it’s like, what’s going on underneath the scenes, I don’t know. And then the auditors are gonna come out and they’re gonna be like, hey, you have a material weakness here. That’s not, that’s not how it’s going to work with FloQast. So I’m really excited about the compliance because it’s back to like a very personal pain point of mine.
I did the Sox implementation at Cornerstone, I established the risk and control matrix. And the hardest part of that whole thing was getting people to operate in that environment. And by having FloQast plus the compliance solution, there’s like no doubt around how people operate now. You just change the behavior. And that to me is like between the PVC process and the behavior change thing. So much friction is taken out of the equation. And as you can tell, I’m very excited about it. And yes, it’s selling very wel,l the value prop is connecting for sure. And so this is like, we’re very excited about this.
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, at times, like things when I’m out talking about burnout in the profession, you know, I’m talking about automation, and how this can be so helpful for you, and how this can make you more efficient. And so that that’s cool that you got this.
The thing that I find, though, and maybe you find this too, and I’m gonna go on a tangent here—is that sometimes people have such a negative connotation of the what they think is a pain of implementation, when in reality, it’s not, because for some reason, our brains are more concerned about not having to deal with this extra work of implementing something today, even though tomorrow it’s gonna save you so much time. Is that something you have to deal with? Or try to overcome when you’re getting that?
No, that is a very fair concern also, and and part of it is, because unfortunately, within finance and accounting there, they are more difficult to use solutions. There hasn’t been much of a focus on user experience and ease of use and ease of implementation. It’s just like it is what it is, you know, for example, NetSuite came out of Oracle, really, that was kind of the starting bet is NetSuite was a bunch of former Oracle people. And they started with this vision of simplicity, and then it blew up into a big application that can take, you know, our implementation was like nine to 12 months.
So basically a big focus of mine in founding FloQast is how do we make the implementation as easy as humanly possible? What we realized was there are two main problems with implementations with accounting. Number one is if you don’t, if the software vendor does not take responsibility for the implementation, if they put it on the customer, and potentially on a partner, there’s just not as much ownership around that and it’s not going to get done. And second is, anytime IT is involved with something, it slows down. It’s just another party that has to get involved in at some point, they have all these questions and they don’t understand how accounting works. And so it just slows everything down.
And we started the company selling to the mid market space, like we really built FloQast to sell to the type of company I came out of, and my experience was IT is swamped with work. Accounting is never gonna get prioritized. Sales is always gonna get prioritized with anything, and then IT is going to prioritize their own stuff. Accounting is always on the backburner. So we just had to figure stuff out on our own. And that’s fine, as long as IT doesn’t have to be involved. And so everything that we built, it was like, Okay, how do we build this such that IT does not have to be involved in the implementation equation at all. And one of the, we figured it out, and one of the great lines I love deploying is like when I’m on a sales cycle, will IT will get involved in I’m not in these all this much. But early on, it was like, hey, IT, really nice to meet you. I have great news for you. Number one, we’re all buttoned up, here’s our compliance reports, here’s everything, all I need for you to do is sign and approve this. And then we’re not going to talk again, because I don’t need your help for the implementation. Like you guys will get credit for the best software implementations here. And you don’t have to do anything for it. And they love that pitch. Like, obviously, they love this.
And then it’s also administered by the accounting department themselves afterwards. And it’s really easy to administer. So literally, IT is just out of the equation. And that makes every, so we come in with a 30 day implementation, not not a nine month implementation, and it’s like, we’re no disruption to your close. Because while it’s 30 days, it’s four hours of time on the controller, and then an hour training for the team like we take on all the work that occurs in that time. And so yeah, big, big huge focus of ours. I cannot I cannot agree more.
So they don’t have to worry about that. Short enough for them, it’s even really short with you, because you’re taking care of everything.
It takes 30 days, it’s because it’s like, we’re gonna do this and then have this call to approve this, then we’re gonna have the training call, and we’re gonna have the demo, we’re gonna have the optimization call afterwards. So that’s why we like to break it down to like, look, I know, it’s 30 days, but that’s not 30 days, you know, times eight hours a day, 240 hours, it’s four hours. That’s all. That’s all we’re looking for. So we gotta break it down.
Well, that’s awesome. This was a great conversation. That was great information. I love hearing about what you’re doing, because anything that helps our profession, I’m all for that. So but before we wrap this up, there’s two, two final questions I have for you. Any, if you want to do a wrap on anything we just talked about? I’ll let you do that right now. Or I’ll ask you two questions.
Are we gonna talk about AI? Or are you sick of it?
I know I’m supposed to talk AI on every podcast right now. You can, do you want to talk about AI?
I want to give an interesting take.
Yeah, let’s do it.
We’ve been doing a lot of research on this. And I am firmly believing that AI is going to be a great augmentation tool for accountants going forward. This is, I don’t think this is something that’s going to cause mass unemployment within accounting. I think it’s something that’s needed. It’s very necessary, we have the talent crunch, already fewer people are majoring in it. And one thing I know about capitalism is capitalism marches on, there will be more jobs, we will need more accountants. So I don’t see I don’t see that falling off. And so I think everyone should be really excited about AI. The key is like, everyone’s got to learn how to do it and use it in different fashions. And it’s been really interesting, us working with it and experimenting with it on the back end. We’re realizing that today, what it’s really great at is doing things where there isn’t a right answer, which is a fascinating like a fascinating thing. And so it’s going to be a little while before the technology is there with accounts where it’s like, all accurate enough to really start to trust it, there’s going to be a long period of us working with A,I being the ones who are the reviewers of AIS work and it’s basically going to be a staff for you, and that’ll be a really cool spot to be in. And so I just want to give I like kind of more like the silver lining message around this not the like, like Mark Cuban being like, I’d never want to be an accounting major right now. I’d rather major in philosophy, when the reality is ChatGPT is better at philosophy than accounting. It’s like, that is the reality today.
