Art of Accounting: 2 days of free CPE last week

Last week I spent parts of two days at the Accounting & Finance Show USA and, from what I could tell, it was very well attended and organized and the virtual meetings were held without any hitches.

I attended these programs in person during the last two years. When I received the promo material, there were many choices at every concurrent session. I found it difficult to narrow it down, but I did. Without realizing it, I chose six sessions from six different areas and found that, in itself, very interesting. Here is a rundown of what I took and the reasons for it. Each session was one hour.

I led off the first day with a program on Embracing Disruption with Ranica Arrowsmith, Jody Padar, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor and Anthony Pugliese. I know Jody well and have been on panels with Kimberly. Whenever I have an opportunity to hear them, I do. Ranica is an editor at Accounting Today, and while I have never met or spoke with her, I always enjoy her insightful articles on the uses of technology. Anthony runs the 100 employee CalCPA, so I figured his thoughts would be well worth hearing. The program was simply great and I took two pages of notes on the many ideas I got.

Creating a Profit Center was a program with Kalliopi Vlastos of Receipt Bank, who spoke about providing outsourced accounting and bookkeeping services to clients,and Jim Bourke of Withum, who spoke about adding advisory services to your practices. Jim is my partner and unbelievably knowledgeable. He’s always on the cusp of what’s new, and I try to hear what he says as much as possible. He leads our advisory services niche that has been growing in leaps and bounds, with added services that were unimaginable just five years ago, particularly in the cybersecurity and cyber consulting space. He also explained how we at Withum are leveraging our existing client base and offered the attendees from other firms copies of our cybersecurity checklists to use with their clients. The topic certainly lived up to its billing since they both spoke about ways of generating added revenues, which they are royally doing for their firms. I attended this program to hear Jim and got Kalliopi as a pleasant bonus.

The second day I attended four sessions. The first was on international taxation and transfer pricing, presented by Chaya Siegfried and Marina Gentile, both of whom are from Withum and friends as well. I attended this more as a courtesy to them since if I have any clients with these types of issues, I don’t even try to answer them, but send them directly to Chaya or Marina. Anyway, it is hard to listen to them and not learn something. I took notes on things I could discuss with them about some client opportunities.

The next program was on marketing. The speakers were Jennifer Farrington of YourMarketer LLC, Sarah Cirelli from Grassi, and Bruce Ditman of Marcum. This hour-long program had a week’s worth of information. Anyone involved with an accounting firm’s marketing (which should be everyone) who didn’t attend this program missed a unique opportunity to get some great inside information and tips. I attended it because Sarah is the person who got me started with blogging. I was fortunate to work with and develop a friendship with her. She is simply fantastic and the interactions between her, Jennifer and Bruce made it hard to believe they did not spend hours rehearsing.

The next program was on Thriving in Times of Crisis, presented by Dawn Brolin of Powerful Accounting and Tammatha Denyes of TD Accounting Services. Surprise of surprises, I do not know them or the next program’s speakers. I was interested in seeing if I could pick up any ideas about how firms are functioning in this new reality, and I certainly did. Both have successful practices and willingly shared what works for them. They also shared their handout, which made some notetaking a little easier, but I still ended up with almost two pages.

The final speakers were co-hosts Loren Fogelman and Steven Fogelman of Business Success Solution speaking about new pricing models. I write and speak a lot about this topic and also field dozens of calls a month from accountants on pricing, so I always am looking to glean some ideas. Loren is a price and profit coach and, based on her presentation, I believe she is extremely successful. She shared many great ideas and wrapped them into a neat 50-minute presentation. She is also a do not miss speaker.

I could go on much longer describing what I heard and raving about these speakers, but I need to limit the size of this column. We do not live in a vacuum and we need collaboration to exchange ideas and practice management techniques. The organizers of this conference did a great job of getting top thought leaders and practitioners in one place for two days to give us glimpses of the best they got. There was also a showcase and demo day on Monday. All programs will be available for viewing until Nov. 20. Here’s a link: Check it out. There are a couple I missed that I will go back to listen to.

The pandemic has changed the way we take CPE and it is much easier now. Previously for this type of program, I had to travel to Manhattan from New Jersey and back, and that took over three hours each of the two days. The benefit then was the personal engagements, interactions and meetings with friends and vendors during the breaks and session changes. Well, things have changed and things will be different. We just have to get used to it, but saving substantial travel time each day is a big benefit.

For my part I am presenting seven free webinars for CPA Academy and you are welcome to attend them. Log in to and check out my schedule. Email me afterward if you attended any sessions and let me know what you thought about them.

Do not hesitate to contact me at with your practice management questions or about engagements you might not be able to perform.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People list. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or

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