In the lead up to their panel presentation at Influence 2020, we connected with Myron Fisher, CPA, CGMA from Baldwin CPAs, PLLC (Baldwin) to talk about their approach to technology and audit.
Baldwin is experienced and qualified to provide accounting services to a wide variety of businesses and industries. The firm has concentrations in the industries of construction contractors, governmental, not for profit, and medical. Baldwin is a member of the Private Companies Practices Section of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the AICPA’s Governmental Audit Quality Center and Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center.
Baldwin’s vision is to be an innovative firm that creates value for their clients, supported by their mission statement and core values:
We are dedicated to strategies that enhance the growth and success of our team and clients.
- Integrity and honesty
- Respect and trust
- Personal development and growth
What is Baldwin’s overall strategy and approach to adopting new technology?
MF: Baldwin’s approach to technology is based upon a comprehensive and holistic strategy, from an aspect of ‘what do we want to look like in 3-5 years’?
We look at the adoption of new and emerging technologies and try to position ourselves on the early adopter position of the bell curve. We do not want to be a late adopter as we believe that it does not agree with our vision statement.
Examples of technologies that have been incredibly critical to our success as a firm are adopting virtual/cloud-based platforms early in our past, such as moving to a virtual platform 16 years ago, and moving to a paperless retention environment in 2003. Recent examples are the use of Suralink for a secure document exchange platform for assurance engagements and complete firm integration of Microsoft Teams as communication platform. All these applications made the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic fairly seamless.
What problem(s) were you trying to solve when engaging with MindBridge?
MF: When we look at implementing specific tools, it’s not just about solving one problem, it’s multi-faceted. With MindBridge Ai Auditor specifically, it’s not just about efficiency, making intelligent samples, doing audit procedures faster, or audit evidence quality — it’s all of these things combined. In addition, the adoption of an innovative tool such as Ai Auditor aligns with shaping the future of our firm.
How is Ai Auditor providing value to your firm & clients?
MF: Overall, it’s driving better conversations internally and externally.
Internally, we’re just having better conversations within our teams when we open ourselves up to data and insights. We are becoming more aware of transactional details within our clients’ ERP systems.
Just recently, we had a planning meeting on an audit client. In the previous year, we would have put the risk assessment as higher, however, after internal discussions and analysis, we came back and said that the risk assessment should be lower, allowing us to more confidently assess audit risks.
We will also be implementing use of the tool for review engagements. Our team will be able to perform more informed analytic procedures resulting in improved inquiries.
External with clients
We don’t have a “we found this” per se but it’s driving better conversations with our clients, which drives value. The response has been, “you’re asking better questions.”
One example is a client relationship with a city. We approached them early about leveraging Ai Auditor and asked for their data. One of our accountants was able to show the client what the analysis looked like right there onsite. It drove a meaningful discussion and provided more value to the client.
What are some challenges and lessons learned from your experience with implementing emerging technologies?
MF: We know that taking a proactive approach to technology adoption comes with significant challenges and we accept those challenges. Implementation is a challenge with all applications and we are not immune. Early realization and acceptance allows for better planning and depth of understanding within the entire team. Resource allocation is paramount.
Specifically, with tools like Ai Auditor, we recognize the need to have team members better trained in the application of data analytics. We have enabled team members to invest time to become application champions to assist the entire team.
Our biggest pain point and process challenge is getting data from our clients early. We have addressed this area by implementing an internal tool designed to increase communication of expectations from clients.
Communication is critical. We try to ensure that we keep communications flowing and keep all team members informed. Ai Auditor is a standing agenda item for bi-weekly assurance team meetings.
Hear from industry thought leaders by attending MindBridge Influence on May 12
Myron D. Fisher, CPA, CGMA
Baldwin CPAs, PLLC, Member. As the Firm’s Leader of Assurance Services, Myron Fisher brings more than 25 years of assurance and tax experience to the Firm. Myron leads assurance engagements including financial statement audits, reviews and compilations, ERISA employee benefit plan audits and other agreed-upon procedures engagements. He performs assurance services for private businesses, governmental clients, non-profit organizations, financial institutions, construction clients, and medical institutions. Myron also serves as the firm’s Quality Control Director.
In addition to assurance engagements, Myron has been very involved in the Kentucky Peer Review program. Myron has worked with the AICPA Peer Review Enhanced Oversight Program. Myron performs engagement and system peer reviews throughout the state of Kentucky. He enjoys working with other CPA firms in helping them with achieving a high level of compliance in their assurance practice.Over the years, Myron has been tremendously involved in both the accounting community and the local community. He has served as a member of the KyCPA Peer Review Committee and currently serves on the Peer Review Alliance Program with the Illinois Society of CPAs. Myron has also served as a member of the KyCPA Board of Directors and is an Audit Quality Partner for the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center. In his local community, Myron has served as the Chair of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce from 2016 to 2017 and is currently a member of the Central Kentucky Regional Airport Board.