Tag Archives: Jared Rogers

Why I’m Not Your “Typical” Accountant

green-visor-accountant

When you tell people that you are an accountant, the image that pops in their head often looks like the one above.  Some older gentleman wearing a pressed white shirt, spectacles, a green visor sitting under some intense light immersed in calculation.  All of the above hint at an individual who, while quite intelligent and diligent about their work, is probably not viewed as the life of the party.  But why is this the image that comes to mind?  Where is the social accountant?  Where is the person who likes to go rock climbing on the weekends?  Where are the real men and women who represent the accounting profession?

Ready to hit the zip line!

Ready to hit the zip line!

Truth be told, the image classically associated with accounting professionals is actually just stereotypical.  Now what do I mean by that?  Well, a stereotype is a thought that may be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things, but that belief may or may not accurately reflect reality.  The reason this image has persisted so long is largely based on historical grounds.  However, the reality of the current accounting profession is that most people have “another side” to them which isn’t reflected when they are with clients and colleagues.  The same would be true for me as well.

In this post I talked a lot about how I got into the profession (which was kind of by accident) as well as some of the things I like to do in my spare time.  But what I wanted to focus on today is the why behind why I don’t fit the mold so to speak.

I’ve always had a business mind.  Back in my younger days, I use to do yard work for our neighbors.  They had a pretty big house and converted much of their yard space into gardens.  The one in front was full of flowers and the one in back had vegetables and other plants.  One day I was working with the owner’s wife and she asked me what I wanted to be when I “grew up.”  Without hesitation I spouted off something to the effect of I wouldn’t mind owning a landscaping business, a car wash, a towing company, etc.  Why I didn’t mention going to college still escapes me, but apparently I was focused on starting something.

TSU class ring day with Pres. Jack Magruder

TSU class ring day with Pres. Jack Magruder

If you fast-forward to my time in college and graduate school, one trend always tended to emerge.  While I was good at my accounting classes, I almost always did better in my business classes.  Whether it was business strategy, economics or investment theory, I simply was always able to grasp the concepts and meld them with the associated financial impact.  What this means is that I not only understood the accounting side of the transaction, I also got how it related to the business.  Thus, over the course of my 13 years in Corporate America, I ended up moving more towards the business side of the financial house (e.g. Sr. Financial Analyst, Manager or Financial Planning & Analysis) and farther away from the accounting side.

Most “typical” accountants get business in general, but sometimes get too entrenched in making sure all the numbers tick and tie.  While this is part of making sure your financials are solid, it’s not what most business owners are looking for.  Many want someone to give them insights on what they see; not simply regurgitate what happened last month.  They also want someone who understands all the business functions and knows why marketing spends so much money (i.e. because sales don’t happen without it and no sales means no bookkeeper/accountant).  I was fortunate enough to work on cross functional teams in my corporate days thus I get how the puzzle fits together.  Unfortunately, not all financial professionals do.

I steal from the best and forget the rest.  What I mean by this is that when it comes to business, I look for what works and discard what doesn’t.  The key with this (for me) is that it doesn’t make a difference what industry the concept is used in, so long as it’s the best one.

For example, in the insurance industry it is known that you must manage the customer relationship if you want to be successful.  I mean, what’s the difference between one insurance provider and another?  Not much to the untrained eye.  But what will keep you with your agent given that everything else is equal across all providers?  The way that they treat you when then deliver service and how they engage with you when they aren’t.  This is why you get a birthday card, a calendar for your refrigerator and those monthly newsletters each year.  All of the proceeding are ways to keep you feeling as if your agent cares about you AND keep them top of mind whenever someone asks you “do you know a good insurance agent?”

So what does that have to do with me?  All of the above are marketing tools adapted from another industry and applied to our practice to help us keep our clients engaged.  Do they work?  I like to think so as we have a pretty high client retention ratio.  But what’s different about this is that not all accountants conduct their marketing in this manner.  Some think that advertising in the yellow pages is the way to go.  Some feel that splashing your name all across a golf tournament is the trick.  Me?  I think advertising where your competition isn’t or doesn’t focus is how you gain the business that they’re neglecting.  If you want to get mediocre results (no matter what the topic/activity) just do what everyone else does.  Thus, we always look to emulate the best companies out there, even if it’s viewed as unconventional or unorthodox for a financial services firm.  Bet that would make that stodgy green visor CPA roll over in his grave huh?

