Byron Patrick is a CPA with an entrepreneurial spirit and an itch to build businesses. He's using that value to improve the services and lives of fellow CPAs.
VP of Customer and Operations
Making an impact
I love my job as VP of Customer and Operations at Fieldguide, an audit software company. We’re having amazing impact for CPAs and auditors all over the world by creating automated processes to remove the manual challenge of auditing.
One of my driving values is being able to make an impact and enable CPAs to do better in the services that they’re providing — and in their personal lives — day to day. And at Fieldguide, we truly have that impact every day.
By automating the manual things that auditors were doing, we’ve given them between 30 – 50% of their time back on an audit. They can use that time to be with their family, go to the beach, do more audits and whatever they want!
A passion of mine is building teams and helping them succeed. I’m lucky to be hiring a lot of intelligent, successful people. The pandemic changed the boundaries around talent acquisition. For years, we were limited to the talent pool within a 45-minute drive of the office.
Now, we’re working across time zones. It’s an incredibly beneficial side effect, giving people the opportunity to work for companies they wouldn’t have had access to before and vice versa for employers.
Innovation in action
I was part of AICPA’s enhancing audit quality taskforce around 7 years ago. There were so many great brainstorms around what audit might look like in the future, but the technology at that time was experimental. Today, we’re starting to see it come to fruition.
Looking at the roadmap of what we’re developing at Fieldguide, we’re rolling out new features and technology every quarter. Innovation is gathering pace and accelerating automation will allow auditors to level up.
Inspired in high school
I was fortunate in high school to take an accounting class and had an awesome accounting teacher. We played Monopoly for two weeks and kept the books by hand. We took a field trip to Disney World and learned about the business operations of how Disney operates and functions. Ultimately, he helped me understand that accounting is the foundation of business acumen. It became clear to me that accounting was the path I wanted to take.
From day one, I saw the CPA as the goal I wanted to achieve. For me, being a CPA has meaning far beyond debits and credits and how to balance a bank statement. It’s given me the ability to really understand what goes into decisions. If you don’t understand the accounting and finance impact of a decision, you tend to get lost in the nuance.
The irony is that I thought having my CPA would set me on a linear career path. But my foundation in accounting has led me to so many other opportunities. When I first made the transition from a traditional accounting path, I was IT Director of a CPA firm. My CEO was so happy I had the CPA background because I was able to tie all my decisions back to their business objectives.
Go beyond accounting
To anyone studying for their CPA right now, remember that it’s a vigorous path for a reason. Understand that there are going to be challenges and you’re going to have to work hard. But it will be worth it. Even if you don’t want to be a traditional accountant, but you see the value in a CPA, take it on.
I’d advise all aspiring CPAs to seize opportunities beyond accounting education. Technology is a very important aspect of being a good CPA – not just accounting technology – but the area as a whole. And don’t be surprised if it unlocks a lot more opportunities than you anticipated.
Looking to the future
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and an itch to build businesses, so I’m constantly on the lookout for new opportunities and places I can add impact. I’ll be at Fieldguide for some time to come as things grow and we continue to enjoy success. But there will definitely be more businesses in my future – perhaps that’s a business I create.
8am: Starting the Day
Because I typically work late performing technical maintenance, I tend to try to get some extra sleep in the morning. My day always starts with coffee - hot in the winter and iced in the summer.
Depending on traffic, my morning commute is about an hour each day.
10am: Getting Oriented in the Office
I start my day in the office by checking in with the team. I look for any issues or questions that need my attention, assign projects that I came up with overnight, and generally get situated for the day.
11am: Daily Duties
My work day bounces between assisting with general support to our clients and performing administrative duties in between my meetings. My daily tasks are never the same.
Usually my business partner and I grab lunch together. We talk about how all of our clients are doing and how we want to grow our business. Talking strategy is best over lunch.
2pm: Meeting with Prospective Client
This afternoon, I have a meeting with a prospective client. I outline the services that I provide and make sure that I can meet their needs before we reach a business agreement. A few of the things my business provides is a secure data center so that businesses can get to their information remotely (using “the cloud”) and technical expertise in technology as used by CPAs.
4pm: Conference Call
This afternoon, I have a conference call with AICPA’s Information Technology Executive Committee. I’ve learned a lot about technology through my involvement and I’ve even been able to speak at conferences all over the country.
5pm: Wrapping Up
Before I leave the office, I compile a list of the things that I need to take care of outside of business hours (like system maintenance and updates).
6pm: Heading Home
On my drive home, I usually listen to music and decompress from the day.
7pm: Family Time
Most days I leave the office and jump right into activities with my daughters. Both are avid and busy athletes, so there are practices and games filling the evenings no matter what the season.
9pm: Starting the Nightly Tasks
Usually I jump online from home sometime after 10PM and begin working on the tasks I accumulated for off-hours maintenance, like updating software. This sort of thing isn’t typical for a CITP, but it’s one of the services that I offer to my clients.