Craig Allen FCPA wants to ensure your quality assurance is up to scratch.
In a previous life Craig Allen FCPA was entrusted with the task of executing CPA Australia quality reviews, a program that seeks to help CPAs in public practice ensure compliance with ethical and professional standards. The experience positioned the public practice owner as something of an expert on the topic, equipping him with the tools to help educate accountants on what they need to do to ensure their quality assurance practices are in place.
“While I was doing the reviews, I saw a gap in the market,” Allen explains. “When a member gets notified of their review, they can go into a bit of a tailspin.”
This was the reason he started Quality Assurance for Accountants, which he runs alongside his own public practice in Beaumaris, Victoria. The business helps practices prepare for a quality assurance review before it happens. Although, as Allen admits, much of it happens at the last minute.
“When there’s a review cycle my phone goes berserk. I can have 10 to 12 people ringing me for manuals and interviews at any one time.”
What makes Allen’s offer stand out is his knowledge – both from the practice management space and the reviewer space. “The fear factor [from reviewees] is not there,” he says of his clients. “I’m able to say, when talking to members, ‘I am one of you, so you can have a crack at me if you like, or we can be productive’.”
The problem for time-poor sole practitioners, explains Allen, is that often they don’t have a lot of outside contact. “They might have accountants they know, but they’re not likely to spill the beans on what they do,” he says. “They could be embarrassed [about sharing that information].”
With Allen, practitioners find a friendly ear. “It gives them the opportunity to be honest about what they’re doing. They’re not going to do that with a reviewer, they’re not going to do that with their mates, because they don’t want to be seen as silly.”
His business is all about helping people, Allen says, and the reward for his work is a somewhat heftier pat on the back at the end of the process than he receives in his own public practice.
“There are some clients [in my public practice] that say, ‘thanks for your help’, but you don’t get that often. With the quality assurance business there’s no angst, no b*****ing about tax laws – they know what they’re going to get from me.”
So what does Allen think is the main challenge for practices in their quality review process? Change.
“What a sole practitioner might have been doing four years ago … is not necessarily what they’ll be doing today,” Allen explains, but he also acknowledges that the best businesses don’t wait for their review; they improve the practice along the way, they have their APES manuals in place and they continually update them. “The best advice is to actually embrace it.
“I’ve been doing this for about 18 months now,” he says. “I’ve probably helped 60 to 80 practices, all of which would not have been compliant [before I came in]. But I was able to get them to the stage where they got through the review process.”
With the compliance expertise he brings, Craig Allen might well become the most popular guest at the practice management party.