Advice for meeting efficiency and more on the new AICPA board chair

Hosted by Neil Amato

Many of our meetings in 2021 look far different from the meetings we had in 2019 or early 2020. That doesn’t mean they can’t be improved with the help of technology. In this episode, Technology Q&A co-author Byron Patrick, CPA/CITP, CGMA, shares insight into the ways that automation tools can help meetings go smoothly.

Also hear some of the advice new AICPA board Chair Bill Pirolli, CPA/CFF/PFS, CGMA, has for providing excellent client service.

What you’ll learn from this episode:

  • The strategies and tools that can make your meetings more efficient.
  • Whether virtual-meeting tools can be applied to in-person meetings.
  • Why Patrick says that seemingly inconsequential technology tips or tricks should be shared.
  • A Pirolli preview: More about the AICPA’s new board chair.
  • Other news of note for the accounting profession, including on new sales tax nexus standards.

Play the episode below or read the edited transcript:

To comment on this episode or to suggest an idea for another episode, contact Neil Amato, a
JofA senior editor, at


Neil Amato: Hello and thanks for listening to the Journal of Accountancy podcast. This episode will take a closer look at strategies and tools that can help make your next meeting more efficient.

It also previews the June print issue’s cover story on new AICPA board Chair Bill Pirolli, and highlights news of note for accountants. That’s coming up after this brief sponsor message.

Welcome back to the Journal of Accountancy podcast. This is senior editor Neil Amato. I’m joined by a name who should be familiar to readers of the Journal of Accountancy. His name is Byron Patrick. He’s a CPA who holds the CGMA designation, and he’s one of the authors of the Technology Q&A column. Byron, you recently wrote a Tech Q&A article that dealt with automating meeting tasks. For someone who might be unaware, what sort of tasks are you talking about that people are seeking to automate?

Byron Patrick: Hey, Neil, great question. So, typically, if a meeting is a productive one, there will be action items that come out of that meeting. Usually there’s things that people are responsible for doing, following up on and taking care of, and if there’s not, you might want to question whether or not that meeting was useful. But so in this case, there are tools that do a really good job of boiling down the dialogue that occurs during the meeting and will summarize for you the key talking points, as well as attempting to capture any of those action items or tasks.

So if during the meeting that you and I have, I’m going to say, “So, Neil, after this meeting, you’re going to send me the overview that we discussed.” The tools can actually pick up that action item and index it. And they even have some integrations that will work with third-party tools. And there’s also some additional ways that you can even create flags and mark those types of follow-up items in the meeting. So, you know, really great way for kind of capturing things on the fly without taking the time to create notes or hope that everybody’s on the same page. It’s all captured right there in one place to make it easy for those follow-ups.

Amato: Yes. So it sounds like you’re taking the onus off the, “Wait, was anyone taking notes?” after you all hung up and don’t have anything. So you not only have a transcript, but you also have some organization in the form of agenda and action items for follow-up. So that’s good.

And you recommend some software that can work to make those go more smoothly. I guess where I’m going with it is, these seem designed mainly for virtual meetings, but I’m wondering if there are lessons that can be applied to those in-person meetings that we’re all looking forward to having more of in the near future.

Patrick: Yeah, that in fact is an awesome question because, as we are planning for in-person meetings, one of the things that I’ve discussed with my teams is, you know what, spin up a Zoom bridge even if there is no virtual attendee, get permission to record the dialogue in the room. And at that point, you could actually leverage these tools to accomplish the same functionality. Obviously, you need to make sure all of the challenges that we use to fight with conference room audio and these types of things can factor in there, but I think there’s great opportunity to leverage these types of tools even in a physical world. Frankly, I think we’re going to find ourselves having a lot of hybrid meetings of in-person and virtual attendees, which will obviously [create] some additional opportunities to use this. So, to your point, I see no reason why you can’t leverage these same tools in a physical meeting versus a virtual meeting.

Amato: That’s a good lesson. We should take some things that we learned during the pandemic and apply them to what we hope is good post-pandemic meeting etiquette, meeting efficiency.

So, you’ve been co-authoring the Tech Q&A column with Kelly Williams, another CPA. And I asked her this on the podcast several weeks ago, so I’m going to ask you the same thing. In your time writing it, what have you learned about the pain points of members? What are they asking about that seemed to be kind of the top issues in terms of technology?

Patrick: It’s been interesting, to be quite honest. When I was first asked to contribute to this section of the JofA, I was a little bit intimidated because I thought, “What could I possibly have to help our members and help the CPAs out there?” Carlton [Collins, the previous Technology Q&A author,] had done such a great job on such a wide variety of topics. And what I’ve learned is that some of the things that we take for granted from day to day as being common knowledge isn’t necessarily common knowledge.

Everybody is so busy trying to get their job done, trying to move on to the next item. That there is just an unlimited amount of knowledge share that could happen on some of the simpler things that had high impact for those folks who don’t know. So the lesson I’ve learned that I think a lot of people could have as a takeaway is, don’t assume that these little tips and tricks and things that you do are things that everybody does. Take the time to share them because the feedback so far has been incredibly positive. And sometimes I don’t even realize how much impact some of these things can have for folks who are reading or listening along.

Amato: Well, Byron, thank you very much. We appreciate you being a return guest. I won’t call you a repeat offender. I think that would be too strong, but we’re glad to have you back on this podcast after a long time away. So, thank you again, and we’ll keep looking for your words in the Journal of Accountancy.

Patrick: Thanks, buddy. I appreciate it.

Amato: Bill Pirolli’s story, from his roots in Rhode Island to now incoming AICPA board chair, is an inspiring one, told in detail by the JofA’s Ken Tysiac. The article, which can be found online and in print, also has practical advice from Pirolli. In particular, he shares tips on how to maximize client service. A focus on building relationships, becoming comfortable with uncertainty, and listening have helped get Pirolli to where he is today.

In other news from the print issue, new sales tax nexus standards are creating a larger compliance footprint for U.S. companies and, potentially, foreign entities selling into the U.S.

State and local taxing authorities have new tools for identifying and enforcing companies’ exposures for sales and use tax. You can learn more about that from the article, headlined “A Practical Guide to Economic Nexus.” That’s in print and online.

And at, the AICPA Auditing Standards Board has issued a new standard that provides guidance on auditing the fair value of financial instruments, with a focus on the use of pricing services. The ASB also modernized standards related to the use of specialists by management and auditors.

That’s news you can use; find more news on the Journal of Accountancy site, and thank you for listening to the Journal of Accountancy podcast.