I like to let my personality show.  While I like to consider myself a relatively intelligent person, I do like to do things that are outside of what I’ll call intellectual endeavors.  I participated in sports while I was in high school, and while I wasn’t any good at most of them, I still liked the thrill of competition.  This passion for a challenge is prevalent in my business dealings as well as my hobbies.  Whether it’s weightlifting, cycling, riding motorcycles or playing a good ‘ol game of tag with my daughter, I like to have fun.

Having a little weekend fun!

Having a little weekend fun!

In addition to the above, I also like people.  I mean, you can’t really be effective as an accountant if you don’t like people or you feel that they are always getting on your nerves.  Thus I like talking to people, learning what makes them tick, what’s going on in their lives and just bouncing ideas around.  While you might not see me shutting down the party or dancing till the cows come home, I do like to mix and mingle with people every once in awhile.  I mean hey, you can’t expect me to use my brain all day dealing with numbers and business problems and then not have an outlet to decompress right?

Sunset dinner with the missus.

Sunset dinner with the missus.

All of the above are just simple examples of what goes on in my life.  What’s more important is that if my clients ask, I have no problem telling them about what I do outside of work.  Why?  Read the last point.

I like to share.  While I tend to do my best thinking and problem solving when I am by myself (i.e. typical introvert), I can’t function without some interaction from others (i.e. classic extrovert).  Thus, I strive to achieve a balance between my need for inner quite and my desire to be active and have fun with other folks.  The end result is what you see in this blog; me sharing my life with you, my friends, teammates, colleagues and anyone else who happens to stumble upon it.

Do I mind sharing what I do outside of business?  No.  Many people view accountants as intellectual, emotionless, lumps of goo that have no life outside of crunching numbers.  By sharing my escapades, it proves that I am human and that I am no different than they are.  It offers them a glimpse into my life and what makes me tick.  Do most stereotypical accountants do this?  I wouldn’t know; but that’s because I’m not your typical accountant!

Hey, even us accountants have a fun side.

Hey, even us accountants have a fun side.

Until next time…

My Offseason Vacation

Funny how time flies.  About this time last year we were knee deep in trying to get our new office ready.  Now I’m in the process of getting it all cleaned up and back in shape for our second season.  But a lot has happened since we shuttered the doors for the summer.  With that being said, I thought I should pen a note updating everyone on exactly what I’ve been up to since then.

Kinder Morgan

Well, back in April I landed a temp/contract job with a company called Kinder Morgan.  For those unfamiliar with the name, Kinder Morgan is the largest midstream energy company and the third largest energy company (based on combined enterprise value) in North America.  If you’ve ever driven down I-55 and seen a facility that looks like this then you’ve more than likely driven by their Argo terminal.

The company actually has many business segments ranging from pipelines (natural gas/products) to CO2 and terminals. I was actually stationed at their Argo terminal which is basically a big liquid storage facility for anything and everything fuel related.  The business is actually quite interesting and was certainly a departure from my manufacturing and service industry days.  Initially I was brought on to help create some routine financial reporting based upon the Hyperion Essbase application.  I was told that my time with them could be anywhere from a few months all the way up to a full six when I was scheduled to return to Wilson Rogers in December.

Well, the initial reporting was created within a month of me being there so I wasn’t sure what exactly would be next.  However, I did wind up staying almost seven months and assisting with things ranging from budget reporting to a host of other things.  But the best part of the gig had to be the people.  Not since my days with the PCD team at PepsiCo had I had the opportunity to work with such an “eclectic” bunch.  So to Ron, Brion, Steve, Flo, Angela, Asad, Keith, Lukas and Maureen (aka the mother of Mr. Spanky, who makes some mean hummus by the way) – it was a blast working with you all and thanks for the opportunity.

Cycling & Racing Bikes

Well some of you may have heard a little story about me breaking bones back in March.  Via a boneheaded move that is not really worth writing about (as it’s not awesome and didn’t happen in a race) I managed to take a spill on my bike and break my wrist.  This happened right during the height of tax season and required surgery, a titanium plate and about 8 screws to fix.  To say that things were interesting during this time would probably be an understatement.

