By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read March 2020—Technology and the changing economic landscape is forcing accounting firms to look beyond traditional accounting solutions for their clients. Rather than focusing on products and conventional solutions, customized client experiences drive the success for accounting firms and the clients they advise. In Charlotte, Elliott Davis has the same technical experience and capabilities as the larger, national firms, said shareholder Richard Battle. The middle market is the firm’s sweet spot and where it wants to be, Battle said. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, Battle highlights the impact of tax reform on the firm’s clients, the importance of providing exceptional customer experience, and the local interest in Opportunity Zones.     

 

How has the accounting landscape evolved in the last few years?

The biggest challenge accounting firms experience is staying relevant and on the cutting edge. The landscape is changing quickly in terms of what our customers want. Everything is happening at an accelerated pace. Being really in tune with our customers is important for us. We want to provide an exceptional customer experience, not just products and solutions, but an overall experience. Implementing transformational change in our culture and our people will allow us to provide our customers with more than just the traditional accounting and tax services.

What is Elliott Davis’ competitive advantage?

Our value proposition for our customers is that they receive a tailored experience, with deep  relationships that look to add value to their businesses. We go beyond traditional accounting solutions. It is more about understanding our customers’ businesses as a whole and providing solutions to get them where they want to be. Our technical capabilities and service offerings match that of the large, national firms. The middle market is our sweet spot and where we want to be. We know how to serve those customers very well.   

How is Elliott Davis adapting to technology innovation?

Technology is improving and disrupting at the same time and it is only going to increase. We are really focused on this and the change management of integrating new technologies. We are changing service offerings to our clients based on these advancements. We are integrating these changes in how we do business everyday. But probably the biggest change outside of that is retraining and resetting the behavioral expectations of our employees. Our big focus is changing behavior to get employees more focused on advisory services. There is more information at our fingertips, which allows us to effectively provide solutions and advise our clients. This has been the biggest disruption as we hire and train different skill sets, but it is also a big opportunity for us, and accounting firms in general, as we think about how we will operate heading into the future.        

What impact has tax reform had on your customers?

Taxes are a big part of any business. The tax reform bill was a huge disruptor in how service providers deliver solutions to customers. It forced us to retool ourselves and how we advise our customers. We work with companies with both domestic and international operations. Because of this, we are seeing customers make different decisions. Opportunity Zones, FDII, GILTI, expanded capital investment depreciation, among others, are examples of new provisions that companies are analyzing and keeping in mind as they make decisions. Certain operational and financial decisions are being made slightly differently because of the new provisions.       

     

What impact have Opportunity Zones had on the region?

Our firm is working closely with individuals and companies looking to push Opportunity Zones forward. We have experts who are well-versed in the Opportunity Zone provisions. There is a lot of interest and intrigue about them. We are seeing some investments being made in Opportunity Zones that likely would not have been made without the new provisions. We are seeing some increased activity in this arena and would expect this to continue. For example, final regulations came out in December that provided more clarity on the ins and outs of Opportunity Zones and I think we will continue to see piqued interest in them.    

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: https://www.elliottdavis.com/