While the namesakes at the Spokane accounting and business consulting firm Kavadias Hall PLLC prefer the small-firm environment, prolonged strong growth has forced them to double their accounting staff so they can manage the workload.
Jeff Kavadias, the founder of the firm, declines to disclose specific revenue figures, but he says the firm’s annual revenue has grown by double digits percentagewise since he founded it as a sole practitioner 15 years ago.
“I can’t remember the last time we didn’t grow at least 20 percent, including this year,” Kavadias says.
He brought on Taylor Hall as the firm’s second certified public accountant in 2013.
“We were growing too big, and I needed a partner,” Kavadias says.
Hall says the timing was right to join a small accounting firm when he met Kavadias through a mutual friend.
“I started in public accounting with a bigger firm, and I tried private accounting and hated my life,” Hall says. “I wanted back in public accounting, but I wanted something on my own.”
Private accountants generally work for a single employer, while public accountants have a number of clients.
With Hall as a partner, the firm is in its third year of operation under the Kavadias Hall name.
In the last two years, the firm has brought on two associates, Jason Bates, a CPA recently promoted to tax accountant, and Brittany Dew, an accountant who’s scheduled to take the CPA exam.
“With our growth, there was too much work for two,” Hall says. “We decided to bite the bullet and expand.”
The firm also has three administrative employees, including a recent hire, Kavadias says.
“We’ve got to have all seven people running this wheel for it to work correctly,” he says.
Kavadias says the firm has more than 800 clients, the largest of which is the Washington, D.C.-based Fiber to the Home Council, a nonprofit that does business as the Fiber Broadband Association.
“We’re definitely generalists. We have a good mix of entities and individual clients,” Kavadias says. “A lot of our individual clients are business owners.”
Individual clients tend to realize they need an accountant when they have changes in their financial situations, he says.
“If their kids are going to college, they want to make sure they’re getting all of the education deductions,” he says.
Even with the advent of online tax services, such as TurboTax, many new clients say they’ve given up on trying to file tax returns on their own, Kavadias says.
“There are some who say that the tax code has gotten so confusing they would rather pay a professional and know that it’s right,” he says.
Kavadias asserts Obamacare is causing an increase in demand for accounting services among business owners.
“That’s been a big part of our job over the last several years,” he says, adding that accountants help ensure that business owners are filing the required forms and meeting insurance mandates.
He says he’d like to see some changes to simplify the health care law.
“I’d rather see a health care law that can stand on its own without penalizing people for not having it,” he says. “We spend a lot of time on that.”
In addition to providing accounting, tax management, and consulting services, services, the firm helps a lot of clients with retirement planning and wealth management.
Kavadias says he often initiates the first conversation with clients about whether they can retire.
In that conversation, he asks clients how much they expect to receive in Social Security benefits, how much they have in investments, and how much they could withdraw from their investments and still maintain their livelihood.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t know those answers,” he says.
Just as often, the firm helps clients who thought they might never be able to retire realize they can put together a plan that provides confidence they’ll be able to retire at some point and maintain their standard of living.
Kavadias opened the Jeff Kavadias CPA PC office in Spokane Valley in 2002. About 10 years ago, he moved the practice to the second floor of the North Coast Life Building, at 1124 W. Riverside, on the west edge of downtown.
Since then, the firm has expanded and remodeled the office space four times and currently occupies 2,500 square feet of space there.
“If we keep growing at this pace, we’re not going to be able to stay in this location,” Kavadias says.
Although he considers the office in a prime location, he says most of the firm’s work is done digitally.
“Client interaction now is mostly emails and phone calls,” he says.
That interaction often occurs outside of office hours.
“I work seven days a week, either here or at my home office,” he says. “I can’t remember when I didn’t at least check emails or respond to phone calls on a weekend.”
Despite growth in business, Kavadias says he’s doesn’t aspire to manage a large firm, which would take time away from working with clients.
“I like to be more of a doer,” he says. “I like to have one-on-one interaction with as many clients as I can. I haven’t reached the level where I’m managing more than I’m ‘doing.’”
The firm, however, can manage growth by being selective about taking on new clients, Kavadias says.
“We landed a couple of nice-sized clients last week; a nice big distributor and an employee-benefit company,” he says.
While the firm provides accounting services for two marijuana producers, Kavadias says he’d rather not take on new clients involved in that line of business because of conflicts between state and federal regulations.
The partners assert there’s more than enough work available for all of the accounting firms in town.
“We’re not all competing for the same work,” Kavadias says.
There might be more competition, however, between firms in recruiting qualified accountants.
Kavadias contends too few people are going into public accounting to fill the demand.
“Finance is getting more and more complicated and we’re teaching less and less of it,” he says. “It’s very hard to find good, qualified candidates. We had a hard time finding the two we have, and we’re very fortunate to have them.”
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