Well, the short story about my race season is that it was 1) delayed due to healing, 2) had its ups and downs and 3) was only somewhat similar to what I had hoped for.  So to make up for that I decided to make it epic in other ways like riding 200+ miles to four states in a single day and taking 3rd in my age group at the Illinois State Time Trial Championships.

 Ben, Nikos, Ryan, Bill, Jared and Coach Randy showing off our hardware

 

Ms. Rogers Becomes Mrs. Rogers?

If the title has you confused then maybe this story will help straighten it all out.  Typically in August, Aaronita and I head up to Michigan to visit my parents for a little relaxation and some bike racing.  Well, this year the entire family was in Chicago on the date of this year’s Cherry Roubaix.  Why?  Because my little sister was getting married!  The funny thing about it is that her fiancé Melvin actually had the last name of Rogers.  Don’t worry, we already checked and no he’s not some long lost cousin!  Guess her lack of name change will at least simplify things for her when it comes to her next tax return huh?

Melvin & Whitney Rogers

The original Mr. & Mrs. Rogers with the kids

All in all it was a good time and we’re happy to have Melvin as part of the family.  As you can see from the picture below, Pilar also had a blast.  Not only did she get to be the flower girl at her Aunts wedding, she also got to compete in her very first dance off!

Melvin’s brother Romey vs. Pilar in the infamous dance off

Vacations, Hurricanes and Weddings – Oh My!

In early November all eyes were on the east coast as hurricane Sandy threatened to make a mess of just about everything.  This was important to our family as my sister-in-law Sonya and her fiancé Jason live in New York.  What was even more pressing was that they were supposed to be getting married on November 4th down in beautiful St. Thomas.  Needless to say, they decided to catch an earlier flight so as to not get stranded by the storm.  Good thing too as no one wanted to miss views and experiences like these:

 Trunk Bay – St. John’s US Virgin Islands

Sonya & Jason on their special day

The St. Thomas trip was a blast and is probably the first “real” vacation that our family has taken in about a year.  When you work for your own company, when you don’t work you don’t earn.  But with that said, the trip was most certainly one for the memory books and we’re proud to add Jason to the family.  Here is a shot of me with all my girls so to speak.

Judy, Aaronita, Pilar and Jared after the wedding

Getting Ready For Next Tax Season

So other than all the exciting stuff mentioned above, I was also busy working on building up the practice.  While tax season is only a four month affair, there are always things that need to be done as we strive to grow.  First there was the addition of some new sales reps to the firm.  I’m pretty excited that they will represent the company well and continue to spread the word of what a wonderful practice we have.  In the offseason we also added a monthly newsletter to our advertising arsenal.  The response to it has been pretty good thus far, especially when you have a monthly contest where you’re giving away $50 gas cards!

Other things we worked on included some of the following:

  • Continued servicing of our growing number of bookkeeping clients
  • Increasing our advertising reach via supporting local church bulletins
  • Expanding our current client referral program with one we think will generate some real excitement come January (more on this to come in the next few weeks)
  • Renewing and expanding our partnership with EPS Financial as we strive to continue to offer economical and responsible financial products to those who are “unbanked”

So as you can see, my summer was filled with lots of activities, lots of fun, and lots of work.  Now all we have to do is try and gauge how  delayed the tax season will be due to the Fiscal Cliff and the IRS scrambling to decide which way to go with updating their system.  Who said being in the tax field was boring?  Until next time!

Hey, Who Is That Guy?

Businesses are funny entities.  They make the products we purchase, seduce and entice us with their ads and even influence the world we live in.  But behind these often ambiguous enterprises are real life people like you and I.  They have lives, families, hobbies, interests, opinions and the like.  Yet, most customers never get to really meet these individuals who, in reality, are the life source of the company.  With that being said, I figured it would be nice to share some interesting facts about the guy who primarily runs this blog thingy.

