IPA MP Profile: Dan Weaver, Councilor Buchanan & Mitchell

Firm Years in Business: 100

Main Office: Bethesda, Md.

Staff Size: 100

What is the single biggest challenge facing your firm right now? Like many other firms, we’re facing the future of work issue and how we’re going to evolve around that. How flexible are we going to be? How much control are we going to give to employees? These are going to be important questions to answer from the perspective of retaining and hiring staff going forward.

We have staff moving all over the country and we’re keeping them, so I think it’s going well so far. We’ll see how the management of that evolves, but as far as retention, we’ve been doing a good job.

Where do you expect to be focusing most of your attention in the next two to three years? We’ll be focusing on developing the next generation of leaders. We have a lot of succession issues coming up with people retiring over the next several years, so I’m putting a lot of time into that right now – making sure we have the right people coming up the line and handling the people who are retiring gracefully so that we retain both clients and staff.

For decades, the profession has encouraged a move toward partners delivering advisory services beyond compliance. What has been your biggest success in this endeavor? We acquired a wealth management firm a few years ago and combining that with our assurance and tax services has been a great addition. Our client accounting services group has also been doing really well in the advisory space.

What’s the best advice you have ever received from another leader? Probably the best thing I’ve been told is to surround yourself with people whose opinions you really value. My success will depend a lot on the team I assemble around me.

What one piece of advice do you wish someone told you before you stepped into your current leadership role? Don’t take on too much too fast. We’ve undertaken a few big things in these first six months that I’ve been MP, and we’ve actually had to step back and not move forward with some of those because it was just too much all at once. I wouldn’t say nobody told me about that, but it definitely proved to be true.

What has been the biggest surprise in the role? When you’re the MP, everybody thinks they can come to you and get an answer. And it’s often the people you wouldn’t expect it to be – I’m surprised by how much certain people reach out to me all the time with their opinions. Dealing with all of those questions all the time is a lot to handle, so I really have to focus on filtering some of that out and passing things along to others.

What advice would you offer to someone entering the accounting profession today? If you find something you’re good at and that you enjoy, it’s OK to stick with that – you don’t have to keep looking for something better. It seems like the younger generations are really trying to find something fantastic out there, but it’s still work. If you find a good job with people you like being around, it might be best to just focus on that.

How do you stay on top of the profession? I belong to a few managing partner groups and I meet with them regularly. I also read newsletters and attend conferences to stay in tune with everything that’s going on, but those MP groups are probably the most helpful.

Where do you see the accounting profession in five years? How do you see it changing/developing and/or how would you like it to change? There’s going to be a lot of new technology – whether it’s machine learning or artificial intelligence – and that means we’re always going to have to be ready to adapt.

There’s also been a lot of talk about how CPAs aren’t coming in as fast as they used to among the younger ranks, so we’re going to have to look at how we get young people interested in the profession. Are we going to see more international and contracted employees to make up the shortage?

I wish I could know where things are going to be in five years, but there are always changes that you just don’t expect and couldn’t have predicted. We just have to stay flexible and be ready to deal with whatever happens.

What is your proudest achievement? Personally, becoming MP was something that I was really excited about. It’s nice to know that my partners have the confidence in me to take on this role.

From a firm standpoint, I’m really proud of how diverse we’ve become in a fairly short amount of time. Within just the last 10 or 15 years, we’ve completely changed the demographics of the firm – just by making diversity intentional and really focusing on it. It’s really put us in a much different place than we were, and I think it’s helped our culture in a lot of different ways. It bodes well for our future.




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