Episode 76

Published on:

24th May 2024

Data-Driven Advisory Success with James Childress

Are you leveraging data effectively to close the gap between your business goals and your current performance?

In this episode, co-hosts Damien Greathead and Penny Breslin interview James Childress, a former CPA who transitioned his firm to focus exclusively on advisory services. James shares his journey from a traditional CPA firm to specializing in providing advisory services, emphasizing the importance of data-driven decision-making. He discusses the challenges of reducing his client base and team size, the significance of choosing the right clients and team members, and the need for specialized tools like Tableau and data analysis to offer high-value advisory services. The conversation also touches on the necessity of verticalizing services and the importance of attending industry-specific events to better understand client needs.

James Childress, a CPA for over twenty years, has a deep-rooted passion for supporting individuals with their businesses on a grander journey toward growth. His personal experiences navigating significant trauma and the challenges of finding the right support have fueled his dedication to making a difference in others' lives. After enduring hardships within a high-control group during his formative years, James embarked on a quest to rebuild his life and create a nurturing environment for himself and his loved ones. It was through the transformative power of therapy that he found solace and regained control over his destiny. 

Recognizing the profound impact mental health support had on his own life, James embarked on a mission to extend this vital assistance to a broader audience. With nearly two decades of experience in accounting, he transitioned his expertise to become a catalyst for growth and profitability across various small to medium-sized businesses. James's journey has led him to specialize in empowering mental health professionals to thrive in their practices. By leveraging his unique blend of financial acumen and compassionate understanding, James and his dedicated team are committed to bridging the gap between trauma and healing. Their goal is to facilitate sustainable growth and prosperity for all businesses while prioritizing the well-being of individuals and communities they serve.

[00:00 - 10:24] James’ Journey to Advisory

  • James recounts his career transition from a traditional CPA to focusing on advisory services.
  • He shares the challenges of managing a large team and multiple service lines.
  • The decision to sell off traditional services and focus on advisory is highlighted.

[10:24 - 20:45] Building a Specialized Team and Embracing Verticalization

  • James discusses the importance of having a team that aligns with the firm's goals.
  • He explains the decision to let some team members go and support their transition.
  • He explains the benefits of focusing on a niche market, specifically mental health private practices.
  • The need for businesses to differentiate themselves in the advisory space is discussed.

[20:46 - 38:23] Defining Advisory Services

  • James defines advisory services as actions that close the gap between a client’s current state and their goals.
  • He emphasizes the importance of data in providing valuable insights and making informed decisions.
  • What is the use of Tableau and other data analysis tools in his advisory practice?
  • The importance of clean, accurate data and the role of data scientists in achieving this is explained.
  • He provides examples of how data visualization helps clients understand their business performance.

[38:24 - 43:42] Closing Thoughts and Insights

  • James shares his belief that focusing on what a firm does best leads to success.
  • He encourages listeners to have faith in their expertise and take bold steps towards specialization.

Notable Quote:

"I'm advising our client when the gap between where they are and where they want to be is closing." - James Childress

Connect with James!


Thank you for listening. Please like and share this episode with a friend!

Websites: https://moneypennyllc.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/damiengreathead/

Twitter: @Damien_GH

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/penny-breslin-0228b81/

Twitter: @pennyb57

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About the Podcast

Strategy and the Virtual Controller
Helping accounts and bookkeepers build the firm they want, their way
Your hosts Penny Breslin and Damien Greathead have more than 30 years of combined experience in the accounting industry. This podcast is to share their experiences of working in, and consulting to accounting and bookkeeping firms of all sizes, helping them grow.

Nothing discussed will be rocket science, instead they'll be discussing 'how' firms have successfully, and not so successfully, pursued growth. Penny and Damien will be sharing their insights on how firms can be successful by focusing on their people (clients included), their technology, and their processes and systems.

Ultimately how successful an accounting business will be depends largely on how the owners manage change, which alongside taxes appears to be the only constant.

We do want to acknowledge David Maister's great read Strategy and the Fat Smoker: Doing what's obvious but not easy as the inspiration for our title. Buy it on Amazon - https://amzn.to/3dhcUFC

Subscribe today for an upbeat and practical conversation about what's working and what's not in accounting businesses around the world.

About your hosts

Penny Breslin

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Penny Breslin is the founder of MoneyPenny, a consulting firm specializing in helping accounting firms and other businesses embrace the power of technology to simplify their operations and increase their profit margins.

Drawing on her years of experience and her knowledge of what it takes to run a successful business, Penny oversees the development of back office processes for her client firms. From the initial evaluation of the firm’s workflow, to technology selection, and assisting in the on-boarding of the firm’s clients, Penny works with her clients to maximize the benefits of a paperless and cloud-based firm.

Damien Greathead

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Damien has been working in the accounting industry for more than 15 years. In addition to getting his hands dirty preparing tax returns and doing bookkeeping, but the bulk of his experience comes from consulting to both accounting firms and the technology companies that serve the industry.

He set up 2020 Group USA which was a membership group for small and medium sized accounting firms and then went on to set up Receipt Bank (now Dext) in North America.

He regularly speaks to industry bodies on technology, marketing and change management.