So in short, my name is Jared R. Rogers.  I’m the guy at the helm of Wilson Rogers and have been for quite some time.  It is true that I am a Financier by trade and have been involved in many facets of the profession (Public Accounting, Industry Accounting, Operational Analysis, etc.) for over 13 years now.  Yet, I am far more than just a “numbers guy” and if you had a chat with me at length, you’d probably wonder just what I am doing in the accounting field.  So how about a quick round of 10 questions?

1.   Just how did you wind up in Finance?

Back in High School I had an interest in going into law enforcement.  But the idea of facing the thugs and hooligans of Chicago’s mean city streets didn’t really appeal to me.  Thus, I thought that working for the Illinois State Police or FBI was actually a better option.  Problem with the FBI is that in order to be an agent, you had to have a college degree in one of five fields (Accounting being one) AND you had to have two years of work experience.  Thus, when it was time for me to graduate, I decided to go and work for the Accounting firm KPMG, LLP.  Needless to say, I never went back and applied for that FBI gig!

2. You’ve been in the profession for over 13 years?

September 13th 1999; that was my first day in Corporate America.  Ironically, the picture below is me headed off to my first day as taken by my mom – yeah, my parents were gracious enough to let me live at home my 1st year after college (that was before I bought an apartment building at 23 and became a slumlord).

I worked in the audit practice of KPMG for about 3 years and during that time passed the CPA exam.  Eventually, I decided that 50-60 hour work weeks weren’t worth my health and decided to get a “normal” job.  From there I went to the tool manufacturer Robert Bosch (they make Bosch/Skil/Dremel) and got a gig in the accounting department.  Over the course of two years I decided that accounting was kind of boring and that the “sexy side” of the business (Finance) was where I wanted to be.

So with that, I began pursuing my MBA and in the process switched jobs to PepsiCo.  I worked at PepsiCo for about 4 years and in the process got to work as a Financial Analyst for Gatorade.  It was here that I got to work on some pretty cool things, saw the importance/value of all functions within a company (e.g. Sales, Marketing, R&D, etc) and really figured out that my mind is actually more oriented towards business as a whole versus just accounting.  After PepsiCo I moved to Hyatt where I assumed management roles within the BU Finance function and Corporate Planning & Analysis (FP&A) team.

3.  So just how did you start doing taxes?

Well, being an accounting major, I was not going to pay someone to do my taxes.  Thus my start in taxes began with me doing my own.  Owning an apartment building led me to learn the intricacies of some of the more complex individual tax matters.  I’ve always been a proponent of giving back, and during the time when I was working for KPMG, I began to participate in the IRS’ VITA program. After a few seasons of working with VITA (and the typical “hey, you’re a CPA, I have a tax question for you”) I decided that doing taxes on the side might be a cool way to pass the time during the winter.  So from there, things just started to grow and I’ve been involved in the tax world ever since.

 4.   If you find accounting boring, finance sexy and you have a business oriented mind, why do you do taxes again?

As I mentioned above, I’m not your typical accountant.  When I say that accounting is boring, I mean that the process of recording entries and preparing financial reports is not exciting.  Most of the information is historical in nature (meaning it’s already happened) and it is very routine in nature.  Finance and business tend to be more dynamic and really benefit from forward looking analysis.  I mean, if you are stuck in the desert, trying to figure your way out of the place is far more exciting than looking at the  footsteps you’ve created  in the sand right?  Thus, taxes are intriguing to me because there is a fair amount of ambiguity and getting it right can sometimes be a challenge.

5.  You left KPMG because of your health?

The short answer is yes.  At the time I hadn’t learned to manage stress appropriately and my body manifested this as mild high blood pressure.  I take my health pretty seriously so I decided that my personal wellbeing was worth more than the paycheck I was making.  With that, I decided to move on, which gave me more time to participate in activities and just love life in general.

 6. What are these said activities?

They have varied over the years, but typically involve me being active or using my mind.  I played football in High School so I’ve lifted weights for many years.  During this time I also rode as a bike messenger which really kept me fit.  I’m also a big fan of electronic music (hey Chicago is the House Capitol of the US in my opinion) and used to DJ when in college.  While I no longer DJ, I love to hear a good mix during my training and workouts.

