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An Interview with an Accounting Firm Managing Partner Who Likes Sleep as Much as We Do

If you asked small business owners what it’s like to process payroll (or onboard employees, or set up insurance, or, well you get the hint), you would probably hear it described as “dull,” “time-consuming,” and “a big pain in the butt.” But what if payroll was actually “awesome,” “easy,” and “quick?” Shocking concept, we know. Today, we want to introduce you to our friends at Gusto, a full-service payroll and benefits provider we think is pretty darn cool thanks in part to their no-fuss approach to the aforementioned, oft-dull but necessary tasks required to run a small business.

Rather than waste a half-a-dozen paragraphs on the merits of Gusto (much to their chagrin, surely), we thought we’d talk to one of their partners to find out what makes him get out of bed every morning and how Gusto helps. We know you’re a busy little bee and don’t have forever to wade through a sales pitch, so let’s get right to hearing about Bruce Phillips, his firm Aprio Cloud, and how Gusto is making his worklife just a tad bit easier.

Going Concern: Tell us about Aprio, what are y’all about over there?

Bruce Phillips: Aprio Cloud, formerly HPC, is the leader in U.S. cloud accounting. Our clients say our people, technology, comprehensive services, and fixed-fee access to expertise make us unmatched in the industry. Entrepreneurs and small-to-midsized businesses around the world count on Aprio Cloud to pair customized real-time financial insights and meaningful advice to help them make smarter, faster business decisions.

Bruce Phillips

Since our founding in 1952, Aprio has grown to be the largest independent, full-service CPA-led professional services firm based in Atlanta, GA. Our over 550 partners and associates provide their best thinking and personal commitment to every client, demonstrating a passion for their work that fuels our clients’ success.

Our purpose is clear: We advise clients so that they can achieve what’s next, whatever that may be.

GC: Sounds cool. So let’s say I’m a potential client, what can you do for me?

Phillips: Aprio Cloud offers a suite of services: People and Services, Technology Automation, Tax and Compliance, Payroll/HR Support, and Managed Accounting Solutions.

For 65 years we’ve provided advisory, assurance, tax, cloud accounting, and private client services across the insurance, manufacturing and distribution, nonprofit and education, professional services, real estate and construction, retail, franchise and hospitality, and technology and biosciences industries.

GC: So what made you start your firm?

Phillips: Very long story, but I was basically almost forced into it with the sudden death of the founder/managing partner of the firm I was a partner in. This was in Atlanta on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1992.

GC: Would love to hear that story some time. Alright, here’s one. You’re at a party and a stranger asks you what you do for a living. What’s your answer?

Phillips: I operate a technology company that happens to provide accounting services.

GC: A follow-up to that: What tools can you not live without at work? And don’t say the coffeemaker, everyone always says the coffeemaker.

Phillips: Xero, Karbon, Slack, Zoom, and, of course, Gusto.

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GC: So glad you brought up Gusto so we don’t have to make this an awkward segue! How’d you first hear about them?

Phillips: Met the team at Xerocon when they were still a startup. I was one of their first partners.

GC: Ah, so you were into them before they were cool. What has surprised you most about partnering with Gusto?

Phillips: Its rapid growth. I remember learning about Gusto’s talent acquisition team hiring, onboarding, and training a ridiculous amount of people each week, back during their early scaling days.

GC: And what’s your favorite benefit of being a Gusto partner?

Phillips: Being able to talk about a product that works, is easy to use, and everybody needs. Not to mention the fact that employees can basically onboard themselves.

GC: Totally get it, we’re all about efficiency over here. Work smarter, not harder and all that. Speaking of work, what have been some of your firm’s biggest challenges in 2019?

Phillips: Staffing, training, and business acquisition/transitions.

GC: Mind telling us how Aprio is meeting the challenge of training your people?

Phillips: We provide training through Aprio Learning & Development, and our tool partners provide trainings detailing new updates and previews of upgrades to come. We also are very active in sharing and collaboration through Slack and Zoom.

GC: That’s enough work talk. Let’s wind this down and let me ask you how you unwind after a long day?

Phillips: Tennis game or a nice glass of red wine.

GC: One last thing, Bruce: Tell me something that would surprise people to hear about you.

Phillips: I have been to and visited 58 countries (maybe they won’t be surprised). I love to sleep and can sleep virtually anywhere, anytime.

Ready to sleep better at night knowing your clients’ payroll and onboarding woes are solved? Give Gusto a shout and rest easy, they’ve got you covered.