Spotlight On: Ann Peña, Tax Office Managing Partner – San Antonio, BDO

Spotlight On: Ann Peña, Tax Office Managing Partner – San Antonio, BDO

2023-02-27T12:20:16-05:00February 27th, 2023|Accounting, Professional Services, San Antonio, Spotlight On|

2 min read February 2023 — BDO is a top-ranked national accounting and advisory firm that serves domestic and international clients across a broad range of industries and practices. Invest: talked to BDO’s San Antonio Tax Office Managing Partner Ann Peña about the firm’s commitment to meeting client needs, its service delivery priorities and the importance of keeping up with technology and innovation.

How would you characterize the past year for the firm?

Our priority at BDO is acting as a trusted adviser, helping clients reach their full potential and guiding them to overcome challenges and obstacles. 

Tax executives are no strangers to change, and while there were many adjustments made recently, we have become more resilient for them. Specifically, we’ve seen the labor shortage challenging businesses across San Antonio, and the country. BDO has stayed an employer of choice through all of this by remaining responsive to evolving workplace dynamics as candidates are looking for a more flexible work environment. Many of the recent changes made to the way we work, where we work and even why we work will likely endure for years to come because those changes served to make BDO’s businesses and people more agile in the face of disruption. By doing this, we are ensuring we have the staffing levels to support BDO’s continued growth, not only in this market, but in others around the country. 

Additionally, some events that shaped the past year include new government programs, like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which helped businesses and individuals make informed decisions about how to operate during these unsure times. Supply chain issues also posed a challenge for companies across the country causing worldwide shortages and an economic slowdown. While some businesses still saw record years, we were there through the ups and downs to advise them so they could plan and adjust as needed. 

What are some of the technologies you’re using now?

There’s a lot of data automation entering the market, and at BDO, we are implementing processes and procedures that allow our professionals to focus on consulting and advising our clients. Data analytics have also helped us provide our clients with meaningful insights. 

We have long placed an emphasis on technology-driven services and the pandemic only accelerated the adoption of those technologies. By leveraging the targeted data analytics our tools provide us, we’re able to better understand our client’s needs and provide them with more meaningful insight. The investments BDO made in its own technological innovation, long before the pandemic, positioned the firm – and our San Antonio office – to continue providing the level of service our clients expect as we transitioned to working remotely.

What is happening with talent acquisition and retention?

We’re always looking for new ways to draw new talent to the profession, which starts with getting involved at local campuses and universities. In addition to recruiting young talent, we also make it a priority to engage with professors and work with them to help connect their students with the best resources and opportunities possible through work study programs. We speak to general and entry-level classes about what a career in accounting looks like and even provide them with hands-on experience to learn what working in a firm is like day-to-day.

BDO is constantly evaluating and adopting new ways to recruit, empower, and retain the best people in our industry, while also ensuring we meet the growing needs of our clients and our standard of exceptional service. An important part of our strategy is BDO Flex, which is foundational to BDO’s business and has been the primary driver to help our professionals find work+life fit for the past decade and on. The most important factor is that the work is done well, not regulating how, when or where the work is accomplished.

What do you hope stays the same in the accounting sector and what do you hope to see change?

There is great value for professionals to continue working in teams and collaborating. Working with people is the best part of the job, whether it’s with clients or internal teams. I’m excited to see what the opportunities provided by modern technology can do to advance processes and procedures to continue to turn the focus on the consulting piece.

How does the economic landscape look in San Antonio and what will be your role moving forward?

The San Antonio region continues to grow. The work that greater:SATX is doing to bring businesses into the community is great. The variety of businesses coming in provides opportunities for a lot of people. The pace is fast, and it’s exciting to see. The plans for the airport expansion will provide a lot of opportunities for businesses to move here. It makes the commute easier, especially when you’re dealing with global companies. The opportunities the local government and economic development foundation provide to businesses will make a big impact. 

With the growth we’re seeing in San Antonio as more businesses move in, there will be greater need for more professionals in the accounting profession. There will be a lot of opportunities for all accounting professionals to expand what they do and provide additional services.

Is there any legislation you are watching in particular?

In the next two years, what happens with the presidential race may impact federal tax law and affect a lot of people. We are watching what those policies will look like and what changes they could bring. 

What have you been seeing when it comes to client demand?

San Antonio’s growth has increased demand for BDO’s services across many industries. BDO remains strategic in meeting that demand by ensuring our specialty tax, audit, and advisory capabilities are aligned with each client we serve. Likewise, we continue to innovate and diversify our tools to take on new, exciting and unique opportunities and empower our younger staff to grow in their careers.

What priorities are top of mind as you enter 2023?

With additional shifts on the horizon, the next months are likely to feature more changes for the industry. For tax executives, though, the spotlight on our ability to help make or break business strategy has never been brighter, and with the right people and tools in place, tax departments are poised to help build businesses that are ready to take on what is next. 

We look forward to continuing to strengthen and enhance our services, especially in growing sectors in San Antonio. We will also continue to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace and empower our people to be stewards of their communities. 

Looking forward into 2023 and beyond, it is important that business leaders also reflect on the other challenges they face, beyond staffing, and consider how the steps they took to adapt over the past two years can be applied to other disruptions in the years ahead.

Communication with clients and making sure they have the right tools to make the best decisions for their businesses continues to be top of mind. Tax planning and strategy as we come into the new year, with new changes to current incentives, mean clients will need additional information to remain informed. We want to ensure clients have all the information they need to make the best decisions for their businesses and take advantage of all the incentives and opportunities that are out there.

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