In my initial years of corporate work, I had less time to be active so I wrote a book just for kicks.  I also became interested in motorcycles as it was a natural extension of my love of bikes.  Best trip?  Chicago to LA and back during a summer road trip on my Honda Shadow!

But all of that not being active caught up with me and at one point my weight topped out at 218 lbs (I played football at like 165 lbs).  So in 2007 I started racing bikes for these guys.  I can honestly say that the past 5 seasons have been a blast especially this most recent one.  This is from one of my more memorable races this summer:

In addition to the above, I also enjoy swimming and yoga as I find they balance my body out given all the time I spend on the bike.

7.  So your weight has obviously gone down right?

Yes, but it wasn’t without a lot of hard work.  See, when your body is used to being active, it takes a lot to get it to shed pounds because it’s adapted to the workload.  Well, that and when you like to eat like a horse and love sweets like I do!  Combine that with the fact that bike racing is REALLY hard, it became obvious to me that I would not do too well weighing what I did.  So over time, I began to modify my already 90% healthy diet and started working out even more.  With that, the pounds started to come off.  With a little more focus on my offseason training and shifting to a Vegetarian diet, my weight is down to within 10lbs of where I want it to be.

 8. Wait, you don’t eat meat?

When a car pulls up to me on my bike in the dead of winter, inevitably the driver looks at me as if I was the escaped Bronx Zoo Cobra!  The same reaction is usually what I get when people hear that I am a Vegetarian.  I haven’t “knowingly” eaten meat since mid-2010 (I’m sure someone may have slipped me a Mickey or two) and while I can’t say that I will never eat it again, I can say that I have no intentions to do so in my foreseeable future.  Over the years, I had refined my eating to mostly turkey, chicken, fish.  However, it was after reading an article about the treatment of animals going to the slaughterhouse as well as the health benefits of eating a meat-free diet (and the impact on athletic performance) that finally pushed me down this path.

When I was younger I wanted to be a veterinarian before I wanted to work for the FBI.  I also wanted to race in NASCAR which may explain why I love racing bikes?  Anyway, I have always had a love for animals and raising them for food just kind of feels wrong and wasteful.  By wasteful I mean, we feed a cow tons of grain (to make it weigh a few tons), use gallons of diesel fuel to truck it to a slaughterhouse, use tons of water and electricity to process and package it so we can have a burger.  Why not save all the middle men and just give me the chickpeas in the form of some tasty olive hummus?

9. So sustainability isn’t new to you?

Nope.  Back when I was little I remember that I had to earn my extra money.  My sister and I would go to the local train tracks and pick up all the aluminum cans that people tossed from their cars.  My father would then take us to the recycling center and we’d cash the cans in.  Thus, I think I’ve always been conscious of wasting things in this world and doing what we can to minimize our impact on what we take.  The same goes for business.  One of my roles at PepsiCo was within the Process & Control Development group.  This team’s job was to figure out how things worked and figure out how to do them better and more responsibly.  So, I’m a big proponent of helping businesses do things better, faster, cleaner and more efficiently than their competitors.

 10. I thought accountants lived in black and white.  Where do you think your open mind comes from?

I went to Catholic school from grammar to high school.  I attended a liberal arts college.  My parents always encouraged my sister and I to do whatever we wanted to in this world, so long as it was legal and didn’t hurt anyone else.  Based on this foundation, I had a lot of exposure to many things in life.  And because I had all of this exposure, I think I came to my own conclusion that there are many options when it comes to things in this world.  You don’t have to be a Catholic, you can follow the teachings of many of the other religions of this world or you can follow none of them at all.  But at the end of the day, we all tend to believe in treating people well and trying to do what is right.  So with that said, I tend to place less importance on individual beliefs so long as we believe in the same general things.

However, when it comes to the land of taxes, there is no such thing as having an open mind.  You either do it right or you cause yourself a lot of grief.  Personally, I can do without the drama in my life!

Well, I know this was a long post, but hopefully you’ve gathered a little more about the man behind the curtain.  Yes, I live and breathe in the world of finance, but I am also a regular person.  I love interacting with people, helping out those in need, trying to keep this bag of bones in shape and keeping the old mind active.  While I am far from perfect, I strive to do the best I can each day and hopefully make someone’s day a little brighter.  Until we chat again.