S5E3: Tom Wadelton: The Virtual CFO

“Your clients will like you better if you just show that you know them, and you’re listening to them more than telling them how much you are an expert.” Tom Wadelton

My guest today is Tom Wadelton. He earned his bachelor’s degree in computer technology from Purdue University and an MBA was a finance minor from Indiana University. He’s a CPA who’s licensed in the state of Indiana. Tom is a member of the association of international certified professional accountants AICPA as well as the Indiana CPA society. He was the chair of the Indiana CPA society in 2019 and began to turn on the AICPA Board of Governors in 2021.

Tom held accounting roles in a Fortune 500 company prior to coming to summit CPA group as a virtual CFO. At summit CPA group, Tom has been advising clients using the concepts developed by the firm and ton of the virtual CFO playbook course. Tom and his wife Cindy live in Indianapolis, Indiana, they have three grown children and two grandchildren.

The biggest continual challenge working as a virtual CFO with clients is not being with the client day-to-day, and therefore it is hard to know some of the backstories of what things are going on in their businesses. The other challenge has to do with managing time and how to get everything done for the clients.

We have a playbook for other CPA firms that would like to offer virtual CFO services. We have a 15-module course that people can go through where we tell every single thing that we do. The aim is to help all the people who want to continue client-advisor service as well as expand. We also have a one-hour meeting once a week with other CPA firms that can come in and ask questions about how we do things. Many firms want to step into being that advisor role but making that step to do it can be challenging, and so we’re trying to help them on how they would get to do that.

The biggest challenges for CPA firms on taking this new revenue model include staffing and lack of technology pieces that aid a consistent process. A lot of it has to do with the fear of action to move since CPAs are usually careful and want to be perfect. However, often we say just do one, and you’ll learn so much by just sitting down with a prospective client.

One of the skills missing currently that people could really build is the ability to do forecasting. Clients don’t really want to come having you explain the history, rather they want someone to help them go where they want to go. If someone is really good at forecasting, that’s where clients find the most value for a service.

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