I was actually coming to Portland to visit my grandparents – who had moved up to Portland in 1990 – for Christmas in 1994. I had been with Artis, Pine, Berg & Scott a little over two years by then and was enjoying the experience.
Since we were in the area and I had not interviewed with any other firms, I decided to write 5 CPA firms, explaining I was coming up to visit but would like the chance sit down with them to learn more about their firms and what they were looking form. Of the 5, 3 responded and set up conversations.
The conversations were great. All three firms did lots of audit work but two were larger regional firms. The partners were enthusiastic and seemed to appreciate my knowledge of auditing and ability to create complex spreadsheets (these were the good old days of Lotus 1-2-3) and how those could be used to prepare financial statements; instead of the tried and true method of Cut Paste & Attach.
Surprisingly two firms made me offers, even though I wasn’t really looking. Of the two, I felt that Yergen & Meyer fit my personality best and, after discussing it with my family, accepted it.
At Yergen & Meyer, I was exposed to performing more reviews and compilations, but also performed audits on
- HUD projects
- Yellow Book non-profit audits
In addition to audits though, I also became a SSARS expert. SSARS is Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services. At the time, most review engagements were treated as “audit-light” engagements and I decided to learn everything about how to effectively manage a review engagement that complied with the standards. I learned that an effective review engagement didn’t need to take 100 hours. I designed analytical tests and streamlined the documentation to cut this below 40 hours.
Now two things happen when you can substantially reduce the number of hours on engagements:
- Engagement profitability rises
- Lower fees can be charged, leading to more engagements
We spent a lot of time perfecting our spreadsheets to turn them into documentation tools as well as the foundation for the preparation of the financial statements. And, using Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), we were able to get the very best of the spreadsheet – columns, footing, concatenations, and if/then language, to work with the best of the Word document – page formatting, footnote disclosure, section headings. Using this effectively enabled us to dramatically reduce errors in preparation and increase the speed at which financial statements could be prepared.
But in 1999, Yergen & Meyer merged with Moss Adams and I decided it was time to move to a firm closer to home.