Ep. 10: Rhondalynn Korolak - The Skills Needed to Thrive in Accounting and Business

August 05, 2019 | 15 Minutes

Rhondalynn Korolak is the Managing Director of two different companies in Melbourne, Australia. She developed SHIFT™, a teaching methodology - a five step strategy you can use to make the SHIFT™ to advisory, quickly and easily, with Businest, a tech solution app. She also teaches accountants, through Imagineering Now, how to put strategies in place to grow their practices, deliver value and impact for their entrepreneurial clients, & ensure that their clients would never think of going elsewhere! Rhondalynn's focus is on time, health and reputation, and this episode of Count Me In talks a lot about the skills and strategies needed to thrive in accounting and business. With an educational background in Commerce, Finance, and Accounting, as well as Law and Corporate Taxation, in Canada, and now extensive business experience in Australian, Rhondalynn Korolak talks to our listeners about accounting professionals need to focus their skills and processes for business improvement. Listen now!

Contact Rhondalynn:
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/imagineering/

Rhondalynn's Work & Recognition:
  1. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/11/prweb13878827.htm
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb2rqTL4QW8&feature=youtu.be
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3rRoQUxb5g&feature=youtu.be
  • Finalist - Best Digital Start Up - 23rd annual AMY Awards
  • Top 3 Finalist - Female Fintech Leader of the Year, Excellence in Data and Artificial Intelligence
  • Top 10 Cloud Accounting Apps of 2016
  • Top 10 Small Business Apps of 2016


Music: (00:00)

Mitch: (00:05)
Thanks for joining us for another episode of Count Me In as we bring you the latest perspectives on all things affecting the accounting and finance world. If there are other topics relating to accounting and finance that you're interested in hearing about or if you have questions from the industry that you'd like answered, please let us know by leaving a review and a comment or dropping us an email at podcast@imanet.org I am your host, Mitch Roshong and I'm joined by my cohost, Adam Larson. This week's featured guests joined us all the way from Melbourne, Australia and talked to you, Adam, about optimizing advisory services and client value. Tell us a little bit more about your conversation.

Adam: (00:44)
That's right. Mitch. Rhondalynn was kind enough to join us from Australia and discussed how our accounting background has helped her become a successful business professional with a unique teaching methodology. She helps individuals Excel in their careers by adapting to the evolving industry and future proofing themselves. Later parts of our discussion we'll tie in said that same idea as she discusses how these skills can be applied to positively effect small businesses and help others to also teach accountants. Rhondalynn is a well rounded accounting and finance professional with experience in tax, business development, operations and business coaching in addition to legal knowledge. It was a fascinating conversation that will span two episodes. So let's listen to part one now. 
Music: (01:30)

 Adam: (01:33)
So you have extensive experience in various areas of accounting, business operations, advisory through your time. What skills and resources have proved to be most important in becoming a successful accounting or business professional?

Rhondalynn: (01:46)
Oh, that's a excellent question because there's probably almost too many to name, but if I had to pick the top ones, this is probably how I would approach it. From the perspective of accounting, the thing about us as accountants, you know, we're numbers people, we love the numbers. You know, cash-flow was either right or it's wrong. So we're all about accuracy and numbers and that's fantastic when you're in an accounting profession or in an accounting job. But if you want to make the transition to helping small businesses or providing advice or coaching them or whatever you want to call that, transition. The thing is, is that we actually need skills that are diametrically opposed to the ones we're good at. So for me it's about figuring out how do we transition from being fantastic at accuracy to the other end of the spectrum which is managing uncertainty. And so I'm all about, you know, how do we make those transitions across? Because most of the things that we require, in my estimation to be really, really good in what accounting has kind of evolved to over the years really involves us relearning and unlearning a whole bunch of stuff that served us well in the past, but doesn't really apply or isn't really applicable to this kind of new job that we find ourselves in. You know, disruption has changed what I believe and what most people believe. It means to be an accountant. It's more now about accountability and it is about the accounting. So I think the biggest skill that I've learned is adaptability. You know, being able to actually unlearn things and relearn things and be flexible and change with the times.

Adam: (03:41)
So how do you make yourself adaptable? you know, especially for those who are, who have been accounting in accounting for their whole lives and been stuck in one role and then they're suddenly thrust into this other thing where they have to apply their skills in another area and then they're not used to that change. How what advice would you give them?

Rhondalynn: (03:59)
Well, you can't really learn to swim by reading a book on swimming. So the only way that you can become more adaptable is to basically get pushed into the deep end. You know, you've got to be put in situations where you need to react and you've got to see how you do react. You know, you can take courses. I know a lot of what we do. So I do quite a bit of training with accountants because people ask me this question all the time. And what I found is that sometimes we are not good in judging. We can't. Sometimes we have difficulty frankly in objectively assessing where we're really at. And so one of the things I like to do when I'm working with accountants is to ask them questions, get them to do tasks or put them in situations where they can self assess their level of competency in these types of skills. So it doesn't really do any good to tell people, hey, you're not adaptable because people get their backs up. But if they can see for themselves that, hey, maybe I'm not as adaptable as I'd like to be, it opens the door for them to be in a welcome to have the learnings and coming in with a mindset that they can do it. So I think a lot of it is just, you know, taking courses or putting yourself in situations which are outside of your normal frame of the four corners that you have yourself boxed in and realizing that, hey, it's okay to feel like a fish out of water, but it's about how do we react to that and learn moving forward. I mean, adaptability is something that you will probably always be learning. You know it's not really a destination. You don't say, well, I've mastered adaptability and that's the end of it because there's always going to be a more uncomfortable situation or a more complex or unusual or unpredictable situation that you could be put in. So I think, you know, as we grow more problems and challenges come to us that push us to learn adaptability again and again and again.

