Founded in a basement by Bernie Ackerman in 1977, BNA has since grown into a firm of 30 staff serving more than 3,000 clients in South Carolina and across the US. They pride themselves on being ahead of the curve in terms of technology and innovation, which they believe has been key to their success.
Location: Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA
Services: Tax, Advisory, Accounting Services
Years of operation: 40
Number of employees: 30
Number of clients: 3,000+
“We think of ourselves as a cutting-edge, progressive firm. We’ve always made use of technology to gain efficiency and make our lives easier,” says CPA Jason Ackerman.
Due to this philosophy, BNA transitioned to the cloud earlier than most firms. But their missing piece of the puzzle was a practice management solution that suited the way they operate.
“We had an outdated database and some spreadsheets for tracking projects which was fine when we had 10 staff, but with 30 staff and 2,000 individual tax returns we needed much better organization at a firm level,” says Jason.
“To take our final step toward the cloud, we needed an easy-to-use solution that gave us an overview of everything across our firm. Karbon was our answer to that.”
When they first came across Karbon in 2016, BNA were most attracted to the potential to share their emails and streamline their processes. After implementing Karbon as the system to manage their practice, they realized that was just the beginning.
“Karbon solves a lot of problems that we weren’t even looking to address at the time, and these have been transformative for us. We had our first tax season using it two years ago, and haven’t looked back,” he says.
Because of the large number of tax returns they do, BNA has always been process-driven.
“I would put our tax return process up against any firm in the country. ”
“We have always had all of our processes written down, but we needed technology to take our efficiency to the next level,” says Jason.
With the ability to document templates, Karbon enabled BNA to operationalize these processes. Client work is now created directly from these templates, ensuring that every step in their tried-and-tested formula is carried out correctly.
These processes are constantly iterated and refined to make them even more efficient. While tax returns are commonly delivered in 18-20 days by US firms, BNA usually take just 3 days. In the last 12 months, their processing time from assembly to review was reduced by a further 10%.
“Many CPA firms focus on how much billable time they’re spending, but we are far more concerned about client service, velocity and how fast we can get things through the system. Karbon is really built for that,” says Jason.
This efficiency-first mindset has directly impacted BNA’s top line, with revenue growing by 10-13% annually over the last three years. With a team consisting of staff who are open to change and embrace technology, Jason does not see any reason why their process cannot keep improving.
“That’s what Karbon does,” he says. “Clients are sending me documents now for next year’s tax return and I have all that organized and ready to go. Anything additional that we need, we send them a Client Task. They get it, upload what we require, and we receive it straight away. If they forget, we know Karbon is going to remind them without us needing to do a thing.”
Ahead of their next tax season, BNA is now taking the time to focus on planning, capacity and billing. Karbon is at the center of all of this, providing management with customized views giving visibility across the entire firm.
“We always had an idea of what we want to do, but had no way of tracking it. With Karbon, we can see everything. We can share with everyone how we’re tracking, where we want to be, and what we need to do to meet those goals.”
While BNA no longer monitor time, they make use of Karbon’s work budgets to determine what the team is billing, what their pipeline looks like, and what they should be delivering in a given timeframe.
Today, Jason is much more confident with the control he has over his firm, and knows that when issues occur he will not only see them early, but know exactly what must be done to address them.
“We can hone in and see where our bottlenecks are occuring,” he says. “It’s really easy to look at Karbon and see if we have 38 jobs sitting in ‘Review’, and then put more reviewers in there to alleviate that. We never had that visibility and control before.”
“Karbon is so well thought-out and robust, but still simple to use. It would take at least three different systems to replace what Karbon gives us today, if we could even do it all."
More than 2000 tax returns completed each year
Key processes 10% more efficient in last 12 months
Revenue has grown 10-13% per year in last 3 years
Complete visibility and control over the firm for the first time ever