MNCPA PERSPECTIVES

Use technology to your advantage, but don’t lose sight of the fundamentals

September 10, 2019  |  Geno Fragnito

Use technology to your advantage, but don’t lose sight of the fundamentals

Nearly every professional industry is witnessing a technological revolution. The CPA profession alone has seen its share of new software and automation options that help make offices and firms more efficient. The advances in technology seem to be growing exponentially faster every year.

But, there are some things that technology can’t replace.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I attended a concert at the Minnesota State Fair. After the band introduced themselves, they added how hard it was to believe they’ve been performing together for five decades. Then, the lead singer said that throughout those five decades, “It’s been the same three guys and the same three chords.” This caught my attention. Something so simple helped forge the way for a long and prosperous career.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how a rock and blues band from Texas relates to your career or the MNCPA’s work at the Capitol. Whether you’re an accomplished musician or completely tone deaf, I would guess your success can be traced back to the foundational building blocks you developed when you first started down the path to be a CPA. In the MNCPA’s government relations program, our success can be traced back to those initial face-to-face meetings with legislators.

Technology has helped make scheduling meetings with elected officials more efficient. Fifty years ago, there were only two options available to contact a legislator: send a letter or make a phone call. Decades later, fax machines were developed to make sending letters faster. This was followed by email, a faster and user-friendly communication tool. Today, constituents contact their legislators through all sorts of platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging services. But none of these communication tools are as personal -- or as effective -- as a meeting, the foundation upon which advocacy was founded.

Your meetings with legislators don’t have to be a formal sit-down in their office. Invite them for coffee in the district or to your business for a tour. Talk with them about what you do, what keeps you up at night and why you enjoy being a CPA. Explain that you’re available to answer their questions regarding taxes, audits, business valuations, finances or wherever your specialty lies. These meetings give legislators a better understanding of how their policy decisions affect taxpayers, businesses and our communities.

Technology will continue to advance and change the work we do. We’ve seen records give way to cassettes, CDs, digital downloads and streaming services. But while many things changed in the music industry, those same three chords for one band stood the test of time. Many things have changed in the world of advocacy, too, but nothing can replace those face-to-face meetings, especially when you have real-life stories to share.

Topics: Government, Technology

Geno Fragnito

Geno Fragnito is the MNCPA government relations director, advocating on behalf of the CPA profession. His days consist of last-minute meeting changes, building relationships with lawmakers, helping CPAs navigate state government, and putting in more than 15,000 steps per day walking the halls of the Capitol. Geno unwinds with a little golf and traveling with his family. If he weren’t a lobbyist, Geno would perfect his cast and be a professional fisherman. Geno can be reached at 952-885-5550 or gfragnito@mncpa.org.

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