Episode #154: Innovation at the AICPA and CPA.com

About Greg LaFollette, CPA, CITP, CGMA

Greg Lafollette.jpg

Greg is one of the most recognized and respected voices on technology within the accounting profession. He is also a sought-after speaker at trade shows and conferences. Prior to joining CPA.com, Greg was a consultant to public accounting firms and to technology vendors with a focus on the accounting profession. Additionally, he was the Executive Editor of TheTechGap — the country’s first blog specifically created for the tax and accounting profession and for vendors who seek to serve that community, and Senior Manager of Tax and Technology Consulting with the Top 25 firm of Eide Bailly, LLP.

Earlier in his career, Greg served as the Executive Editor of The CPA Practice Advisor (formerly The CPA Technology Advisor), VP of Product Strategy at Thomson Reuters Creative Solutions, and founding partner at LaFollette, Jansa, Brandt & Co., LLP in Sioux Falls, SD. He served on the AICPA’s CITP Credential Committee (Chair), the National Accreditation Commission (ad hoc via the Credential CITP Committee), and the Top Technologies Task Force, the TECH+ Planning Committee. He serves on the Technology Advisory Board of the Journal of Accountancy where his column, “What’s Your App-Titude,” is printed monthly.

He appears on Accounting Today’s list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting, the CPA Practice Advisor’s Top 25 Thought-Leaders, and was inducted into the Accounting Technology Hall of Fame in 2011. Greg completed his professional training at Augustana University (SD) and is a CPA, a CITP, a CGMA,, and a member of the AICPA Information Technology Division. He is a graduate and former staff lecturer at the AICPA’s National Tax Institute. He and his wife Kaye have one grown daughter and choose to live in their hometown of Sioux Falls, SD where he chairs the City’s Board of Ethics and is a volunteer’s as a high school speech coach.

About Mark S. Brooks

Mark is the Senior Manager, Innovation with the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants where he co-founded and now leads the organization's first ever Startup Accelerator, a particular model of corporate venture capital designed to accelerate R&D and growth into adjacent markets by investing in and partnering with startups within the global accounting ecosystem.

He has helped the AICPA increase revenue, organization learning, and enhanced collaboration with 13 state-level partners by exercising significant cross-functional leadership in piloting 5 new business models in emerging markets; resulting in 1,800+ new student members and new sources of revenue in <1 year.

Mark has had a role in enhancing the internal culture of innovation by developing and executing an innovation tournament, an innovation training program for staff in 9 countries, dedicated innovation spaces, and other high impact cultural initiatives that have engaged over 70% of global employees and significantly improved the internal culture (recognized with award from the CEO for these accomplishments).

As a skilled consultant, Mark routinely collaborates with senior executive leadership and 50+ global internal teams to identify and exploit adjacent market opportunities and develop go-to-market plans, resulting in strategic insights and revenue growth. He plan is to  develop a platform for idea sharing within the Accounting profession; awarded $10k innovation grant to implement from the American Society of Association Executives.

Within 2 years, he became a routinely sought after thought leader with 20+ accepted invitations to speak at conferences, publish magazine articles and blog posts, and ad-hoc consulting requests. Mark drives high performance and high caliber output of millennial direct reports through focused professional development and coaching.

Ron’s Questions for Mark and Greg

What does innovation mean to you?

Grade the profession A-F on innovation, in the past 50 years, or even shorter, the last 25 years.

Are there are any other programs or initiatives in the works to foster innovation in the profession?

What is the number one issue facing the CPA profession?

  • Greg answered: Change management
  • Mark answered: Sustaining its relevancy

Ed’s Questions for Mark and Greg 

What is happening with the AICPA and CPA.com Startup Accelerator?

Is this going to be Shark Tank type of program, with Greg playing Mark Cuban?

Greg: In your capacity as a thought leader to the profession, what are your thoughts on the Sage acquisition of Intacct?

Are we ready almost ready to call Bitcoin (not just blockchain) a technology of the future?

Have you heard anything about the results of H&R Block and its relationship with IBM’s Watson to help file tax returns?

Other Resources 

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Ed Kless

Ed Kless joined Sage in July of 2003 and is currently the senior director of partner development and strategy. He develops and delivers curriculum for Sage business partners on the art and practice of small business consulting. Courses include: Sage Consulting Academy, Business Strategy and Customer Experience Workshops. Ed is the author of The Soul of Enterprise: Dialogues on Business in the Knowledge Economy, a compendium of a few of the episodes of his VoiceAmerica talk-show The Soul of Enterprise: Business in the Knowledge Economy with Ron Baker, founder of the VeraSage Institute where Ed is also a senior fellow.