Adam: (06:12)
That's great. And so, you know, with technology constantly advancing and many things changing the accounting industry and just all industries in general, you know, we've already talked about adaptability, but what other skills and strategies do you recommend to help, you know, future proof your career?

Rhondalynn: (06:28)
Accounting and disruption, it's easy to get carried away and think that this is the first time, right? But it isn't, you know, for anybody who's listening to this, that was old enough to have been around in the 80's when the desktop computer showed up. That was another disruption, a major disruption. And that disruption fundamentally changed the way we as accountants did our jobs because it put our clients in the position of wanting to have stuff at their own desks. You know, back in the olden days, people brought all their things to their accountants in shoe boxes and all sorts of stuff. But when the desktop computer showed up, they started taking back ownership of some of the data. And that led to the situation that we now find ourselves in where we are doing a lot of compliance and cleanup because the client can often input things, but they may not be correct. And so we're, you know, in the transitional phases of cleaning up a lot of, things that perhaps, weren't as good as they thought they were doing. And so I guess what's happened now is we're in another wave of massive disruption, but this one's quite different. The good news is we have a couple of choices. Number one, we can learn from the past. We can kind of remember what happened with the last disruption in the 80s and realize that, you know, we control our own destiny and it's time for us to step up as a profession and redefine ourselves. What it actually means to be a an accountant rather than having somebody else tell us what that entails. But it's about figuring out, you know, how do we adapt to the pace and the acceleration of all of these new innovations. Because you know, just recently QuickBooks announced that they were going into the live bookkeeping space and that, you know, frightened a lot of people. That was a, you know, that might have caused a lot of people to be very, very concerned because they were thinking about, you know, what's going to be next? Am I going to lose the bookkeeping work now? What's going to happen with that? How do I price myself to compete with that type of an audit offering? but there's AI and there's machine learning. I mean every day we open up our desktops to a new announcement about some new innovation that's been incorporated into a cloud accounting package that automates another thing that we might have charged for in the past. So it's easy to get caught up, I think mentally, in the fact that I need to keep pace with technology, I need to learn this package and I need to practice and learn this app. But at the actual, you know, foundation or inner circle of all this are actually two things that have nothing to do with technology and they are, in my estimation, more important. One is your pricing, right? and two is high touch, not high tech. And I believe that those are actually the solutions for this dilemma that we're facing. And I'm going to explain both of those now to you and tell you what I mean by that. Pricing is the fulcrum in your practice. It's easy for everybody to say, I need to learn new apps. I need to know how to market myself on social media because I need to find new customers. No, you don't. Actually, the very first thing that you need to do is you need to get your pricing right because pricing is the fulcrum. The pricing is the point at which you exert pressure to get maximum leverage in your practice. And if you don't have your financial model correct, meaning you are not charging your clients the correct amount of money based on the value that you deliver in the engagement, then you shouldn't be spending any money on marketing and it shouldn't be, you know, wasting a whole lot of time in technology. Because what you're going to find out is you're going to be attracting clients and you're going to be implementing technology and you aren't going to be getting paid for it or you're going to be getting paid less than you deserve or less than what the value is really worth to that client. And that's a huge dilemma because everybody wants to jump in and talk about technology and everyone wants to talk about marketing, but pricing is the fulcrum. Pricing is job number one in any accounting firm. It's about how do we get to the heart of value? How do we figure out what in the world is keeping our clients up at night? What's stressing them out? What are their pain points, what desire transformations do they mean and how do we create that value for them and capture some of it for our firms. So it's high touch, not high tech. And that's really, that's a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow because we are accountants. So we've been trained our whole career to focus on the numbers. But what I'm saying though is fundamentally different because pricing ain't a number, it's a feeling and high touch, not high tech is all about the conversation, right? It's about how do we interact and engage with our clients and really provide value. I think that unfortunately in our industry we have been given a Trojan horse, right? Somebody has paraded the horse in that horses technology and it has provided a formidable distraction for many people. And while I embrace technology and think that it's important part of us, you know, delivering more value because we want to automate the stuff that we shouldn't be spending time on. We want automation to do the heavy lifting so that we can focus on what's really important. But in order to do that, we have to train ourselves, right? Because we can't just keep falling back on the numbers of the past. You know, what transpired in the business. We have to fundamentally understand, what's a value to the client and they care about the future. You know? Yes, they care about their tax, you know, how much tax they have to pay and what their financial position looks like and all that stuff. But more importantly, what about the fact that they might just lose their number one customer or something's going to happen with, their supply chain. Maybe one of their suppliers is in trouble. It's about how do we help them circumnavigate all that stuff. That's what we should be getting paid for. You know I get cross when there's all this focus on, oh you need to use this dashboard and you need to use this KPI, all of that stuff. That's not what we should be getting paid for. That's not advisory. You know, selling a dashboard to somebody or giving them some numbers ain't advisory because the client is still looking to you and you're doing all the work. If your client's not doing any work and your client's not engaged and they're not taking action, guess what? You're still doing compliance. We should be getting paid to hold the hands of our clients and help them to achieve the result. You know, people often say to me, because I own my own tech solution called Businest that does the dashboarding and the forecasting and people always say to me, Rhondalynn, why doesn't your tool go deeper and tell the clients exactly which debts they should be collecting? And my answer to that is very, very simple because that ain't the problem. The problem isn't that you and I as accountants need to help client X go out and collect money from Bob, Susie and Edward. The problem is we should be helping them put systems in place in their business to prevent debt from actually becoming uncollectable in the future. That's advisory and no app can do that. You know the most powerful app that exists in this industry sits between your right and your left ear and we need to engage it.

Announcer: (14:29)
This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast, providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.