No, that makes sense. And I like that take on it. I’ve talked to a lot of people lately and it’s more hey, it’s just, it’s gonna be you’re not going to have to know AI—it’s going to be there it’s gonna be implemented FloQast is going to put it out there for you. Other people are going to be using it in the applications you’re using, and you don’t, I think people get this fear of, I’m gonna have to be an expert on AI. I mean, I really don’t think you’re gonna have to do that.
Our job is to make it easy for the customers to use. Like if that’s the future then also software vendors we’ve we’ve failed in our job.
Yep, no, that’s what I figured. Alright. Now I’ll ask—unless you want something else!
No, I’m good.
Alright. Here’s the final two questions. And I didn’t warn you ahead of time but everybody gets asked this because hey, we’re talking business we’re talking what you’re doing we’re talking to things that we we do at work but more importantly, what are your passions outside of work. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not doing FloQast things?
Alright, good. I hoped you wouldn’t ask me like what time I wake up because they’re really uninspiring answers. But now outside of work I have a variety of hobbies, kind of your classic like midlife crisis and standard hobbies. I love golfing. I’m a big golfer, that’s one of my favourite things and like aspiring to get my handicap as low as possible. So unfortunately right now it’s going in the wrong direction but I’m working on it. I feel like I’m turning the corner, things are going well.
I also I love woodworking on the side that’s one of my favorite hobbies is like fine woodworking I like making gifts for people and it’s a fun, it’s a really fun release for me because it’s really creative, but it’s also manual and physical and really rewarding to be able to like create gifts for people and do things like that. And there’s no there’s no directions in the woodshop you get to do you know you’re making things are being creative and you’re figuring stuff out. So that’s a lot of fun.
For me, play softball with my buddies on the weekends, those are my you know, get to hang out with my friends and stuff. And then of course, our family loves spending time with my wife and my daughter. My daughter is six now and it’s just been it’s been awesome seeing her grow up in love being able to spend a lot of time with them and that’s been that’s been a great part of the remote work environment and everything is just you know, even you have a busy day you get to see them a little bit and spend time with them so.
And then as you can tell by my Dodger hat yes audio so no one else can see it but I am a huge baseball nut. I collect baseball cards, big Dodger fan my whole life. I know, I know far too much about the Dodgers organization and that’s like one of my biggest passions in life.
Well, yeah, when you first came on camera, I thought oh, another Chase Birky—I don’t know if you know Chase—but he’s always got the baseball hat on too, his is just branded with his company name, Dark Horse, but you never see him without the hat.
Oh, interesting. Yeah. No, I got my Dodger hat. It’s my luck. And so I’ve been doing it my whole life literally.
Nice. You’re branded a Dodger fan. And then you go and then last thing if anybody wants to find out any more about what you’re doing in FloQast, where’s a good place for them to look?
So I’m not, I wouldn’t say active on LinkedIn I don’t do a bunch of those posts around my life and all that kind of stuff, but connect with me on LinkedIn if you want to chat about anything—happy to message and all that kind of stuff. Email is Mike@FloQast.com, happy to do that as well. Or if you want to learn about FloQast, the best place is just the website, go to FloQast.com, we have a great team of sales reps if you want to learn more about the application, all a bunch of former accountants, you’ll like talking to your people to see if we can help out. We’re genuinely there to see if we can help make your close and broader accounting operations better today.
Awesome. Well, Mike, it was a pleasure having you on. For us not meeting each other till 30 minutes ago, I think we did okay today.
Yeah, there you go. Good stuff, Randy. Thank you for having me on. I really enjoyed the conversation.
About the Guest
Mike Whitmire is the Co-Founder and CEO of FloQast. Founded in 2013, FloQast is a cloud-based operational accounting platform which aims to automate everyday accounting workflows, with the goal of increasing efficiency and accuracy, and improving the work-life balance of accounting professionals.
Prior to founding FloQast, Mike managed the accounting team at Cornerstone OnDemand, a SaaS company in Los Angeles. He began his career at Ernst & Young in Los Angeles where he performed public company audits, opening balance sheet audits, cash to GAAP restatements, compilation reviews, international reporting, merger and acquisition audits and SOX compliance testing. Mike earned his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Syracuse University in 2006.
Meet the Host
Randy Crabtree, CPA
Randy Crabtree, co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, is a widely followed author, lecturer and podcast host for the accounting profession.
Since 2019, he has hosted the bi-weekly “The Unique CPA,” podcast, which ranks among the world’s 5% most popular programs (Source: Listen Score). You can find articles from Randy in Accounting Today’s Voices column, the AICPA Tax Adviser (Tax-saving opportunities for the housing and construction industries) and he is a regular presenter at conferences and virtual training events hosted by CPAmerica, Prime Global, Leading Edge Alliance (LEA), Allinial Global and several state CPA societies. Crabtree also provides continuing professional education to top 100 CPA firms across the country.
Schaumberg, Illinois-based Tri-Merit is a niche professional services firm that specializes in helping CPAs and their clients benefit from R&D tax credits, cost segregation, the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction (179D), the energy efficient home credit (45L) and the employee retention credit (ERC).
Prior to joining Tri-Merit, Crabtree was managing partner of a CPA firm in the greater Chicago area. He has more than 30 years of public accounting and tax consulting experience in a wide variety of industries, and has worked closely with top executives to help them optimize their tax planning strategies.