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Logan’s Journey: Instead of leaving public accounting, I’m reimagining it

The Backstory

The past year I’ve been on a hiatus from the illusive career plan that had long ago been born in my head, and was perpetuated by my Type A personality, societal/family/self-induced pressure, and just the hamster wheel of time. I was a respected manager at a public accounting firm on partner track, developing a strong network, and had a comfortable salary. It matched the definition of success I envisioned in my youth. What I hadn’t envisioned -- the stomach ache I started getting at the thought of living out the plan for the next 30 years. People kept telling me how great I was doing, but why wasn’t I happy with what they said was great.

The glorified grind and stress of public accounting was weighing on me. Right out of college, it was exciting to dream about becoming a Partner at an established firm and all that comes with it. However, I realized I hadn’t paused to re-evaluate in a while. I think middle class societal precedents have been set that someone should go to college, get married, have kids, work their job, and not ask questions. But I have so many questions!!

What feelings do other people have at work everyday? Are they bored? Do they want to try new things? Are they fulfilled? What fulfills ME? And the million-dollar question - What fulfills me that someone would be willing to pay me to do… ?

Making other people smile brings me joy and fulfillment. My analytical brain excels in details, but I need a lot of human interaction to stay balanced. I prefer skipping over pleasantries and having real, substantial conversations to connect with other people (my friends aren’t surprised anymore when I ask questions about their personal finances, like if they have joint bank accounts with their partners or are making more than the minimum payment on their mortgage).

I like puzzles, organization and (ironically enough) plans. I enjoy having everything in place and solving inefficiencies. I like brainstorming, presenting feedback and helping projects and people grow. All of this makes sense with my CPA career. Yet, two important pieces were missing:

1.) The ability to serve my peers, family, and friends

The clients I had been serving were in a whole other ballpark in terms of tax complexity. They were generally very kind and respectful people and I’m fully aware they needed professional tax help. However, I realized there would be a line of CPAs standing outside their door with sales pitches and fancy dinners to entice them if they ever decided to find another advisor. The big firms want the big clients. And a lot of small firms get acquired by the big firms and have to increase prices, which becomes unreasonable for their original clients.

It kept weighing on me that the everyday person doesn’t have a line of CPAs outside their door. I’ve had countless conversations with people who don’t know where to turn for tax or finance help. They have legitimate concerns and worries, but the big firms aren’t set up for them. I feel more passion to serve a person who is in complete need, ready to learn and grow but on a budget, than someone who is accustomed to having their problems resolved with an endless wallet.

2.) Balance with the rest of my life!

The public accounting industry is known for its grueling schedule and people burning out. Honestly, it sometimes seems like a badge of honor to wear if you worked the most and I admit I was wrapped up in it. I’ve had physical side effects from the stress and lack of sleep; panic attacks that I medicated with Xanax; started mornings with energy drinks; cried at home, in my office, on the way to and from work, to friends, to bosses, and everywhere in between; missed vacations, Easter celebrations, birthday parties, weddings, and an unfathomable amount of dinners with my wife.

My year off was a time to breath, catch up, and recalibrate. I did miss a lot of aspects from working. Mostly the people I worked with, clients I enjoyed, the satisfaction of contributing to making something or someone better, and the growth that comes from new projects and experiences.

The Idea

So, a year without pay and my answer to the million-dollar question… client service centered around tax and financial wellness is a good fit for me! I don’t need to do a complete 180 with my career (phew), but I need to do it differently than a traditional accounting firm if I want it to be fulfilling and sustainable for my happiness and health.

I can utilize the tax knowledge and experience from almost a decade in traditional public accounting firms to build something new that aligns with my passions. I can serve people who maybe don’t have anywhere else to go, or are intimidated to even start. I’m bored with the stiffness and apprehension that comes with traditional firms. I’m tired of the best professional financial services being reserved for the ultra-wealthy or those who have ultra-complex situations. I want personalized tax services to be more attainable and less intimidating for everyone.

The Partnership

(Oh my gosh, how do I start a company? Ahem… I mean…) Vivify is only alive because I’ve had the privilege of partnering with Claire Gallant. Since we met in 2017, I knew we’d be great partners - I just wasn’t sure if or when it would happen. Claire and I connect on supporting financial education for all, especially women. We each believe our life at home will always trump our professional endeavors, we aren’t scared to question the system, and we believe emotional intelligence is undervalued.

To my surprise and luck, Claire quit her job right around the time I was considering what I should do next professionally. It took exactly one lunch meeting to solidify our plan. We would use our expertises and build something completely new and completely our own. I have the tax industry knowledge, Claire has the technology knowledge, and we both have the relentless drive to make the financial service industry more accessible to everyone.


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